By Mary Ann Grossmann

Mark Vinz, fiction writer, poet and retired professor of English at Minnesota State University Moorhead, is winner of the Minnesota Book Awards 2014 Kay Sexton Award for outstanding work in fostering books, reading and literary activity. Sponsored by Common Good Books, the award honors Kay Sexton, who was an influential book buyer at B. Dalton Booksellers and the first recipient.

“Mni Sota Makoce, The Land of the Dakota,” by Gwen Westerman and Bruce White, will receive the 2014 Hognander Minnesota History Award. This biennial award, supported by the Hognander Family Foundation, recognizes and celebrates the most outstanding scholarly work published in 2012 or 2013 on a topic of Minnesota history.

These awards, announced Monday by Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, will be presented at the April 5 Minnesota Book Awards gala at Union Depot in St. Paul.

Vinz was on the Moorhead faculty for 40 years, mentoring countless emerging writers as director of the MFA program in creative writing and serving as co-director of the Tom McGrath Visiting Writers series from 1986 to 2006. He founded and edited “Dacotah Territory,” one of the state’s most successful literary journals, a model and inspiration for many other Minnesota magazines and small presses, and edited “Dakota Arts Quarterly” from 1977 to 1984. Vinz was co-founder of Plains Distribution Service, which brought books to small Midwestern communities.

Previous honors for Vinz include three Minnesota Book Awards, six PEN Syndicated Fiction Awards, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry and the title of North Dakota poet laureate. He edited several anthologies showcasing Minnesota poets and writers, including “Inheriting the Land: Contemporary Voices from the Midwest,” winner of a 1993 Minnesota Book Award.

“Mni Sota Makoce” (Minnesota Historical Society Press), winner of the 2013 Minnesota Book Award in the Minnesota category, draws on oral history interviews, archival work and comparisons of Dakota, French and English sources to tell the history of the Dakota people in their traditional homelands prior to exile following the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. Westerman is professor of English and humanities at Minnesota State University-Mankato; White is author of “We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People.”

For information about the Book Awards gala, go to or call 651-222-3242.