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Archive for July, 2010

National Poetry Slam, 2010, in St. Paul next week!

Friday, July 30th, 2010

National Poetry Slam, 2010 (St. Paul, MN)


Many of the world’s best slam poets will be in St. Paul next week competing for the nation’s title, including the 2009 winners, Soap Boxing, St. Paul’s amazing slam team.

What is Slam Poetry? (From the National Poetry Slam 2010 website. To learn more, including volunteer opportunities, click here.)

What Slam Is

1. Poetry Slam is competitive spoken word performance poetry.

2. It puts a dual emphasis on both writing and performance.

3. Though rules vary from slam to slam, the basic rules are:

*Competing poets have 3 minutes (plus a 10 second grace period) to perform one poem of their own construction.

*They may not use props, costumes or musical accompaniment.

*Each poem/performance is then given a score (on a scale of 0.0 to 10.0) by five “judges” who are audience members randomly selected by the emcee at the beginning of the Slam.

*The high and low scores are dropped, giving the poet a score ranging between 0 and 30.

*Most Slams have two or three elimination rounds. The highest scoring poets at the end of the Slam win prizes.

What Slam Is Not

1. Slam is not a serious academic critique on literary skill. It is a game, a show, and a means for poets to share their work with an engaged audience.

2. Slam is not an insult filled hip hop battle. Slam is not rap. Though some poets use elements of hip hop in their writing, Slam is a literary art form, not music.

3. Slam is not poets making things up as they go along. Weeks, and sometimes months, are spent writing, memorizing and even choreographing a performance.

4. Slam is not a bunch of angry performers yelling about social issues. Slams bring an incredibly diverse array of demographics, voices, styles, topics and points of view.

Michelle Hoover at Magers and Quinn

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Quickening book coverThis Sunday, August 1, at 4:00 pm, Michelle Hoover will be reading from and signing her new and much-lauded novel, The Quickening, at Magers and Quinn.

From the publisher, Other Press:

“Enidina Current and Mary Morrow live on neighboring farms in the flat, hard country of the upper Midwest during the early 1900s. This hardscrabble life comes easily to some, like Eddie, who has never wanted more than the land she works and the animals she raises on it with her husband, Frank. But for the deeply religious Mary, farming is an awkward living and at odds with her more cosmopolitan inclinations. Still, Mary creates a clean and orderly home life for her stormy husband, Jack, and her sons, while she adapts to the isolation of a rural town through the inspiration of a local preacher. She is the first to befriend Eddie in a relationship that will prove as rugged as the ground they walk on. Despite having little in common, Eddie and Mary need one another for survival and companionship. But as the Great Depression threatens, the delicate balance of their reliance on one another tips, pitting neighbor against neighbor, exposing the dark secrets they hide from one another, and triggering a series of disquieting events that threaten to unravel not only their friendship but their families as well.”

And here is a really great video of the author talking about how her own family and upbringing led her to write this book:


The event is free and open to the public.

Tall Ships Duluth

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Tall Ships DuluthHead to Duluth this week for the annual Tall Ships Duluth festival featuring eight historical ships sailing into port on Wednesday, July 28. This is your chance to see and step aboard these magnificent vessels. The event includes music, food, performances, and tours.

For more maritime history, check out Stephen Daniel’s book, Shipwrecks Along Lake Superior’s North Shore: A Diver’s Guide, and the video profile of Daniel  produced by the University of St. Thomas.

Shining Big Sea Water: The Story of Lake Superior by Norman Risjord also offers a grand tour of Lake Superior’s remarkable history.

Shipwrecks Along Lake Superior's North ShoreShining Big Sea Water

Kevin Kling’s “Not So Nice” Food

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

phph2YMx4City Pages blogger Monica Wright caught up with author Kevin Kling for the paper’s “Celebrity Eats” feature. Kevin makes a “mean gumbo” but also appreciates Minnesota-grown foods like sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes. While on the road, he’s a fan of the “blue-plate special.” Read the post to find out more about his favorite outstate dining establishments. He sure does savor more grub than the TV dinner pictured on the cover of his newest book, Kevin Kling’s Holiday Inn!

Experience Kevin’s unique storytelling charm at his upcoming Club Book events, August 18 at the Stillwater Library and August 26 at the Maplewood Library.

Instamatic Memories: The Beatles in Minnesota

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

beatles_cropFrom now through September 12, the Minnesota History Center is pleased to present  ”The Beatles! A One-Night Stand in the Heartland,” an exhibit based on Bill Carlson’s photographs of the group’s August 1965 Minnesota concert. Many of the photos are included in Carlson’s book of the same name.

Michael Perry at the Shakopee Library Tonight

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Coop by Michael PerryAuthor and humorist Michael Perry will be speaking and signing books tonight at 7:00 at the Shakopee Library as part of the Club Book program.

Perry is the author of the best-selling memoirs Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, Truck: A Love Story, and Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg, as well as the essay collection Off Main Street. Perry has written for Esquire, the New York Times Magazine, Outside, Backpacker, Orion, and and is a contributing editor to Men’s Health. He has performed and produced two live audience humor recordings (“I Got It From the Cows” and “Never Stand Behind a Sneezing Cow”), and he performs regularly with his band the Long Beds.

Check out Michael Perry’s fun website,, where he shares updates on his life and work and fascinating tips like, “You really can’t call yourself a farmer unless you’ve got at least one purple fingernail.”

Master Butchers at the Guthrie

Friday, July 16th, 2010

phpX2UlaQBirchbark Books announces that Louise Erdrich’s novel The Master Butchers Singing Club will be staged at the Guthrie Theater this fall. From the bookstore’s blog:

“We are absolutely thrilled about the upcoming world premiere of The Master Butchers Singing Club at the Guthrie Theater in September!  Hear the comments of the Guthrie’s Artistic Director Joe Dowling.  Listen to Birchbark Books owner Louise Erdrich talk about the novel that inspired the play.  Catch some of director Francesca Zambello’s excitement about directing at the Guthrie.  And click on over to The Master Butchers Singing Club page on the Guthrie website for further information.”

We look forward to seeing–and hearing–this dramatic story brought to life. Congratulations, Louise!

Pierre the Pantless Voyageur in Two Harbors

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Pierre the VoyageurAccording to the Duluth News Tribune, the future of icon Pierre the Voyageur (also known as Pierre the Pantless Voyageur) in Two Harbors, Minnesota, is uncertain.

Currently, he stands proud though paddleless in an unused parking lot, often posing for pictures with visitors to the North Shore.

Per the Duluth News Tribune:

“Pierre the Voyageur was born 50 years ago as a way of reminding people of the frontier historical past in Two Harbors. The 20-foot statue was also a large advertisement for a new business in town: Stanley Nelson’s Voyageur Museum and Voyageur Motel.

“It was classic hucksterism as more Americans took to the road in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, looking for wayside curiosities along the way.

“Nelson’s businesses are long gone, but Pierre stands tall off Highway 61 on the west end of town. His longevity and years of producing photo memories for passers-by has made him a Two Harbors legend.

“But Pierre stands apart today, surrounded by nothing but a vacant lot. He’s still a draw for the road-weary, but many wonder what his future looks like after a failed attempt to revitalize the area in which he stands.”

There is talk of possibly moving Pierre, as demonstrated by an interview done with Pierre himself and the Two Harbors Chronicle:

“Q Any thoughts about the idea of moving you to what is expected to be a new visitors center over by Culver’s?

“A Well, I’ve been looking at this view of the cemetery and the ore docks and train yard for 50 years. It’s hard to imagine looking at something else after all that time. But it would make me proud to be a more official part of welcoming people to Two Harbors and the North Shore. And, really, sometimes change is good.”

To show your support, visit Pierre the Pantless Voyageur’s Facebook page. Yes, he has a Facebook page.

For information on actual voyageurs, check out the classic books by Grace Lee Nute, The Voyageur and The Voyageur’s Highway.

Explore Minnesota Music

Monday, July 12th, 2010

phpd7d5g0Explore Minnesota and 89.3 The Current from Minnesota Public Radio have partnered to create a Minnesota Music station on

According to the website, they offer “a sampling of popular music from Minnesota bands and recording artists. Many of the songs you will hear are well known, representing Minnesotans who were popular nationally and made significant contributions to music. You will also hear some new artists who are just emerging on the scene. Much of our playlist is in the realm of rock and roll music, but we touch on contributions in other genres of music as well. Come Explore the music of Minnesota.”

Photo Archaeology

Friday, July 9th, 2010


Ever thought of doing archaeology, but worry about not having the training? Try it with an old family photo. A fine example is the picture above, showing employees at the U.S. Customs Bureau in 1901. It contains a “tyrannical” supervisor, an accused embezzler, a man who would live just a month longer, and the owner of the diary who shared these details.

The story is told in Emily F. Ganzel’s “Thawing a Frozen Moment: A Photograph and the Diary That Brought It to Life,” one of twenty-four essays in The State We’re In: Reflections on Minnesota History edited by Annette Atkins and Deborah L. Miller. Just published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, the book is the product of a conference by the same name, held in 2008 to mark the 150th anniversary of Minnesota statehood and supported by Project Logos of Saint John’s University.

The book’s essays, organized in sections titled Memory, Up North, Identity, and Method, offer some of the most recent and best thinking about Minnesota’s past and its people.