Topeka, Kan. – Brian Daldorph, of Lawrence, Kan., is the winner of the 2024 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Literary Nonfiction for “Words is a Powerful Thing: Twenty Years of Teaching Creative Writing at Douglas County Jail.”

      Daldorph is a creative writing instructor at the Douglas County Jail in Lawrence, Kan., and a senior lecturer in the English department at the University of Kansas. He has written six books of poetry, including “Kansas Poems” and “Blue Notes.” He is editor of the literary journal “Coal City Review.”

      This year’s judge Rebekah Taussig, who won the award in 2021 for her memoir “Sitting Pretty,” wrote, “I kept finding myself turning back to Daldorph's book, rereading underlined passages and thinking about the inmates' poems at different times throughout the day. This book cuts to the heart of what so many of us value as writers and readers—the power of bare language and simple self-narration. And also, at times, a stark look at its limitations. I found myself thinking differently about my own writing - what are the stories I want to tell and why - and the way I teach writing - what is this work, what is the goal. I was surprised by this book, and the words I read will stay with me.”

      The Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award alternates between genres (2025 Poetry, 2026 Fiction and 2027 Literary Nonfiction). This award is sponsored by the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection at Mabee Library and the Friends of Mabee Library. For more information about the Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award, and to learn more about Daldorph and his work, please visit:

      This year's award ceremony will be held 4:30 p.m. Friday, September 27, 2024, at the Washburn University Library and Student Success Center (1731 Plass Ave), Room 119, the day before the annual Kansas Book Festival, on the Washburn University campus, September 28.


For further information, contact:
Tom Averill
Professor Emeritus of English
Joy Bailes
Director of Internal Communications and Brand Management
Office: 785-670-2153
Cell: 785-230-1648
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