English Professor Wins 2016 Mark Twain Award for Midwestern Literature

Michael Martone

Michael Martone

From the June 2016 Desktop News | Michael Martone, a professor of English and creative writing, was selected as the winner of the 2016 Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contributions to Midwestern Literature.

Martone, author of more than 25 books and anthologies, joins such past Mark Twain Award recipients as Gwendolyn Brooks, Ted Kooser, and Philip Levine.

“I feel really good about the award,” he said. “It came out of the blue. I had no idea people were thinking about me so that makes it really special.

“It’s a strange thing because it’s a regional group having to deal with Midwest literature. It is true that I write a lot about the Midwest, but I’ve lived in Alabama for 20 years. A lot of Midwesterners don’t think of me as a Midwesterner because I live in the South, and Southerners don’t look at me as a Southerner because I’m from the Midwest.”

Martone was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He attended Butler University and graduated from Indiana University. He holds a master’s degree from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

The Mark Twain Award was established in 1980 by David D. Anderson, a founder for the society, to honor the Midwest’s greatest writers, said Marcia Noe, awards chair for the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. The award’s first recipient was Jack Conroy.

“Five people were up for this award,” Noe said. “Michael was selected for his versatility and originality across several genres of Midwestern literature.”

Martone received a plaque, had his name added to the list of award winners on the cover of the society’s journal, and participated in a reading from his most recent book, Winesburg, Indiana.