FARMINGTON, ME (May 24, 2023)—The University of Maine at Farmington is proud to announce that two of its distinguished faculty have been named individual finalists for the 2023 Maine Literary Awards.
Gretchen Legler, author and UMF professor of Creative Writing, has been recognized twofold for her memoir, “Woodsqueer: Crafting a Sustainable Rural Life,” receiving both the Maine Literary Book Award for Memoir and the John N. Cole Award for Maine Nonfiction.
“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by my writerly peers in Maine with these two awards. It’s also a delight to be in the company of my colleagues, theater professor Jayne Decker, who won the award for drama, and also Lewis Robinson and Pat O’Donnell, both UMF fiction professors, whose work was featured in the anthology award winning book breaking bread. Maine has a rich literary community. Many thanks to the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance for bringing us all together to celebrate,” said Legler.
Legler’s book chronicles her experiences focusing on building a home and making a living and a life on 80 acres in backwoods Maine. Her book is a homage to agrarian American life that reminds us of the benefits of living close to the land.
Jayne Decker, playwright, director, author and UMF principal lecturer for Theater, was awarded the Maine Literary Drama Award for her play, “All the Good They Gave Us.”
Decker’s most recent work, “All the Good they Gave Us,” is a full-length play that offers a gentle and moving exploration of the relationship between an Irish father and his adult daughter. When their former neighbors return to the house next door, they are all forced to confront a family secret that binds them together.
“Over the years my classes and students in Social and Political Theatre have been an inspiration in my commitment to telling stories with a significant focus on social justice. My plays include “Bridge,” based on the story of Maine’s Charlie Howard and one recently produced by Skowhegan High School’s award winning drama program,” said Decker. “It is wonderful to be honored by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance for “All the Good They Gave Us,” a play I hope will resonate on stage.”
The John N. Cole Award for Maine Nonfiction was also awarded to Deborah Joy Corey and Debra Spark for, “Breaking Bread: Essays from New England on Food, Hunger, and Family.” This anthology includes over 70 essays by renowned New England writers, including current and former UMF faculty authors: Wes McNair, Pat O’Donnell, Lewis Robinson and Bill Roorbach.
The Maine Literary Awards is an annual competition sponsored and coordinated by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Nominations are open to all Maine residents (including part-time seasonal residents). The statewide competition is for published books, as well as drama, short works (either published or unpublished) and student writing.
According to the MWPA website, more than 300 writers sent in their work.
More information on Gretchen Legler and Jayne Decker
Gretchen Legler is a writer, farmer and professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Maine Farmington. Her nonfiction writing, which focuses on human relationships with the natural world, includes many essays that have appeared in venues including Orion Magazine, and the book length memoirs All the Powerful Invisible Things: A Sportswoman’s Notebook, and On The Ice: An Intimate Portrait of Life at McMurdo Station Antarctica. The University Maine Farmington Community garden was born out of her desire to foster love of the natural world in the next generation. In addition to advanced degrees in Creative Writing, English, and Feminist Studies, Gretchen holds a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity.
Decker has directed numerous productions at UMF Alumni Theater. Her production, “Coyote on a Fence,” was awarded a Moss Hart Memorial Award by the New England Theatre Conference, New England’s oldest and largest regional theater association. She has also presented workshop productions of her original plays “Good Medicine;” “Stars Falling,” winner of the 2002 Maine Playwriting Award; “Jelly Moonshine;” and “Songbird,” a touring play about the Iraq War. “Cracked Shells,” an original play by Decker about domestic violence, was commissioned by Franklin County Network’s Peace in Our Families and was featured again at the 2009 Maine Women’s Studies Conference. Her recent plays “Ruby Red, a Moment in the Life of” and “Migratory Birds” were finalists in drama for the Maine Literary Awards in 2021 and 2022.
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Photo Caption: Gretchen Legler
Photo Credit: UMF Image
Photo Caption: Jayne Decker
Photo Credit: UMF Image