Rising Phoenix Winner Danielle Lemke
Exciting news everyone! While you all have gotten a chance to meet 3/4 Rising Phoenix judges, it is time to meet 3/4 Rising Phoenix winners. The Rising Phoenix Contest is a signature part of Sheepshead Review issues. It showcases and uplifts UW – Green Bay students and their talents across the Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry, and Visual Arts genres. UW – Green Bay students who submit their work to Sheepshead Review are automatically considered a part of the Rising Phoenix Contest, and the genre staffs select multiple pieces to send off to our celebrity judges. These judges review each piece sent to them and then choose a winner. From this stage, the winners of Rising Phoenix receive their own page in the issue, and readers get to view the comments that the judge has about the selected piece.
To get you all excited about the upcoming issue, I thought to showcase our Rising Phoenix winners on the blog in a way that allows you all to get to know them, and their artistic styles, before the release of the Spring 2021 issue. I’d like to introduce you to Danielle Lemke: the Rising Phoenix winner for the Nonfiction genre.
What inspired you to create the piece that you submitted for the Rising Phoenix Contest?
When I heard they are looking for animal pieces to honor the late, great Dr. Schuetze, I just had to jump at the chance. I normally write fiction, but I have so many great animal stories from my childhood that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give nonfiction a go.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always loved writing. The images and stories I am able to put in people’s heads has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, so to speak. But person who has fueled that flame throughout the years has been my grandmother. She has been my biggest support in the writing world. We could talk for hours on end about books and her telling me stories of her experiences writing. It was her that made me realize I could make a career out of my passion.
When does creativity strike for you?
Creativity strikes in strange ways. I could be driving down the highway and see a cloud that looks like a person and make up their whole story to pass the time. Those are always the most unfortunate times because I will forget everything I just thought when I get out of my car.
What elements shape your writing? What is it that you are interested to write about? What are your themes, your genres, your topics of interests, etc.?
I normally stick with fiction. That is what I am most comfortable with. As for genres, I am all over the place. One minute I will be thinking about writing a thriller novel, and the next will be fantasy. Yet, over the years, I have seen a pattern in my writing where I seem to unintentionally add in a dark twist in my fiction writing.
How long have you been a writer? How has your talent evolved since then, if applicable?
There are a few stories that stick with you over the years; hand-written stories from when you were five, school papers you got a good grade on, news articles published in your high school’s newspaper, all have left their own impact on me personally. If you ask me for how long I have been a writer, then I cannot say with 100 percent accuracy, I can just say for as long as I was able to write.
What does winning the Rising Phoenix contest mean to you as a writer?
I know how exclusive it is to win the Rising Phoenix competition being in Sheepshead a few years back. Each time I would submit to the journal, I would think how great it would be to just be picked, to be a published author. Never did I think I would win Rising Phoenix. To have someone pick my piece out of a lineup is the greatest feeling in the world. It is confirmation that I can make it in the world of publishing and that only makes me want to write more.
To check out Danielle’s Nonfiction Rising Phoenix piece “My Window Friend,” visit the Sheepshead Review website, and be sure to attend the upcoming launch party on May 3rd from 1-2 p.m. via Zoom. RSVP to the event with this link: https://uwgreenbay.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_41PfZDiWqhxVIjk