Elder wins award for work mentoring writers

Karl Elder, Lakeland College’s Fessler Professor of Creative Writing, has been named the recipient of the Christopher Latham Sholes Award by the Council for Wisconsin Writers for outstanding encouragement of Wisconsin writers.

The Christopher Latham Sholes Award is given bi-annually to a person nominated in recognition of his or her work in promoting Wisconsin writers.

“I’m grateful [for winning the award],” he said. “My hope is that it will bring attention to the Great Lakes Writers Festival.” The May 12 luncheon will be another opportunity for Elder’s family to get together. He will be joined by his wife, two sons, and grandchild at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee.

Elder said that the Council for Wisconsin Writers called the Sholes “their highest award,” and he considered it to be one of his most memorable honors. This is due in part to Elder’s enthusiasm for helping others.

Elder was honored for his long history of mentoring and showcasing the work of Wisconsin writers, especially in coordinating the college’s Great Lakes Writers Festival.

In addition to the GLWF, Elder has logged countless hours nurturing and assisting writers from all over the world.

He has been the editor of the literary publication “Seems” for more than three decades. “Seems,” which was started in 1971 by students at Northern Illinois University, recently published its 46th edition. It collects essays, short stories, poetry, and other works. A number of Elder’s Lakeland students have served in leadership roles on the publication over the years.

Elder has paved the way for numerous students to go on to graduate school, written dozen of letters of recommendation, and provided independent editing and advice on numerous works.

He has also worked with young teens seeking their communications merit badge from the Boys Scouts of America. Elder is a member of the National Eagle Scout Association and earned the prestigious Vigil Honor of the Order of the Arrow.

“I’m excited about teaching and mentoring … and I like to see other people do it, too,” he said.

“The person who was going to nominate me initially wrote me and asked me, ‘What can I say?’ And the reason [she] wanted to nominate me, she said, is because she’s familiar with all the activities I’m involved in,” Elder said.

One of the things she mentioned was that one of Elder’s former students is getting national attention.

The student Elder mentioned gaining national attention is Matthew Henriksen, who got his B.A. in writing from Lakeland in 2001. His book, “Ordinary Sun,” was published in 2011 and has been well received (based upon feedback of his book on goodreads.com, an online book club community). The 67 reviews given to him yield a score of 4.55 out of 5. Henriksen is currently serving as a writing instructor at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.

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