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Professor emerita of English receives first place in fiction contest

April 21, 2014
Karen Loeb, professor emerita of English at UW-Eau Claire.


EAU CLAIRE — Karen Loeb, a professor emerita of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, is the 2014 first-place winner in Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine's fiction contest for her story "The Walk to Makino." Susanna Daniel, a novelist living in Madison, served as the judge for this year's contest.

The prize for first place includes publication in Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine, produced by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters; a $500 cash prize; and a one-week artist residency at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts located in Mineral Point.

"The Walk to Makino" depicts a woman's relationship with her father during his visit to her home in Japan and was inspired by her own experience, Loeb said.

"My stories often explore family relationships," Loeb said. "Through the vibrant exchange program between Kansai Gaidai University and UW-Eau Claire, my husband and I lived and taught in Japan twice, for six months each time. My father came to visit during one of our residencies, and that proved to be the inspiration for 'The Walk to Makino.' It is fictional, but I used some real-life events to shape it."

For Loeb, who teaches creative writing and literature at UW-Eau Claire, writing is a solitary pursuit.

"I don't show my work to many people at all," Loeb said. "Mostly, I work on my own and then send out a story or poem to try for publication. When I write, I let it take over and find its own shape. Enjoyment often comes after I've written a piece, and after revising and more revising, it feels finished."

Loeb's fiction has appeared widely in such magazines as the North American Review, Louisville Review and Thema. She also has won a Minnesota Voices Project award for her collection "Jump Rope Queen."Other stories have won PEN Syndicated Fiction prizes, and she is a past recipient of a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship.

"The Walk to Makino" will be published in May and will be available in print and online.

"Receiving this award is an affirmation that my work has meaning and resonance," Loeb said. "For this, I am so thankful."

For more information about "The Walk to Makino" or Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine's fiction contest, contact Karen Loeb at or 715-836-3140.



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