Attendees at the 9th annual Charlie Awards last January had no idea the two short spoken-word presentations from Dan "Klecko" McGleno were being delivered by a baker/poet whose poetry collection, Hitman-Baker-Casketmaker: Aftermath of an American’s Clash with ICE, was named a finalist in the General Poetry category of the 30th annual Midwest Book Awards.
"Klecko’s nomination for a Midwest Book Award is an honor not only for him, but for Paris Morning Publications," said Publisher Julie Pfitzinger, a small publishing house in the Twin Cities. To which Klecko replied, "My publisher asked if I was surprised that my poems were getting as much attention as college professors and MFA (master's of fine art) writers. I answered, ‘Not at all, I learned to tell stories in a kitchen, not a classroom—baking is sexier than academics.’"
Organized by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association, the awards program recognizes quality in independent publishing. The 30th annual awards was open to books published and copyrighted in 2019 in the association’s 12-state Midwestern region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
This year’s competition garnered 221 entries in 31 categories, according to Pfitzinger, which were judged by a panel of 99 librarians and booksellers in the 12-state region. The winners will be announced on June 27. Due to the current pandemic, the ceremony will be virtual.
Klecko was the long-time head baker/COO of Saint Agnes Bakery before a clash with ICE over their crew, most of whom were immigrants, forced them close their doors. He now works for Grandma’s Bakery and is a columnist with Foodservice News. Because his book caught the media’s attention, he’s been featured in a number of articles countrywide and has become an ambassador for both poetry and immigrant issues.