Carol Connolly was laughing this morning when asked about winning this year's Kay Sexton Award, which goes to someone who has made substantial and long-standing contributions to the world of books and reading in the Twin Cities.
"I was absolutely stunned when I got the call," she said. "Stunned and grateful, though who knows how deserving?"
Deserving, indeed. Connolly is St. Paul's Poet Laureate, named in 2006 and appointed for life. She has been running a well-received authors' series for the last 13 years, mixing it up by bringing in big names, newbies, unpublished writers, first-time authors, and everyone in between. She passes the hat each time, and the donations go to Public Arts St. Paul and Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, that program that embeds short poems into fresh concrete in neighborhoods around St. Paul.
She also, as poet laureate, is called upon to write poems for various civic occasions. "I think my first poem was in honor of the mayor's budget address, and the budget wasn't so hot," she said.
Connolly's first book of poetry, "Payments Due," was published in 1985. She has also written comedy, essays, opinion pieces, a gossip column, and political commentary. Her newest book is "All This and More," published in 2009 by Nodin Press.
Connolly will be honored at the Minnesota Book Awards Gala event on April 16 in downtown St. Paul. The Kay Sexton award has been given to a long line of notable Minnesota books people, including Norton Stillman, Carolyn Holbrook, and Patrick Coleman. Coleman was one of the people who nominated Connolly this year. "He said he wanted a decent line of succession after his appointment," she said, and laughed again.
You can watch a video of Connolly reading a poem here. And you can follow along with the text below.
shoot a puck, or execute a perfect figure eight,