The Saint Paul Almanac continues its year-round literary celebration of Minnesota’s capital city with the acclaimed Lowertown Reading Jams. The January presentation of the eclectic series, curated by May Lee-Yang, offers an intimate look at works in progress by multidisciplinary artists. The Reading Jam will be presented on Monday, January 10, 2011 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street in Saint Paul. The Jams will continue on the second Monday of each month through July 2011.“I feel blessed to be surrounded by a community of artists from various disciplines and what I’ve found interesting is that, almost everyone I know is a writer. I know actors who write, dancers who write, performance artists who write,” says Lee-Yang. She noted that some of their writing eventually gets performed in public, in spoken word pieces or one-person shows, but sometimes they write things about which they are secretive: the five-year-old unfinished novel, a memoir, a collection of poetry, and the list goes on.
“Perhaps they don’t share these parts of themselves because, like most artists I know, they are perfectionists who are waiting to be done with their projects. But I’ve always been fascinated by the unfinished tidbits, the ideas that are still in the process of being created, essentially, in works-in-progress.” May Lee-Yang curated an evening that features multi-talented people as they share works that have never been seen in the public sphere before.
About the Artists
Sun Mee Chomet has worked with the Guthrie Theater, Mu Performing Arts, History Theater, Penumbra Theater and many other theaters locally and nationally. As a playwright, her first play, “Asiamnesia,” was voted Best New Script of 2008 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She is currently working on a new play about her relationship with her Jewish grandfather. Chomet received her M.F.A. in Acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and her B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Earlham College.
Reginald Edmund is a Many Voices Fellow (2009-2011) playwright originally from Houston, TX, where he was Artistic Director for the Silver House Theatre, as well as the founder and producer for the Silver House Playwrights Festival and the Houston Urban Theatre Series. Reggie was the inaugural recipient of the Kennedy Center Fellowship at Soul Mountain Retreat and the 2009 National Runner-up for the Lorraine Hansberry and Rosa Parks Playwriting Award. He received his MFA in playwriting at Ohio University under the guidance of Charles Smith. His play Southbridge, which was presented in May 2010 at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, AK, was named winner of the 2011 Southern Playwrights’ Competition. Edmund is a co-founding Playwright of The Unit Collective, a collective of playwrights of color.
Ellen Marie Hinchcliffe is a poet, performer and video maker whose work includes: “Dirty the Bones—on being white and other lies…” performed at Intermedia Arts, and Bedlam Theater (and was accepted into The Los Angles Women’s Theater Festival) and “Death’s Daughter—a love letter, a prayer for Mama” that premiered at Pangaea World Theater in November 2010. She is currently working on a documentary about the late, great writer/thinker Paula Gunn Allen, and her video short, “Art Letter—For Gabrielle Civil” will premiere on Twin Cities Public Television this December.
Julian Hines was born in the Twin Cities as a second generation Jamaican-American. Starting his artistry late in high school, he competed in drama and poetry forensics and founded his school’s first Step/Drill Team. He performs in various disciplines including dance, theater, and spoken word. In addition to his work mentoring inner city and south metro youth, Julian has shared and performed in local public venues, schools, theaters, colleges, and in Japan.
May Lee-Yang is a playwright, poet, prose writer, and performance artist from Saint Paul, Minnesota. She has been hailed by Twin Cities Metro Magazine as “on the way to becoming one of the most powerful and colorful voices in local theater.” Her theater-based works include “Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman”, “Ten Reasons Why I’d Be a Bad Porn Star”, “Sia(b)”, “Stir-Fried Pop Culture”, and “The Child’s House.” She has received grants from the National Performance Network, the Midwestern Voices and Visions Residency Award, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Playwright Center Many Voices Program, and Intermedia Arts’ Naked Stages Performance Art Program. In her 9 to 5 life, she is the Interim Executive Director at Hmong Arts Connection (HArC).
The Almanac has been hosting the monthly Lowertown Reading Jams since October 2009, and they have been steadily gaining in popularity as excited audiences spread the word about their powerful, shared experiences. The Jams provide an opportunity to explore and bridge the cultural and social breadth of the city of Saint Paul throughout the year. Each Jam is produced and hosted by a well-known writer or spoken word artist. Saint Paul “performance drawing” artist Lara Hanson interprets the readings using Japanese ink brushes. All Reading Jams are American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted.
The entire 2010-2011 season of Lowertown Reading Jams will be presented at the Black Dog Café, a popular Saint Paul venue for spoken word artists, and a co-sponsor of the series. The Jams are curated by the following creative writers and agents for social change:
Oct. 11, 2010 – Deborah Torraine
Nov. 8, 2010 – Tish Jones
Dec. 13, 2010 – Matthew Rucker
Jan. 10, 2011 – May Lee-Yang
Feb. 21, 2011 – Tou SaiKo Lee
Mar. 14, 2011 – Carol Connolly
Apr. 11, 2011 – Marcie Rendon
May 9, 2011 – Desdamona
June 13, 2011 – Melvin Giles
July 11, 2011 – Diego Vázquez, Jr.
About the Saint Paul Almanac
Recently released in its fifth edition, the Saint Paul Almanac features essays, poems, photos, maps, and listings of events, bars, restaurant, theaters, and other cultural venues within a datebook format. The 2011 Almanac features 129 works by 118 writers. These writers include literary giants, everyday residents, students, journalists, new Americans, and lovers of Saint Paul who live in other corners of the world. Writers interested in having their work considered for the 2012 Almanac have until March 1, 2011 to make a submission. Information on upcoming events, how to make a submission, and other Saint Paul Almanac news is available at www.saintpaulalmanac.org
The 2011 Saint Paul Almanac sells for $11.95 online at www.saintpaulalmanac.org and is available in independent and mainstream bookstores everywhere, as well as at libraries and coffee houses throughout the City.
Saint Paul Almanac activities are made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council from an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature. Sponsors and partner organizations include the Black Dog Café and Wine Bar, the City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul STAR Program, Clouds in Water Zen Center, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, KFAI Radio, The Lowertown Future Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), Travelers Arts & Diversity Grant, and Twin Cities Daily Planet.