The Almanac in the Press: Saint Paul Almanac publisher Kimberly Nightingale wants to change the way America tells its stories

At the beginning of February, the online magazine The Line wrote a story on the Saint Paul Almanac, which offers a fantastic overview of the community vision we Almanacians have for our beloved Saint Paul. We reproduce a few excerpts from the article here:

Saint Paul Almanac publisher, Kimberly Nightingale. (Photo: Bill Kelley)

It’s a six-year-old labor of love begun by onetime book editor and teacher Kimberly Nightingale, a woman with a mission that goes well beyond providing a handy and entertaining place to record coffee dates and relatives’ birthdays. Nightingale sees the book as a model for nothing less than a revolution in American publishing. And her fusion of multiethnic, history-and-culture-rich, hyperlocal storytelling is resonating in places like Los Angeles, Portland, and Pittsburgh; people in a dozen cities across the country have asked her for help in creating their own versions of the Almanac.

At first, it was a one-woman enterprise. Nightingale hung out in ethnic cafes, talking to people, laying out her ideas, asking for stories. She went to literary events looking for writers. “I was creating relationships, building trust and connections with people all over the city,” she says.

Eventually, the connections blossomed into a unique form of democratic editing in which Nightingale works with 20-plus “community editors” who help gather material. Through a system of evaluation, re-evaluation, and voting, the editors decide which stories go in. And then comes the editing itself, about which Nightingale has strong, even revolutionary opinions.

“You only have to go to a literary event to realize that the scene is mostly white-European,” she says. “The publishing industry is mostly white-European. And the editing of books is mostly on a white-European standard.” Nightingale teaches her diverse group of community editors the basics of the publishing process, but she encourages them to preserve the characteristic rhythms and word choices of the writers, even–or especially–when those writers don’t or can’t use standard English style.

The point isn’t to be quaint–it’s to change American publishing. “I dream of the day when every writer with a non-mainstream voice can have an editor who understands where that voice, that rhythm, comes from, and enhances it rather than homogenizes it,” she says.

It remains to be seen whether the Almanac will spark an editing revolution, but Nightingale’s enterprise is very active on the Saint Paul scene, with a reading and spoken-word-art series and a strong presence in the city’s high schools. And it is certainly sparking interest nationwide.

Please visit The Line’s website for the full article.

Photo of Kimberly Nightingale by Bill Kelley. Visit Bill’s website at

Coming Asia-tasticness on Monday night at the Black Dog in Lowertown!

Lowertown Reading Jam is on Monday, Feb. 21st, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, 308 Prince St, St Paul, MN (Lowertown Saint Paul).

Event curator, Tou SaiKo Lee believes in building an influential movement within the Hmong community through the arts. He is a spoken word artist, mentor and hip hop activist. A mentor for youth at schools and community centers across the country, he speaks about issues that include human rights, diversity, racism, gang violence and arts for social change.

Spoken Word Performers: Tou SaiKo Lee, Ed Bok Lee, Juliana Pegues, Bao Phi, Saymoukda Vongsay, Kevin Yang, Chanmany Sysengchanh, David Vulocity, Chilli Lor, Laurine Chang and Gaoiaong Vang.

Read more about this event.


The entire 2010–2011 season will be presented at the Black Dog Café, a popular Saint Paul venue for spoken word artists, and a co-sponsor of the series. Check back with us, or join our e-mail list or Twitter feed to be informed of coming events.

New writing from Barbara Cox, Michael Maupin and David Haynes

Barbara Cox: Night Light Hockey at Groveland

During the cold winter months of Saint Paul, there is a mecca that kids of all ages flock to with religious fervor. Mecca is Groveland, the king of neighborhood ice rinks. Drive down St. Clair Avenue anytime day or night, and witness the packed rinks of pickup hockey, toddlers pushing plastic chairs in a circle, and packs of tween girls in huddles, observing packs of tween boys. [Read more]

Michael Maupin: 25 Random Things About Me And Saint Paul

RULES: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. (I was tagged by Kimberly Nightingale, publisher of the Saint Paul Almanac. [Read more]

David Haynes: Sixth-Grade Cookie Competitors

David Haynes, an African American author and St. Louis native, lived in Saint Paul for many years and taught fifth and sixth grade at a downtown public school. He has written several adult novels, and decided to write for younger readers because he found a dearth of works for that age group that were set in this city. Business As Usual tells the story of a cookie-selling enterprise among two rival groups of sixth graders, with a few life lessons about people and economics woven in along the way. [Read more]


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