Judges

Joy of the Pen Judges are chosen from the Topsham Public Library community and are kept a secret until the reception. Similarly, all judging is anonymous. The judges only see the applicants’ work, with no names or bios attached.

2016 Judges

Fiction
Anne Britting Oleson lives and writes in the mountains of Central Maine with her family and cats. She has published two poetry chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (Moon Pie Press, 2007) and The Beauty of It (Sheltering Pines Press, 2010), as well as a novel, The Book of the Mandolin Player (Bedazzled Ink Publishing, 2016). Another chapbook, Counting the Days, and another novel, Dovecote, are due out in 2017.

Poetry
Gary Rainford lives year-round on Swan’s Island with his wife and daughter.  Gary is the author of the poetry collection, Salty Liquor and founder of Island Verse, a creative writing literacy enterprise. This summer Gary’s suite of poems called We Are Here was an honorable mention selected by Betsy Sholl for The Gabriel Zimpritch Memorial Poetry Contest at the Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth. Gary’s next collection of poetry, Liner Notes—64 ekphrasic poems describing 64 musicians as artists making music—is forthcoming.

Nonfiction
Sharon Ross is a part-time faculty member at Southern and Central Maine Community Colleges and is the part-time development coordinator at the Topsham Public Library. She grew up in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada and San Bernardino mountains and loved exploring her favorite places in Yosemite, Laguna Beach, Lake Arrowhead, and Cabazon. She has a penchant for road trips, easy sewing projects, and getting lost. She loves building community with her family and friends in the midcoast area. Her alma maters include Riverside City College, California State University San Bernardino (BA-English), and the University of Southern Maine at Stonecast  (MFA-Nonfiction/fiction). She has published poetry and creative nonfiction in Pacific Review and Lake Effect and news and feature articles in Portland Press Herald’s Raising Maine, The San Bernardino Sun, and the Mountain News.

Maine-related Nonfiction
Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books publishing Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. In 2015, Just Write Books released Topsham, Maine: from the River to the Highlands by Robert C. Williams. During the 1970s, Randolph served as a Navy Journalist working on newspapers, in radio and television, and as a public relations specialist. An active community citizen, Randolph served on the Topsham Board of Selectmen in the late 1980s and the Brunswick Town Council in the early 2000s. She co-chaired the rehabilitation effort of the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge and still serves on the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.org. Just Write will soon release a history of the last century of the First Parish Church in Brunswick.

Teen
Marti Crippen is currently a senior at the University of New England in Biddeford. Her major is Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology. She plans on teaching at Williams-Cone school in Topsham as that is where she grew up. She has been going to the library for as long as she can remember and is glad for the opportunity to volunteer with the library.

2015 Judges

Fiction
Dianne Benedict’s stories, which appeared in North American Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Rosebud, and Gargoyle, among other magazines, have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories series, and in The Best Fiction from the Atlantic Monthly. Her first collection, Shiny Objects, won the Iowa short Fiction Award, judged that year by Raymond Carver. She is a recipient of grants from The National Endowment of the Arts, the Ohio Arts Counsel, and Maine Counsel for the Arts. She teaches at The University of Southern Maine, and lives by a saltwater marsh in Brunswick, Maine.

Poetry
Gary Lawless is co-owner of Gulf of Maine Bookstore in Brunswick, and the editor/publisher of Blackberry Books. He has published 16 collections of poems in the United States and 4 in Italy, and has given readings and workshops in a number of countries including Italy, Slovenia, Turkey, Latvia, Lithuania and Cuba. He currently teaches at MidCoast Senior College and is poet in residence at the Cathance River Preserve in Topsham.

Nonfiction
Nicole Rancourt spent a year traveling and performing in Up With People before earning her degree in Education from the University of Maine and diving into teaching Humanities. While teaching, Nicole participated in Maine Humanities Council’s Teaching American History program and in 2013, MHC welcomed her on as a Program Officer. As part of her work with libraries, she shares the title of Collaborative Summer Library Program State Representative. Nicole’s eclectic array of interests includes the outdoors, music, art, animals, cooking, reading, baseball, hockey and much more.

Maine-related Nonfiction
Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books publishing Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Just Write Books recently released Topsham, Maine: from the River to the Highlands by Robert C. Williams. During the 1970s, Randolph served as a Navy Journalist working on newspapers, radio, television and public relations. Randolph is currently completing her Maine Secondary English teaching certification. Randolph served on the Topsham Board of Selectmen in the late 1980s and the Brunswick Town Council in the early 2000s. She co-chaired the rehabilitation effort of the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge and still serves on the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org.

Teen
Melissa Walshe mucks about with words in just about every possible way. She published her first book, Autumn’s Daughter in 2014 and will soon be releasing the sequel, Autumn’s Sister. She is a professional copywriter for shines & jecker laboratories and the creator of ReadMaine.com, an online resource that supports writers who are living and working in Maine. She has an Ed.M. in language and literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in linguistics from the University of Southern Maine. Melissa also leads the Writers Meetup here at the Topsham Public Library. Most of her waking (and dreaming) hours are spent thinking about how to tell a more compelling story.

2014 Judges

Fiction
Linda Aldrich has published two collections of poetry, Foothold (2008) and March and Mad Women (2012). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and her poem “Woman-without-Arms” won the Emily Dickinson Award 2000. Linda holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She served as director of the Young Conservatory and a member of the repertory at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco for ten years, and later, as Associate Professor of English and Humanities at Aims Community College in Greeley, Colorado.  She also taught writing at Colorado State University and Keene State College.  Linda is currently the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (MWPA) and lives in Portland with her husband David and their exceptional dog Simba.

Teen
Although born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Nicole Jakubowski grew up in Connecticut. She loves the mountains of New England and graduated from Plymouth State University with a BA in English Literature. She has written two Young Adult books. When she is not working as a senior data analyst for Thomson Reuters in Portland, she is reading or writing.

Nonfiction
Larissa Vigue Picard is Director of Education and Interpretation for Maine Historical Society and is Secretary of the Topsham Public Library Board of Trustees. Prior to returning to her home state of Maine in 2007, Larissa lived in Vermont for 15 years. She has worked as a freelance writer and helped co-found the Young Vermont Writers’ Conference at Champlain College. At the time she left Vermont, she was Director of Community Programs at Vermont Humanities Council. Larissa holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in English Literature from Bates College and Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English, respectively. A member of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, Larissa continues to write creative non-fiction in her spare time. She enjoys spending time with her husband and 10-year-old son, volunteering at her son’s elementary school, cooking and eating really good food, and, of course, reading.

Poetry
Maryli Tiemann has been a teacher for over 30 years, sharing her love of communication and community with others.  As founder of Longfellow Days, a celebration of the life of Henry W. Longfellow, she has gathered others around poetry and area poets in Brunswick each February.  Maryli lives in Brunswick with her husband, David and their son, Joe and grandson, Eli.

2013 Judges

Fiction
Stephanie Doyon studied creative writing at Colby College with Pulitzer-Prize winning author Richard Russo. She is the author of fourteen novels for young adults and a work of literary fiction entitled The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole, which received the Maine Literary Award for Fiction. Her novel was also featured in the New York Times, on CBS’s Sunday Morning program, and was named a Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

Nonfiction
Jennifer Balser is an English major at USM and the recipient of the 2013 Richard W. Carbonneau, Jr. Scholarship for “active English majors who are non-traditional students with outstanding writing ability.” She used this scholarship to attend the Stonecoast Writers Conference where she was enrolled in the Memoir class under the guidance of Susan Conley. See Jennifer talk about the Richard F. Snow award here.

Poetry
Steve Gibbon has a MFA in Fiction and Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has featured in various publications including Harpur Palate, PANK Magazine and Words and Images, where he won the 2008 Excellence in Expression Award. He also served as the 2011 Words and Images poetry editor. In 2014, he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for his short story, “An Animal under the Ground,” published in Armchair/Shotgun, a Brooklyn-based literary journal.