Finalist for 2019 Kraken Book Prize for Middle-Grade Fiction
Born in Detroit, Lisa Sukenic, grew up just one mile beyond the city limits. Her earliest memories include mom reading Ogden Nash or e.e cummings while dad sang off key, usually musical jingles like “King of the Road” a particular playlist favorite. Picking up a pencil at the age of two, Lisa wrote a language of her own creation. She began keeping diaries by age seven. Although her family owned few books, they spent hours at the library. Life included straightening her hair with soup cans, Go Go Boots, and the Vietnam war on the TV news. Writing in school was surprisingly mostly unmemorable, except a high school research paper that she wrote on the shooting at Kent State.
William James College surrounded her with a community of writers, artists, musicians, environmentalists and activists. Here she read Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Annie Dillard, and Frances Moore Lape. She received her a degree in Modern Dance and Urban and Environmental and Studies. In the company of accomplished poets and writers, Lisa wrote poetry, stories, and essays focused on feminism, family and the natural world. Her first poem appeared in the college publication.
She earned a Masters in teaching, landing her first job at a small progressive school in Kalamazoo. After seventeen years, in 2003, she moved to Chicago, to teach at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools where she has taught for the last sixteen years. She brought the Global Reading Challenge to Lab and spends the summer reading multicultural literature and selecting books for the next year. Her students write and publish their own novels in a year, and celebrate with a book release reading at a local Chicago bookstore. She received the Mary V. Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2008.
In 2009, Lisa received her poetry certificate from the University of Chicago Graham School. She was accepted to A Room of Her Own Writer’s retreat at the Georgia O’Keefe Ranch, Abiqui, New Mexico, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015. She participated twice in the VCFA Writing Children and Young Adults workshops.
Lisa’s an active member of The Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators. Her middle grade novel Miles from Motown, received notable recognition-asa finalist in the Many Voices Manuscript Contest, and for the Laura Crawford Memorial Scholarship in 2016. Miles from Motown, won the SCBWI-IL Prairie Writer’s Day manuscript contest, 2016.
Her publications include a short story, “Welcome Home,” in A Reason to be Here. Haikus in Everyday Haikus an Anthology, as well as poems featured in Not for Ourselves Alone: Gender Politics and Parenting in the 21st Century, Title IX, and the Friends of Poetry adult contest winner.
When she is not reading or writing, or listening to NPR in traffic on Lakeshore Drive she is learning to play fiddle. She currently lives with 3 cats, 2 dogs, 4 children and her partner, outside of Chicago.
Miles from Motown was selected as a finalist in Fitzroy Books’ Kraken Award, and we are delighted to publish this work in the spring of 2021.