Writing about local history brings together three of my passions: place, story, and language. So I was more than delighted at the Council for Wisconsin Writers awards banquet on Saturday to see Milwaukee historian John Gurda receive this year’s CWW Major Achievement award.
“I believe in the power of shared stories to shape communities,” Gurda said. “What I’ve always loved about history is how it explains how we got here.” Since 1972, he has written twenty-one books about Milwaukee and has no plans to stop. Milwaukee Public Television based a five-hour documentary on his The Making of Milwaukee.
Someone once asked him if being a writer ever felt lonely. “A large part of me wants to be left alone,” he said. Most writing is solitary work. It was a rare treat on Saturday to be in a room full of people brought together by their love of writing.
Other Wisconsin writers recognized at the CWW banquet for outstanding work published in 2016 include Catherine Jague, David Southward, Carolyn Kott Washburne, Liz Wyckoff, Rachel Davidson Leigh, Particia Skalka, and Paula Dáil.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.