By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – A book of poems by former University of Nebraska at Kearney English professor Don Welch has won the 2017 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry.
“Homing: The Collected Poems of Don Welch (1975-2015)” was recognized Saturday (Oct. 21) at the Celebration of Nebraska Books ceremony in Lincoln.
The Nebraska Book Awards program, sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission, recognizes and honors books written or published by Nebraskans, about Nebraska or set in the state.
“Homing: The Collected Poems of Don Welch (1975-2015)” is almost 300 pages and is a sampling of Welch’s 26-plus books. It was the brainchild of Welch’s former students and UNK alumni Dwaine Spieker and Jeff Lacey. An English teacher at Wayne High School, Spieker was the book’s editor. Lacey, who teaches English at Ralston High School, served as the collection’s publisher.
Welch, who had a bronze sculpture dedicated to him on the UNK campus in 2001, died Aug. 6, 2016, at his Kearney home. He was 84.
He taught at UNK from 1959-97 and authored several published poetry collections. He was the Martin Distinguished Professor of English and Reynolds Chair of Poetry at UNK. His many national honors included the prestigious Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, judged by the poet William Stafford.
Although he officially retired from the English department in 1997, he continued to teach in the UNK Department of Philosophy until 2008.