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.
"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.
Louise Erdrich's "awesome" breadth of work has earned her the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, it was announced today. The award is a lifetime achievement honor and carries with it a $25,000 prize and is presented every two years.
In their citation, judges Zadie Smith, E.L. Doctorow and Edwidge Danticat praised Erdrich's range.
"Some writers work a small piece of land: Louise Erdrich is not one of those writers," they said. "Her work has an awesome capaciousness--each person is a world. For Erdrich, the tale of the individual necessarily leads to the tale of the family, and families lead to nations, while the wound of a national injustice is passed down through the generations, expressing itself in intimate deformations, a heady intertwining of the national and the personal. Yet despite the often depressingly familiar, repetitive nature of so much human business, Erdrich¹s eye is always fresh, her sentences never less than lyrical."
In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Erdrich said, "Getting this award would intimidate the hell out of me if I weren't so excited."
Earlier this year, Erdrich was awarded with the Dayton Literary Peace Prize distinguished achievement award for her body of work. Her novel "The Round House" was the 2012 winner of the National Book Award; "Plague of Doves" was a Pulitzer finalist in 2009, and "Love Medicine," her debut novel, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984. She has also won five Minnesota Book Awards.
Erdrich, 58, lives in Minneapolis and is the owner of Birchbark Books.
The story of a Nova Scotia family during World War I, our critic called it a "beautiful novel about a terrible war."
Others in the running for the prize are:
Anthony Marra, "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena."
Antonio Munos Molina, "In the Night of Time."
Bob Shacochis, "The Woman Who Lost Her Soul."
Margaret Wrinkle, "Wash."
Jo Roberts, "Contested Land, Contested Memory"
Steve McQuiddy, "Here on Edge: How a Small Group of WWII Conscientious Objectors Took Art and Peace from the Margins to the Mainstream."
Katy Butler, "Knocking on Heaven's Door." (Strib review here)
Jesmyn Ward, "Men We Reaped." (Strib review here)
David Finkel, "Thank You for Your Service." (Strib review here)
Karima Bennoune, "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here."
The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is given annually to one work of fiction and one work of nonfiction that promotes peace, justice and understanding. Previous winners include Chang- rae Lee, Marlon James, Adam Johnson, and Adam Hochschild.
The winners will be announced Sept. 24. They will be honored at a ceremony on Nov. 9, when Louise Erdrich will also be honored with the 2014 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.
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