2013 SPA Contributors
Ta-coumba Aiken has been an artist and art activist for over forty years and is the force behind some of Minnesota’s most acclaimed public artworks. He says, “I create my art to heal the hearts and souls of people and their communities by evoking a positive spirit. I explore cultures where art is an integral part of daily life.”
Elaine Allen is a registered nurse and twenty-three-year resident of Saint Paul who lives within sight of Como Lake. She has schlepped now-grown children around Como Park/ St. Anthony Park area and passes the very spot of her story routinely. Also, on most Wednesdays since 1996 she has biked or driven the same route to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, where she volunteers in the clinic handling birds of prey.
Roberta Avidor is an illustrator who has made her way from New York City to Minneapolis and now, just recently, to Saint Paul. She and her husband Ken, who is also an illustrator, have found what they hope is their “Shangri-la” in Lowertown.
Jennifer Bangoura is a lifelong resident of Saint Paul. Her close-knit family settled here in the 1890s. Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in theater arts from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Jennifer is an English teacher. Loving language, she is chock-full of wit, witticisms, and puns. Her favorite pastimes are reading short stories and watching classic films. She is the mother of two wonderful children, Lali and Kashif. Jennifer attributes her love of literature to her mother, Martha.
Isaiah Bawek says, “Hi, I’m Isaiah. I’m seventeen years old and homeschooled. I live in Maplewood. I love to play basketball, be in the outdoors (hunt), and work with animals.”
When Teresa Boardman, a lifelong resident and lover of all things Saint Paul, isn’t photographing the city, she is working as an associate real estate broker with Saint Paul Home Realty. Her work can be found on the stpaulphotos.com website and on her business blog at stpaulrealestateblog.com
David Bornus has spent twenty-four years in government service with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The author of Trinitas (a medieval vampire novel), he lives with his wife Kirsten in Shoreview.
Patricia Bour-Schilla says living life with love and laughter is what makes her smile.
Greg Brick, a native of Saint Paul, teaches geology at local colleges. His second book, Subterranean Twin Cities, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2009. His work has been featured in National Geographic Adventure magazine and on the History Channel. He has two mischievous cats, named Bee and Honey.
Claire Brindley recently relocated to Washington, DC, but owes her existence to Saint Paul. Her parents met at a now-defunct downtown nightclub called “The Oz,” trained for marathons running up and down Grand Avenue, and not too much later lived in an apartment on Ashland Avenue.
Brenda Bell Brown of Memphis, Tennessee, is a member of the Black Storytellers Alliance (Minnesota) and Blues City Cultural Center (Tennessee), an alumna of Hedgebrook Women’s Writer’s Retreat (Washington State), and a recipient of several recognitions for her work in literature for print, stage, and screen. A Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) Cultural Community Partnership Grantee, MSAB Cultural Liaison, and member of the Minneapolis Arts Commission, Brenda has the distinction of presenting in the first annual Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis (2012).
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 the recipient of a 2012 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant to present poetry and writing workshops to nonprofits. She is the after-school writing instructor at Face to Face Academy in Saint Paul, where she is kept on her toes.
Rachel Cain has been a photographer for about fifteen years. Her subject matter is varied; if she falls in love with a subject, it is fair game! She says her “signature quality” is that she tries to get to the “essence” of the subject, eliminating distracting details. She enjoys the post-processing part of her work, using it to emphasize essential qualities.
Leo Carey is a Minnesotan. He likes to make art that invites the person viewing it into a space, just for them. All of the instructors he had were encouraging and willing to share their methods. For Leo it’s a special thrill to share art. He lives in Lowertown.
Ab Chang is a junior at Johnson Senior High School. She’s a very weird person who talks to herself, and she’s supposedly nice. That’s what her friends tell her, but she guesses she is nice. Chang loves the arts, and she loves to write to express her feelings. Finally, she’s an optimistic person, who tries to be as happy as she can be.
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 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.
Kiara R. Chrisman says, “One of my favorite pastimes is actually playing video games; I love running around trying to kill enemies with a big sword or frosted arrows! Yes, I’m a huge geek, but I’m very proud of it! My other obsession is horses. I hope to one day own a horse ranch.”
Amy Clark is an artist and teacher who has lived in the Mac-Groveland area forever. It still has its wild moments, but nothing like the early ’70s.
D’Onna Clark is a senior at Central High School. She is an A student, very outspoken, and continues to be a leader in the community. D’Onna has been doing public speaking on behalf of young girls facing peer pressure. She was behind a public policy bill that was passed in the Rondo Community to help it look better.
Maya Clark is a junior at Cretin High School who loves acting and being a role model for her peers. Maya has been doing work on public policy for the Rondo community and spoke in front of the City Council advocating for a window signage decrease that was passed in February of 2012.
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 fourteenth 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 LeSueur. Connolly’s recent book of poems is All This and More (Nodin Press).
Maryann Corbett earned a doctorate in medieval literature and linguistics from the University of Minnesota and expected to be teaching Beowulf and Chaucer and the history of English. Instead, she’s spent thirty years working for the Minnesota Legislature in the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. Her book Breath Control was published in 2012 by David Robert Books.
Patricia Cummings grew up in Saint Paul. She graduated from the College of St. Catherine and did what women of her generation were supposed to do—taught school, got married, and had three children. Now retired, Pat spends many happy hours at her computer, writing prose and poetry.
Donna D’Amalfi lives in a double bungalow with three cats in the Midway area of Saint Paul. Her Sidewalk Poem is her first published work. In addition to creative writing she enjoys reading, crossword puzzles, TV and movies, taking walks, and music. Donna is a receptionist/resource specialist at the Better Business Bureau.
Zulma Davila has been a local freelance artist for twenty-three years. She specializes in watercolor editorial Illustration. She has done several commissioned house portraits and scenes of the Twin Cities area. To contact her write to z10m [at] earthlink.net.
Angela Davis is a local artist born and raised in North Minneapolis. Her favorite medium to use is acrylic because she loves the bold colors and the ease of the medium. Angela’s subject matter usually incorporates local landmarks and scenery with an urban feel. She has been an artist her entire life because she loves being creative and the peaceful feeling she gets from it.
Captain Bob Deck grew up on numerous Air Force bases, landing in Saint Paul during high school. He worked on the Mississippi River towboats for twenty-five years. Now he divides his time between writing about his adventures on the Mississippi River, piloting the Padelford Packet boats, and substitute teaching for Saint Paul Public Schools.
Scott Demeranville curated much of the artwork in the 2013 Saint Paul Almanac. Scott is a Minnesota native and currently resides in the Lowertown area of Saint Paul. He is a graduate of the College of Visual Arts. Scott’s work utilizes photography as a tool to examine and investigate moments and details in our lives that we wouldn’t otherwise notice. As a curator Scott has helped to organize or jury a variety of art exhibitions in Lowertown, including the first and second annual Saint Paul Winter Carnival Art Exhibitions, and the 2010 Les Farrington Best 100 High School Art Competition.
Erica Dennis is a professional actor and educator who works in the community helping youth become leaders of tomorrow. She works with various schools in the Twin Cities, helping students with acting and mentoring young women to be productive and make good choices.
Desdamona is a reluctant word warrior with an irreparable broken heart who makes sense of things through poetry. She wanders aimlessly through the Twin Cities until she finds things that light her up and then attempts to pass that same light on to others.
Virginia L. Dippel writes: “At the age of 75, I find that I may not have many more years to get my work out to the public. I want my book, A Simple View, to leave behind a memory of who I am. I intend to give a copy of it to my children, grandchildren, various relatives, and anyone else who may be standing around and interested. I am still working on the book and hope to get it published soon.”
Norita Dittberner-Jax grew up in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul and taught English in its schools. She loves walking around Saint Paul, especially Lake Como. She has three collections of poetry—What They Always Were, Longing for Home, and The Watch.
Louis DiSanto had an interesting and unique journey through the working world, from writer/photographer for Sun Newspapers, to information specialist for the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department, to Como Zoo, where he was a zookeeper for twenty years before retiring in 2005. Louis enjoys old movies, writing children’s stories, photography, classical music, and sharing his experiences with anyone who will listen. He is honored to be part of the Saint Paul Almanac.
Ron Duffy is a media producer and visual artist. He shares studio space at Old Town Artists, a nonprofit artist’s cooperative located near downtown Saint Paul. Ron paints “intuitively,” often not knowing what the outcome will be. His abstract painting “Cityscape: St. Paul and Minneapolis” was created in a whimsical and carefree style.
Teri J. Dwyer has been a fitness enthusiast all her life. She’s been lucky enough to parlay her recreation passion into a great excuse to not grow up. As a freelance sports and health and fitness writer, she’s made a career out of going outside to play.
Mahmoud El-Kati is a lecturer, writer, and commentator on the African American experience. He specializes in African American history and culture. El-Kati was a lecturer at Macalester College. He is also the author of The Hiptionary, Politically Considered: 50th Commemoration of the Supreme Court Decision of 1954, Haiti: The Hidden Truth, and the famous poem “Ode to Africa.” He currently resides in the Rondo Neighborhood, the historic Black community of St. Paul.
Joanne A. Englund was born and raised in Saint Paul. Retired from Saint Paul city administration, she is a past president and member of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s board of directors.
Larry Englund can trace his interest in music to his teen years. He deejayed Friday night dances at a local church basement in the Bronx, where he grew up. During the ’80s, Larry was a freelance music writer for City Pages, interviewing artists like James Brown and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. He currently hosts Rhythm & Grooves, a Saturday morning jazz show on KFAI, 90.3.
Sandra Erskine chose waitressing over college, children over pets.
Hamda Ahmed Essa has lived in the United States for four years. She has bravely faced all the challenges of her new life with the same positive inner-child attitude and hard work that motivated her to run for her life from a dangerous situation in Somalia. Her passion for communicating, helping, and serving those in need, along with her love of reading and writing stories, are the wind beneath her.
Chris Faust is a local artist who photographs the landscapes we’ve all been in before. He was trained in the sciences but left because he just couldn’t stop making photographs. His work has been shown in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Walker Art Center, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, to name a few. He has a monograph out through the University of Minnesota Press entitled Nocturnes(2007).
Kari Fisher teaches English at Normandale Community College, but has been an instructor in a variety of settings—including the old and new Saint Paul Jail, Ramsey County Workhouse, and Spruce Tree Probation Office. Kari is finishing her MFA in creative writing from Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, Washington). She and her family live in the Twin Cities area.
Sean Fleming lives in Saint Paul with his wife, Ana Maria. He is a teacher with the Saint Paul Public Schools and can’t think of anything he’d rather do, except maybe write for the Almanac or bake bread.
Mietta Galvan-Green is a student at Cretin High School and a strong advocate for youth in the Rondo community. She has a passion for motivational speaking and loves to act. She has been active in modeling and acting and is pursuing a career in both.
Pamela Gilbert describes herself in this way: “My roots are Hayfield, Minnesota; my stem is airline stewardess; and my blossoms are husband, family, and friends. My fertilizer is faith, writing, cooking, traveling, gardening, yoga, golfing, and fly-fishing. I’m going to seed in Tucson. Eventually, I will regerminate back in Minnesota, where my farm roots run deep.”
Emily Gurnon shares her Highland Park house with two kids and a very energetic beagle. She attended Hamline University and is proud to work as a reporter for our hometown paper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Laurie Gustafson grew up in Saint Paul and now lives in Minneapolis. She married a Swede but has made sure that her children and grandchildren know about their Scottish roots. Her mum would be proud.
Tom Haas was born and raised in Saint Paul. As a very young child, he was told he was adopted because he was not considered smart enough by his birth parents to keep. He was also told that if he wanted to visit his birth parents, they would be found on Monkey Island at the Como Zoo. To this day Tom has an irrational need to prove he is as smart as his little primate cousins.
Jaime Hagg is a Saint Paul resident of eighteen years. He teaches English at Gordon Parks High School and coaches soccer for Saint Paul Blackhawks Soccer Club. He has an MFA in poetry from Hamline University. He spends his free time playing kickball with his three kids on Englewood Avenue. But you knew all that by reading this, right?
Robert Hale writes about local history, especially the “lost” and “invisible” kind.
Patricia Hampl’s most recent book The Florist’s Daughter is the winner of numerous awards, including the New York Times “100 Notable Books of the Year” and the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. Patricia Hampl first won recognition for A Romantic Education, her memoir about her Czech heritage. A Regents Professor at the University of Minnesota, she was born and bred in Saint Paul.
Janet Lunder Hanafin grew up on a South Dakota farm. Transplanted to Saint Paul for her college years, her roots have grown deep and she has written for a number of local publications. She and her husband have two grown children and three grandchildren (all above average) and enjoy the companionship of two very fine cats.
Eileen R. Hansen is a retired adult services librarian and manager who worked thirty years for the Hennepin County Library. She spent her early years, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, living on Snelling Avenue in a house that was next to the fire station. When she was about to enter fourth grade, her family moved to Cherokee Avenue on the upper West Side of Saint Paul. She lived there until 1958, when she married and moved to New Hope, Minnesota.
David Harden is a father of four and married to a great woman (and of course to the children too). He enjoys reading mysteries of past civilizations. He also enjoys writing poetry, prose, and short stories. He hopes that one day someone will read his work and offer to publish it for “big bucks.” Until then he’ll settle for the Almanac. David thinks maybe if we stopped being “Human Doings” and became “Human Beings,” we would have time for ourselves and others as well.
Margaret Hasse will be celebrating a banner year in 2013: her house on Lincoln Avenue will turn 100 years old. Other whole numbers that matter to Margaret: 1 husband, 2 sons (both Central High School graduates), 3 things she’ll never tell, 4 published collections of her poems, and 25 years of interesting work as an arts and education consultant.
Linda Hawj is a writer, spoken-word poet, hip hop emcee, and filmmaker from the Twin Cities, Minnesota. She is also a community organizer who unites arts and activism to speak about her Hmong American, Lesbian/Queer, and womyn experiences, in hopes of evoking social equity and change. For more creative, community action visit: mwsmove ment.com and facebook.com/lindahawj
Mike Hazard 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. He is a current recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. With Legacy funding, he will click photos within walking distance of home for a collection called LOCAL COLOR.
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 and has been a community activist for over forty years. The oldest enrolled student at Metro State University, he is soon to graduate with a bachelor of arts degree.
Kemet Imhotep was conceived in Oklahoma and born in Saint Paul. As a child, Kemet was left under the care of his great uncle and aunt. His aunt, Willie Mae Johnson, who was born on a plantation in Arkansas in 1918, was a strong believer in faith and trust in the Creator. Kemet struggled with the public school system. He was in the class of 1990 at Central High School, and finished at the Area Learning Center located in the Uni-Dale mall. At present he says he is a lost and troubled soul, still finding his way through the quicksand.
DeVante Jackson is a student at Central High School. He is an inspiring musician who plays several instruments. A good role model for young men, He is very outspoken, has done a lot volunteer work throughout the Twin Cities, and loves doing public speaking. He is a spiritual believer and has a style that can’t be matched.
Henry Jackson is an artist who has been involved in the field of photography for almost 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 henryroyjackson [at] gmail.com.
Leann E. Johnson has been creating art (scratchboard illustration, relief printing, and tile design) for over fifteen years. A current resident of Minneapolis, she has illustrated for other publications such as the New York Times. To see and learn more about her artwork, go to www.lea-way.com
Tish Jones is a spokenword artist, teaching artist, activist, and organizer in the Twin Cities. She has performed on many great stages in Minnesota and abroad. Her passion for words keeps her pen to the page and feet on a stage. If you see her on the street, say “Hi.”
Lillie Jordan has nine children, five boys and four girls, whom she loves very much. She also has grandchildren and great-grandchildren that keep her life full of love, peace, wishes, church, and sometimes everything at the same time.
Daryl C. 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.
Linda Kantner is taking applications for cute, funny, smart boyfriends. She is still dating on the Hill but would consider expanding all the way to St. Anthony Park. Interested parties should send a $10.00 processing fee and a fifty-word bio.
Garrison Keillor is the proprietor of Common Good Books in Saint Paul.
Gail Kern lives in Saint Paul with her husband and several adopted cats and dogs. She works in acrylic and creates comical characters and images that criticize symbols in our society. The characters live in a skewed environment that shadows reality. She combines these elements to express humor and sarcasm.
Kyle Krueger was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. He has been around art and the creative process since he was young. Kyle spent three years serving in the military after graduating from high school, then made his way to Minnesota in 2008 to be closer to family. He currently lives in Saint Paul and is finishing up a BFA degree at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), focusing on illustration and design while also working at Wine and Canvas.
Kathryn Kysar is the author of two books of poetry, Dark Lake and Pretend the World, and she edited Riding Shotgun: Women Write about Their Mothers. She has received fellowships from Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. She lives with her family in Saint Paul.
James Lachowsky has been a Minnesotan since 1984. Married and the father of four, he recently spent six years in England managing a foster care program before returning to Saint Paul last March. His wife urged him to enter the Sidewalk Poetry contest and his poem is his first published work.
Laura Lassor is a freelance writer and pre-discovered poet. She hopes for a more peaceful and compassionate world for her two young sons, and believes that poetry is probably part of the answer.
Tou SaiKo Lee was born in a refugee camp called Nong Khai and immigrated to America with his family when he was two months old. Lee is a Saint Paul–based spokenword poet with the collective Speakers of the Sun, and is down with the hip hop movement as a community organizer with the grassroots group United Prodigies. He is an emcee that disarms police brutality, disconnects bling chains, and dissolves stereotypes like lychee-flavored ice cream on both of his tongues. Lee teams with his freestyling grandma, who does traditional Hmong poetry and visits schools to mentor youth in creative writing. He desires to invent guava-flavored gummy dragons in his thermal long johns worn during Minnesota winters.
Gloria Burgess Levin’s heart remains in Saint Paul, where she lived all her life until several years ago. Now living in Minneapolis, she makes frequent forays across the river to walk favorite streets. She is a psychoanalyst in private practice.
Moleen (Harris-Davis) Lowe is a Poet for the People—and a native Saint Paulite. After surviving the chaos of fire and floods, she moved from the West Side to the Summit/ University Area and onto the famous Rondo Avenue. Moleen says, “I know God’s grace then/now shields us to this day! If my poetry makes someone smile, laugh, or shed tears of joy, then my purpose living on this planet will have been met. . . . Peace and Plenty. . . .”
C. Mannheim loves imagery, whether graphic or verbal. Her photography has won local competitions. She has exhibited at the Art Crawl, the Dakota County Library, the Hennepin County Government Center, and the State Fair Fine Arts competition. She has also served as design consultant for The Linnet’s Wings,an Irish literary zine.
Brenda Manthe has lived in the Twin Cities for the past twelve years, and now considers Saint Paul her home. She is an explorer at heart. Getting lost in the details is her favorite activity.
Kwame J. C. McDonald, a cultural legacy bearer, social justice activist, and institution builder in the Rondo community of Saint Paul was from Madison, Wisconsin. He attended Central State University in Ohio, a historically Black college. He was an educator, coach, community Elder, and griot in the African community. Kwame was known as a premier sports photojournalist and political columnist in the Twin Cities. The Creator called him to Ancestorhood in October 2011, after eighty years of living and creating life.
Tom McGregor has created art since he was a toddler. He has had a painting and design studio in the historic Lowertown area of Saint Paul since 1990. He is an active member of the Saint Paul Art Collective, which puts on the Saint Paul Art Crawl. He’s a member of both Project Art for Nature and the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota. He is the winner of several awards in design and art. See his work at mcgregorpaintings.blogspot.com
Linda Back McKay is a poet, writer, and teaching artist. She is the author of several books, including The Next Best Thing (poetry, 2011 Nodin Press) and Out of the Shadows: Stories of Adoption and Reunion(nonfiction, 2012 North Star Press). She lives with the intrepid David McKay and their red-hot motorcycle in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but, she hastens to add, they were both born and raised in Saint Paul.
James McKenzie has published several chapters of his memoir Speaking Over Graves in Notre Dame Review, Western Pennsylvania History, and Whistling Shade. Among the graves he speaks over in this narrative are that of Andrew Posey, a worker thought to have been buried in the sixty-ton ladle of steel that vaporized him in McKenzie’s home of origin, and the grave of poet John Berryman in Mendota Heights, not far from his home of choice now, Saint Paul.
Larry D. McKenzie (“Slim”)—Bread and buttered in Chicago. Salt and peppered in the Twin Cities. He has been writing for over forty years and is currently working on The Adventures of Saladeen.
Ethna McKiernan is a 2011 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her newest book, Sky Thick with Fireflies, was released in October 2011. She works for a nonprofit serving the downtown Minneapolis homeless population.
Deborah McLaren is an author and social enterprise entrepreneur (Local Flavor) who lives in Merriam Park, dangerously close to Izzy’s.
Angus McLinn is a senior at Macalester College in Saint Paul, majoring in German studies and English with a creative writing focus. McLinn has been published in the Wisconsin State Journal, Capital Times, Liberator Magazine, Local Sounds Magazine, and Chanter Literary Magazine.
Julie Ann Michaelis has an affinity for composing Valentine’s Day poems for her family and looking at everyday life experiences as fodder for good stories.
Margaret Miles spent her formative years memorizing the caves, cages, and carousel music of Como Zoo.
John Minczeski’s most recent poetry collection is A Letter to Serafin, published by the University of Akron Press (2009). He has appeared in literary journals in the U.S. and abroad. Recent online publications include Cerise Press and ithacalit.com
Gary Moore is an Irish redhead who attended St. Francis de Sales, a German parish; was taught and disciplined by the Notre Dame nuns; and graduated from Monroe High School. “He eats when he’s hungry/he drinks when he’s dry/if the hard times don’t kill him/he’ll live ’til he dies . . .”
Michael Kiesow Moore is a published and award-winning writer whose work has appeared in publications including Talking Stick, Water~Stone Review, Evergreen Chronicles, The James White Review, and the book Losing Loved Ones to AIDS. Michael received his MFA in creative writing at Hamline University. His awards include a Minnesota State Arts Board fellowship and a Loft Mentor Series Award. Michael teaches creative writing at the Loft Literary Center and curates the Birchbark Books Reading Series. He lives in Saint Paul with his cat, Cicero.
Loren Niemi tells philosophically and emotionally nuanced tales of urban life and works a day job as the executive director of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre.
Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D. is a retired Associate Professor of Indigenous Nations and Dakota Studies. He is Dakota, Wahpetunwan (“Dwellers in the Leaves”), from Pezihuta Zizi Otunwe (“Yellow Medicine Community”), which the Bureau of Indian Affairs calls the “Upper Sioux Community.” Pezihuta Zizi Otunwe is located near Granite Falls, Minnesota.
Patrick O’Donnell emigrated from Ireland to Saint Paul in 1993. He teaches at Normandale Community College, is married with three children, and lives in Saint Paul. He is a member of the Irish Fair’s Board of Directors.
Paul Ofstedal, a retired pastor who last served at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, also co-founded China Service Ventures (CSV) in 2001 and was its president until recently. CSV enables poor rural Chinese youth to continue their educations. He and his wife Dorothea have four children: three in the Twin Cities and one in New York City. He graduated from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and Luther Seminary, Saint Paul.
Sheronda Orridge experienced the happiest day of her life on August 17, 1994, when she gave birth to a five-pound, eight-ounce baby girl whom she named Akeeylah, which means “wisdom.” Akeeylah was born in Chicago at Michael Reese Hospital, which happens to be the same hospital where Sheronda and her brother were born.
Jimmy R. Ostgard is a Minnesota native and has been photographing landscapes, still life, nature, and commercial work since 2004. His photographs have been published in Ruminator literary magazine and displayed in a solo exhibit at ArtSpace in South Minneapolis. Cover work for the Jo Diedrich CD is further evidence of his photographic style and talents.
Alma Palahniuk likes PBJ sandwiches and the color blue. She loves her family and reading.
Nigel Parry has lived in the Twin Cities for much of the last decade and has a special place in his heart for Lowertown, Saint Paul. A journalist, activist, web designer, and singer-songwriter, Nigel blogs and raises heck at nigelparry.com, works at nigelparry.net, and plays at pocketofresistance.net
Yvonne Pearson has been writing poetry in Minneapolis for many years but is considering going over to the other side—of the river, that is. Her poems have appeared in publications such as Sing Heavenly Muse, Chrysalis, Main Street Rag, We’ Moon, The Poetry Calendar, and others.
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.
Damone Presley is the director and founder of the program Vision in Living Life “Change is Possible”: Building Healthy Lifestyles. He is a mentor and motivational speaker who continues to help youth become leaders and see the positive side of life through the power of choice and of making better decisions.
Chris Pulley: avid bicyclist with robust laugher, health-promoter, and all-around good guy. Self-taught poet, self-applied nickname: supernovaflip. Ridiculousness: inherent. Friends and music sparked the passion for poetry; family fueled the angst but Great Grandma inspired resilience. Climbed mountains literally and metaphorically. Batting for team positivity!
Marcie Rendon, White Earth Anishinabe, is a mother, grandmother, author, playwright, poet, and sometimes performance artist. In 2010 she wrote Native Artists: Livelihoods, Resources, Space, Gifts with professor Ann Markusen. Her poetry has been published in numerous anthologies including: Sing, edited by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, and Traces in Blood, Bone and Stone, edited by Kimberly Blaeser. She performed a True Ghost Story for Spirit in the House Festival in 2011, and as creator/producer of Raving Native Productions she curates community theater productions and conducts theater residencies for tribal communities.
Sigwan Rendon is Anishinabe and Lakota. Born and raised in Minneapolis, she spends equal time between the Twin Cities. Not only does she write but she also acts, dances, and draws. She has traveled around the world and seen many things. Her wish is to inspire others.
Tom Reynen is a photographer living in Shoreview after growing up in Saint Paul and attending St. Agnes High School and the College of St. Thomas. His work has been exhibited in a number of local shows and galleries, and he is a member of the AZ Gallery in Lowertown.
Paige Riehl lives in Saint Paul with her husband and son. She has published prose and poetry in a variety of publications, including Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, South Dakota Review, Blood Orange Review, Literary Bohemian, Word Riot, Avatar Review, and more. Paige was a semifinalist for the 2011 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry as well as the 2011 River Styx International Poetry Contest. She was also a finalist for the 2011 Loft Mentor Series in Poetry.
Amy E. Riley is a dabbler in this and that; a photographer, knitter, and blogger who has a freakish gift for rhyming poetry. She is flat-out and fully in love with Saint Paul, is especially proud of her block on Laurel Avenue, and considers her decision to marry eighteen years ago the best decision she’s ever made.
Sherry Roberts is one of the most laid-back mothers-of-the-bride you’ll ever meet. A journalist turned novelist, she is the author of Book of Mercy and Maud’s House. She has written essays for USA Today and other publications; you’ll find more essays on her blog: www.sherry-roberts.com
Mary Rosen is a freshman at the University of Minnesota. She is a writer, a daydreamer, and a hopeful traveler. She loves life in all forms, especially in the form of her cats, who mean the world to her. Mary strives to inspire others and to change people’s minds, hearts, and lives with her writing. For fun, Mary sings, draws, participates in theater, and plays ukulele. She has no idea what her major will be, but hopes it will send her around the world.
Rosemary Ruffenach wishes she were born a generation earlier and could have listened to her colorful relatives tell their stories in person. Nonetheless, she finds digging into and chronicling their lives a fascinating avocation—there’s always a black sheep hiding somewhere in those dull census records.
Mary Kay Rummel grew up and lived in Saint Paul for many years. She is a professor emerita from the University of Minnesota–Duluth and teaches part time at California State University–Channel Islands, dividing her time between California and Minnesota. Her most recent book, What’s Left Is the Singing,was published in 2011.
Deb Runyon/Closet poet/Since third grade/Owner/operator/Juanita’s Fajitas/At the MN State Fair/Listens to the wolves howl/At midnight/In her Como Park home with/Her husband/Two sons/Two dogs/First time submission/Ten minutes/Before/Deadline.
Bob Scroggins says, “After meeting Dylan and Koerner, I wanted to be in show biz. So in 1960 I dropped out of college and ran away from home to try stand-up comedy in San Francisco. I moved into a residence club near Russian Hill. There was a girl living there (a Cal journalism major) who came to watch me one night. Walking her back to the residence club, I asked her what she thought. She said she thought I should finish college and get a government job. So I married her and did what she said. Being married to a good copy editor raised my GPA one whole point.
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 Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NdCAD). Anura is also a Minneapolis firefighter.
Andy Singer has drawn and published cartoons and illustrations for over twenty years. His work appears regularly in the Funny Times, Cagle.com, La Decroissance, and a few alternative news weeklies. He occasionally publishes cartoons in more mainstream venues like The New Yorker, Esquire, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, NPR.org, and the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. You can see more of his work at www.andysinger.com
Julia Klatt Singer writes poetry and short stories, and is a coauthor of Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul (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.
Ann Sisel was born in Nebraska where the wind always blows and the prairie grasses wave, but she was not inspired to make art there. She met her husband and moved to Iowa and then to Saint Paul, where they raised two daughters and she learned to do many artistic things from fiber to clay to paint. One of her favorite quotes is from Pablo Picasso: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Jennifer Stamm is a native of Minnesota and is completing her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. She currently works in social services with developmentally disabled adults. Her interest in photography began as an outlet to witnessing her brother struggling with cancer. Her work was shown at the Flow Art Gallery as part of Art-a-Whirl in 2012.
Lisa Steinmann is a Saint Paul–based writer, teacher, and artist whose work spans both sides of the Mississippi river and other divides as well.
Riva Storch is a student at Gordon Parks Senior High School in Saint Paul. She lives with her dad in a house in the West End of Saint Paul. After high school, Riva would like to attend college and graduate with a license in social work. In the meantime, she is focusing on her schoolwork and being an accomplished student.
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, and so on, 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!”
Patricia Teefy grew up in Minneapolis and lived in sunny California for seventeen years and other splashy places around the world before happily settling in the Midway neighborhood in the city across the river! She loves her community of diverse and unexpected gems, like the nail salon that made her a Saint Paul convert.
Don Thomas lives in Saint Paul and is a principal of design at BWBR Architects. He graduated from UW Stout with a degree in fine art many years ago. He loves the creative challenges of urban sketching and posts his favorite doodles on Flickr: http://www.flickr .com/photos/drthomas1/
Barb Thukral is a stay-at-home mom of three little boys, ages eight, five, and three. Her writing keeps her sane; it is rusty, but it is honest. She aspires to be published and make a career out of her passion, but she reminds herself that if she thinks too much about the future she will lose the present. So for now, she strives to find balance.
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 Saint 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. Recently he was named “Minnesotan of the Year” by the Minnesota Territorial Pioneers for his work in the field of history.
Karen Trudeau hails from North Dakota but has long appreciated her North End Saint Paul neighborhood. Here she raised her son, who inspired her by surviving childhood brain cancer despite improbable odds. In Saint Paul she enjoys taking walks and reading poetry—sometimes simultaneously, thanks to the convenience of sidewalk poetry!
Amy Unger grew up in Minneapolis, is a credentialed K–6 teacher in California and Minnesota, holds a Brain Gym Instructor license, and is a certified AVID college prep tutor. Amy received a Jerome Book Arts grant in 1990 and just completed work on an Irrigate Placemaking grant at the Rondo Library.
David Unowsky, a lifetime Saint Paulite, was schooled at Ramsey School, Central High, and the University of Minnesota. He’s been a bookseller since 1970, when he founded Hungry Mind, later known as Ruminator Books. Currently David is events manager at the newly opened SubText: A Bookstore. He thinks his seventies will be a kick-ass decade.
Pahchie Vang is a daughter, a sister, and an aunt at home; a leader, an artist, and a survivor at heart. A joker, a friend, and a BUNDLE OF JOY!
Diego Vázquez Jr. writes poems and slowly writes long stories.
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Jerome Foundation/Mu Performing Arts’ New Eyes Theater Fellow, and the recipient of the Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry, a Joyce Foundation scholarship, and a Loft Literary Center scholarship. She sits on the board of directors for both the Intermedia Arts and the Asian Pacific Endowment Fund.
Nicholas Voss gives daily support to his childhood love of yoyos. He enjoys ID-ing different blades of grass and is always searching for scarlet tanagers. He’s trying to place his feet where his ideas are. When this happens, poems tend to write themselves. His poem in this year’s Almanac is for the students who are really teachers breaking our constricting molds into a greater reality.
Carol Anne Wall is burning the ends of all the candles she owns as a busy mom, project manager, writing teacher, and multiple-dog owner. She frequently wishes for more hours in the day, especially if they could be dedicated to sleeping.
Marilynne Thomas Walton attended St. Catherine University. She was a librarian in Saint Paul and New York City. Last year, she was proud to receive a Research and Creative Work Award from the Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women, St. Catherine University, for her poetry manuscript-in-progress. She loves “circling” her Como neighborhood!
Gregory 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.
David R. Weiss is the author of To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical Reflections on Sexual- ity, Spirituality and the Wideness of God’s Welcome (www.davidrweiss.com). He and his wife Margaret have a blended family of five children, five grandchildren, and assorted animals that approximate a peaceable kingdom.
Susan Steger Welsh is a native Saint Paulite working on a book about the history of her Mac-Groveland bungalow, built by Daisy Agnes Wedge in 1910. Susan’s 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, a SASE/Jerome fellowship, and a Jerome/Travel Study grant. She did eventually find Daisy.
Earl Wetzel has great memories of the Benhill Bombers versus the Lombard Loads playing hockey at Linwood Playground. He spent his entire young life in Saint Paul, and after finishing college he taught for thirty years at Farmington High School. Presently, he lives in San Luis Obispo, California, and is working on his MA in English at Cal Poly.
Clarence White is a 2011–2012 Givens Foundation for African American Literature Retreat Fellow and was a finalist for MNartists.org miniStories flash fiction competition in 2008. He is a former bookseller at the Hungry Mind bookstore. He has an MBA, which gets used less frequently than his writing and a love of baseball he shares with his son.
Sherman Wick is the co-author and photographer of The Insider’s Guide to the Twin Cities and Walking Twin Cities. His work has appeared in Pulse of the Twin Cities, Film Festival Today, and the Southeast Angle. He and his wife, writer Holly Day, live with their two kids in Minneapolis.
Deanna Wiener was born and raised in Saint Paul (defected to a suburb) and remains proud and loyal to her capital city. She co-owns Cardinal Realty with her brother, served in the Minnesota senate for ten years, and is a Tilsen by marriage, with three kids and eight grandkids (her newest passion).
Jude Wiesner grew up near Lake Phalen in the 1950s when children were allowed to run wild in the summer, without fear.
Danta Wilson is a student at Open World Learning Community School. He is an inspired rap artist and continues to strive to perfect his craft. He is a hard worker and really gets involved in being a leader for other young men to help them see there is a way to do well by being active in the community.
Lucia Wroblewski is proud of her nearly twenty-four years of service as a Saint Paul street cop. She has worked every district, but most memorable of all were her seventeen years on her beloved East Side. She currently works in the West District. Lucia lives in the greater Saint Paul area with her soul mate Jen Moore, their two black labs Xena and Scout, and cat Willy.
Patricia Anita Young is an accounting technician who has been writing since a classmate gave her a magical number 2 pencil in the third grade. As “keeper of the family stories,” she records the oral histories of the Saint Paul village that raised her. Her article All Aboard! was published in the 2012 Saint Paul Almanac. Patricia has published articles in the Twin Cities newspapers Insight News and Access Press as well as numerous freelance articles on thriving while surviving chronic medical conditions.
Royetta Zabel says, “My name is Royetta, and this is a poem inspired by this city. I have lived here my whole life. When I was younger and I’d be driving back from somewhere, I always knew I was home when I could see the 3M sign. It’s still the first thing I look for to this very day—it always guides me home.”
James Zimmerman grew up in the southern suburbs. He discovered the splendor of Saint Paul when he first began dating a woman who lived her whole life in the city. He married her. They now live together in Saint Paul with their two children and one cat.
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