On Tuesday evening, the day after her 80th birthday — a wintry, glittering night — St. Paul Poet Laureate Carol Connolly hosted the holiday edition of her monthly reading series at the University Club in St. Paul.
Over the last four years, Connolly’s series has raised $15,000 for Public Art St. Paul’s sidewalk poetry program. On Tuesday night, she announced that beginning in January, donations will go to the St. Paul Almanac, a nonprofit book that publishes the work of established and emerging writers.
One by one, poets approached the podium to read and to wish Connolly a happy birthday. “A wonderful, wonderful lady,” said Cary Waterman. “What would we do without her?” And Connolly piped up from the front row: “Oh, you’d do just fine.”
Tim Nolan read a birthday poem and then seized the opportunity to ask for more time, for just one more poem.
But the evening’s highlight was Dudley Riggs, who approached the podium slowly, with dignity, steadying himself with his cane. He wore a white shirt and a bow tie, and he carried with him poems by the late John Berryman.
“I knew John Berryman somewhat,” Riggs said. “I knew him a little earlier, and a little later. When I knew him earlier, he was neat, clean-shaven, acerbic, anti-war, but he was cool.“When I met him again, he was a burly, bearded bear. Still anti-war. Still cool.”
And then he read two poems — “Dream Song No. 14,” and “Mr. Pou & the Alphabet,” a powerful and poignant poem Berryman had written for his son after a divorce. “N is for now, the best time of all … X is for Xmas where I cannot be.”
It is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of the Star Tribune's search for our third summer serial--Megan Marsnik, St. Paul resident, English teacher at Southwest HIgh, proud daughter of the Iron Range, and a lovely, strong, lyrical writer.
Her first novel (working title: "Underground") will be published in daily installments in the Star Tribune over the course of the summer of 2015. It will also be available as an e-book.
We received more than 100 one-chapter entries, many of which were excellent, and all of which were interesting. We narrowed it down to three finalists, which we read in their entirety. Megan's book is an historical novel, set on the Iron Range during the tumultuous strike of 1916, told through the perspective of a strong young woman who emigrated to the Range from Slovenia to live with her relatives.
"In my early adulthood, I spent three summers working as a researcher at the Iron Range Research Center at Ironworld in Chisholm," Megan said. "My job was to listen to the oral histories of women in politics and transcribe them to paper. These women led amazing lives."
Her research took 18 months and took her not just back to the Range, but to Croatia and Slovenia.
It is very exciting to launch her book into the world, beginning in May.
So you still haven't read "Ordinary Grace"? You weren't persuaded by the glowing reviews that describe St. Paul author William Kent Krueger's novel as a cross between a mystery and a coming-of-age tale, a book with quiet beauty and compelling characters?
The novel, narrated by a middle-aged man looking back on his 1960s childhood in southwestern Minnesota, centers on a missing person and a murder, but is also about one family and the members' relationships with each other.
Maybe a ton of national awards will sway you.
"Ordinary Grace" won the Edgar Award earlier this year, and this month it has won, in quick succession, the Barry Award, the Anthony Award and the Macavity Award. This is what's known in the mystery-writing world as the "full EBAM."
What's the difference, you ask? What's the difference between an Oscar and a Golden Globe?
The Barry Award is an annual award presented by the editorial staff of Deadly Pleasures for the best works published in the field of crime fiction.
The Anthony Awards are literary awards for mystery writers, named for Anthony Boucher, one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America. And the Macavity Award is, well, that's another literary award for mystery writers.
No wonder the man in the picture is smiling so big.
"Windigo Island," William Kent Krueger's latest novel, is a mystery, yes, but it is also a book that shines a bright light onto a serious problem: the sex trafficking of young Native American girls.
Krueger's best-selling novels always give a glimpse into Native culture. His protagonist, Cork O'Connor, is half Irish and half Indian, a man who walks in both worlds. But "Windigo Island" digs pretty deeply into the issues of poverty, racism and alcoholism, and its mystery centers on two missing Native girls.
Krueger will discuss the issue of sex trafficking on Nov. 19 at Black Bear Crossing cafe in Como Park. All proceeds from book sales that evening will be donated to Ain Dah Yung Center, a St. Paul organization that provides outreach and services to Native American families.
Krueger will be in conversation with Eileen Hudon and Christine Stark, both of whom have worked with the Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition.
Here's the schedule for the evening:
5:30 p.m.: Welcome, food, and native drumming and solidary shawl project
6 p.m.: Krueger discussion.
7 p.m. Book reading and signing.
Black Bear Crossing is located at 1360 N. Lexington Parkway, in the pavilion of Como Park.
It's a matchmaker program, of sorts, though instead of a lover you end up (hopefully) with a book you love. "Bookmatch," a joint venture of Friends of the Hennepin County Library and the Loft Literary Center, is a sort of literary speed-date between readers (you) and writers (six of them).
On Saturday night, Nov. 8, Will Alexander ("Ambassador"), Ray Gonzalez ("Soul Over Lightning"), Rachael Hanel ("We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down"), Geoff Herbach ("Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders"), Neal Karlen ("Augie's Secrets") and Julie Schumacher ("Dear Committee Members") will spend an hour chatting with Heather McElhatton, answering questions and reading from their books.
At the end of each author presentation, a reader will be selected (via a questionnaire filled out upon arrival) who bests fits each writer. The reader (you, maybe!) will get a free book. (There will also be books for sale, if you turn out not to be the perfect reader.)
The evening will also have music by Joe Hastings, door prizes, book signings and desserts.
The free event requires preregistration, which you can do by calling 612-543-8112 or by visiting the web page here. The whole thing begins at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Central Library on the Nicollet Mall.
Go ahead. Give it a whirl. Your other books will not get jealous.
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