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Two Sides of the Same Coin!! Two Events in One Day!!

Midwestern Author & Photographer Justin Hamm Comes to Park Hills

The Mineral Area Council on the Arts (MACOA) Second Annual Creative Writing Contest will conclude with a public reading of the winning entries following a brief Creative Writing Workshop featuring Missouri author Justin Hamm.  Winners will be announced October 13th prior to the workshop at Mineral Area College Fine Art Gallery (Theater Foyer) at 3:00 pm on October 23rd.

Justin Hamm was a featured artist in 2020 selected by the Missouri Arts Council, recognized as a poet, photographer, and citizen of the American Middle West, currently residing in Mexico, Missouri.

Originally from the flatlands of central Illinois, Justin Hamm now lives near Twain territory in Missouri. He is the founding editor of the museum of americana, (an online magazine at and the author of three collections of poetry, The Inheritance, American Ephemeral, and Lessons in Ruin, and a book of photographs entitled Midwestern. His poems, stories, photos, and reviews have appeared in Nimrod, The Midwest Quarterly, Sugar House Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and a host of other publications. Recent work has also been selected for New Poetry from the Midwest (2014, New American Press) and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize from the St. Louis Poetry Center.

Justin’s poetry/photography show entitled Midwestern has traveled the Midwest region, appearing in a number of galleries over the two years leading up to 2019. In 2019, his poem “Goodbye, Sancho Panza” was studied by approximately 50,000 students worldwide as a part of the World Scholar’s Cup curriculum.  Hamm served as the keynote speaker at the World Scholar’s Cup in Manila, Philippines.

The day will encompass Justin’s photography exhibit beginning at 2:00 p.m., a Creative Writing Workshop at 3:00 p.m. following be a break.  Hamm will subsequently provide a Photography Seminar at 6:00 p.m. The photography exhibit will host Hamm’s works depicting Midwestern relics so familiar to the landscape.  “I find his images of solitary farm tractors, silenced railyards, abandoned autos, wayworn signposts and other time-defeated places offer intimate connections with Midwest Americana…Through superb depth of field, clarity and precision, the scrutiny of his camera links past and present, bestowing to the viewer an intimate, poignant, often spectral, aura of transience.” stated his long-time publisher, Jeffrey Alfier, Founder and Co-editor, Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review.

“Justin’s photographs resonate with me as a view into my own childhood.  While somewhat melancholy, there is a rawness of truth and resilience to the subjects.  Those who romanticize about days gone by or thrive upon creating characters and stories around a long-empty house, a faded red barn or past-its-prime Chevrolet will take pause when viewing his photographic work,” shares Scottye Adkins, Executive Director of MACOA.

“It’s mournful and sad because there’s a lot of decay around us,” said Hamm. “But if you also look at those things, you see the sturdiness of the past, as well. Many of those things could be totally gone, but they are stubborn, kind of like people in the Midwest sometimes, and they don’t totally disappear.”

At the heart of Hamm’s work is a celebration of the everyday.

“I’m kind of obsessed with it. I think poets and photographers tend to be watchers, people watchers. The everyday has a lot of drama in it. Something as simple as an old thing sitting in a field has a drama to it or a story. I hope that photographing or describing everyday things in a poem, I can pass that love on to somebody else.”

The photo exhibit, the Creative Writing Workshop with public readings of the winning entries from the Creative Writing Contest, and the Photography Seminar are free to the public.  This event is made possible with public support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.