Jim Wilkins, 2009 Award Winner

Joe Wilkins was born and raised north of the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana. He lives with his wife and son on the north Iowa prairie, where he teaches writing at Waldorf College.


His poems, essays, and stories appear in the Georgia Review, the Southern Review, the Missouri Review, Mid-American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Orion and Slate.

His work has won numerous awards and honors, including multiple Pushcart Prize nominations, notable mention in Best American Essays, the Obsidian Prize for Nonfiction Writing about the American West, the 2008 Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers, and Boulevard Magazine’s Emerging Poets Contest. Joe Wilkins' memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers, was published by Counterpoint Press in 2012.

Excerpts from reviews of The Mountain and the Fathers:

"Joe Wilkins writes his truths straight from the broken heart of a broken land. When I read his personal stories, so lyrically and wondrously imagined, I feel a beautiful and sometimes terrifying emotion rise up in me — mythic, redemptive, and sustaining. If you want to read what matters, read this."
—Kim Barnes, author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

"Joe Wilkins' sketches of life in Montana's Big Dry country, north of Billings and halfway to nowhere, are filled with a potent combination of loving poetry and bitter nostalgia. You can smell the sage and wild onions and feel how this land apart forms and twists those who live there, and sometimes kills them. Wilkins' search for his father — and for himself--takes its own twist: the Big Dry may care nothing for pilgrims and father seekers, but it marks its own as surely as a father marks a son."
— John N. Maclean

"Joe Wilkins grew up on the enormous plains of eastern Montana. He found plenty to respect and revere and plenty to escape. And he learned the stories and how to tell them. "The Mountain and the Fathers" is vivid and compelling. We're reading it in Montana in order to understand ourselves. And for the pure pleasure we find in the storytelling."

—William Kittredge 

"Joe Wilkins grew up hard in the middle of nowhere — the bent-back, make-do world of the driest, loneliest country in all Montana--and after reading this memoir about the West, about myth, about manhood, about grief and transcendence, I felt at once heartbroken and hopeful and ultimately awed by his ability to twist sentences like barbed wire, his voice wondrously rich with dirt-and-gravel poetry."

— Benjamin Percy, author of "The Wilding"

Richard J. Margolis Award

c/o Margolis & Bloom

100 William Street

Suite 220

Wellesley, MA 02481




© 2018, Richard J. Margolis Award