Biographies of contributors to the 2012 Saint Paul Almanac

Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr is now retired but teaches in a low-residence creative writing MA and MFA program at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania. She is now writing full time in all genres. Her apartment is home to Salon d’Afrique, where she holds soirees with visiting artists and Harlemites.

Suzel Aburto attends English classes at the Minnesota Literacy Center on the East Side.

Mathal Al-Azawi is from Iraq. She is forty years old, married, and has a beautiful family, especially her daughter. She lives in Saint Paul, and has been learning English at the Minnesota Literacy Council. She likes the freedom and safety of the U.S.

Hannah Anderson attends sixth grade in Saint Paul Public Schools. Hannah started playing the Irish whistle in third grade, and the cello in fourth. Not that long ago she began Irish singing. In her free time, she likes to read, write, and draw.

Margaret Anzevino grew up on Railroad Island just blocks from both the first St. Ambrose on Payne Avenue and then the second on Burr and Minnehaha. She taught in the Roseville School District for thirty-seven of her thirty-nine years in education.  Knitting, reading, writing, travel, and politics are some of her interests. She loves Saint Paul.  If and when she wins the lottery, the first thing she will do is move to a condo in downtown Saint Paul.

Rudy Arnold is an artist whodocumented five small businesses on the corner of Hamline Avenue and Thomas Avenue in Saint Paul to show how the relationships between the owners and their customers nurture a community. See more of his work at www.rudyarnold.com.

Sasha Aslanian is a lifelong Saint Paul resident, although she will admit to being born in Minneapolis. She now lives on Saint Paul’s West Side with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys walking over the Wabasha Street Bridge to her job as a documentary radio producer at Minnesota Public Radio.

Scott Bade is a Metropolitan State University English major graduate and, with his lovely wife, Erika, soon to welcome his first child into the world. They’re waiting until the child is born to know the gender. As long as he or she is a pro-golfer, he’ll be happy.

Mehari Baheru was born in Asmera, Eritrea. He likes to eat injera. Mehari has been living in Saint Paul for two years. He studies at the Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning, which he likes, and thinks it is a good place for adult learning. He has learned English, writing, listening, vocabulary, and grammar there, and also took a Certified Nursing Assistant class in 2009. He passed the test to get his license, and now works as a CNA.

Aleli Balagtas lives near Como Park. She walks around the lake twice a week all year round, even when it’s really cold.

Susele Barrios is from Mexico and has lived in Saint Paul for several years. When she isn’t working, she attends Advanced English classes at the Minnesota Literacy Council’s Arlington Hills Learning Center on the East Side of Saint Paul.

Arlo Beckman attends sixth grade in Saint Paul Public Schools. Arlo’s favorite hobby is baseball. He used to live in San Francisco, California, but then his dad was offered a better job in Minnesota, so he moved. He has many friends in Saint Paul and likes it here.

Maya Beecham, 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.

Gloria Bengtson is an editor who has worked in publishing for over twenty years. Recently, she has taken up writing poetry, with running as her muse. She lives and gardens in Saint Paul.

Carol Pearce Bjorlie grew up in Richmond, Virginia, which she considers the source of her writer’s voice. She has a bachelor of music degree in cello performance from East Carolina University and an MFA in writing from Hamline University. She teaches music at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, and writing at The Loft Literary Center. Carol continues to perform and have her work published, including, most recently, a poem in a 2010 anthology, The Wind Blows, The Ice Breaks: Poems of Loss and Renewal by Minnesota Poets, from Nodin Press.

Patricia Black continues to work with Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation because the organization works to preserve this historic community and, also, teaches Black people to have pride in themselves. That is very important.

Patricia Bour-Schilla is a wife, mother, and full-time student who loves to bike ride, hike, take photos of everything, and spend lots of time with family and friends.

Jill Breckenridge has published three books of poetry. How To Be Lucky won the Bluestem Award, judged by William Stafford, and Civil Blood was nominated for the American Library Association’s Notable Books of the year. Her latest collection, The Gravity of Flesh, won a 2009 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award. Jill’s memoir, Miss Priss and the Con Man, will be published in the fall of 2011.

Rich Broderick lives in Saint Paul and teaches journalism at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Rich is a writer, poet, and social activist.

Wendy Brown-Baez is a writer, teacher, performance poet, and installation artist. She is the author of the poetry collections Ceremonies of the Spirit and Transparencies of Light. Wendy is the creator of Writing Circles for Healing and teaches an after-school writing workshop for at-risk youth in Saint Paul, where she is kept on her toes.

Destiny SaNaa’ Carter was born on April 18, 2002, in Marshall, Texas. She is currently a third grader at J. J. Hill Montessori School. Her hobbies are singing, writing, reading, and socializing with her friends. She has had a passion for writing poems since she learned how to write in cursive in the first grade. When Destiny grows up, she would like to go to college and then become a singer/writer.

Kate Cavett has spent hundreds of hours listening to over 200 individuals share their reflections on Saint Paul, careers, racism, passions, sorrows, challenges, and successes. Her book Voices of Rondo: Oral Histories of Saint Paul’s Historic Black Community won the 2006 Minnesota Book Award. She continues her dedication to document the stories of ordinary people with extra ordinary lives.

Sharon Chmielarz has had poems published in many literary magazines, she’s had three children’s picture books published, and her travel memoirs have been included in several anthologies. She has been awarded a Jerome Foundation Fellowship, and Minnesota State Arts Board and Region 2 grants; her work has been a finalist in the National Poetry Series, nominated for a Pushcart Prize five times, and has been translated into French and Polish. She’s served as readings coordinator for SASE at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. Her poem The Other Mozart has been made into a two-part opera. Her most recent books of poetry are Calling, from Loonfeather Press, and The Sky is Great, The Sky is Blue, from Whistling Shade Press.

Elena Cisneros is an MFA student at Hamline University in Saint Paul.

John Lee Clark was born deaf and became blind in adolescence. His poetry has appeared in many publications, including The Hollins Critic, McSweeney’s, Poetry, and The Seneca Review. His chapbook of poems, Suddenly Slow, was published by Handtype Press in 2008; he edited the definitive anthology Deaf American Poetry for Gallaudet University Press in 2009. He and his wife, the cartoonist Adrean Clark, run an online publication, Clerc Scar, at www.clercs car.com, and they live in Saint Paul with their three sons.

Sarah Clark and her husband have lived in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of Saint Paul for five years. She graduated from Luther College in 2005 and Luther Seminary in 2010. Sarah is an ELCA pastor who is seriously addicted to good food, the Minnesota Public Radio station The Current, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota.

Patrick Coleman is the Minnesota Historical Society acquisitions librarian. He was honored with the prestigious Kay Sexton Award at the twenty-first annual Minnesota Book Awards gala, serves on the board of Coffee House Press, and is a longtime member of the Ampersand Club and the Manuscript Society. He writes the 150 Best Minnesota Books Blog, highlighting books that are important to the intellectual life and identity of the state. Due to his work, the MHS library is one of the preeminent research libraries in the nation.

Carol Connolly was appointed by Mayor Chris Coleman as Saint Paul’s first poet laureate. She is a longtime media columnist, and curates and hosts the monthly Readings by Writers series, now in its twelfth year, at the historic University Club of Saint Paul. Her book of poems, Payments Due, is in its fifth printing from Midwest Villages and Voices, a press founded by the late great poet Meridel Le Sueur. Connolly’s recent book of poems is All This and More (Nodin Press).

Greg Cosimini has lived in Dayton’s Bluff all his life, as did his parents. His four grandparents emigrated from Italy just to live there too. Greg wandered off to the U of M to study electrical things but always came back at night. He then worked in the exotic suburbs of Eagan and Eden Prairie before realizing there is no place like home.

Paul Creager is the curriculum and media arts coordinator for Gordon Parks High School.

Patricia Cummings grew up in Saint Paul. She graduated from the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) and did what women of her generation were supposed to do—got married and had three children. Eventually, Pat went back to work and made a career in philanthropy for twenty-five years. Now retired, Pat spends many happy hours at her computer, writing prose and poetry.

Lawrence Daniels saved money from his summer job to buy a 35mm camera his freshman year in high school. Since that time, he has sustained an interest in writing, photography, video production, and the arts. When in the seventh grade, he set a city record for pole-vault (thirteen feet) that stands to this day.

Barbara Davis is director of Great River T’ai Chi in Minneapolis, editor of Taijiquan Journal and author of The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation. 

Sharon M. Day is Ojibwe, a Bois Forte enrollee. An artist and musician, she has spent forty-six years as a Saint Paulite.

Brittany “Rittan” Delaney is an activist and spoken word artist, born and raised in Minnesota. Having been on the scene for going on nine years. In the past, she has participated in spoken word groups such as The Minnesota Spoken Word Association, Quest for the Voice, Teens Rock the Mic, and university-based establishments. She’s currently working as an arts literacy facilitator at Gordon Parks High School, and continues residencies and workshops. Her focus is on promoting literacy and safe-space learning environments. She is working on her first book as a teaching artist and plans to release it in the next year.

Martin Devaney is a songwriter born and raised in Saint Paul. Nicknamed “The Mayor,” he has released five full-length albums, including most recently The West End, and studied creative writing at the U of M. His website is martindevaney.com.

Gayathri Dileepan attends sixth grade in Saint Paul Public Schools. Gayathri was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Gayathri enjoys reading, especially fiction; often, she feels as if she is in the story as the main character. She also enjoys writing, which is just the opposite of reading. She has a journal in which she records the important events in her life.

Virginia Dippel has decided to self-publish a book of poetry, inspired by the Saint Paul Almanac’s acceptance of some her poems and articles. She has been writing for many years and figured that, at the age of seventy-three, she may not have many more years to get her work out to the public—this has given her a fresh sense of urgency. She wants her book, A Simple View, to leave behind a memory of who she is. She intends to give copies to her children, grandchildren, various relatives, and anyone else who may be standing around and interested. She wants to thank the Saint Paul Almanac for its help and motivation.

Louis DiSanto is a retired keeper from Como Zoo who enjoys photography, writing children’s stories, classical music (especially DeBussy), and long walks. He also worked as a newspaper reporter, playground assistant, and one summer at a cemetery. Passionate about nostalgia, Louis loves to reminisce with friends about the fun they had as kids, like taking the bus downtown to see movies, eating ice cream at Bridgeman’s, and sneaking into Harkin’s pool hall on West Seventh Street.

Norita Dittberner-Jax is a poet whose work has been widely published. She has an abiding love for Saint Paul, having been raised in Frogtown, taught English in its schools, and continues to live in this lovely city. Her books of poems include The Watch and What They Always Were. 

Matt Ehling is a Saint Paul–based television producer and writer. He has produced work for PBS stations and has written for a variety of Twin Cities publications, including Minnpost.com.

Gayla Ellis—photographer, writer, editor, performer, and publisher—is a Minneapolis resident who was a legal secretary in downtown St. Paul for many years and prefers that city’s scene to downtown Minneapolis.

Donald Empson is a local historian who lives in Stillwater.

Joanne A. Englund moved to Grandma’s 1910 homestead in 1933. She was three. As an adult, she moved to Shoreview, then back to Saint Paul, and back to Midway. Her mom lived in the house till 2000. Writing, photography, genealogy, and Google compete with kids and grandkids for her time.

Sandra Erskine uses her old kitchen table as a desk.

Nimo Farahloves 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.

William (Bill) Fietzer has celebrated the beauties, pleasures, and friendships of Saint Paul for the past twelve years. An ardent patron of the arts and of the parks that make the city unique, he often can be spotted perfecting his chipping game at one of Saint Paul’s municipal golf courses.

Mike Finley arrived in Saint Paul to live in 1969, and has loved it ever since.

Kari Fisher is a native Minnesotan who has lived in six other states. She currently teaches at Normandale Community College, but taught adult basic education in Saint Paul for more than five years. When not busy working on her MFA in creative writing from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, she likes to torment her wonderful family by listening to roots music and referring to herself in the third person.

Beth Fryxell attends sixth grade in Saint Paul Public Schools. Beth takes violin lessons. Beth is also taking percussion and gymnastic classes. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and playing with her pet rat.

Carrie Gagne is a native of Minnesota and a graduate of Hamline University, where she earned her degree in English and creative writing. Her favorite food to eat at the State Fair is Sweet Martha’s Cookies.

Bertha Douglas Givins, the eighth of ten children, resided with her family in the 400 block of Rondo Avenue beginning in 1937. She recalls Rondo as being a close-knit community where everyone knew each other, walked to get where they needed to go, and contributed to the engagement and fraternization of the citizens as they went about their daily business. It was a self-contained community and the children were well-behaved. Mrs. Bertha Givins has a third career as a writer.

Caprice Kueffner Glaser attends sixth grade in Saint Paul Public Schools.

Kitty Gogins, the daughter of Olga Zoltai, has been fascinated from an early age with her parents’ experiences as refugees and new Americans. Her story in this issue of the Almanac is from her book about her parents’ journey, My Flag Grew Stars: World War II Refugees’ Journey to America. 

Beverly Schultz Golberg is a lifelong resident of Saint Paul. Her essays have appeared in the literary journals Ars Medica and Willard & Maple, the magazine Cottage Life, anthologies Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup for the Soul, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She reads her work at the Wild Yam Cabaret in Saint Paul.

Lenore Gollop grew up in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood of Saint Paul and attended Groveland grade school, which was, and still is, near and dear to her heart. She remembers planting carrots outside the kindergarten room, and that it was so much more exciting than the watercolors, clay, and naps.

Kenia Guadarrama is twenty years old and has two wonderful boys. Life has been such a roller coaster ride so far, but she’s happy with the life she has.

Armando Gutierrez attends sixth grade in Saint Paul Public Schools.

Janet Lunder Hanafin grew up on a South Dakota farm and was transplanted to Minnesota for her college years. She and her husband have two grown children and three grandchildren (all above average), and enjoy the companionship of two very fine cats.

Eric Charles Hansen studied with Carol Bly while earning his Master of Fine Arts in writing at Hamline University. He lives with his wife, Alison, and two children, Fiona and Miles, in the Battle Creek neighborhood of Saint Paul.

Phebe Hanson has been keeping a diary since she was ten, writing poems since she was forty-seven, and emailing since she was sixty-nine. She is a Bush Literary Fellow who has published two books of poetry (Sacred Hearts and Why Still Dance), and co-authored a travel-friendship memoir, Not So Fast, with Joan Murphy Pride. She is working on a book of poems about her mother, who died at age thirty-one, when Phebe was eight. Phebe is the proud mother of three grown children, nine grandchildren, and the great-grandmother of two.

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

Margaret Hasse, who lives in Saint Paul, once said to elementary school students during a poets-in-the-schools residency in rural Minnesota, “I’m a poet. Do you know what a poet is?” to which a little boy responded with great certainty, “It’s a young chicken.” The teacher later explained, “His family farms. He thought you said you were a pullet.”

Media Mike Hazard is a filmmaker, photographer, and poet who decided to make a picture story of a person every day for a year, posting them on Facebook in an album called 365 Friends. He’s had so much fun, he can’t stop.

Dave Healy is a lifelong resident of Saint Paul. He lives with his wife, Nancy, within walking distance of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Their two sons grew up in Saint Paul but now live in Brooklyn. Their parents have forgiven them.

Diane Helander has been writing her whole life—from feature articles, newsletters, and humorous columns, to computer manuals and, currently, short humorous fiction. Through it all, her greatest inspiration has been her family: Denny, Lori, Amy, David, and Steve, and her glorious grandchildren, Julia, Sam, Abby, Anna, and Paige. Life is good.

Kara Hendershot is an artist who uses a style that consists of realistic images with implications of abstraction. She explores the relationships between people and their connection to, or detachment from, their surroundings. The abstraction in the work creates an act of spontaneity that carries elements of uncertainty and mystery, lending faded detail to the narrative in each piece. See more of her work at karahendershot.com.

Margie Hendriksen is a retired attorney and history buff.

Kofi Bobby Hickman was born and raised in Saint Paul, and has remained a lifelong resident of the city. He directed the Inner City Youth League for twenty years

Maria I. is from Ecuador and also a student at the Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning in Saint Paul. She likes playing soccer with her kids.

Henry Jackson is an artist who has been involved in the field of photography practically an entire lifetime. As a young man, he was the first African American to work for a daily newspaper in Saint Joseph, Missouri, where he became a staff photographer. Since that time his passion for camera work has only grown. His work includes weddings, portraits, and candid shots. Henry has made his home in Saint Paul for several years. He says Saint Paul is one of the greatest places in the country to live. Henry’s email is pichen50@yahoo.com.

Karen Jeffords-Brown moved to Minnesota from the East Coast in 1976 to attend graduate school in Mankato, where the wind-chill factors hit 100 below her first winter here, much to her dismay. She decided to settle here and eventually embraced the climate, becoming involved in recreational dogsled racing for five years, with her son and their three Huskies. Ms. Jeffords-Brown lives in Saint Paul and is a psychologist in private practice. She has written a screenplay and personal essays but until now publication has eluded her.

Noah Johnston attends sixth grade in Saint Paul Public Schools. Noah has a sister named Anna, whom he loves very much. His main hobbies are video games and reading. His favorite book is The Giver, by Lois Lowry, whom he has met.

Daryl Jorgenson will hesitate to admit it but he was born in Minneapolis in 1983. Thankfully, before long he moved to the beautiful city of Saint Paul and has lived there for most of his life. One day, Daryl would like to be considered a writer.

Karen Karsten lived in the Irvine Park area for a good part of her pre-adult years. Karen feels it is a writer’s job to bear witness to the world in which they live from both a personal and political point of view. She believes that it is never too late to be who you always wanted to be and that you should try things even if you have been told you are bad at them. Taking her own advice, she recently finished her first year of drawing badly and is happy to report that progress has been made. She is now starting a year of drawing not-so-badly and invites you to do the same.

Pat Kaufman-Knapp was born and raised in Saint Paul, and attended St. Joseph’s Academy, as has her mother’s family for over 100 years. She served seven years in the Navy WAVES, moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and quickly became involved in volunteering there as a Civil War guide, teaching a writing class, writing newsletters, and doing public speaking.

Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of A Prairie Home Companion; the author of many books, including the Lake Wobegon novels and Daddy’s Girl; and the editor of Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times. He has most recently edited and published Good Poems, American Places. A member of the Academy of American Arts and Letters, he lives in Saint Paul.

Patricia Kirkpatrick has published Century’s Road and the picture book Plowie: A Story from the Prairie, illustrated by Joey Kirkpatrick. Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, and the McKnight Loft Award. She teaches at Hamline University and is poetry editor for Water-Stone Review. 

Evelyn D. Klein is a freelance writer, editor, poetry judge, and artist. She taught writing at The Loft, teaches at Century College, and presents workshops, programs, and readings of her work. Her articles and poetry have appeared in numerous publications. A prizewinning poet, she edited and published the anthology Stage Two: Poetic Lives in 1994; her poetry memoir, From Here Across the Bridge, including art by her father, Wolfgang Klein, came out in 2006; and her second book of prose, poetry, and her own drawings, Once upon a Neighborhood, was published in 2009.

Kathryn Knudson’s fiction, poetry, and travel writing have been published in a variety of print and Web publications. She lives across the river in Minneapolis.

Susan Koefod still remembers reading elephant joke books as a child. She writes and publishes in various genres, was born in Saint Paul, and has lived in and around Saint Paul her entire life. Her debut novel, Washed Up, was published by North Star Press in 2011.

Jennifer LaCasse’s is an artist whose recent work explores the idea of home, belonging, and where we come from. She is very interested in the stories that are passed along by earlier generations, and how those stories become mythologies. Saint Paul has been her artistic home since she began studying at the College of Visual arts in 2003. Her years living and working in the beautiful Summit Hill neighborhood were very formative in the development of her artistic career. She has also been involved with the vibrant arts community in Lowertown, and looks forward to doing so again. She has fallen in love with Saint Paul and will always consider it her home, wherever life takes her. See more of Jennifer’s work at www.mnartists.org/Jennifer_LaCasse.

Andrea Langworthy writes a weekly column for the Rosemount Town Pages newspaper and teaches at The Loft Literary Center. In a previous life, for nearly thirty years, she sold cars and trucks in the Twin Cities area and says that the cast of characters from that career would make Stephen King shudder.

Light the Underground is a Minnesota-born photographer who focuses on light painting and urban exploration photography. See more of his work at www.flickr.com/photos/light _the_underground.

Chia (Chilli) Lor was born in Chiang Kham refugee camp, Thailand, in 1992. She graduated with honors from St. Paul Central High School and is currently attending St. Catherine University. As an emerging Hmong community organizer, poet, hip-hop artist, and b-girl, Chia has a vision of changing the lives of youth and women through performing arts.

Charles Matson Lume’s art has been exhibited at institutions such as the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Michigan, and others. Charles has been awarded fellowships from the Bush Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Currently, he is an associate professor of art at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Charles lives with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Helena, in Saint Paul.

Brenda Manthe is an active artist living in Saint Paul and concentrating on urban abstract photography. Her photo was taken at the Minnesota Street Rod Association Back to the Fifties classic car show. See more of her work at www.brendamanthe.com.

Megan Marsnik studied poetry and writing at Hamline University and at The Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. She is currently working on a novel about the role of women in the 1916 strike in northern Minnesota. She lives in Saint Paul with her husband and two daughters.

David Mather attends sixth grade in the Saint Paul Public Schools.

David McKay is a media activist with a special interest in Saint Paul history. He rides a Harley Dyna low rider and is often inspired by his poet/writer wife Linda Back McKay.

Linda Back McKay is a poet, writer, and teacher whose work has appeared in many magazines and literary publications in the U.S. and Canada, with a wide range of awards. McKay is also an independent advertising creative director/writer and lives with David McKay, the neighbor’s pushy cat, and their red-hot motorcycle in Minneapolis. Their four grown children include Becka, a writer and editor; Michele, an officer in the Foreign Service; Joel, an art student; and Katie, a social service worker. The McKays treasure every moment with Linda’s birth son and his family, which includes grandchildren Allie Rose and Nicholas Leon.

James McKenzie has only been appreciating Saint Paul’s murals for seven years now, since moving here from North Dakota. His own artistic abilities are limited to creative nonfiction; portions of his work-in-progress have appeared in Notre Dame Review, Western Pennsylvania History, and Whistling Shade, among other places. His unpublished memoir is Speaking Over Graves 

Ethna McKiernan is a 2011 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her newest book, Sky Thick with Fireflies, is due out October 2011. She works for a nonprofit serving the downtown Minneapolis homeless population.

Marianne McNamara, poet and third-generation Saint Paulite, has lived in Macalester-Groveland for over thirty-five years. She loves all things Saint Paul, from the State Capitol building to the State Fair.

Annie Mikel lives in North Saint Paul with her husband and their two boxers, Cassie and Mosely. All four of them welcomed a baby girl into the family at the end of March. She loves the color pink, her family, and all things Irish.

John Minczeski, a longtime poet in the schools, has also taught at The Loft, Macalester College, Hamline University, the College of St. Thomas, St. Cloud State University, and the University of Minnesota. His recent poems may be found online at Cerise Press, Big City Lit, Poetry Magazine.com, and in print journals such as The Connecticut River Review, and War, Literature and the Arts. An interview with him recently appeared on MinnPost. Two of his chapbooks were published in 2007: November, from Finishing Line Press, and Grass Elegy, from Red Dragonfly Press.

Pel Ray Moo is from Burma. She is married and has five children. Before she moved here, she lived in a Karen Refugee Camp in Thailand. She left her country because it had a civil war for a long time—since she was a child until right now. It was not safe for living, and it was difficult to get an education. She came to the U.S on February 17, 2009. When she arrived here it was very difficult because she didn’t speak English or know how to get around. She has studied English at the Minnesota Literacy Council for over two years.

Jim Moore is the author of six collections of poetry, including Lightning at Dinner, The Freedom of History, and The Long Experience of Love. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Threepenny Review, The Pushcart Prize anthology, and in many other magazines and anthologies. Moore has received numerous awards and fellowships from the Bush Foundation, The Loft, the McKnight Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. He teaches at Hamline University and at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, as well as online through the University of Minnesota Split Rock Arts Program. He is married to the photographer JoAnn Verburg. They live in Saint Paul and in Spoleto, Italy.

Louis Murphy is a creative writing student at Hamline University in Saint Paul. He is a member of the mentally disabled community, and works constantly to rise up from that position. Some of his works are published in Haute Dish, a publication of Metropolitan State University.

Michael E. Murphy grew up in Saint Paul. He spent his career as an international business lawyer with Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis. In retirement, he has been teaching part-time at the University of St. Thomas Law School, serving on the Ramsey Hill Neighborhood Association, and tutoring immigrant students at Linwood School.

Joe Nathan is a former Saint Paul Public School teacher and administrator, former PTA president, father of three Saint Paul Public School graduates, and director of the Center for School Change at Macalester.

Nneka Onyilofor is an up-and-coming writer looking for more writing opportunities!

Thomas Kevin O’Rourke has lived and worked on the Mississippi River for decades. His oral stories have been presented as part of the Rockefeller Folk Arts Exhibition and the TPT production Tales of Minnesota. He won the Scottish International Open Poetry Competition in 1991 and 1992.

Gerri Patterson was born in Saint Paul and has lived here for most of her life. She loves cooking, traveling, taking photos of interesting places, and eating good food; she also loves theater and writing. Wine is a plus.

Eli Pattison attends sixth grade in Saint Paul Public Schools. Eli learned a lot from his fifth grade teacher, Mr. Olmstead. His favorite book series is the Hunger Games trilogy. The best movie he’s ever seen was Avatar, but he also likes comedies. Eli likes to play sports, and plays baseball and soccer on teams.

Lucy Pavlicek attends sixth grade in Saint Paul Public Schools. Lucy was born on December 2, 1999, in Saint Paul. Her favorite book is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. In her free time, she likes to sing, sew, and draw.

Carrie Pomeroy’s writing has appeared in Calyx, Literary Mama, The Laurel Review, and the anthology Riding Shotgun: Women Write About Their Mothers, edited by Kathryn Kysar. She is working on a memoir about motherhood, and she blogs about family life at playschooling.blogspot.com. She lives in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood of Saint Paul with her husband and two small children.

J. Otis Powell! is a writer, performance artist, mentor, curator, consultant, facilitator of Open Space Technology, and arts administrator. He was a founding producer of Write On Radio while working at The Loft Literary Center. He has received The Loft Creative Nonfiction Award, Jerome Mid Career Artist Grants, and the Intermedia Arts Interdisciplinary McKnight Fellowship.

Jeri Reilly has lived in Saint Paul since emigrating from Minneapolis in 1987. She was, however, merely returning to her roots inasmuch as an ancestor, who had left Denmark to avoid the draft, built his house on Benhill Road. A writer and editor, she works at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Tom Reynen is a photographer who grew up in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood, attended St. Agnes High School and St. Thomas College, and currently lives in Shoreview. His work has been exhibited in a number of local shows, and he is a resident member of the AZ Gallery in Lowertown. Tom is also on the board of Gallery 96, a nonprofit arts organization that promotes art in the northern Saint Paul suburbs. See more of his work at tom-reynen.artistwebsites.com.

Mary Kay Rummel grew up and lived in Saint Paul for many years. Her sixth book of poetry, What’s Left Is the Singing, was published by Blue Light Press of San Francisco in 2011. Other recent poetry books include Love in the End and The Illuminations. She has poems in the anthology The Wind Blows, The Ice Breaks, from Nodin Press, and short fiction in Double Lives, from Wising Up Press. She is a professor emerita at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and teaches part-time at California State University, Channel Islands, dividing her time between California and Minnesota. Her website is marykayrummel.com.

Lily Rupp lives in the Summit Hill neighborhood of Saint Paul, where she sometimes walks her West Highland terrier, Stew. She is enrolled in the eighth grade at Laura Jeffery Academy. Lily enjoys drawing, painting, music, and writing poetry.

Michael Russelle is a scientist, spouse, father, grandfather, uncle, friend, neighbor, activist, Quaker, volunteer, bread baker, gardener, tinkerer, and sometime poet. He’s grateful for having had a mostly sweet and fulfilling life so far, and is happy even when someone else catches the foul ball.

Paw Ree Say has been living in Saint Paul for three years and three months. She is from Burma, and grew up in a large, very poor family. She has two brothers and four sisters. She also has two children: a four-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. She enjoys going to the park with her family when she has free time. Someday she hopes to earn her GED and attend college. She likes Saint Paul because this is the place where she rebuilt her new life.

Shiny Thunder Productions, a cinema production team based in Lowertown Saint Paul, was formed by Jeremy Hosterman and Karl Warnke. They believe that artistic collaboration fuels passion in projects. Their recent film, The Great Work of Dr. D. Volos Tinkerpaw, was shown at the Wisconsin Film Festival in 2011. Shiny Thunder collaborated with ocal McNally Smith music student Benjamin Kelly to create the film My Milton, in which Ben performed his original music with the film at his senior recital.

Anura Si-Asar was born and raised in the historic Rondo community of Saint Paul. He is the co-publisher of Papyrus Publishing Inc. with his wife, Rekhet. He coordinates the Imhotep Science Initiatives, an African youth development program at the Cultural Wellness Center. Anura is also a firefighter for Minneapolis and a father of three children.

John Sielaff spent thirty years as a union carpenter and member of Saint Paul Local 87. Just this year, Local 87 was incorporated into Local 322, which encompasses all carpenters in the Twin Cities.

Maria Luisa Simon was born in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, in central eastern Mexico. She went to school until she was sixteen, and then took a part-time job and was married. One of the most beautiful moments in her life was when she had her daughter, one year after she moved to Saint Paul. She has been studying English at the Minnesota Literacy Council for one year, and enjoys playing soccer and baseball.

Julia Klatt Singer writes poetry and short stories, and is a coauthor of Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul, published by Coffee House Press. She works as a visiting writer in the schools through COMPAS, and hasn’t found a river yet that she doesn’t want to cross.

Bick Smith is a local filmmaker and writer who also works in radio and TV. He and his wife have a daughter.

Cynthia Schreiner Smith has turned her early fascination with Pig’s Eye into a successful career as a historical tour guide for Down In History Tours at the Wabasha Street Caves. She can be seen most often portraying the 1930s gangster Edna Murray, a.k.a. the Kissing Bandit.

Sybil Smith is author of the Twin Cities Fishing Guide, Brainerd-Mille Lacs Fishing Guide, and Twin Cities Shore Fishing Maps. She is also owner of Smith House Press, FINS Publications, and the Ebook Consultants.

Susan Solomon is the editor/cartoonist of Sleet Magazine, an online literary journal.

Oliver Swingen loves to draw and write. His other hobbies are playing guitar, karate, and yo-yoing. He has a little sister, and a dog named Fanny.

Jennifer Syverson 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.

Muriel Tate writes, “We all think of yesterday, but in reality if we didn’t have progress we would become non-achievers. We must not forget that without dreams of walking on the moon, astronauts in space for weeks, electric cars, etc., there would be no progress. We must always reach for the stars, but still keep our feet on the ground. Yesterday was great but today is even better!”

Michael Teffera is originally from Ethiopia and moved to Saint Paul on August 31, 2006. He graduated from Metro State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is currently working at U.S. Bank as an accounting specialist. His hobbies include bike riding, writing short stories and poems, and watching movies.

Alexander J. Theoharides is a writer and teacher from the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis.

David Tilsen is still living in a rich fantasy world surrounded by family, friends, dogs, and squirrels. He doesn’t particularly like the squirrels.

Tobechi Tobechukwu is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. A photographer and artist, he has specialized in social documentary photography for over eighteen years, receiving several awards for his work, including the McKnight Photography Fellowship for Artists in 2004. He resides in Saint Paul with wife, Zuri, and daughter, Akira.

Steve Trimble lives in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood near Indian Mounds Park. He has researched, written, and taught Twin Cities and Minnesota history. He serves on the editorial board of the Ramsey County Historical Society and the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission. He has recently authored a large article in Ramsey County History on three East Side neighborhoods in the 1940s and ’50s. He also collects novels set in Minnesota and plants heirloom tomatoes.

Twin Cities Brightest takes straight out of the camera long-exposure-light-painting-pictures using luminous tools such as LED lights and flashlights. No photoshop, just magic in front of the camera.

Katrina Vandenberg’s first collection of poems, Atlas, was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Her new chapbook, On Marrriage, is available from Red Dragonfly Press. She’s received residencies from the Sewanee Writer’s Conference, the Amy Clampitt House, and the MacDowell Colony, and her work has appeared in journals such as The American Scholar, The Iowa Review, and Post Road.

Diego Vázquez Jr. writes poems to flowers, birds, rocks, rivers, salmon, and people, too! Vázquez’s stories were included in Twelve Branches, and his novels include Growing through the Ugly and The Fat-Brush Painter. You might meet him in your school through a COMPAS residency. He is proud to have his poem stuck in cement (in a Saint Paul sidewalk).

Kathleen Vellenga serves as chair of the Minnesota State Higher Education Services Council. Her lifelong passion is working to improve opportunities for all children. Kathleen continued her advocacy for children while representing her Saint Paul neighborhood in the Minnesota State House of Representatives from 1981 to 1995. She currently serves on the boards of Serve Minnesota and the Sexual Victims Center. Kathleen is now writing a historical novel. She and her husband are an active support team for their six grandchildren.

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a co-founder of The Unit Collective of Emerging Playwrights of Color, National Lao American Writers Summit chair, inaugural winner of the 2010 Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry from New York, and member of the advisory board to the 2010 Asian Film Festival.

David Vu was born and raised in Minneapolis and has been writing poetry for thirteen years. He started writing poetry for school, but after years of encouraging words from teachers and friends, he decided to take poetry a little more seriously and started writing as a way to express himself. He debuted in the 2010 Saint Paul Almanac Lowertown Reading Jam: Redefining Hmong Men, alongside many other Hmong writers. As a new and upcoming spoken word artist, Vu hopes to perform more and continue with his poetry.

Elena Walczak attends English classes at the Minnesota Literacy Center on the East Side.

Leslie Walters knows from experience that no Saint Paul institution is quite so laden with celebrities as the annual Winter Carnival—and she has rubbed elbows with some of the best of them, from local film impresario Mel Jass to renowned comedian Tommy Smothers to the Prince of the South Wind. Whether participating as a young carnival princess or Humboldt High School Indianette performing with the marching band, she’s reveled with Saint Paul’s in crowd at many a Torchlight Parade after-party.

Marilynne Thomas Walton earned a bachelor’s degree in both English and library science from the College of Saint Catherine (now St. Catherine University). She has worked as a librarian in Saint Paul and in New York City, where she lived for many years. A winner of The Loft’s Le Poeme contest, she also received honorable mention in the 2006 McKnight Artist Fellowshps for Writers, Loft Awards in Poetry. Her work has been published in such journals and anthologies as The Northland Review, Loonfeather, and Concert at Chopin’s House.

Cary Waterman’s most recent book, Book of Fire, was published by Nodin Press. She lives in the Hamline-Midway area with her daughter and her dog, George, and teaches creative writing at Augsburg College.

Greg Watson’s work has appeared in numerous literary publications, including The Seattle Review, Tulane Review, and Poetry East, and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His most recent collection is What Music Remains, published by Nodin Press. He lives in the Mac-Groveland area of Saint Paul.

Susan Steger Welsh is a native Saint Paulite whose first poetry collection, Rafting on the Water Table, published by New Rivers Press in 2000, was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award. She has been awarded two State Arts Board Fellowships, an SASE/Jerome fellowship, and a Jerome/Travel Study grant.

Linda White, a Saint Paul native, is a writer, editor, and publicist living on the edge of Saint Paul. She has been involved in working with words for over twenty years. She writes articles, reviews, and creative nonfiction, and teaches workshops. Her passion is the written word.

Mary Wlodarski is a native of Minnesota, and a lover of nature and all things animal. She lives in Oak Grove with her husband, three horses, and miniature daschund. She is working on her MFA at Hamline University in Saint Paul while teaching high school English in Andover.

Lucia Wroblewski was born and raised in Saint Paul, where she was appointed a Saint Paul police officer on March 20, 1989. She was honored as Saint Paul Officer of the Year in 2001 with patrol partner Officer Tim Bradley; and received the highest accommodation the department bestows, The Metal of Valor, on September 29, 1996. Lucia lives with her partner Jen Moore in greater Saint Paul.

Pa Yong Xiong, an undercover weirdo as she likes to call herself, just graduated from 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 shutters of 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.

Ernesto ‘Neto’ Ybarra is an artist raised in America in a Mexican household, growing up with a strong connection to his heritage. After traveling through Mexico with local hip-hop act Los Nativos, he came back with an appreciation for the bright colors and the traditional appeal of his culture. Inspired by Mayan codices and everyday scenes, Neto Ybarra’s latest paintings take on an ancient essence while still incorporating modern subject matter, creating images that tug and pull the viewer from one time and place to another.

Patricia Anita Young was born in Saint Paul and now resides in Minneapolis. She is an accounting technician who enjoys writing freelance articles.

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