You'll have to pardon the proud uncle.
My nephew, Steve Gehrke, son of my sister, Nancy, and her husband Jerry Gehrke, is one of five poets to have his book manuscript selected as a winner in the 2005 National Poetry Series Open Competition. Steve's book is titled Michelangelo's Seizure; it was selected by T. R. Hummer; and it will be published next year by the University of Illinois Press. I always tell people that Steve is "the award-winning poet in the family" - his first book, The Resurrection Machine (BkMk Press, 2000) won the 1999 John Ciardi Prize for Poetry; his second book, The Pyramids of Malpighi (Ahinga Press, 2004) won the 2002 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. Not bad work for a fellow whose kidneys stopped functioning when he was a very young man, and whose prognosis for the future looked pretty dim for a while. His mother gave him a kidney, which his body rejected. He was given a kidney from a matching cadaver, which his body rejected. His sister, Gwen, gave him a kidney, and the third time was the charm. Both The Resurrection Machine and The Pyramids of Malpighi contain poems about those tough times; indeed, the pyramids of malpighi are structures in the kidney.
Nadine Meyer is a lovely woman who brings Steve much happiness; and she is a bodacious poet too. Milwaukee poet John Koethe selected Nadine's manuscript, The Anatomy Theater, which will be published by HarperCollins. This is Nadine's first book. Her poem, "The Flayed Man," was awarded a 2004 Pushcart Prize.
The National Poetry Series was established in 1978 to recognize and promote excellence in contemporary poetry by ensuring the publication of five books of poetry a year through a series of participating publishers. Five distinguished poets each select one winning manuscript for publication from entries to the organization's Open Competition. In addition to publication, each winner receives a $1000 prize.
Steve and Nadine are both currently Ph.D. students at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
They are expecting their first child in November.
Steve and Nadine are not my only relatives who write, by the way. Poet P.F. Allen, author of Surface Tension (Bellowing Ark Press, 2004) is a double first cousin. Susan Montag, author of the book of stories, Nude Ascending a Staircase (Bellowing Ark Press, 2001) and Finding The Way: A Tao For Down-to-earth People (forthcoming from Nicolas-Hays in October 2005), is a double first cousin once removed. In coming months you'll hear more from me about all these writers' books, as I undertake writing about this writing family and tuck the posts into a folder called "A Family of Writers."
The photograph of Steve and Nadine comes from the web site of The Missouri Review.