Alumna Kaethe Schwehn ’00 Wins Minnesota Book Award

Posted on April 19th, 2015 by

Kaethe Schwehn '00

Kaethe Schwehn ’00

Gustavus Adolphus College alumna Kaethe Schwehn ’00 recently won a 2015 Minnesota Book Award in the Memoir and Creative Nonfiction category for her book Tailings: A Memoir. The winners were announced at the Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 18 at the St. Paul Union Depot.

In Tailings, Schwehn takes readers back to 2001 when, in search of her own personal Eden, she came to Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center nestled in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. What seemed at first like a utopian ideal faded over the months and she was left with 354 inches of snow, a prowling cougar, sixty-five disgruntled villagers, and a pile of copper mine tailings 150 feet high. The book is a memoir of intentional community and a passionate and awkward journey about embracing the in-between times in our lives.

After graduating from Gustavus in 2000, Schwehn went on to study creative writing at the University of Montana and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she earned a master of fine arts degree. She currently teaches composition and creative writing at St. Olaf College.

In addition to writing Tailings, Schwehn is the co-editor of Claiming Our Callings: Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts. Her poems and prose have been published in journals such as Crazyhorse, Pleiades, jubilat, Witness, Minnesota Review and the anthology Fiction on a Stick. She is a previous recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, a Loft Mentor Series Award, the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net Anthology Award. More information about Schwehn and her writing is available online at

This is the second consecutive year that a Gustavus alumnus has won a Minnesota Book Award. 1998 graduate Matt Rasmussen won in 2014 in the poetry category for his debut collection of poems titled Black Aperture.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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