Merriam-Frontier Award Winner to Read at UM’s Mansfield Library

February 17, 2017

MISSOULA – University of Montana Creative Writing Program graduate student Anna Blackburn, winner of the 2017 Merriam-Frontier Award, will hold a reading at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in the Theta Rho Room of UM’s Mansfield Library.

Blackburn’s poetry submission “The Keeping House” was selected as the winning entry because, in the judges’ words, she “demonstrates a mastery of form with her submission of poems of varying styles and lengths that are united by a tethering narrative. She leads her readers to look at the world differently. And she understands when to push against the page and when to let the form work for her.”

Blackburn is an MFA candidate in poetry and a writing instructor at UM. She grew up in Vermont and earned a bachelor of arts in writing and literature from Marlboro College. She also is the recipient of a Hilly Van Loon Prize.

The Merriam-Frontier Award was established by H.G. Merriam, UM professor of English and creative writing from 1919 to 1954, and includes a $500 prize and funds to publish the winning entry as a chapbook. The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students each autumn semester.

Frontier, later titled Frontier and Midland, was a distinguished quarterly journal founded and edited by H.G. Merriam and published at UM from 1920 to 1939. Contributors included then-emerging talents Wallace Stegner, A.B. Guthrie Jr., William Saroyan, Dorothy Johnson, John Mason Brown, Weldon Kees, Thomas McGrath and many others. A particular strength of the journal was its frequent publication of work by young authors, a tradition the Merriam-Frontier Award honors and continues.

Blackburn’s reading is sponsored by the UM Creative Writing Program, the Merriam-Frontier Award and the Mansfield Library. For more information call Creative Writing Program Coordinator Karin Schalm at 406-243-5267, email or visit


Contact: Karin Schalm, program coordinator, UM Creative Writing Program, 406-243-5267,