Write On’s Santek Gets Prestigious Honor from AWP

AWP’s George Garrett Award is for Outstanding Community Service in Literature

Write On, Door County founding and artistic director Jerod Santek recently returned from a literacy conference in Kansas City with a hoarse voice and a new accolade: the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature, received for his previous work at the Loft Literary Center, and his current work at Write On. 

The hoarseness he returned with was thanks to three days of explaining Write On’s mission in the bustling conference center that hosted the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference, which drew around 10,000 attendees. 

AWP is a non-profit that supports, connects and advocates for writers, writing conferences and centers, and college creative-writing programs. Its George Garrett award, named after the late poet laureate of Virginia and one of AWP’s founding board members, is an annual award that honors teachers, writers, editors, and administrators who have used their time, labor and money to support writers. 

Santek fits this description aptly. Before his time in Door County, he served as the program director of the Loft Center, a non-profit literary-arts organization in Minneapolis that offers classes, events and resources for readers and writers. 

In that role, he led the Loft Mentor Series in Poetry and Creative Prose. The mentorship, which Santek described as a “mini MFA program,” connects 12 emerging Minnesota writers with six nationally-known writers working in the same genre. Santek also headed the McKnight Writers Fellowships, which gives five annual $25,000 awards to Minnesota writers and spoken-word artists.

Santek would leave the Loft Center, one of the oldest writing organizations in the country, to help grow one of the newest writing organizations. This came following the summer of 2013 when an anonymous gift of property gave Write On a place to call home.

Nearly 11 years later, an associate of Santek’s nominated him for the George Garrett award. Then it was up to Santek himself to ask other colleagues for further nomination letters. He rounded up around 10 in total, and was notified ahead of time that he would be receiving the award.

Santek’s prior work with AWP made receiving the award particularly special for him. He had previously served on AWP’s board, chairing their conference and serving on the selection committee for the award he received.

“I know what kind of competition they have had and the people who get nominated for that award, so it was really quite an honor,” Santek said.

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