Poet JL Kato honored as 2022 Literary Champion

Hoosier poet JL Kato has been named Indiana’s 2022 Literary Champion by the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards.

Awarded to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to Indiana’s literary community, the Literary Champion Award is part of the biennial Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards, with support from Glick Philanthropies and powered by Indiana Humanities. 

Kato was born in Japan and moved to Indiana at age two. His debut volume of poetry, Shadows Set in Concrete, which chronicled his experience as an immigrant, was selected the 2011 Best Indiana Book of Poetry by the Indiana Center for the Book. 

A past president of Etheridge Knight Inc. and Brick Street Poetry — organizations that sponsor literary events, readings, contests and publications — Kato also was a co-founder and curator of Poetry in Free Motion, a project that combined the creative sparks of quilters and poets. 

As a member of the Indiana Writers Center, he was a participant, then moderator, of the Poetry Salon, which encouraged poets to improve their writing and critique skills. He also served for six years as poetry editor of Flying Island. Kato volunteers as a judge in the annual writing contest for incarcerated persons sponsored by the Woman’s Press Club of Indiana.

Kato graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism and worked as a newspaper copy editor for 31 years. He lives in Beech Grove.

“Indiana poetry has reached new levels of activity and appreciation in recent years, and JL deserves to be acknowledged as someone who helped generate this increased enthusiasm,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “With both his writing and his relentless encouragement and support of others, he has truly been a champion for the written word in Indiana.”

“JL Kato has served as a champion on Indiana’s literary scene in the truest sense of the word,” added Marianne Glick, chair of the Glick Family Foundation and daughter of Eugene and Marilyn Glick, founders of the Indiana Authors Awards. “He has offered not only his gifts as a writer but also his time, energy and enthusiasm to the cause of raising up writers and exposing more readers to their work.”

On Aug. 23 at 10 a.m., the Indiana Authors Awards will announce a Lifetime Achievement Winner — recognizing an author for superior literary achievements throughout a career — and on Aug. 24 at 10 a.m., the Awards will announce the winners of the eight category prizes in 2022. The 40 shortlisted books in all eight literary categories can be found at https://www.indianaauthorsawards.org/40-books-named-to-indiana-authors-awards-shortlists/