Tuesday | October 4, 2022 | 17:00pm
Blue Heron Coffeehouse | 162 W 2nd St
Winona, MN

The First Tuesday Laureate Writers Series returns after being on hold for more than two years because of Covid. Held on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at 7:00pm at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse (162 W 2nd St in Winona), this year’s opening event will feature Northfield, Minnesota poet Steve McCown. This will be a homecoming for McCown, who was born and raised in Winona. The event is free and open to the public with an open mic session for up to ten writers following McCown’s presentation.

McCown graduated from Winona State University and earned a Master’s Degree in English at Northern Arizona University. For over 30 years he taught English and drama in the San Pasqual Unified School District in Winterhaven, California, and English part-time at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he has published poems in several literary journals, and five of his poems are imprinted in the sidewalks of Northfield, where he currently resides with his wife Barbara, also a WSU graduate. His first book of poetry Ghosting was published in 2020 by Shipwreckt Books Publishing Company, which recently established its new home in Winona.

This First Tuesday Laureate Writers Series event will be sponsored by the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, in cooperation with the Blue Heron Coffeehouse.


Saturday | July 30, 2022 | 11:00am cdt
Winona Arts Center | 228 E 5th St
Winona, MN

Watch the video of this event above. Click here to see the winners and read their sonnets.

On July 30th, we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest and the winners of the 2022 contest. Many of the winners read their sonnets over Zoom while locals gathered at the Winona Arts Center for the reading followed by a reception.

Each year, the contest winners are publicly announced at our closing event. Out of necessity, this celebration has been presented on Zoom for the past two years. This year it was a hybrid event held both on Zoom and at the Winona Arts Center in Winona, Minnesota.

Many winners read their sonnet at the event. For those who were not able to participate, actors from the Great River Shakespeare Festival read their sonnets.

Participation in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest reached an all-time high in 2022! We received 700 sonnets, a 15% increase over 2021. They came from 42 US states plus Washington, DC and 10 other countries. We are particularly pleased with how many sonnets were submitted to the Youth category: 74, a 50% increase!

Winning an award in this year's contest is indeed a high honor. We also want to celebrate everyone who took a chance, followed their muse, and shared their poetry with us. We hope you will join us at the Closing Event to help us celebrate! As always, if you have any questions, please send us an email:

Turn and Turnabout: Contemporary Sonnets

Turn and Turnabout: Contemporary Sonnets was presented by Melissa Range on May 24, 2022 on Zoom. If you were not able to attend, we invite you to watch the video of the wonderful discussion (above).

From Melissa, “The sonnet is one of the most flexible of poetic forms, lending itself to all kinds of formal innovations. We will look at a handful of contemporary sonnets and talk about how contemporary poets both follow and break the rules of the sonnet, as well as how the flexibility of the sonnet affects us as readers and inspires us as writers. Time permitting, we may also do a short sonnet exercise!”

Melissa Range is the author of Scriptorium, a winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series (Beacon Press, 2016), and Horse and Rider (Texas Tech University Press, 2010). Recent poems have appeared in Ecotone, The Iowa Review, The Nation, and Ploughshares. Range is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Originally from East Tennessee, she teaches creative writing and American literature at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. More information about Melissa is available at

National Poetry Month Celebration!

Tuesday / April 12th / 6:30pm
Blue Heron Coffeehouse / 162 W 2nd St / Winona, MN

The Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest returned to the tradition of celebrating National Poetry Month with a gathering to honor the sonnet. Following social time with music by Flutistry, Ken Mogren read from his new book, Emilio DeGrazia spoke about sonnet writing, and Ken McCullough lead everyone in a Speed Sonnet writing activity.

Local Winona sonneteer Ken Mogren read from his new book of humorous sonnets, Spunky Grandmas and Other Amusing Characters, which will be available in May.

Retired from the insurance industry, Winona’s Sonnet Contest inspired Ken to write sonnets and now he is a published poet!

Visit to learn more.

The 2021 Sonnet Contest Closing Event was held on Saturday, July 31st. The winners were announced and many read their sonnets at this online celebration. Actors from the Great River Shakespeare Festival and our judges also read winning sonnets.

Click on the video to view the recording of the Zoom event or watch it at


The 2020 Sonnet Contest CLOSING EVENT was held on Saturday, August 8, 2020, at 11:00am central time. For the first time, this event was held online. The winning sonnets were read by some of the winners and by members of the Great River Shakespeare Festival acting company. Click on the video to view the recording of the Zoom event or watch it at