I was feeling drab one Saturday afternoon in my Midway neighborhood. After a week of nine-to-six computer work in a cubicle and a morning of ticking off the weekly chores, laundry, groceries, scrubbing a few floors, and carting my teen around, what I needed was a pick-me-up. A look at my grubby nails confirmed where I knew I had to go to escape the routine of the dark days of November that were seeping into December and dragging me along.
We made our way cautiously to The Southern Theatre on October 13th. The street was teeming with pale and bloodied creatures loping around with cigarettes dangling from black lips, raising plastic cups of sour beer to the autumn night sky. The perfect setting for the world premiere of a Mu Performing Arts' production of Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals. The play is a dream, channeled and embroidered into a rich crazy quilt adventure by playwright Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, director Randy Reyes and a a talented cast and crew.
We at the Saint Paul Almanac were more than a little excited about the Minnesota Book Awards this year. Our very own community editor, board member and co-editor for the 2014 edition, Patricia Kirkpatrick won the award for poetry. Her book Odessa, published by Milkweed Editions, is a moving piece of work. It chronicles the painstaking reclamation of herself during a time that included some of the less than usual hardships that can knock one down in life. The book is an open heart, an invitation to be human and graceful just as we know Patricia to be.
I had a meeting with Kimberly Nightingale in Lowertown two weeks ago and, sure enough, we got invited to play around with a Hasbro toy from our youth. Ta-coumba Aiken is the talent behind the world’s largest (they are going for the world record) Lite-Brite sculpture planned for the Union Depot. I am told that the bright sculpture will measure 9 x 27 feet and illuminate some 570,000 tiny blue, green, pink and red transparent pegs.
Around the Editors' Table is the freshly-baked-pulled-from-the-oven-steaming-hot blog that will feature original writing by members of Saint Paul Almanac's community editor group. We envision this blog as a place to get to know the editors, past and present, through their personal writing. It will feature poetry, prose, lyrics, interviews, articles, Spoken Word compositions and more. Text, photography, artwork are all welcome.
Tonight it was my honor and pleasure to chauffeur local lit legend Phebe Hanson. I told her that I remember her from high school when my English teachers Sara Sexton and Larry Risser (Southwest HIgh, Mpls) brought her in to speak to our class about journal writing. I even brought out my copy of 25 Minnesota Poets (from 1974), in which she is featured, and asked her to sign it. In it she noted that today is Emily Dickinson’s birthday. She told me in the car that she has been throwing parties for Dickinson since 1972.
Last night Parthenia and I made the rounds of poetry readings. After making the scene in Minneapolis, we shot over to Lowertown in St. Paul to attend the Saint Paul Almanac-sponsored Lowertown Reading Jam at the Black Dog Cafe. “Three Artists, Three Themes” was curated by J. Otis Powell‽. He was joined by Tish Jones and Shá Cage. The cafe was warm and full of friends as three very different artists took the small stage and brought their best and most beautiful voices to their stories.
"There were about 20 of us, seated at a long table inside AZ Gallery in Lowertown. This first evening, I am always aware of what a mixer this gathering is. Except for a few from last year, these are people I have not met before. The group is recruited and selected in a way that ensures diversity of age, gender, neighborhood, community and level of ability. Last night was the first meeting of the Saint Paul Almanac community editor group and my second season as an editor. When our work is done, we will have helped launch the 2014 (and eighth) edition. It will make its debut next year in September." Lisa Steinmann is a Saint Paul–based writer, teacher, and artist. Her work spans both sides of the Mississippi river and other divides as well.