Announcing Upcoming Retirement of Friends President Peter Pearson

Pearson is retiring at the end of 2016, leaving a strong and growing organization. A national search is underway for a new president. 

SAINT PAUL, MN, June 28, 2016 — After twenty-five years of service and growing the organization more than tenfold, Peter Pearson has announced his retirement as president of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, effective December 31, 2016. The Friends is one of the oldest and strongest library support organizations in the country, with a mission of stronger libraries for stronger communities.

Under Pearson’s leadership, the organization has grown from a staff of two, with an annual budget of $200,000 and a seven-member Board of Trustees, to the organization it is today—sophisticated and entrepreneurial, with a staff of 19, an annual budget of over $3 million, and a dynamic Board of 50 active and well-connected business, education and civic leaders.

During his tenure, The Friends conducted three successful capital campaigns, took on leadership of the Minnesota Book Awards, created the country’s premier book and author event, and developed a nationally-recognized library consulting company, Library Strategies.

Peter Pearson“The timing is right,” said Pearson. “Our most recent capital campaign has been successfully completed,” he said, noting that new leadership has been added in the last year to strengthen the organization’s fundraising capabilities and financial and administrative oversight into the future.

As an influential voice for libraries, The Friends ensures the Saint Paul Public Library and its partner and client libraries are vital centers of engaged, educated and diverse communities. Beyond retirement, Pearson plans to continue working with Library Strategies, in whatever consulting capacity he may be needed, but he also plans to spend more time with his family at his home in Florida.

“I have enjoyed every one of my 25 years at The Friends. I feel blessed to have had a career that is personally fulfilling and also of service to this great city and library that we all love.” The City of Saint Paul has come to depend on the organization’s tenacious and steadfast support of the library.

“The Friends of the Library is irreplaceable and a key partner in everything we do with our libraries,” said St. Paul City Council member and Library Board chair Chris Tolbert. “They are highly respected and their opinion really matters. There’s no other group that backs up their advocacy like they do, with their own dollars.”

Former Saint Paul Mayor George Latimer concurred, but notes that strong support of the library doesn’t happen in a vacuum. “The Friends have got it made,” said Latimer, with a laugh,” because there are so many people in St. Paul who love libraries.”

The Friends recently completed a four-year, $7.4 million capital campaign to support major renovations at the Sun Ray, Highland Park, and George Latimer Central Libraries.The City of Saint Paul contributed $7 million to the projects, for a total of $14.4 million. “Peter’s leadership within The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library will be deeply missed,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “The support and partnership he fostered has allowed our libraries to become places of 21st century learning.”

The Friends will be conducting a national search to identify the next president. The Board of Trustees has contracted with Ballinger|Leafblad to facilitate the process. Details of the search process will be posted online at www.thefriends.org. Inquiries about the position can be sent to lars@ballingerleafblad.com.

Great Lakes Reads: A Center for the Book Collaboration

Get to know the Great Lakes states through a selected reading list.

Long Shining Waters – a Great Lakes ReadThe Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, as the Minnesota Center for the Book, is pleased to announce “Great Lakes Reads,” a collaborative project of the Great Lakes State Centers for the Book: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, with participation by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. Created in 1977, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress promotes books, reading, literacy, and libraries.

Books for the “Great Lakes Reads” list were selected by each state, and province, that borders a Great Lake. The chosen works, all by authors either from or residing in each location, highlight the state’s relationship with its lake and the communities surrounding it. Minnesota’s selected book is The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin, published by Milkweed Editions.

The Long-Shining Waters won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, and was chosen as the One Book South Dakota 2013. It was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, as well as The Midwest Independent Bookseller’s Choice Award. Sosin’s first book, Garden Primitives, a collection of short stories, was published by Coffee House Press in 2000. The author has been the recipient of many awards and fellowships including the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, and the Loft Literary Center. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.

The books selected by each participating state (and province) for “Great Lakes Reads” are:

Illinois: Maritime Chicago by Theodore J. Karamanski and Deane Tank, Sr.
Maritime Chicago tells the story of this important transportation and trading hub situated on a great “inland sea” and the city’s maritime past bears witness to much triumph and tragedy, victory and defeat.

Indiana: Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist by Edwin Way Teale
This classic tale explores the childhood of a young boy growing up surrounded by Indiana’s scenic lakeshore dunes. It was distributed to over 100,000 soldiers during WWII.

Michigan: The Waters of Michigan by Dave Lubbers and Dave Dempsey
This collection presents a truly unique view and understanding of the waters of Michigan. Water as vast as the Great Lakes, as serene as the inland lakes, and as long and lazy or sleek and fast as the numerous byways that run between and among them.

Minnesota: The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin
Frigid, lethal, and wildly beautiful, Lake Superior is as alluring as it is dangerous. Featuring three women living on its shores in three different centuries, Danielle Sosin’s novel illuminates the mysterious powers of the greatest of the Great Lakes.

New York: City of Light by Lauren Belfer
The year is 1901. As headmistress of Buffalo, New York’s most prestigious school, Louisa Barrett is at ease in a world of men, protected by the titans of her city. But in this city of seething intrigue and dazzling progress, a battle rages among politicians, power brokers, and industrialists for control of Niagara.

Ohio: The Lake Effect by Les Roberts (#5 in the Milan Jacovich mystery series)
Every Clevelander understands the lake effect, a weather condition that brings plenty of snow, especially in November when election time rolls around. Milan Jacovich, the genial Cleveland private eye, has never been a political animal, but soon he’s in for a lot rougher time of it than simply poll-watching.

Pennsylvania: Reflections of Presque Isle: A Visual Journey by The Erie Times-News and Pennsylvania Sea Grant
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200 acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie, offering a beautiful coastline and a variety of recreational activities. Filled with a number of unique habitats, it features many migrating birds and contains many of the state’s endangered, threatened, and rare species.

Wisconsin: Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories by Jennifer Morales
Set in one of the nation’s most highly segregated cities, Meet Me Halfway tells stories of a community with a tumultuous and divided past, and captures a Rust Belt city’s struggle to establish common ground and a collective vision of the future.

Ontario: The Greatest Lake: Stories from Lake Superior’s North Shore by Conor Mihell
By exploring the connection between people and place on the rugged coastline of Lake Superior, Mihell weaves first-hand experiences as an outdoor adventurer with compelling character studies of cottagers and entrepreneurs, personal essays, and environmental reporting.

Library Wins Environmental Initiative Award for Nature-Smart Partnership

Renovated in 2014, Sun Ray Library is changing the way the community thinks about literacy, environmental stewardship, and youth leadership

The Saint Paul Public Library was honored on May 26 at the 2016 Environmental Initiative Awards Ceremony for its unique partnership with the Children & Nature Network making Sun Ray Library a community hub of nature learning and recreation. Completely renovated in 2014 in a public/private partnership with funds from The Friends’ capital campaign, A New Legacy of Learning, Sun Ray Library transformed both its physical environment and programming to serve as a place for families to learn and engage with nature.

“Collaboration isn’t always easy. This project is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished for our environment, for our youth, and for Minnesota families when we choose to work together,” said Environmental Initiative’s Executive Director, Mike Harley.

To realize the goals of the project—to increase the community’s engagement with nature—the library worked with the Children & Nature Network to convene more than 60 civic, business, education and youth leaders, as well as residents of the library’s Conway Park neighborhood, for a series of community meetings. The purpose of these meetings was to generate ideas for transforming the Sun Ray Library and adjacent Conway Park into a nature-rich community hub. The resulting community environmental action plan produced several notable outcomes for the community:

  • The library now has 18 Nature Adventure Backpacks on different themes with a variety of environmental tools, activities, fiction and non-fiction books, being checked out by children and families for nature-based education and engagement
  • Library staff now run 48 environmental activities for youth that address 12 themes
  • “Story Walks” (story pages on stakes throughout the park) are inspiring families to read from the library doors along the park trail to further develop the connection between outdoor and indoor spaces.
  • Ten volunteers from the Young Mentors Group attended a 2-day leadership training program to develop a plan for a Natural Leaders Legacy Camp where 50 regional youth will be trained as Twin Cities Natural Leaders
  • A pollinator garden was installed and is being maintained on library land in partnership with the University of Saint Thomas, Wells Fargo Bank, and Urban Roots

“We’re used to thinking of reading and learning as something we do inside,” said Rebecca Ryan, library manager. “Our natural library is connecting young people and families to the outdoors in a really unique way by pairing the imagination of reading with exploration in nature.”

Through the project, local elected officials have become more aware of the importance of green space to the community, Conway Park has increased its tree canopy, the library grounds now boast a thriving pollinator garden, and the Sun Ray Library has outreach tools for environmental education and engagement with youth and families. Because of community involvement in this project, there is a continuing commitment by city and community organizations to tree planting and pollinator garden support, as well as momentum toward an overall master plan for Conway Park. Beyond its local impact, the project has proven to be a viable national model for engaging diverse urban communities in library-based greening and educational efforts.

Project Partners

  • City of Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Children & Nature Network
  • Urban Roots
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Wells Fargo
  • National Geographic
  • Lawal Scott Erickson Architects Inc.
  • Plum Landing: WGBH/PBS Kids
  • Sun Ray Young Mentor’s Group
  • St. Thomas University

The Environmental Initiative Awards are presented by the Environmental Initiative, nonprofit organization that builds partnerships among leaders from business, nonprofits, government, academia and more, to share ideas and diverse perspectives on pressing environmental issues, and develop collaborative solutions to Minnesota’s environmental problems. Started in 1994, the Awards annually honor innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by harnessing the power of partnership.

A New Legacy of Learning was launched in 2011, and successfully completed in 2015.  The City of Saint Paul contributed $7 million in public funds and The Friends raised $7.4 million in private funds, for a total of $14.4 million for the Sun Ray, Highland Park, and George Latimer Central Library renovations.

Trotskyists on Trial with Donna Haverty-Stacke (2016 Untold Stories)

Seventy-five years ago, 29 unionists and working-class socialists were prosecuted and labeled as dangerous revolutionaries by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Justice Department under the newly passed anti-radical Smith Act. Most were members and officers of the militant Minneapolis Teamsters Union that lead the historic 1934 truckers strikes. In Trotskyists on Trial: Free Speech and Political Persecution Since the Age of FDR, Donna Haverty-Stacke tells the story of how these strikers were imprisoned, and how the Smith Act was later invalidated by the Supreme Court. Haverty-Stacke is an Associate Professor of History at Hunter College, New York.

The Iron Range: Past, Present & Future (2016 Untold Stories)

Recorded on Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Iron Range has always held a special place in Minnesota’s labor history and lore. Now the future of the Range seems uncertain. The authors of two recent books give us a great opportunity to grapple with the connections between past, present, and future. Megan Marsnik is the author of the novel Under Ground, which centers around the roles of women in the miners’ strike of 1916. She teaches high school in Minneapolis. Marsnik is joined by Jeffrey Manuel, Associate Professor of Historical Studies at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and author of Taconite Dreams: The Struggle to Sustain Mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range, 1915-2000. The authors will participate in a conversation and reading moderated by Peter Rachleff of the East Side Freedom Library.

 

Elmer Smith and the Wobblies with Tom Copeland (Untold Stories 2016)

In his book, The Centralia Tragedy of 1919: Elmer Smith and the Wobblies, Tom Copeland, Macalester graduate and lawyer, tells the tale of Elmer Smith, also a Macalester graduate and lawyer. At the end of the Armistice Day Parade of 1919 in Centralia, Washington, Legionnaires, veterans, and others hostile to the Industrial Workers of the World, marched on the IWW union hall intending, again, to run the radicals out of town. The Wobblies knew of the plan and, on the advice of Elmer Smith, defended themselves and their hall. The attack began, the Wobblies fought back, four Legionnaires died, and three others were seriously injured. Later the Legionnaires lynched one of Wobblies. Twelve Fellow Workers and Elmer Smith were indicted for murder for one of the Legionnaire deaths. The jury acquitted Smith, but most of the others went to prison. Elmer Smith spent the rest of his life fighting, both in and out of court, for workers’ rights and for the freedom of his codefendants. Despite being jailed, ostracized, and disbarred, Elmer Smith never gave up the struggle. This is a story not often told but it needs to be heard by all those interested in the struggle to secure the rights of workers. 

Letters About Literature: State Winners Announced

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, as the home of the Minnesota Center for the Book, is pleased to announce the state-level winners of the 2016 annual national Letters About Literature Essay Contest, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English and Common Good Books, and supported by Education Minnesota’s Foundation for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

This year, 52,000 adolescent and young adult readers nationwide in grades 4 through 12 participated in Letters About Literature, a program which encourages young people to read, be inspired, and write back to the author who has somehow changed their view of the world or themselves. The number of entries from Minnesota’s students was 1,248, and 130 student letters made it through to the state round level of judging in the three levels of competition. For more information about the contest, national winners, and free teaching resources to guide students through the reader response and writing process, visit www.read.gov/letters/.

The winners of the Letters About Literature essay competition were selected on three levels: Level I – for grades four through six, Level II – for grades seven and eight, and Level III – for grades nine through twelve.

The winners are:

Level I

First Place: Alexander Jadoo (McGuire Middle School, Lakeville)
Letter to Brian Falkner, Brain Jack

Second Place: Marie Schumacher (Lake Country School, Minneapolis)
Letter to Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Third Place (tie): Ani Heikkila (Parkview School, Roseville)
Letter to J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series; and
Grace Ritzenthaler (Grade 5: Visitation School, Mendota Heights)
Letter to Thanhha Lai, Inside Out and Back Again

Level II

First Place: Natalie Anderson (The Blake School, Hopkins)
Letter to George Orwell, Animal Farm

Second Place: Andrea Hansen (Wayzata East Middle School, Plymouth)
Letter to J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series

Third Place: Aaryan Gulati (The Blake School, Hopkins)
Letter to Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Level III

First Place: Dani Dahlseid (Robbinsdale Cooper High School, New Hope)
Letter to Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

Second Place: Julia Eilers (White Bear Lake High School, White Bear Lake)
Letter to Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

Third Place: Claire Hank (White Bear Lake High School, White Bear Lake)
Letter to Anonymous, author of “In the Silence”

The student winners were recognized at the 28th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the St. Paul Union Depot. Winning essays are available online by clicking on the links above.

28th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Presented

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library is pleased to announce the winners of the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards. In addition to winners in eight categories, The Friends presented the Minnesota Book Artist, Hognander Minnesota History, and Kay Sexton Awards to previously announced honorees—respectively, Wendy Fernstrum, William D. Green, and Jim Sitter.

Minnesota Book AwardsMore than 900 people attended an award ceremony at Saint Paul’s Union Depot on Saturday, April 16, emceed by Stephanie Curtis, producer of Minnesota Public Radio’s “The Thread”, and one of the Cube Critics on All Things Considered. Announced at the ceremony, the winners of the 2016 Minnesota Book Awards are:

Award for Children’s Literature, sponsored by Books for Africa:
Michael Hall – Red: A Crayon’s Story –
published by Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers
Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone! Hall is also the author and illustrator of My Heart Is Like a Zoo, winner of the 2011 Minnesota Book Award for Children’s Literature as well as four other critically-acclaimed books for children.

Award for General Nonfiction, sponsored by The Waterbury Group at Morgan Stanley:
Ryan BergNo House to Call My Home: Love, Family and Other Transgressions published by Nation Books/Perseus Books Group
In this lyrical debut, Ryan Berg immerses readers in the gritty, dangerous, and shockingly under-reported world of homeless LGBTQ teens in New York. Ryan Berg is a Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Writers Fellow and received the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature.

Award for Genre Fiction, sponsored by Macalester College:
Ellen Hart – The Grave Soul – published by Minotaur Books
Restaurateur and private investigator Jane Lawless is pulled into a family mystery with long-reaching consequences in Hart’s 23rd book in the series. Hart is a multiple Minnesota Book Award winner and author of thirty crime novels in two different series. For the past sixteen years, she has also taught “An Introduction to Writing the Modern Mystery” through the The Loft Literary Center.

Award for Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by Kevin and Greta Warren:
Karen Babine – Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life – published by University of Minnesota Press*
In essays that travel from the wildness of Lake Superior to the order of an apple orchard, Babine searches out the stories that water has written on human consciousness and traces an ethic of place, a way to understand the essence of inhabiting a place deeply rooted in personal stories. Her essays have been published in numerous literary magazines including North Dakota Quarterly, River Teeth, and Sycamore Review. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies.

Award for Minnesota, sponsored by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota:
Larry Millett – Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury – published by University of Minnesota Press*
Millett lends his expert eye to this guide through the life and architectural styles of Minnesota at midcentury. Richly illustrated, this book is an exploration of the post-World War II architectural style that swept the nation from 1945 through the mid-1960s. Millett is the author of many books, including Minnesota’s Own: Preserving Our Grand Homes and Once There Were Castles: Lost Mansions and Estates of the Twin Cities. 

Award for Novel & Short Story, sponsored by Education Minnesota:
Charles Baxter – There’s Something I Want You to Do – published by Pantheon Books/Random House
“There’s something I want you to do.” This request—sometimes simple, sometimes not—forms the basis for the ten interrelated stories that comprise this latest penetrating and prophetic collection from an author who has been repeatedly praised as a master of the form. Baxter is the author of fifteen books of fiction, creative nonfiction, and essays. This is his second Minnesota Book Award.

Award for Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.:
Ray Gonzalez – Beautiful Wall – published by BOA Editions, Ltd.
In his newest collection, Gonzalez takes readers on a profound journey through the deserts of the Southwest where the ever-changing natural landscape and an aggressive border culture rewrite intolerance and ethnocentric thought into human history. He is the author of fifteen books of poetry and the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwest Border Regional Library Association. This is his third Minnesota Book Award.

Award for Young People’s Literature, sponsored by The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University:
Shannon Gibney – See No Color
– published by Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group*
Alex Kirtridge has always been a star baseball player, just like her dad, and she’s always known she was adopted. But when, at 16, Alex discovers hidden letters from her biological father and Reggie, the first black guy to like her, starts hanging around, Alex is confronted with questions about who she really is. Gibney is a writer, teacher and activist in Minneapolis. This is her first book.


At the Book Awards gala on April 16, the ninth annual Book Artist Award was presented to Wendy Fernstrum, for a new piece entitled One is the Holiest Number (#2). The award, sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group and presented with the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA), recognizes book artists for excellence of a new artistic work and demonstrated proficiency and quality in the book arts, as well as an ongoing commitment and significant contributions to Minnesota’s book arts community. Her award-winning piece is a meditation on the paradox of one: how each of us as an individual is distinctly one, yet simultaneously part of a unified whole, as one. Fernstrum has investigated this theme for several years, creating work that explores the “in-between space” where identity is constantly shifting and certainties lose form.

The biennial Hognander Minnesota History Award was presented to William D. Green for his book Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865-1912. Sponsored by the Hognander Family Foundation, the award recognizes the author of the most outstanding scholarly work related to Minnesota history published during the preceding two years. Spanning the half-century after the Civil War, Degrees of Freedom draws a rare picture of black experience in a northern state and of the nature of black discontent and action within a predominantly white, ostensibly progressive society. Green reveals little-known historical characters among the black men and women who moved to Minnesota following the Fifteenth Amendment and delves into the delicate balance of power between black activists and our progressive white society.

Finally, Jim Sitter received the previously announced Kay Sexton Award. For more than thirty years, Sitter has been one of the most prolific and effective arts leaders in the state. He embodies the spirit of the Kay Sexton Award with an extraordinary array of accomplishments, helping to make the literary and book arts community in Minnesota what it is today. The Award is sponsored by St. Catherine University’s Master of Library and Information Science program.

Books written by a Minnesotan and first published in 2015 were eligible for the 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards. A total of 252 books were nominated for awards this year, and 32 books were selected as finalists. The winners were chosen by panels of judges from around the state. Nominations for next year’s Awards will open in August, 2016. Explore this website for more information about the Minnesota Book Awards and the Minnesota Center for the Book. Click here for more information on the Book Awards process, and here for a list of finalists and winners since 1988.

The Book Awards ceremony will be broadcast in the coming weeks on Saint Paul Neighborhood Network and TPT-MN Channel. Watch the website for updates on air dates.

The 28th annual Minnesota Book Awards is a project of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, with the Saint Paul Public Library and the City of Saint Paul. Major funding for the Book Awards was provided by Brainfuse, the Huss Foundation, the Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Pohlad Family Foundation and Saint Paul’s Cultural STAR program. Statewide outreach partners include the Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators (CRPLSA), the Loft Literary Center, Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), and Saint Paul Almanac. Media sponsors include Minnesota Public Radio, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), the Star Tribune and TPT.

*indicates a Minnesota-based publisher

 

 

 

Roots, Identity and Coming-of-Age in Transracial Adoption

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, and in collaboration with community editors from the award-winning Saint Paul Almanac, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2016 Young People’s Literature finalist:

See No Color by Shannon GibneySee No Color by Shannon Gibney
Published by Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing Group
Category Sponsor: The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline

Shannon Gibney’s See No Color is receiving an unusual amount of attention, not just among those who read and comment on young people’s literature, but it is proving to be instructive in the ongoing conversations on identity, race, and the transracial adoption industry. Gibney’s protagonist, Alex, is a teenage baseball player, a girl, and a transracial adoptee. She is a great player, much of it due to her coach, who is her dad and a former Major League baseball player. He, along with the rest of her family, is white; she is black.

Or “half black” as her father insists. The invisibility of her unavoidably obvious identity adds to the questions about who she really is. Add to this the discovery of previously hidden letters from her biological father, life changes including an emerging love life, and living gender roles that are as complex as her racial identity. Through the story of Alex, Gibney brings context to broader questions: What does it mean to be biracial in a white family? Through this story and other transracial experiences, it helps us look at the question of what it means to grow up in/as a multiracial world. This work both touches America’s heart and aids much-needed formal and informal scholarship on what it means to be a part of this American family.

Author Bio:

Shannon GibneyWhen she was 15, Shannon Gibney’s father gave her James Baldwin’s Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, a book that changed her life and made her see the possibilities of the written word. After this, Shannon knew she needed to read everything Baldwin had ever written, and that she wanted to emulate his strategy of telling the most dangerous, and therefore liberating kind of truth, through writing. At Carnegie Mellon University, Shannon majored in Creative Writing and Spanish. She earned her M.A. and MFA at Indiana University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program. She has been the editor of the Indiana Review and managing editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the state’s oldest Black newspaper. She is a Bush Artist Fellow and, in summer 2007, joined the faculty in English at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. She lives with her husband, Ballah D. Corvah, their son Boisey, and daughter Marwein, in the Powderhorn neighborhood of South Minneapolis.

Read Shannon Gibney’s Blog

Shannon Gibney is on Twitter

Reviews:

“See No Color is about identity, about race, about family and adoption—transracial adoption more specifically—about communication and about secrets, about ingrained racism and sexism, about how withholding information from someone is making up their mind for them. It’s about the difference between protecting a loved one and protecting yourself, about how avoiding confrontation can make the confrontation far worse down the line. It’s about belonging to two worlds, but not feeling quite right in either… Gibney tackles a LOT of complex emotions and relationships in less than 200 pages, and she pulls all off beautifully.”—Leila Roy, “Take a Close Look at Difference,” Kirkus Reviews

In See No Color, author Shannon Gibney explores the myth of colorblindness in the context of transracial adoption in a story about Alex(andra), a biracial teen who was adopted by White parents as a very young child… no matter how much her parents wish it were otherwise, Alex’s experience in the world is different than the rest of her family’s. They love her, and they genuinely believe that is enough. Of course it isn’t enough.”—Megan Schliesman, Reading While White

“The language, the graduated awareness of the protagonist, the confusion, the longing, the realistic highs and lows of her emotional state — this character just jumps off of the page.”—Turning Pages

Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature has chosen See No Color as a “Best Children’s Book of the Year 2016.”

Author Interview:

Interview with author Shannon Gibney – The Pirate Tree

Listen: Black Market Reads

Book club podcast hosts Erin and Junauda are joined by Namir Fearce and Case Wilson, two youth readers who got to interview author Shannon Gibney about her debut young adult novel, See No Color. They discuss the novel’s themes, which include transracial adoption, sports, gender, parenting and mixed race identity. They also talk about Macklemore’s education on white privilege and Chelsea Handler’s exploration of racism.

Watch:

SELCO communications specialist Jennifer Harveland reviews See No Color by Shannon Gibney:


Minnesota Book AwardsAward winners will be announced at the 28th Annual Minnesota Book Awards on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the Union Depot in Saint Paul.

The evening features a Preface Reception with complimentary passed wine and cash bar, author meet-and-greet, book sales and signing; the Awards Ceremony with live music, celebrity presenters, artisan cheese plates and breads, complimentary wine and lemonade, with emcee Stephanie Curtis of MPR; and the Epilogue After-Party with complimentary champagne, sumptuous desserts, and additional live music. Tickets now on sale, or click here for more information.


We're giving away a book a day

Today’s winner: Neal Thao. (We’ll be in touch via email, and arrange getting the book to you!)

Want your chance to win? Subscribe to our email to get news and program updates sent directly to your inbox, and be automatically entered to win.

 

 

Can Love Ever Be Recognized As Modern?

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, and in collaboration with community editors from the award-winning Saint Paul Almanac, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2016 Poetry finalist:

Modern Love & Other Myths by Joyce SutphenModern Love & Other Myths by Joyce Sutphen
Published by: Red Dragonfly Press
Category Sponsor: Wellington Management

Joyce Sutphen’s sixth collection of poetry explores love as a landscape that is public yet personal, real yet mythic, leaving us to question the meaning and nature of love, even as we understand it anew. Rich in observation, insight and imagination, Modern Love & Other Myths portrays love and its many facets in ways that are at turns wise, witty, funny, tender, intimate or full of longing and regret. Modern Love & Other Myths takes its readers to places that are familiar and unfamiliar, lived and dreamed, all the while reminding us what it is to love and be loved. In essence, what it is to be human.

The poems in this collection explore, as Elizabeth Bishop phrased it, “efforts of affection” in our contemporary world. The poet’s appraisals—both personal and general—resonate deeply with all who have mapped the story land between “hello” and “goodbye.” The title invites us to examine what we mean by myth, and whether, in fact, love can ever be regarded as modern. Wise and inquisitive, the poems in this collection travel across continents as easily as into the heart.

Author Bio:

Joyce SutphenPoet Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with, among other degrees, a Ph.D. in Renaissance Drama, Sutphen teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College. She has published several books of poetry, of which Modern Love & Other Myths is her sixth. Her first poetry collection, Straight Out of View (1995), won the Barnard New Women Poets Prize. Her second poetry collection, Coming Back to the Body, (Holy Cow! Press, 2000), was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award. Naming the Stars, her third book, also published by Holy Cow! Press, won a Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. Her poetry has been published in Water~Stone Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry, Luna, Hayden’s Ferry, Shenandoah and The Gettysburg Review. She served as co-editor, along with Connie Wanek and Thom Tammaro, of To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present (2006). She has served as Minnesota’s Poet Laureate since 2011.

Joyce Sutphen is on Facebook

An excerpt from Modern Love & Other Myths:

A Kind of Wild Justice

Living well is the best revenge,
and revenge
is a kind of wild justice

I knew this when I stepped to
the edge, licking my fingers,
the delight of clouded

blackberries filling my mouth
the little needle of regret
stitching out an ending

Living well is the revenge
I will take I said
as I began

to walk on air, waving
an indifferent hand
at the stones

that wanted to nestle in my pockets
at the long shadow waiting
for me to fall

Read more at Small Press Distribution “Peek Inside“

Listen:

Garrison Keillor reads “Things to Watch While You Drive” from Modern Love & Other Myths:

Review:

“Joyce Sutphen opens her sixth poetry collection with a reference to the Greek myth of Leda, but this and her title are misdirections. The book immediately moves from the mythic to the personal with quiet and accessible poems about the end of a relationship. Although the book focuses on a breakup, it isn’t bogged down by regret. Instead, it is punctuated by vibrant images and realizations: ‘I won’t forget I once was loved like that.’ Overall the book is a satisfying read.”—Star Tribune

Watch:

SELCO librarian Jennifer Harveland reviews Modern Love & Other Myths by Joyce Sutphen.


Minnesota Book AwardsAward winners will be announced at the 28th Annual Minnesota Book Awards on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the Union Depot in Saint Paul.

The evening features a Preface Reception with complimentary passed wine and cash bar, author meet-and-greet, book sales and signing; the Awards Ceremony with live music, celebrity presenters, artisan cheese plates and breads, complimentary wine and lemonade, with emcee Stephanie Curtis of MPR; and the Epilogue After-Party with complimentary champagne, sumptuous desserts, and additional live music. Tickets now on sale, or click here for more information.


We're giving away a book a day

Today’s winner: Renate Courtright. (We’ll be in touch via email, and arrange getting the book to you!)

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