Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

Posts about Readings

Bly comes out for Poetry Month, and the poets come out for Bly

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 16, 2014 - 5:56 AM
Robert Bly autographs a book for a fan before his appearance at the University Club on Tuesday night. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler

Robert Bly autographs a book for Renee Valois before his appearance at the University Club on Tuesday night. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler

He was in good form Tuesday night, our Mr. Bly, Minnesota's most famous poet--funny and crotchety, coming alive, as he always has, for poetry. Though he is 87 now and growing frail, he declined the comfortable easy chair that had been set at the front of the room for him, and he declined the help of his old friend and fellow poet, Thomas R. Smith, who was willing to hold the microphone for him, and instead stood strong and firm at the lectern and read and occasionally recited, and made jokes (sometimes the same joke) and offered the occasional poignant aside.

Bly was at the University Club on Summit Avenue in St. Paul as part of the monthly Carol Connolly Reading Series. April is poetry month, and Connolly had packed this month's bill with nothing but fine poets. Louis Jenkins ("Nice Fish") was a crowd pleaser with his humorous prose poems; Freya Manfred, tall and strong, read her earthy poems of nature and family; and Smith opened the evening with a powerful poem of spring, which he read with vigor. "It's amazing how doing a good loud poem clears away nervousness," he said.

Each poet paid a little homage to Bly, the star of the evening. "We're all borrowing so much from Robert that in the next life we're all going to have to do his dishes and take out his garbage," Smith said, before reading a final poem that he acknowledged was inspired by Bly.

Jenkins' prose poems kept the crowd laughing--poems about regret and basements and forgetfulness and the nostalgia of red cars and blond girlfriends and the burden of too much zucchini. He, too, acknowledged a debt to  Bly (who was laughing in the front row at some of Jenkins' poems), saying, "We steal from him all the time."

Manfred read a poem about the eye of a loon, telling the audience that Bly had influenced her last line, suggesting she remove one word, "dreadful." She shook her head, in amazement at herself for writing it that way in the first place, perhaps, or in amazement at Bly for the catch. "He was right about that last line," she said.

The audience was studded with poets--Charles Baxter and Joyce Sutphen, Ethna McKiernan and Su Smallen, Tim Nolan and Danny Klecko, James Lenfestey and Patricia Kirkpatrick. It was poets listening to poets on a mild spring evening during Poetry Month. But the star of the night was Bly.

He read some of the poems that he read last autumn at the launch of his latest collection, "Stealing Sugar from the Castle"--some of the old farm poems ("for a while we had goats. They were like turkeys, only more reckless"), "My Father at 86," "Keeping Our Small Boat Afloat," and several poems from "The Man in the Black Coat Turns," including "Snowbanks North of the House." 

"That's the first poem I ever wrote that had some of my darkness in it," he said.

As always, as in the past, Bly's comedic timing was sharp, he repeated stanzas and last lines, he dipped his hand to the rhythm of the words. He was enigmatic, and the audience, while drinking in his every aside, wanted more. 

At the end of "Snowbanks North of the House," Bly recited the final stanza twice: 

And the man in the black coat turns, and goes back
down the hill.
No one knows why he came, or why he turned away,
and did not climb the hill.

"Maybe there's somebody like that in each of us," he said. "If I had known what that poem meant, I wouldn't have had to write it." And the poets and the fans and the readers in the audience sat forward on their chairs, listening, as outside the big windows of the University Club the light drained from the sky and the night grew dark.

Poet and children's writer Jane Yolen in Minnesota for three events

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 14, 2014 - 1:39 PM
Jane Yolen.

Jane Yolen.

She's been called the "Hans Christian Andersen of America" for her great contribution to children's literature, but author Jane Yolen is also a poet and an essayist. Many of her children's books ride the wave between fairytales, fantasy and science fiction, though her range is much broader than that.

She will be in Minnesota this month for three appearances, the first of which will be Thursday, April 17, at the Andersen Library at the University of Minnesota, where she will deliver the annual Naomi C. Chase Lecture in Children's Literature.

The title of her talk is "Break Through into Faerie: A Meditation on the Surprising Rise of Faerie Tale Related Books, Poetry, Magazines, Conventions, TV, Movies, Games and Ephemera." But you don't need to remember the title; just remember that Yolen is the author of more than 300 books and the recipient of a whole host of awards, including two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, two Christopher Medals, and many others.

Jane Yolen.

She will also read from her newest collection of poetry of Tuesday, April 22, at the Loft at Open Book. Her new collection, "Bloody Tide: Poems About Politics and Power," is newly published by Duluth's Holy Cow! Press, which has published previous titles by Yolen.

The following day, Yolen will head to Duluth (let's hope for no snow) to deliver a talk on writing about the Holocaust as part of the annual Holocaust Remebrance events at UMD.

Here are the details of her appearances:

Thursday, April 17:

5 p.m. reception; 5:45 p.m. lecture; 6:30 p.m. Q&A, 7 p.m. book signing. 120 Andersen Library, University of Minnesota. Free.

Tuesday, April 22:

7 p.m. reading with Holy Cow! Press poets Kate Green and Susan Deborah King. The Loft at Open Book. 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls. Free.

Wednesday, April 23:

4 p.m., "The Swallows Still Fly Around the Camp Chimneys: The Lasting Impressions of Holocaust on Writers and Child Readers" Chem 200, UMD. Free.

Bly to headline this month's Carol Connolly series

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 9, 2014 - 1:13 PM

Robert Bly at the Swedish Institute, spring 2013. Star Tribune photo by Jerry Holt.

April is poetry month, and St. Paul Poet Laureate Carol Connolly is pulling out all the stops with her monthly Readings by Writers. Robert Bly, Thomas R. Smith, Freya Manfred and Louis Jenkins will read at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (April 15) at the University Club on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. I've attended four or five Bly events in the last couple of years, and each time, frankly, have wondered if it would be his last. The venerable National Award Winning poet is 87 years old, his memory is beginning to fade, he has nothing left to prove. But in October, when he launched his latest book, “Stealing Sugar from the Castle,” he rose to the occasion on stage, telling stories, cracking gentle jokes, reciting some of the poems rather than reading them. 

Thomas R. Smith is the author of six books of poetry and is the editor of "Airmail: The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Transtromer," published by Graywolf Press.

Freya Manfred is the author of "Swimming with a Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle," "The Blue Dress," and many other works of poetry. She is also the author of "Frederick Manfred: A Daughter Remembers."

Louis Jenkins is the author of "Tin Flag," and other books, and co-wrote with Mark Rylance the stage production "Nice Fish," which premiered at the Guthrie Theater last spring.


 

Cracked Walnut opens its second series

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: March 27, 2014 - 3:35 PM

Last year, with its debut literary festival, the group known as Cracked Walnut promised a reading a day for a full month. This year they're doing almost as well: The second literary series debuts on Wednesday, April 2, and will run through May 7 with readings if not every single day, at least several times a week.

Cracked Walnut is the brainchild of Hamline University MFA candidate Satish P. Jayaraj, who found himself surrounded by writers (no surprise, in an MFA program) and was looking for a way to establish a venue for reading. 

This year's 25 readings will take place in coffee shops, galleries, libraries, museums, a hospital, and other offbeat places--mainly in the Twin Cities, but also in Duluth and Rochester--and will include more than 100 writers. Each reading carries a different theme. 

The lineup includes poets Tim Nolan, Ethna McKiernan, Adrienne Miller, Ryan Vine, Margaret Hasse and Matt Mauch. (Full disclosure: I am reading, too.)  The list is still being firmed up and you can check back at www.crackedwalnut.com for updates.

Here's the whole list, current as of today:

Wednesday April 2nd 7:00 pm (Mirror Mirror on the Wall)

Underground music Café ‘Coffee Grounds’ (1579 Hamline Ave N, St Paul, MN 55108)

featuring: Laurie Hertzel, Kelly Hansen Maher, Maya Washington, Nick Metcalf, 

Chilli Lor, Hawona Sullivan Janzen

Thursday April 3rd  7:00 pm (Richfield CW Festival Reading)

Richfield Community Center (7000 Nicollet Ave S Minneapolis, Minnesota 55423)

featuring: Vanessa Ramos, Anika Fajardo, Philip Simondet, Ted King,

Lorissa Gottschalk, Maggie Ryan Sandford,

Friday April 4th 20th 7:00 pm (Hooked)

The Coffee Shop Ne  (2852a Johnson St. NE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55418)

featuring: Creating community in average spaces through the magic of spoken literature, Evan Kingston, Laura Theobald
Patrick Werle, Mary Harold, Sharkhooks

Saturday April 5th 7:00pm (What Does Your Fox Say)

Blackdog Coffee and Wine Bar (308 Prince Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101)

featuring: Wendy Skinner, Mona Susan Power, Ardie Medina,

Brian Baumgart, Marjorie Hakala, George J Farrah

Sunday April 6th 11:00 am (Fitting In)

Black Sheep Coffee Cafe (705 Southview Boulevard, South Saint Paul, Minnesota 55075)

featuring: Pam Schmid, Andrea Jenkins, Lisa Ann Pierce, Kimberly Eridon
Chris Vaughan, Jennifer Bowen Hicks, Andrew Cleary

Wednesday April 9th10:20am (Amplatz Children’s Hospital CW Festival Reading)

U of M Amplatz Children’s Hospital (2450 Riverside Ave., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454)

featuring: Rebecca Ramsden, Bruce Peck, Satish Jayaraj, Anne Sawyer-Aitch

Thursday April 10th 7:00 pm (It’s a Wonderful Life)

J. Arthur’s Coffee (2441 Rice Street, Roseville, Minnesota 55113)

featuring: Paula Cisewski, Sarah Turner, Margaret Hasse
River Urke, Jamie Hagg, Kevin Hershey, Mindy Mejia

Friday April 11th 7:00 pm (Legacy and Heritage)

Royal Grounds (4161 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55409)

featuring: Sandra Evans, Chay Douangphouxay, Kris Bigalk

Saturday April 12th 7:00 pm (St Thomas Academy CW Festival Reading)

St Thomas Academy (949, Mendota Heights, MN 55120)

featuring: Donna Isaac, Satish Jayaraj, Michael Kiesow Moore, Tom Ferderer

Sunday April 13th 7:00 pm (Rochester CW Festival Reading)

C4 Creative Salon (324 1st St SW, Rochester, Minnesota 55902)

featuring: Daniel Solis, Emily Urness, Steven Vogel, Josh Fischer, Katrina Wollet, Matt Dahl

Monday April 14th 7:00 pm (Be a Lady)

Diamonds Coffee Shoppe (1618 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413)

Featuring: Patricia Francisco, IBé, Matt Mauch, Rebecca Song
David Stein, Krisanne Dattir, Jenny McDougal

Thursday April 17th 7:00 pm (Divinity and Humor)

Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar (Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar)

featuring: Linda White, Kate Lynn Hibbard, Kristin Laurel, Benjamin Kowalsky,

Bryan Mazo, Lennon Sundance


Friday April 18th 7:00 pm (Home and Away)

Cahoots Coffee Bar (1562 Selby Ave Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104)

featuring: Jen March, Michael Dean, Ka Zoua Vang,

Louis Murphy, Darci Schummer

Saturday April 19th  7:00 pm (Duluth CW Festival Reading)

Prøve Gallery (21 N Lake Ave, 21 N Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802)

featuring: Ryan Vine, Satish Jayaraj, Felicia Schneiderhan 

Monday April 21st 7:00 pm (Be a Man)

Hamline Midway Library  (1558 W Minnehaha Ave, St Paul, MN 55104)

featuring: Andrew Blissenbach, Colin Mcdonald, Kate Shuknecht,

Ariane Sandford, Thomas Rohde, Moheb Soliman

Friday April 25th 7:00 pm (#phobia)

Hillside Chapel (2610 19th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418)

featuring: Leslie Adrienne Miller, Paul Canada,

Karen Youso, Sarah Hayes, Lisa Brimmer

Saturday April 26th 1:00 pm (Urbanization)

Mill City Museum (704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401)

Featuring: Saymoukda Vongsay, Tim Nolan, Carla Hagen,

Tracy Harris, Amy Salloway

Sunday April 27th 4:00pm (War and Strife)

Boneshaker Books (2002 23rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404)

featuring: Ethna Mckiernan, Khary Jackson, Dain Ingebretson,

Wednesday April 30th 7:00 pm (Beware the Elements)

Fireroast Café (3800 37th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406)

Thursday May 1st 7:00 PM (The Final Frontier)

Solar Arts Building ( 711 15th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413)

Paula Cisewski, Alison Morse, Chris Title,

Paige Riehl, Peter Stein, Lynne Kuechle,

Friday May 2nd 7:00 PM (Year of the Horse)

Solomon’s Porch(100 W 46th St, Minneapolis, MN 55419)

Featuring: Victoria Peterson Hilleque, (more to come)

Saturday May 3rd 1:00 PM (Masks of Power)

Books and Tea(325 West 7th Street, St Paul, MN 55102)

Sunday May 4th  7:00 PM (Good and Evil)

Café Bene(53 Cleveland Ave S, St Paul, MN 55105)

featuring: Josh Wodarz (more to come)

Tuesday May 6th 7:00 PM (The Witching Hour)

Claddagh Coffee (459 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102)

Wednesday May 7th 6:00 PM (Transmutation)

Peace Coffee shop Wonderland Park(3262 Minnehaha Ave. Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406)

Spring literary events sprouting like dandelions

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: February 25, 2014 - 5:12 PM

It's cold outside but it's warm inside--inside bookstores and colleges, libraries and coffee shops and performance spaces, and if you can make it out of your alley and not spin out at those icy intersections you might want to check out some of these spring literary events coming up in the Twin Cities. And yes, I am using the word "spring" very loosely. And yes, I am bitter.

The list is long and I am not pretending to be comprehensive. Please feel free to add any missing events in the comments, so send me an email and I'll update this. Events are free unless otherwise noted. Here goes:

Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talk of the Stacks with Lorrie Moore: 7 p.m. March 7, Central Library, Nicollet Mall

You know the drill--doors open at 6:15 and people start lining up ahead of time. Get there early. Some late arrivals might have to go into an overflow room, which was the case when Amy Tan spoke here last fall. The hour-long reading/q&a will be followed by a reception and booksigning.

Club Book with P.S. Duffy, 7 p.m. March 11, Merriam Park Library, St. Paul

P.S. Duffy, who lives in Rochester, is the author of "The Cartographer of No-Man's Land."

Birchbark Books Reading Series: 7 p.m. March 12, Bockley Gallery, Minneapolis

William Bearhart, Sun Yung Shin, Cole Bauer, and Margaret Hasse will read their poetry.

Poetry Out Loud State Competition: 11:30 a.m. March 13, Pohlad Hall, Central Library, Minneapolis

One high school from this competition will go on to represent Minnesota at the national finals in Washington, D.C., in April. Yes, poetry is a competitive sport! (Shouldn't it have letter jackets? With lots of letters?)

University of Minnesota "First Books": 7 p.m. March 13, Weisman Art Museum

This is a spring tradition at the U, a reading by new authors. This year, the three authors--all of nonfiction--will be in conversation with Chris Fischbach, publisher of Coffee House Press (which published two of the books).

Authors are: Kate Hopper ("Ready for Air," University of Minnesota Press), Andy Sturdevant ("Potluck Supper with Meeting to  Folow"), and Joshua Ostergaard ("The Devil's Snake Curve: A Fan's Notes from Left Field").

Minnesota Book Awards Nominee Readings: 7 p.m. March 14, The Loft, Minneapolis

This is always a fun event, with most of the 30 or so finalists for the Minnesota Book Award reading from their nominated works.

Benjamin Percy

Benjamin Percy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Normandale Community College Writing Festival: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., March 19

This is the fifth annual festival, which is free and open to the public. Keynote speeches will be by Sarah Stonich ("Vacationland") and Benjamin Percy ("Red Moon"). Other speakers include Swati Avasthi and Ed Bok Lee.

Club Book with Nikki Giovanni and Dave Zirin, 7 p.m. March 19, Southdale Library, Edina

Dave Zirin is a sportwriter and the author of "Game Over: How Politics Have Turned the Sports World Upside Down." Nikki Giovanni is, of course, a poet, winner of an American Book Award.

North Hennepiin Community College Meet the Authors Reading Series, March 20 and April 21

I'm sorry that you've already missed the first two in the series--Kao Kalia Yang and Matt Rasmussen. But YA author Pete Hautman will read at 11:30 a.m. March 20, and Heid Erdrich will read at 10 a.m. April 21.

Echoes Across the Pond--Voices Irish & American: 7 p.m. March 26, The Loft at Open Book

Poets Joyce Sutphen, Tim Nolan, Patricia Kirkpatrick, Anne-Marie Fyfe, and C.L. Dallat.

Cracked Walnut Reading Festival: April 2-May 1, various spots around the Twin Cities and Duluth

The second annual spring series from this group will hold readings at coffee shops, community centers, and other neighborhood locations for most of April. The list of readers is long (and full disclosure, I will be one of them), and is still in the works, but it includes Margaret Haase, Mona Susan Power, Ryan Vine, Pam Schmid, and Anika Fajardo.

Talk of the Stacks with Ron Padgett: 7 p.m. April 3, Central Library, Mpls.

Poet Ron Padgett, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry and also an editor and translator, has published his collected works this year with Coffee House Press.

Minnesota Book Awards Gala: 7 p.m. April 5, The Historic Union Depot, St. Paul

The glittering event of the season. Dress up (in black, of course, and maybe a hat with a jaunty feather? Or some jet beads? Go nuts), enjoy some jazz, have a glass of wine, and find out who wins the trophies this year. Tickets are $45 and you can register online here.

Club Book with Brian Freeman: 7 p.m. April 7, Rum River Library, Anoka

Minnesota writer Brian Freeman is the best-selling author of the Jonathan Stride mysteries.

David Mitchell.

David Mitchell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Mitchell: 7:30 p.m. April 9, Northrop Auditorium, University of Minnesota

Part of the notable Esther Freier Endowed Lectures, a continuing series that brings in significant authors to speak at a free event. Mitchell will discuss "Cloud Atlas," and will give a few peeks into his sixth novel, "The Bone Clocks," to be published in September. These lectures tend to fill up fast; go early.

Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry: 7 p.m. April 11, University of St. Thomas

This year's winner is Irish poet Catherine Phill MacCarthy, from Dublin. Go for the accent, stay for the poetry.

Club Book with Peter Geye and Amy Greene: 7 p.m. April 15, Roseville Library

Geye, who lives in Minneapolis, is the author of "Safe from the Sea" and "The Lighthouse Road," chosen as a 2014 World Book Night selection. Greene, a novelist, is the author of "Long Man," published this month by Alfred A. Knopf.

Poetry readings: 7 p.m. April 22, the Loft at Open Book, Minneapolis

Kate Green, Jane Yolen and Susan Deborah King read from their new books.

World Book Night: April 23, all day long, everywhere

This will be the third year for World Book Night in the United States (it's been going on longer in the UK), a day (and night) during which volunteers hand out free paperback copies of selected books to random folks. This year's titles includes books by Minnesota writers Garrison Keillor, Peter Geye, Eleanor Brown, and Cheryl Strayed. Try to hang out in a place where you think a giver might happen by. Good luck nabbing a free book.

Club Book with Amanda Coplin: 7 p.m. April 24, Stillwater Public Library

Amanda Coplin, who earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota, is the author of the highly acclaimed novel, "The Orchardist."

PenPals Lecture Series with Art Spiegelman: 7:30 p.m. April 24 and 11 a.m. April 25, Hopkins Arts Center

Artist and illustrator Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, "Maus," an illustrated history of the Holocaust (told by a mouse). Tickets are $50-40 and available here.

The Great Twin Cities Poetry Read: 7 p.m. April 26, Augsburg College, Minneapolis

Thirty poets will each read one poem. Names? Here's all thirty, in groups of five:

William Waltz, Elisabeth Workman, Sarah Fox, Christopher Bolin, Chay Douangphouxay.

Katrina Vandenberg, Kate Shuknecht, Patrick Werle, Jessica Welu, Heid Erdrich.

Paula Cisewski, Chris Martin, Dobby Gibson, Angela Mason, Jenny McDougal

Patricia Kirkpatrick, Dessa, Mary Austin Speaker, Sun Yung Shin, Kate Green

Betsy Brown, Kavi Jointe, Seth Abramson, Matt Mauch, Brad Liening

Steve Healey, Matt Rasmussen, MC Hyland, Emily Fedoruk, Tai Coleman

Children's and Young Adult Literature Conference: April 25-27, the Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis. 

Register online here for the conference, which will feature workshops, lectures and panel discussions with Anne Ursu, Pete Hautman, Brian Ferrey-Latz, Molly Beth Griffin, and many others.

Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

PenPal Lecture Series with Tracy K. Smith: 7:30 p.m. May 8 and 11 a.m. May 9, Hopkins Center for the Arts

Tracy K. Smith's "Life on Mars," published by Graywolf Press, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Tickets are $50-40 and are available here.

Talk of the Stacks with Francine Prose: 7 p.m. May 12, Central Library, Minneapolis

Francine Prose is a novelist and essayist; her new book, "Lovers at the Chameleon Club," will be published March 1.

And let's not forget all of the authors who will be coming through your neighborhood bookstores--Common Good Books, Once Upon a Crime, the various Barnes and Nobles, Magers & Quinn, Chapter 2, Valley Booksellers, Excelsior Bay, SubText, the Bookcase of Wayzata, Micawber's, Wild Rumpus, Red Balloon: check their websites for events.

And by the time you've gone to all of this events, it really and truly will be spring. 

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