I woke up Friday morning to a white blanket of humility. I had watched it begin to fall the previous afternoon as I sat in on one of the many events listed in the Almanac arts calendar. We looked out the window of the third-floor room of the Metropolitan State library to see heavy flakes against the backdrop of our downtown skyline and both of the capital city’s domes. I know last week, I hinted that we might be past all of this. I was wrong, but at the same time here I was in a room full of people happy not to be stuck in front of the television at home. The featured artist seemed apologetic, but we were grateful for the chance to see her, regardless of the weather. A neighbor said that this weather might not be finished, but neither is good art. And we’re glad to tell you about it.

Saint Paul: A Town and People of Letters


Last Saturday, I joined many of our Almanac colleagues at the 26th Annual Minnesota Book Awards. Among us were former award winners as well as a few folks who I am sure will garner a nomination or perhaps more in coming years. It is a grand reminder of the incredibly rich and deep literary tradition we have in Minnesota. A great community of support and an unparallelled library Friends organization puts on this event and provides amazing programming with partners like us and others around the metropolitan area. The event was inspiring. I need to write more. I need to hear more authors. Thankfully, our literary community offers us many opportunities.


Catherine Phil MacCarthy is an Irish poet from Dublin who will be in Saint Paul for two events sponsored by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and The Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas. MacCarthy is the winner of this year’s O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poety and has won several other prizes, most recently The Fish International Poetry Prize in 2010 and the Dromineer Prize for Poetry in 2012. She will be spending the week holding public and classroom events at the University of St. Thomas.

matt-rassmussenOn Tuesday, April 8, MacCarthy will be joined by award-winning poet and Minnesota Book Award winner Matt Rasmussen for a Writers in Conversation event, “The Island of Poetry: Small Places in a Large World.” You can see and visit with the two poets at the Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Avenue. The event begins at 7 p.m.

On Friday, April 11, MacCarthy will read from her work at an event where she will be awarded the O’Shaughnessy prize. In his description of MacCarthy’s poetry, poet Eamon Grennan said her work is a reflection of “how mind and body are in endless, responsive dialogue with each other.” Friday’s event is in the auditorium of the John Roach Center at St. Thomas and begins at 7:30 p.m. The university is at 2115 Summit Avenue. The Center is found near the university entrance on Summit.

minnesota-farmers-market-cookbookAre you hungry? On Wednesday, April 9, at SubText: a Bookstore, Tricia Cornell presents The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook. This convergence of book art and food is a collection of eighty recipes contributed by local chefs and farmers. More than just recipes, it also has maps to the local markets as well as some local market and farmer history.

Plus, the book offers great suggestions on how to integrate more produce into your kitchen and diet, and how to support sustainable models of food production. This event begins at 7 p.m. SubText is at 165 Western Avenue (at Selby). They will have food, so don’t spoil your appetite.

vacationland-sarah-stonichSunday, April 13, brings two established writers to Common Good Books. Both Elizabeth Strout and Sarah Stonich (the latter a recent winner at the Minnesota Book Awards) have writers’ minds with one lobe in the city and another in rural landscapes full of intrigue. Stonich lives in the Twin Cities but spends her summers in northeastern Minnesota. In her latest novel, Vacationland, her words are elegant and humorous and weave stunning tales from a fishing village in the North Woods. Strout’s latest novel, The Burgess Boys, tells of two Brooklynites who travel back to their small-town Maine home following a family crisis that forms a backdrop for remembrances of their growing up. This reading and discussion starts at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Common Good Books is at 38 South Snelling Avenue.

Celebrating Composers

In advance of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s performances, the SPCO will feature Canadian composer Vivian Fung in their latest installation of the Composer Conversation series. Fung is described as a powerful compositional voice, merging Western forms with non-Western influences such as Balinese and Javanese gamelan and folk songs. This conversation is hosted by the Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 6 West Sixth Street (at Wabasha) in Downtown on Wednesday, April 9 at 7 p.m.


Fung will also be performing with the whole orchestra at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 900 Summit Avenue on Saturday, April 12, in a program that features her work as well as others, including Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and prominent Latina composer Gabriela Ortiz’s “Vitrales de ámbar.” The performance begins at 8 p.m.

neon-z-yolaStudio Z is a place for jazz, classical, and new and emerging music, as well as an important venue for local composers. Each year, Studio Z hosts the Zeitgeist Early Music Festival to celebrate the work of a noted composer.

(Photo: Becky Starobin)
(Photo: Becky Starobin)

This year’s festival features “The Music of George Crumb.” Studio Z is offering over a week of workshops and performances that delve into the music and influences that combine into Crumb’s characteristic style. The sounds of Crumb skirt the edges of a cacophonous plumber’s workshop weaved with the simplest of choral music and synergies of rehearsed orchestras. Performances take place Thursday, April 10, through Saturday, April 12, beginning at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 13, at 2 p.m. Find out more about the accompanying workshops here. Learn more about George Crumb in this 2007 interview from West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Studio Z is at 275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200.

SRL-Color-Logo_2Crumb’s music draws our modern senses back into the past, making subconscious connections to archetypes that flow through the ages. But maybe you don’t want to be that cerebral. No problem. O’Shaughnessy Auditorium at St. Catherine’s University is the site for School House Rock Live! In its Saturday morning television inception, we were entertained by the catchy tunes. What was less apparent to us then was the strength of the musical compositions created by seasoned jazz and classically trained composers, which left a lasting impression on popular culture. A live production is being held at the O’Shaughnessy on April 11, 12, and 13. Shows on Friday and Saturday start at 7 p.m. The Sunday show starts at 2 p.m. Tickets and information can be be found here. The O’Shaughnessy is at 2004 Randolph Avenue.

If Schoolhouse Rock is a great way to understand math, catching Fuzzy Math at the Black Dog on Sunday, April 13, might be a fair musical conclusion to our progressive supper of tunes. Fuzzy Math, featuring pianist Mark Vandermyde, plays clever covers as well as original compositions. KFAI’s Larry Englund says they “swing quite nicely,” a perfect way to get ready for the new week. Their show starts at 4 p.m. The Black Dog is at 308 Prince Street in Lowertown.

Get Out with the Family

The New Map event, an Irrigate Arts project.
The New Map event, an Irrigate Arts project.


The New Map event, an Irrigate Arts project.
The New Map event, an Irrigate Arts project.

If you are toward the east end of University on either side, you straddle the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods. Two Irrigate artists, Paul Stucker and Kalen Rainbow Keir, have created an ongoing placemaking project called “Your Map.” With the help of folks making their way within and through the area, they are plotting a map of your travels through the neighborhood, helping tell the story of your journey and the life of these two vital neighborhoods in the period before the Green Line light rail opens in June. It is a great interactive exercise in showing the interconnectivity that exists between elements of our city, communities, and individuals. The map is located at Cycles for Change, 712 University Avenue East. See the map and listen to short audio pieces that guide you through the map-making process. You can stop by anytime the shop is open.

hot-rod-hamsterOn Saturday, April 12, the Red Balloon Bookshop celebrates the release of Monster Truck Mania. It is the latest adventure following the excitement of Hotrod Hamster. Meet illustrator illustrator Derek Anderson, make a Monster Truck Masterpiece, and celebrate with cake! The event starts at 10:30 a.m. The Red Balloon is at 981 Grand Avenue.

Saint Paul Makers

I have often wondered where the opportunities to learn the craft of the technical arts related to theater and production can be found. One answer is in a rare offering at Bedlam Theatre in Lowertown. Starting Saturday, April 12, the theatre will begin a series where people can receive technical instruction on aspects of theater and stage lighting and sound.


Lighting instructors Dave Horn and Khoo Wu Chen and sound instructors John Steitz and Andrew Mayer are teaming up to offer beginner- and intermediate-level classes in the new Bedlam Lowertown venue. Check for more information on the cost and calendar for Technical Tools of the Trade. Bedlam Lowertown is at 213 East Fourth Street.

This week, I will have to consult with our neighbor, whom we like to call “the weather girl.” not because we think she’s a girl, but like Simon and Garfunkel’s “Only Living Boy in New York,” she used to live in New York and “gets all the news she needs on the weather report.” I’ll ask her what we’re going to get. In the meantime, I will keep an eye on the Almanac arts calendar. With the knowledge of both the weather and the calendar, I can plan a good week. See you on the town!

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