I grew up in the Dale-Selby neighborhood of Saint Paul. To be more
exact, we lived in the upstairs of a duplex just off the corner of Dayton
and St. Albans, one block from Dale and one block from Selby.
When I see sweet potatoes, I often think of Deborah Torraine. Deb
was a community organizer in the Twin Cities. She always referred
to herself as a cultural worker; she was a mentor to new and
emerging artists, and the Director of Community Engagement for
the Saint Paul Almanac.
Driving back from the reservation, I cross a small bridge into Saint Paul. I feel the troubled waters. I think of my grandfather’s people,the Dakota. I think of how they lived by the water, how they made fire by the water.
Our Lady of Guadalupe,
leaning in the mercado window,
make intercession for the West Side.
Mystical rose of yellow, red, and blue,
protect those who journey through
the corners of George, State, and Chavez streets —
New Tepeyac, District del Sol.
“You can’t have an underworld without an overworld, if you know what I mean.”
—Nate Bomberg, Pioneer Press reporter
“Another very great nuisance with which we have been afflicted... is the myriads of mosquitoes with which the country abounds... they have been for the last two months almost intolerable... their depredations at night are beyond description.”
—Horace Bigelow, Saint Paul Pioneer, September 10, 1854
“I do hope that in my blundering way through life I may in a small measure defend the dignity of common men and prove of some sustaining power to the suffering souls I meet... I have small faith in any man’s religion if he feels above those who are unfortunate.”
—L. C. Larry Ho Hodgson, Saint Paul mayor and poet