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On Books

Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996.

20th anniversary season of Pen Pals features James McBride, Billy Collins and others

James McBride. Photo by Chia Messina

The Friends of the Hennepin County Library have announced the lineup for the 20th season of Pen Pals, the longest-running literary series in the Twin Cities.

The season will run September through next May, and guests include a poet laureate, two Pulitzer Prize winners, and a winner of the National Book Award (with music). Each writer will be in town for a 7:30 p.m. appearance, followed by an 11 a.m. appearance the next day. All events will take place at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins.

Here’s the lineup:

Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times and the author of a number of novels about social justice, Sept. 22 and 23. (Read our 2014 interview with Anna Quindlen here.)

Billy Collins, twice the U.S. Poet Laureate, Oct.13 and 14.(Read our 2013 interview with Billy Collins here.)

Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher thrillers. Feb. 16 and 17.

Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer winner and author of “Olive Kitteridge” and “My Name is Lucy Barton.” March 30 and 31. (Read our 2014 interview with Elizabeth Strout here.)

James McBride and the Good Lord Bird Band. McBride, a writer and jazz musician, is the author of “The Good Lord Bird,” which won the National Book Award for fiction. May 11 and 12. (Read our 2014 interview with James McBride here.)

Tickets for the series begin at $160 and can be ordered beginning May 9 from www.supporthclib.org.

Individual tickets will go on sale Aug. 9.

St. Paul poet Chris Santiago wins the 2016 Lindquist & Vennum Prize



Chris Santiago, born and raised in the Twin Cities and a first-generation Filipino American, has won the fifth annual Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry from Milkweed Editions.

Competition judge A. Van Jordan called Santiago's manuscript, "Tula," "a hypnotic blend of languages and land."

Santiago, who teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, has published poems, short stories, and critical essays in FIELD, Pleiades, the Asian American Literary Review, and elsewhere. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Santiago said that he is fascinated by the mystique of language. "When I hear someone speak Tagalog, I recognize it immediately but don't know what they're saying," he said in a press release from Milkweed. "This feeling--of being outside the language, but having it also be a kind of homeland--is where 'Tula' began."

The Lindquist & Vennum Prize awards $10,000 and a publishing contract to the winner. "Tula"
will be published in December.

Previous winners include Patricia Kirkpatrick for "Odessa," and Jennifer Willoughby for "Beautiful Zero." The competition is open to poets in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. Santiago's manuscript was among 195 submitted.