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.”
"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.
This fall's English @ Minnesota series will bring in novelist (and jazz musician, and memoirist, and ...) James McBride, who will talk about "The Good Lord Bird," winner of the 2013 National Book Award (and soon to be a major motion picture, starring Jaden Smith) (and produced by McBride himself).
"The Good Lord Bird" is a funny, poignant novel about a young boy (nicknamed Onion) who travels with abolitionist John Brown in the months leading up to the Civil War.
McBride will be at Coffman Union Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8.
The program will also host:
Jeff Sharlet, Edelstein Keller visiting writer and the author of "Radiant Truths," "The Family," and other books of literary journalism. 7 p.m. Oct. 2. Upson Room, Walter Library.
Stacey D'Erasmo, author of "Wonderland" and other books. 7 p.m. Oct. 14, Weisman Art Museum.
A conference on John Berryman at 100, the weekend of Oct. 24-26, at the Elmer L. Andersen Library. Poet Berryman, who died in 1972, won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and taught at the University of Minnesota.
Hunger Relief, with Jess Row. This will be the seventh annual hunger relief benefit, organized by Charles Baxter. Jess Row, author of "Your Face in Mine," will join the English Department's faculty raising money for Second Harvest Heartland. The benefit will be at 7 p.m. Nov 3 in McNamara Alumni Center. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5.
Jamaal May, Edelstein Keller visiting writer and author of "Hum," will read at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Upson Room of Walter Library.
The fall series of Club Book will begin in mid-August with a visit to Roseville from Lev Grossman, author of the wildly popular 'Magicians" trilogy, and wind up two months later with poetry in St. Paul. (Nikki Giovanni at the Arlington Hills library.)
Club Book is a free author series that is designed to bring great writers throughout the entire metro area and suburbs. It is funded through the Legacy Amendment and is coordinated by Library Strategies, which is part of the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.
Here's the whole list for this season:
Lev Grossman, author of the bestselling "Magicians" trilogy. The final book of the trilogy, "The Magician's Land," will be published in August. He's here Monday, August 11, 7 p.m., Roseville Library, 2180 N. Hamline Ave., Roseville
Amy Bloom, whose third novel, "Lucky Us," will be published in the fall. Thursday, August 14, 7 p.m., Galaxie Library, 14955 Galaxie Ave., Apple Valley
Louise Penny, mystery writer and author of the popular Armand Gamache series. Winner of five Agatha Awards, an Edgar Award, and many other awards. Her new novel, "The Long Way Home," will be published in August. Saturday, August 30, 2 p.m., Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Ave. SE, Prior Lake
Jennifer McMahon, author of many best-sellers, including "The Winter People." Thursday, September 11, 6:30 p.m, Chanhassen Library, 7711 Kerber Blvd., Chanhassen
Sue Miller, author of "The Arsonist," "The Good Mother," "Inventing the Abbotts," and other best-sellers. Thursday, September 25, 6:30 p.m., Central Park Amphitheater, 8595 Central Park Pl., Woodbury
Hampton Sides, Author of "Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Junior," and other books. His new book, "In the Kingdom of Ice," will pub this fall. Monday, October 13, 7 p.m., Southdale Library, 7001 York Ave S., Edina
Julie Klassen, Twin Cities author of Regency-era romances and a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award. Tuesday, October 21, 7 p.m., Rum River Library, 4201 6th Ave., Anoka
Rebecca Rasmussen, Author of "The Bird Sisters," and of the new novel, "Evergreen," which is set in Minnesota. Thursday, November 6, 7 p.m., Stillwater Public Library, 224 3rd St. N., Stillwater
Nikki Giovanni, author of more than twenty collections of poetry and ten books for children. Thursday, November 13, 7 p.m., Arlington Hills Library and Community Center, 1200 Payne Ave., Saint Paul
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