We at the Saint Paul Almanac were more than a little excited about the Minnesota Book Awards this year. Our very own community editor, board member and co-editor for the 2014 edition, Patricia Kirkpatrick won the award for poetry. Her book Odessa, published by Milkweed Editions, is a moving piece of work. It chronicles the painstaking reclamation of herself during a time that included some of the less than usual hardships that can knock one down in life. The book is an open heart, an invitation to be human and graceful just as we know Patricia to be.
We were able to assemble a table of Saint Paul Almanac friends to support Patricia and to soak up the literary inspiration in the room–filled with so many of the state’s most celebrated writers. The evening included prizes for children’s books, fiction and nonfiction, books about Minnesota, book arts, memoir and creative nonfiction. A complete list of the winners can be found on The Friends of the Saint Paul Library website.
Video: Patricia’s acceptance speech
Watch Patricia Kirkpatrick win the Poetry prize at the Minnesota Book Awards:
The gala was held in the glittering Hilton Minneapolis, the first time across the river for this Saint Paul Library-sponsored event that celebrates all of Minnesota’s authors. The Minneapolis Ballroom (the largest in the state) was packed.
Lorna Landvik, author of Patty Jane’s House of Curl, kept things light as the comedic master of ceremonies. She invited book award winners to pull the string on a confetti popper when they got to the podium and she jokingly challenged the audience to tip one back every time they heard the word “book.”
I was happy to see that some of the books that I have read and loved were up for awards and a few of them won: The award for the Minnesota category went to Gwen Westerman and Bruce White for Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota. The award for general nonfiction included two books that I recommend, both happen to be about Ojibwe life: Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of the Community by Brenda J. Child and Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer, with Treuer taking the award. Author Louise Erdrich won an award for her novel The Round House for which she also received the National Book Award for Fiction in November.
It was an evening filled with possibility—a good dose of which I took to heart. I hope the feeling spread around our table. In the spirit of galas and speech making, I’d like to thank the folks who made the evening so brilliant and fun: my “dates:” Parthenia Swyningan, Shaquan Foster and Andrew Hall; our board chair Metric Giles and guest Rena Moran; Nigel Parry, the Almanac’s web expert and photo curator and guest Sarah Wash; and Charles and Kathy Sawyer and the lovely Simone Schneider, Patricia’s daughter and also a Saint Paul Almanac community editor. I know that Kimberly Nightingale, executive director of the Almanac, was with us in spirit. She was unable to join us this year. She and Dan are in faraway Peru in search of other stories.
I also want to shout out to Ann McKinnon who serves as vice-chair on our board of directors and is director of communications and marketing for The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. She works tirelessly on behalf of both organizations. She and Patricia worked together with us to reserve a table for the Saint Paul Almanac this year.
Congratulations to our colleague, teacher and friend Patricia Kirkpatrick!
Lisa Steinmann contributed to the 2013 Saint Paul Almanac, has survived two years as a Community Editor, and serves on the Almanac board. A Saint Paul–based writer, teacher, and artist, Lisa’s work spans both sides of the Mississippi river and other divides as well.