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.
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.
It was all celebratory doughnuts and smiles at Graywolf Press in Minneapolis this morning when the news came out that "The Empathy Exams," an essay collection by Leslie Jamison, debuted at No. 11 on the New York Times print paperback best-sellers list.
The book, which is this year's winner of the Graywolf Nonfiction Award, went into a sixth printing today, this time of 10,000 copies.
It's rare for a book of essays--especially a book published by a small independent press--to do so well so quickly, but "The Empathy Exams" has gotten extraordinary reviews. The Star Tribune called it "astonishing." The New York Times said "it's hard to imagine a stronger, more thoughtful voice emerging this year." The Boston Globe called it "a brilliant collection," and the Los Angeles Times says it is "remarkable and multifaceted."
Champagne corks might be popping over at Graywolf this afternoon. Champagne, I've heard, goes well with doughnuts.
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."
When you saw that Garrison Keillor and Common Good Books had decided to offer a $1,000 prize for the winner of this year's love poem contest--and $250 for each of the four runners-up--you probably thought, Heck. I'll never win. It'll probably go to someone really good, like Walt Whitman, or somebody.
Fear not! Prithee! 'Zounds! And other vaguely poetic sounding exclamations! Because the bookstore is hoping to level the playing field a little--bring you up, so to speak, to Whitman's level. And so, on its website, it is offering free advice on how to write a love poem. This advice is from the tops in the field. No, not Walt Whitman (someone needs to break the news to you that Mr. Whitman is dead), but from others just as good (and very much alive).
And so we have advice from Jeff Shotts, executive editor of Graywolf Press and editor of some of the finest poets being published today. Also, advice from Washington State's poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken, Tony Hoagland (whose newest book came out in March) (and was edited by Jeff Shotts), and many others. More advice will pop up between now and the competition deadline of April 15, so check back.
The advice is sound and simple and much of it applies to good writing in general: Be direct and intimate, be fully honest, be unexpected. But of course, since they are poets, they said this so much better. Here's a sampling:
"While writing a love poem, you must ignore everyone but the beloved." (Shotts.)
"I learned that love poems could be more than just 'let me count the ways' and contain the dark as well as the light.." (Flenniken.)
"The love poet is advised to twist the data convincingly towards the eccentric as well as the esoteric. Show the beloved emptying a mousetrap. Describe the expression on the mouse’s face." (Hoagland)
So. Ready? Submit your poem (with a signed release, available on the Common Good Books site) by April 15. Winners will be judged by Garrison Keillor, Patricia Hampl and Tom Hennen--fine St Paul poets, all.
And even if you don't win the $1,000, when this is all over you will have written a love poem. And that's no small thing.
Comedian Amy Poehler might seem an odd choice as honorary chairperson of World Book Night -- previous chairs were authors Ann Patchett, James Patterson, and Anna Quindlen -- but World Book Night's executive director says it's "a happy, happy event."
"This news is the icing, cherry and candles on the year three WBN cake," Carl Lennertz said in a prepared statement. "We've already announced a seven-author New York Public Library launch event, our highest percentage of free books going to teachers and students in underfunded schools, and a record number of participating librarians and booksellers, and Amy Poehler joining our cause is a happy, happy event. On behalf of our 25,000 volunteer givers and 500,000 book recipients this coming April 23, we say thank you."
Poehler is best known as a cast member of "Saturday Night Live" and as a star of the long-running comedy series "Parks and Recreation." But she says (in that same statement!) that she has always been a reader. "I grew up loving books," she said. "In today's digital world, it's more important than ever to know how it feels to have a good book in your hands. I'm thrilled to be part of World Book Night. People who read are people who dream, and we connect through the stories we live and tell and read."
World Book Night is an annual spring ritual, now in its third year, during which 25,000 volunteers across the United States hand out free books at random. This year's list of books includes several Minnesota authors, including Garrison Keillor and Peter Geye. Other authors--Eleanor Brown (a graduate of Macalester College) and Cheryl Strayed (a graduate of the University of Minnesota)--have Minnesota ties.
World Book Night began four years ago in Ireland and Great Britain and spread to Germany and the United States the following year. To apply as a volunteer giver of books next year (this year's givers are already set), sign up for the World Book Night newsletter.
And to check out what it's like to be a giver, here's last year's report.
|Books (36)||Movies (1)|
|Theater (1)||People (1)|
|Books and resources (5)||Awards (10)|
|Behind the scenes (3)||Book news (248)|
|Galleries (1)||Minnesota authors (12)|
|Museums (1)||St. Paul Como Park (1)|
|Television (1)||Author events (172)|
|Best sellers (7)||Book reviews (8)|
|Book stores (50)||Local authors (148)|
|Readings (66)||Book awards (107)|
|Illustrators (8)||Workshops and conferences (30)|
|Libraries (28)||Local publishers (35)|
|Minnesota Book Awards (10)||World Book Night (6)|
|Club Book (6)||Pen Pals (3)|
|Talk of the Stacks (8)||Talking Volumes (2)|
|E-books (2)||Coffee House Press (5)|
|Competitions (2)||Garrison Keillor (4)|
|Graywolf Press (15)||Louise Erdrich (9)|
|Milkweed Editions (2)||Poetry (20)|
|Robert Bly (5)|