Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Helen Frost


Patrick Boylen

Whatzup Features Writer

Published January 30, 2014

Heads Up! This article is 8 years old.

Helen Frost has broken out of the middle of the pack and stepped up as a proven leader.  The fifth of 10 children born to a Brookings, South Dakota couple, Frost graduated with a degree in elementary education with a concentration in English from Syracuse University where she counted Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.D. Snodgrass and the prolific poet Phillip Booth among her teachers. From there she went on to earn her Masters in English from Indiana University and in 2009 won a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship. 

When your autobiography is located in the reference section of most libraries, combined with garnering multiple literary accolades and over two decades of publishing in multiple genres, that’s a pretty good indication you have made it as a successful author.

Frost hasn’t always lived in Fort Wayne but she calls it home now. Her journey has taken her around the world, from Scotland to Alaska, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, South Dakota and Vermont. Her career has included both teaching and writing. She has taught at a boarding school in Scotland and a remote one-teacher school in Alaska. She has taught preschoolers through college students. I’m sure that the experiences have left an indelible mark on her soul as evidenced by her poetry, novels, picture books and plays.

Frost’s first literary success came in the form of a collection titled Skin of a Fish, Bones of a Bird which won the 1993 Women Poet Series competition. Poems in that collection won the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award and the Mary Carolyn Davis Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She followed up with another poetry collection, as if a dry wind, in 2009 .

The Fort Wayne Dance Collective, YWCA and the Fort Wayne Youtheatre have all been beneficiaries of Frost’s dedication. She worked with the Dance Collective for over 10 years as part of a violence-prevention program that incorporated creative movement, percussion, visual arts and writing into the format. The time at the Youtheatre was spent assisting high school students write about how they have been affected by violence. That experience precipitated both a play and anthology titled Why Darkness Seems So Light and led to a book on creative writing titled When I Whisper, Nobody Listens – Helping Young People Write About Difficult Issues.

Frost is the author of numerous books for children and young adults, including Keesha’s House published in 2003 (awarded a Michael Printz Honor), Spinning Through the Universe in 2004, The Braid in 2006, Diamond Willow in 2008 (winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award the Michigan Library Association Mitten Award and The Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry), Crossing Stones in 2009, Hidden in 2011 (an ALA Notable Book) and, most recently, Salt in 2013.

Her work regularly receives high praise and appreciation from her readers and peers alike. Poet Donald Mager, a long-time friend of Frost, writes about Salt, “What a marvel! You have mastered the verse novel for adolescents and do it better that anyone I know. What amazing achievements each of your books are.”

Frost’s picture books include Monarch and Milkweed and Step Gently Out, a picture book collaboration with photographer Rick Lieder.

Along with her busy literary career and community involvement, Frost is married and has made time to raise two sons. Recreational interests include traveling, hiking, beaded gourd-work, and raising and releasing monarch butterflies.

Although Frost mainly writes novels-in-poems these days, she began her writing career with poetry books, one of the more difficult genres to break into. 

Frost advises aspiring poets “to submit work to poetry competitions and magazines, both print and online. Once you establish some success, you can build on it as you put together a book length collection for submission to publishers.

“Another good resource for aspiring poets and fiction writers in the Fort Wayne area is the 1st Friday Reading held at 7:30 p.m. the first Friday of every month at the Three Rivers Co-Op.”

Frost has a broad range of published work which can be sourced online and through your local libraries and bookstores. More about Frost and her works can be found at www.helenfrost.net”.

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