Each day we highlight one of the 36 finalists leading up to the April 8 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, presented by Education Minnesota. Today we feature 2017 Genre Fiction finalist:

Stealing the Countess, by David HousewrightStealing the Countess by David Housewright

Published by: Minotaur Books/St. Martin’s Press
Category Sponsor: Macalester College

The brazen theft of a Stradivarius violin known as the Countess Borromeo, valued at $4 million, provides Rushmore McKenzie with some ethical challenges in Housewright’s entertaining 13th mystery featuring the unlicensed St. Paul, Minn., PI (after 2015’s Unidentified Woman #15). Maestro Paul Duclos, whose violin was stolen during a visit to his hometown in Wisconsin from the bed-and-breakfast where he was staying, turns to McKenzie for help. Unfortunately, the musician’s insurance company refuses to pay a reward for the violin’s return until someone has been convicted for taking it. Duclos asks McKenzie to play middleman and offer $250,000 for the safe return of the Countess, no questions asked. In accepting the assignment, McKenzie knows he’s guilty of committing a felony. Publisher’s Weekly

 

David Housewright, Stealing the CountessAbout the Author:

A reformed newspaper reporter and ad man, David Housewright is the recipient of an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America (Penance) and three Minnesota Book Awards (Practice to Deceive, Jelly’s Gold, and Curse of the Jade Lily). His 19th novel, What the Dead Leave Behind, will be published in June 2017. He has also published a volume of short stories entitled Full House and occasionally teaches courses at the University of Minnesota and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Housewright was elected President of the Private Eye Writers of America in 2014. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Rave Reviews:

“A Stradivarius goes missing and all hell breaks loose in the thirteenth entry in Edgar-winning Housewright’s consistently strong Mac McKenzie series. […] Greatly enhancing the story are the fascinating details Housewright provides on the history and design of these priceless instruments.”

Booklist, starred review

“The whole book is akin to a speeding train, but the last fifty pages especially were devoured at a breakneck speed. I was so excited to see what happened next that I didn’t even pause to anticipate or hypothesize.” Angie Barry, Criminal Element

“A stolen violin ends up being one of the strong characters in this cheeky mystery. Its whip-smart tone and Minnesota roots make this a compelling read.” Minnesota Book Awards Judge

Beyond the Book:

Excerpt: Read a sample from the first chapter of Stealing the Countess.

Interview: Housewright discusses his inspiration for the book and his path to becoming novelist in this June 2016 interview with Dawn Ius of The Big Thrill.

Video: Watch Housewright’s humorous 2010 Minnesota Book Awards acceptance speech.

 

Each day we highlight one of the 36 finalists leading up to the April 8 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, presented by Education Minnesota. Today we feature 2017 General Nonfiction finalist:

Canoes: A Natural History in North America by Mark Neuzil and Norman Sims
Published by University of Minnesota Press

Ancient records of canoes are found from the Pacific Northwest to the coast of Maine, in Minnesota and Mexico, in the Southeast and across the Caribbean. And if a native of those distant times might encounter a canoe of our day—whether birch bark or dugout or a modern marvel made of carbon fiber—its silhouette would be instantly recognizable. This is the story of that singular American artifact, so little changed over time: of canoes, old and new, the people who made them, and the labors and adventures they shared. With features of technology, industry, art, and survival, the canoe carries us deep into the natural and cultural history of North America.

1 John White, The Manner of their Fishing_From Chapter 2

 

 

 

The Manner of their Fishing by John White (~1585-1593)
From Chapter 1: Dugout Canoes

 

 

 

 

 

2 Coleman Vintage Canoe Ad

 

 

 

Coleman advertisement, 1978
From Chapter 6: Synthetic Canoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Neuzil CanoeAbout the Authors:

Mark Neuzil is a professor in the communication and journalism department at the University of St. Thomas. He is the author or coauthor of seven books and a frequent writer and speaker on environmental themes. A former licensed wilderness guide and summer state park ranger, he lives in St. Paul with his wife, the journalist Amy Kuebelbeck. Follow Mark Neuzil on Twitter.

Norman Sims is a retired honors professor from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a past president of the International Association for Literary Journalism Studies. This is his sixth book. A longtime whitewater canoeist and an active member of both the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association, Sims has a small collection of antique Morris wood-and-canvas canoes.

Rave Reviews:

“A fascinating cultural and technological history that, with its hundreds of color and black-and-white images, including many by renowned artists, is a visual as well as informative feast.” Booklist

“Browsing these pages, one senses what the naturalist Sigurd F. Olson called the “magic in the feel of a paddle.” That’s magic that Neuzil and Sims know well.” Washington Post

“Deep history…from the crudest dugouts through the most elegant cedar strips to featherweight polymers of today, with hundreds of color photos and a score of profiles of the people who made and paddled them.”        Star Tribune

3 canoe camping equipment

 

 

 

Typical canoe camping equipment illustrated in the 1915 book, Canoeing and Camping, by James A. Cruikshank.
From Chapter 8: Canoe Tripping

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the Book:

Explore more than 300 images from the book here.

Article: “10,000 Years of History Captured in One Book,” by Amy Goetzman, MinnPost

Article: “Writing the Book on Canoes,” by Kelly Engebretsen, St. Thomas Magazine

Audio:

Paddle Minnesota interview with Jim Gallagher, KAXE Radio, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Dec. 9, 2016

Video:

KARE-11 Morning Show with Bryan Piatt, Jan. 16, 2017

 

Burns will officially begin leadership of the organization January 1, 2017.

Beth Pic for PRSAINT PAUL,MN, November 10, 2016 —The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library announced that, after a national search, its board has selected Beth Burns as the organization’s new president. Beth, who most recently served as Vice Pesident for External Relations at the Minnesota Zoo, will join the staff in early December and officially assume the role on January 1, 2017.

Beth comes to The Friends with a deep understanding of nonprofits and public engagement. In her role at the Zoo, she oversaw a division that included the zoo’s marketing, sales, public relations, membership, guest relations, government affairs, and education programs. As part of that role Beth was responsible for engaging 1.3 million annual visitors, 43,000 member households, and more than 500,000 education program participants.

Beth brings not only a proven track record of effective leadership, but also extensive knowledge of fundraising and advocacy. Prior to joining the zoo, she served as the Executive Director for Lutheran Music Program, where she was the lead fundraiser and led the planning and implementation of the annual fund. She also facilitated the repayment of more than $600,000 in debt while simultaneously growing the annual fund by 28% during the depths of the recession.

She has also held various leadership roles in touring, public affairs and education at the Guthrie Theater and has worked for MacPhail Center for Music, the University of St. Thomas, and the Children’s Theatre Company.

Beth’s commitment to the good of the community goes beyond her professional career to her volunteer engagement. She is a founding board member and officer for the St. Paul-based Minnesota Music Coalition; she served for 17 years on the board of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and is also a former trustee of 15 Head Theatre Lab and the Minnesota Association for Arts Educators.

Beth received her undergraduate degree in creative writing and theater communications from St. Olaf College and attended graduate school at the University of St. Thomas. She has lived in St. Paul with her husband, Bob, for more than 22 years.

“I know the role that libraries have played in my own life. Reading has provided me with profound moments of education and inspiration throughout my life,” says Beth. “I am excited to share my passion for the written word and serve an organization that is so deeply and organically embedded in every corner of the city I love.”

“We were impressed by Beth’s leadership record and her extensive experience with fundraising and advocacy. She has the combination of skills the board was looking for, and we are confident that she is the right person to guide The Friends into the future,” says Board Chair Joe Bagnoli.

Stay tuned for more opportunities to get to know Beth.

 

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Library Supporters Work to Expand Collections, Update Rondo Library, Continue Digitization, Support “ConnectED” Presidential Initiative

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library have called on elected officials to reinvest in the city’s busiest library and address a one-time need for planning and implementing a citywide, all-students library card initiative. The advocates also struck familiar notes on support for collections and digitization. Representatives acknowledged retiring Friends President, Peter Pearson.

Connect-ED studentThe Advocacy Committee of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has outlined its position platform for the 2017 Saint Paul Public Library budget. Each year, The Friends calls on City of Saint Paul elected officials to address critical needs at the Library. This year the priorities are collections, e-learning platforms, and an integrated website and catalog; improvements to Rondo Library; continued support for digitization; and one-half of the cost of a project manager for ConnectED, a local and Presidential Initiative to ensure all students get electronic public library cards. The other half of the cost of that temporary position will be matched by Saint Paul Public Schools—a partner in implementing the initiative.

After close collaboration with library leadership and with input from supporters, staff and Board members, The Friends’ advocacy committee has developed an official platform and position paper on next year’s library budget. Constituents from neighborhoods across the city have been meeting throughout the summer with their City Council representatives to present their case. They have generally been met with warm receptions and genuine, earnest interest.

Strong public investment in the city’s beloved library system was confirmed, in part, when Mayor Chris Coleman recently included support for Rondo Library in his proposed budget. “Ten years ago we opened the new Rondo Library. At the time it was an innovative facility that combined housing, community meeting space and library services. It remains the most visited library in the city’s system.” Indeed, Rondo has the most visitors among all Saint Paul Public Library locations—twenty percent more than Highland Park, the next busiest. In fact, it boasts an astonishing 17% of total SPPL visits.

In order to keep up with current demand by library patrons, Coleman announced a $500,000 one-time investment in “the jewel of the Rondo Community” to redesign the space for improved flow, to better support the Homework Help Center and workforce programs, and to create a designated area for teens.

Both Library Board Chair Chris Tolbert and Mayor Coleman took some time before the mayor’s library budget address to publicly acknowledge retiring Friends President Peter Pearson for his 25 years of leadership and commitment to the library and the City of Saint Paul. Tolbert called Pearson’s legacy “invaluable,” and the mayor further elaborated: “This is an incredible community that is anchored by the love and passion that people have for their libraries,” telling Pearson directly, “Part of that passion has been fostered by your commitment to making this one of the best library systems in the country. It’s drawing out that community support to invest in the facilities, making sure we have spaces for all our kids to learn, to be a part of… I just want to thank you for that.”

Pearson has announced his retirement as president of The Friends, effective December 31, 2016. 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. A national search is currently underway, spearheaded by Ballinger|Leafblad.

In his annual budget address, the Mayor focused on job creation—particularly in areas of Saint Paul with low income residents and people of color, in an effort to close the racial unemployment gap. “According to a Pew Research study released earlier this year, between 2000 and 2014, our middle class actually shrank, with some in our community tumbling out of the middle class,” said Mayor Coleman. “When we layer this widening income gap over the racial disparities that plague the Twin Cities, we understand that the capital city’s response to strengthening the middle class must be to continue to put racial equity at the center of our work.”

At the library budget address, Coleman acknowledged the role libraries can play in this crucial effort. “Libraries can bring people together to have the important conversations we need to have about race, and really begin to understand each other,” he said. “We have more in common than we know, and we need to have dialogues with people in our own community about the toughest issues we face, our shared fears and hopes. The library is a welcoming space for all, if we’re willing to have those conversations.”

The advocates will continue to meet with elected officials throughout the fall to lobby on behalf of the library and the investment needed to meet the needs of learners of all ages while playing a successful role in the city’s racial equity and educational initiatives. The City Council typically finalizes the budget in December. For more information on The Friends’ advocacy platform, please contact Peter Pearson at 651-222-3242 or by email: peterp@thefriends.org.

Click here to see the 2017 Advocacy Platform explained.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

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!)

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.

 

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 Novel & Short Story finalist:

There’s Something I Want You to Do by Charles BaxterThere’s Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter
Published by Pantheon Books/Random House
Category Sponsor: Education Minnesota

“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. As we follow a diverse group of Minnesota citizens, each grappling with their own heightened fears, responsibilities, and obsessions, Baxter unveils the remarkable in what might otherwise be the seemingly inconsequential moments of everyday life.

Author Bio:

On Craft: Charles Baxter on the Request Moment  (from Graywolf Press)

On Craft: Charles Baxter on the Request Moment (from Graywolf Press)

Charles Baxter earned his bachelors degree in Saint Paul at Macalester College, publishing his first book of poetry shortly after graduation. Baxter has been a heavy hitter ever since, with two of the short stories (“Bravery” and “Charity”) in this, his most recent collection, included in Best American Short Stories. He is the author of the novels The Feast of Love (nominated for the National Book Award), The Soul Thief, Saul and Patsy, Shadow Play, and First Light, and the story collections Gryphon, Believers, A Relative Stranger, Through the Safety Net, and Harmony of the World. Baxter lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota in the MFA Program for Writers. His nonfiction book, The Art of Subtext (Graywolf), won the 2008 Minnesota Book Award.

An excerpt from There’s Something I Want You To Do:

Crossing the bridge on the pedestrian level, he counted the number of people on foot. He liked taking inventories; solid figures reassured him. About seven people were out tonight, including one guy with a backpack sprinting in Benny’s direction, two people strolling, and a young woman with a vaguely studenty appearance who stood motionless, leaning against the railing and staring down at the river. The sodium lights gave them all an orange-tan tint. The young woman tapped her fingers along the guardrail, took out a cell phone, and after taking a picture of herself, dropped the phone into the river below. She licked her lips and laughed softly as the phone disappeared into the dark.

Benny stopped. Something was about to happen. As he watched, she gathered herself up and with a quick athletic movement hoisted herself over so that she was standing on the railing’s other side with her arms braced on the metalwork behind her. If she released her arms and leaned forward, she would plunge down into the river. One jogger went past her without noticing what she was doing. What was she doing? Benny hurried toward her.

Seeing him out of the corner of her eye, she turned and smirked.

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Reviews:

“Connected, intellectual, artful short stories. A very strong collection, interrelated and connected in Minneapolis through the characters. Baxter’s writing is intelligent and artful, with rich narrative; epic in telling a whole life in a short story.”—Minnesota Book Awards Preliminary Round Judge

“There’s Something I Want You to Do takes life, the human condition—whatever you want to call it—and hands it to you in a charming form with rustic rough-cut pages. The theme of five virtues and five deadly sins make the stitching that binds the stories together. Whether wearing “Mr. Takemitsu’s Chastity” or trying on “Sloth” for the hell of it, this collection will leave you cloaked against its nakedness.”—Ismail Khadar, Saint Paul Almanac Community Editor

“Baxter said in a 2013 lecture about writing: ‘Request moments… expose the ethical obligations that we feel we owe toward others. What can we give to someone by fulfilling a request, and what is their claim on us? Thus they force choices on us, choices that reveal our character.’ Baxter’s secular saints and sinners, in There’s Something I Want You to Do, slide up and down the ­moral spectrum.”—New York Times Sunday Book Review

“To read these stories—hilarious, tragic, surprising, and indelibly human—is to receive revelation at the hands of a master.”—Julie Orringer, author of How to Breathe Underwater

“Baxter’s stories proceed with steady grace, nimble humor, quiet authority, and thrilling ingeniousness.”—Lorrie Moore, Author of Bark

Watch:

SELCO communications specialist Jennifer Harveland reviews There’s Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter:


Charles Baxter reads from and discusses his short story collection, There’s Something I Want You to Do, at the Center for Fiction:

Listen:

PRX’s First Draft highlights the voices of writers as they discuss their work, their craft and the literary arts. This episode features an interview with Charles Baxter, author of the short story collection There’s Something I Want You To Do. Listen >>


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.


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