Biographies of Community Editors of 2012 Saint Paul Almanac

Daunell Barnwell (Nam) (pictured right) is a self-proclaimed nerd and aspiring writer and student at Gordon Parks High School who is proud to call the glorious expanse of Saint Paul his home. He manages to make time for working on the Almanac in between partially slacking in school, road trips to Mankato and Duluth, and fervent Yu-Gi-Oh matches with friends on weekends.

Maya Beecham (left), a second-generation native Saint Paulite, was born in the historic Rondo neighborhood, graduated from Cretin-Derham Hall High School, and earned a bachelor of arts in communication studies at Hamline University. Currently, she works for a national nonprofit organization in Saint Paul and as a freelance writer.

Mary Davini (right) has many loves; some of these include summer nights, foggy mornings, sand volleyball, and the city of Saint Paul. She and her husband like to spend their days in their East Side home watching movies, sharing the bed with their dogs, and playing with their adorable baby girl.

Nimo Farah (left) loves orators and storytellers. Her ideal vacation is visiting remote villages in Somalia and listening to the stories of elders and children under the dancing stars and full moon while drinking tea. She has an inner child that recently turned four years old and can doodle and dream for hours (she looks forward to a day dedicated to dreaming). She lives in many places in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, including her car (she’s always driving and up for any adventure) and thinks of herself as a Twin-Cities nomad. Being the ninth of eleven children allows her to live and eat at many homes and run around with lots of nieces and nephews to burn the calories from all that Somali food. She recently began writing and is an aspiring storyteller. Being a community editor for the Almanac is food for her soul.

Pamela R. Fletcher (above left), writer, editor, teacher, and lover of life and social justice, believes that one blooms where one is planted; so, if you happen to see a California poppy blossoming in the Minnesota corn fields, that’s her!

Shaquan Foster (above center) is a graduate from Highland Park High School, now attending the University  of Minnesota, and readily awaiting the future and all the changes it will bring. Born in the great Saint Paul, he loves art and finds it in every aspect of life.

Andrew Hall (above right) is a graduate from Highland Park High School who attends the University of Minnesota. This is his third year with the Almanac, and he hopes to continue to work with the organization.

Barbara Haselbeck (above left) calls the East Side home, edits for a living, writes for discovery, and feels ambivalent about shoveling snow.

Charlotte Kazlauskas (above center) was in love the first time she picked up a pen. At a ripe sixteen years of age, she delightedly attends Perpich Center for Arts Education. She intends to have big plans when she graduates.

Patricia Kirkpatrick (above right) has worked as a writer, teacher, and editor around the country. She is the author of Century’s Road and Plowie: A Story from the Prairie; her awards include fellowships from the NEA and Bush Foundation, and a McKnight Loft Poetry Award. She serves as poetry editor for Water-Stone Review.

Jewell Hill Mayer (left): News flash! Shy Southern belle (not!) gets transported to Yankee country (Minn.), lives here sixty years before discovering like-minded writers and intelligentsia, begins to learn how to edit and publish, and—voià!—becomes one of an elite group who choose stories for the Saint Paul Almanac.

Marianne McNamara (right), a third-generation Saint Paulite, has had her poems published in several anthologies and publications, including the 2011 Saint Paul Almanac, County Lines, Dust & Fire, Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo Anthology, The Talking Stick, and Lake Country Journal, and had one of her poems engraved on Saint Paul sidewalks in 2009, through the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project. She and her husband have two grown children and one amazing granddaughter, and have lived in Macalester-Groveland for over thirty-five years. She loves all things Saint Paul, from the State Capitol building to the State Fair.

Arthur Nguyen (left) is a graduate of Johnson High School who is now attending Harvard. He is proud of both his academic accomplishments and his work as a community activist. Arthur played a pivotal leadership role in Saint Paul Project Homeless, which raised over $21,000 for the thousands of hungry and indigent in the city, and entered the world of politics by spearheading legislation. A passionate tennis player, he strives to get on the courts to hit some balls and rally. Often stressed over a multitude of assignments, he still manages to find time to take a break from deadlines and reports to savor life’s subtleties.

Sandra Opokua (right) was born in Ghana and came to Saint Paul in 2007, where she’s now a senior at Humboldt High School. She used to have six dogs—and it’s not that easy to take care of them. She is an only child, but don’t think that makes her spoiled—she’s not! Her favorite author is Jodi Picoult, and she especially likes the books My Sister’s Keeper, The Pact, and many more. She also loves to dance and cook, and sometimes watch reality TV shows. She would like to travel to Spain and Britain some day.

Jennifer Syverson (left) was, upon arrival into this world, given the Optimize Your Life! book. Being genetically inclined toward disorganization, she promptly mislaid it. She looks for it sporadically but is frequently distracted by the Saint Paul Almanac and all the optimal happenings in Saint Paul.

Diego Vázquez Jr. (right) writes poems to flowers, birds, rocks, rivers, and salmon—and people too!  Vázquez has been a visiting writer in the schools for many years. His novels include Growing Through the Ugly (W.W. Norton) and Border Town Sky (forthcoming). As a community editor for the Saint Paul Almanac he is constantly searching for new stories to publish. In 2008, he was selected as a Saint Paul Everyday Sidewalk poet. He is proud to have his poem cemented into the city’s sidewalks. A long time ago, Vázquez hosted poetry slams in Minnesota.

Mai Yang Xiong (left) plans to attend St. Catherine University, majoring in psychology. She enjoys composing music, challenging herself in academics, and living in the city of Saint Paul with her friends and family. On a quiet night, rather than imagining a calm and cool evening, she tends to think that a zombie will attack from behind at any minute. But like the brave hero in any zombie movie, she strives to survive with her busy and very complicated schedule. Adventurous and curious toward the world, Mai Yang is looking forward to a bright future.

Pa Yong Xiong (right) likes to call herself an undercover weirdo. She is a graduate of Gordon Parks High School. When she’s not in school, she likes to daydream about escaping from all the peas in the same ol’ boring pod and into a fruit bowl of colors. But for now she enjoys the thrill of singing to her unbelievably great audience, shampoo and conditioner, and, most of all, hearing the click of the shutters in her banged-up Canon camera. Hungry to learn more about photography, she jumps at every opportunity she gets to expand her knowledge of this art form, so that one day everyone can see beauty in everything, as she does.

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