Dylan Days names 2013 B.J. Rolfzen writing contest winners

As many of you might recall, I am one of the co-organizers of Dylan Days in Hibbing, Minnesota. This arts and culture event celebrates Bob Dylan and the arts community of his Iron Range hometown.

Dylan Days will be May 23-26, 2013. This year we’re celebrating Bob Dylan’s Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded last year in our typical fashion: live music, art displays, singer/songwriter contest, literary readings, and tours of Dylan’s hometown.

I also coordinate the B.J. Rolfzen Memorial Dylan Days Creative Writing Contest and edit the annual “Talkin’ Blues” literary journal. We recently named the winners of our 2013 contest, several of whom will be in attendance at our May 24 literary showcase featuring Duluth poet laureate Sheila Packa.

Go below the jump to see the names of this year’s winners and finalists. Winners and top finalists will be published in “Talkin’ Blues,” available during Dylan Days or around Hibbing afterward.


Dylan Days names 2013 writing contest winners

Sheila Packa

HIBBING, Minnesota — Dylan Days, an event celebrating the work of Bob Dylan and the arts and culture of his Iron Range hometown, announces the winners of its 2013 B.J. Rolfzen Memorial creative writing contest.

The selected pieces will be published in “Talkin’ Blues,” the literary journal and program of Dylan Days. Winners are invited to read their work and speak at Dylan Days 2013, which takes place May 24-27 in Hibbing, as part of a workshop and presentation featuring Duluth Poet Laureate Sheila Packa.

Once again, hundreds of writers from all over the world entered the contest, which recognizes fiction, poetry and poetry written by high school or college students. Winners will speak on the same Hibbing Memorial Building Little Theater stage where a young Robert Zimmerman and his band played their first paid gig.

1st Place: “Shooting Stars” by Myra Stull of St. Louis, Missouri
2nd Place: “The Appraiser is Coming” by C.E. Holmes of Dell Rapids, South Dakota
3rd Place: “It’s a Wonedaful Liefe” by Gary Eustice of Hibbing, Minnesota

Three other finalists were selected for publication, including:
“The Ninth Icon” by Phil Fitzpatrick of Duluth, Minnesota
“The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree” By Alec Gritzmacher of Eveleth, Minnesota, a student at Nelle Shean Elementary in Gilbert
“An Unexpected Meeting” by Katherine Estes of Manassas, Virginia, a student at Woodbridge High School in Woodbridge, Virginia

Other finalists included:

“Pretending Things” by April Solberg of Chetek, Wisconsin; “Maurita” by Jenny Yeoh-Wang, a student at the Chapin School of New York, NY; “About Sam Quentin” by Jack McLain; and “Letter from Juliette” by Abigail Weatherington. McLain and Weatherington are both students at Woodbridge High School of Virginia.

1st Place: “Guns” by Phil Fitzpatrick of Duluth, Minnesota
2nd Place: “One of Those” by rak of Wanaque, New Jersey
3rd Place: “On seeing a young boy race home…” by Jean Cole of Virginia, Minnesota

Three other finalists were selected for publication, including:
“There’s nothing there.” by Keith Booth of Manchester, England
“The Mother Speaks to Her Son…” by Shaindel Beers of Pendleton, Oregon
“Gretel Grows” by Ki Russell of Pendleton, Oregon

Other finalists included:
“The Fruit Vegetable Revolution” by Ryan Erickson of Omaha, Nebraska; and “Mud Cookies” by Jeff Gregg of Eveleth, Minnesota.

STUDENT POETRY (enrolled in K-12 or undergraduate college)
1st Place: “Portrait of Mother in September” by Mallory Smith of Howard High School in Ellicott City, Maryland
2nd Place: “late one night” by Hannah Broderick of Punahou Prep School in Honolulu, Hawaii
3rd Place: “Resolutions Unwind” by Gabby Powell of Woodbridge High School in Woodbridge, Virginia

Four other finalists were selected for publication, including:
“The Man” by Jenny Yeoh-Wang of the Chapin School in New York City
“Touchdown” by Katherine Estes of Manassas, Virigina, student at Woodbridge Senior High School
“Fragile Identity” by “Alice” Yanhong Lu of North Potomac, Maryland, student at the Thomas Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland.

Other finalists included “The Water Cycle” by Katie Cavanaugh of Maitland, Florida, student at Winter Park High School; and “Anything But” by Emily Torres of Clinton, New Jersey, student at North Hunterdon High School in Clinton Township, New Jersey.

“Part of the fun of editing the Dylan Days journal is, once our judges rank the winners, I get to see the diversity of thoughts and words that emerge from the contest,” said Aaron Brown, coordinator of the contest and editor of “Talkin’ Blues.” “People who come to Dylan Days can pick up a copy of the journal and see that literature truly can come from the grassroots, some inspired by greats like Dylan and others, like Dylan, writing in new voices.”

Brown said Dylan Days was excited to announce that in addition to the traditional reading of contest winners, this year’s literary showcase would also be tied to a free poetry workshop, “Writing Like a Rolling Stone,” conducted by the event’s keynote speaker Duluth poet laureate (2010-2012) Sheila Packa.

Participants will do a few writing exercises in a safe and encouraging atmosphere. Participants will create poems inspired by some Dylan lyrics, personal memories, and places. We will develop metaphor, create sound and rhythm, and explore some publishing possibilities. This class is suitable for beginning and intermediate writers.

Packa has published poems, short stories, and essays in many literary magazines and anthologies, and she does readings and spoken word performances.  She grew up on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota, the granddaughter of Finnish immigrants, and lives near Duluth, Minnesota. Her work has been featured in the Good Poems, American Places (Viking Press) and To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present (New Rivers Press). She has received several awards and has three books of poems: The Mother Tongue, Echo & Lightning, and Cloud Birds. She also edited an anthology of northern Minnesota writers, Migrations: Poetry and Prose for Life’s Transitions.

The Dylan Days literary showcase is on Friday, May 25, 2013. Packa’s workshop will be from 1-3 p.m.  in the Hibbing Memorial Building Dining Hall. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged by calling Howard Street Booksellers at 218-262-5206. Participants should bring a notebook or journal along with pens or pencils. The literary reading will occur after a brief break at 3:15 in the Memorial Building Little Theater.

For more information on Dylan Days 2013, including a listing of other events, see www.dylandays.org.


  1. Fitzpatrick is one of my all time favorite teachers. That’s really cool that he did so well in Dylan Days contests. He is one of those teachers that made a lasting impact on my life. I learned a lot from him. He’s a good influence for people like me.

    Its kinda funny. He’s like the type of guy that can teach me about writing, but also kick my ass if he felt like it. Sort of a cool combination, if you think about it. That’s probably why he works so well at Mesabi teaching people like me.

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