The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) recently announced that $264,000 has been awarded to sixty-nine Maryland artists through the 2022 Independent Artist Awards (IAA) program. This year’s awards feature the literary arts including poets, playwrights, novelists, and essayists from all across the state. 

As well as award recognition, three artists from St. Mary’s County received regional grants of $2,000 each to support their artistic growth. Recipients include authors Jennifer Cognard-Black, Wayne Karlin, and Meredith Johnson, selected from a pool of nearly 300 applicants through a public panel process.

Jennifer Cognard-Black – photo by Colby Caldwell

Jennifer Cognard-Black, Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, received her B.A. in English and music from Nebraska Wesleyan University, summa cum laude, her M.A. in fiction and essay writing from Iowa State University, and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in nineteenth-century literature and feminist literary theory. Jennifer’s specialties are women novelists, Victorian adaptations, fiction writing, and the literature of food. Cognard-Black is a two-time Fulbright scholar to The Netherlands and Slovenia, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and the winner of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching—considered the “Nobel Prize of teaching”. Visit Jennifer’s website at to learn more.

Wayne Karlin – photo by Val Nyce

Wayne Karlin is an author, editor, and teacher with his accomplishments including three books of non-fiction as well as a variety of many other types of work. After service in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, Karlin co-edited the first collection of Vietnam veterans fiction from the war titled Free Fire Zone: Short Stories by Vietnam Veterans. Wayne was one of the scriptwriters, a technical consultant, and also acted in the feature film Song of the Stork, a Vietnamese-Singaporean co-production that won the Best Feature Film Award at the Milan Film Festival in 2002. Karlin retired as Professor Emeritus from the College of Southern Maryland in 2017 after thirty-one years of service. During his tenure, he served as professor of Languages and Literature he also chaired the Leonardtown Campus Languages and Literature Division. Read more at:

Meredith Johnson – photo by Brent Johnson

Meredith Johnson Meredith Johnson is the award-winning children’s author of Just Momma. She has loved children’s picture books her entire life, often being drawn to stories that let her imagination shine. One of her lifelong goals has been to write stories for children that will transport them to other worlds and leave them with a positive message and outlook. She is the mother of “two amazing boys who inspire my stories and often leave me wanting a nap”. When not writing, Meredith may be found on a beach somewhere with a book in her hand using her own imagination to pretend that she is a Jedi knight fighting all the coolest Star Wars battles. Be sure to visit Meredith’s website at: for further details about her writings and adventures.

The St. Mary’s County Arts Council congratulates our local authors and the many other talented literary artists across the state of Maryland.

Visit the Maryland State Arts Council website at for additional information about the Independent Artist Awards including the full list of 2022 recipients and to learn about opportunities to apply for future grants and awards.

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