Saint Paul Almanac Fri, 04 Aug 2017 04:26:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sid Carlson White Talks on Story, Place, Understanding and The Almanac Fri, 04 Aug 2017 03:48:34 +0000
Continue Reading]]>
I met Sid Carlson White when he was 12 years old and already enthusiastic about the Saint Paul Almanac. At age 14, he joined our Community Editor group and began contributing his literary skills and knowledge to the circle of editors. 

The influence he left on the Almanac after aiding in the creation of three editions of the book, as well as the IMPRESSIONS mobile poetry project, makes it hard to see him leave for his first year at Yale University. Before departing, he left us with a gem of a gift: He recollected his experience with the Almanac in his senior speech at Mounds Park Academy. What follows is a transcript of that speech. It warmed my heart and many others. It also shows us why the Almanac—the book as well as the community of artists, neighbors, and lovers of our Saint Paul—is such an important literary and cultural asset. I am sharing Sid’s work because I love his speech and I think you will too.

Kimberly Nightingale
Executive Director, Saint Paul Almanac

After these speeches are over, and I am at home, I will open my computer. I will click the Chrome icon, type the letter “f” into the search bar, wait for autofill to finish “Facebook,” then press Enter. Not exactly a good habit, I know, but I probably do it 20 or 30 times a day. If you have ever looked over my shoulder as I do this, you will know that most of what I scroll through is news, usually of the political variety. Through Facebook, I can read the New York Times’ coverage of today’s events on Capitol Hill. I can experience blissful schadenfreude reading Dear Prudie’s advice column in Slate. I can better understand the issues of the day through the depth of the reporting at the Atlantic or the Wall Street Journal, or I can have Mother Jones tell me exactly how many times Mississippi’s state legislature has violated the Constitution since I woke up.

Through the wonder of the internet, I can read intelligent and interesting stories about any place or issue around the world. This is undoubtedly a good thing. It is possible, however, for me to keep clicking the refresh button over and over again, never pausing to look outside the window at my own community. I can, after all, have too much of a good thing. Perhaps, through all of the news stories I have read, I could tell you about how cities can evolve in destructive ways but never really know about the destruction of Saint Paul’s Rondo neighborhood in the 1950s by I-94. I can read all I want about the modern ramifications of the Civil Rights Movement, but I might never find out how the same forces that drove change in Washington have affected the history and people of my own hometown.

I know, and have known my entire life, that Saint Paul is a beautiful place. I have lived here for 16 years, spent six years in an amazing public school at the very heart of Saint Paul, and found something to love in every corner of the city. So it seemed like a natural fit when I joined the Community Editor board at the Saint Paul Almanac in late 2013. The Almanac, as many of you know, is a community organization that is created by and serves the citizenry of Saint Paul. We publish one book annually, in addition to a number of other projects. Every year, we receive hundreds of stories and poems submitted from writers across the metro, about a variety of topics as diverse as their writers. After the window for submissions has closed, we, the Community Editors, get to work evaluating the stories and deciding which ones we will publish.

Every year that the Community Editors have compiled the book, we have been a diverse group in a number of different ways. Beyond our racial and age diversity, our numbers include published poets and novelists, professors of literature, community organizers, well-known spoken word artists, and professional editors. Taking a seat at the table, surrounded by 30 other people who had been immersed in the world of literature and publishing longer than I had been alive, was daunting. Yet those differences seemed to fall away when we got down to reading the stories and talking about the Almanac’s goals. First and foremost, we wanted to publish a book of memorable stories and poems that reflect our vibrant city. As we progressed through the weekly meetings, however, we began to more fully understand the Almanac’s unique role in Saint Paul. Many of the authors we publish have never published anything before sending their story or poem in to us. We strive to publish narratives from underrepresented communities and neighborhoods, allowing our readers to engage with as many aspects of our city as possible.

It turns out that you can do a lot with 650 words. In my three years as a Community Editor, and having read all 11 editions of the Almanac, I have likely read more than a thousand stories. I have learned about what it means to start a new life on Payne Avenue, and I have discovered the rich history of baseball on the corner of University and Lexington. I have taken a literary tour of the pho cafés in Frogtown, and read with bated breath as a doctor carefully removed a bullet from a Prohibition-era gangster. I have borne witness to one man’s first days in America, and another’s first days outside of it. I have heard a story of a newly arrived refugee giving birth downtown, and followed along as an old man, who had lived here all his life, had his ashes scattered a few blocks away on I-94. I have calmly listened to countless storytellers find peace amidst suffering and death, only to be moved to tears a few pages later by a jar of grape jam.

As we released our eleventh edition of the Almanac at Lowertown’s Black Dog cafe, I was struck by the realization of something I should have figured out long ago. I had always looked up to my older and wiser editors as a set of knowledgeable ambassadors who wanted to teach our readers something about the city of Saint Paul, or at least declare with authority which stories and poems the public needs to read. But after three years as an editor myself, it has become clear to me that we are the students, not the teachers, of the city of Saint Paul. We do not sit around that table because we believe that we have something important to give back to the city. We edit the Almanac because all of us, whether we’ve been in the city for one year or fifty, know that we still have so much to learn from it. No matter how many stories come through our submissions page, nor how many discussions we have around the table in the back room at Golden’s Deli, there will always be so much we do not know.

This knowledge of my city and its people is not the kind of information I will find on my Facebook feed. I am by no means condemning the desire to be up-to-date on the current events of the world around us. That would make me a hypocrite of the worst kind. What I am arguing for is the value of knowing what is going on around us in our own neighborhoods and communities. I can gain a lot from reading the news every day, but to me, that doesn’t compare to reading the stories of the people around me and helping them share a tiny slice of their lives.

We are living in an era that historians will describe in a lot of ways. They will surely talk about the global resurgence of conservative nationalism, the maturation of the internet, or perhaps a new pessimism about America’s place in the world. Above all else, however, I think we are living in a time of confusion. I can only speak for myself, but a number of questions have bubbled to the forefront of my mind in the past year that were not there before. When we reconvene, I imagine that the other editors will be thinking the same things too. We’ll have to ask ourselves questions such as “Who gets to have their voice heard?” and “What does it mean to be an American?” These are not questions we will be able to answer with the New York Times’ electoral map or polling data compiled on FiveThirtyEight. If we, as editors, or as human beings, want to understand our world, we must first begin by listening to the stories of those around us.

The breadth of human experience will not fit within these pages, nor will any editor claim that it does. We can only hope to pass along the thoughts and feelings that we experienced to our readers, and perhaps inspire them to share their story or poem with us. We may never find answers to the questions that arise around the discussion table. What we do know for certain is that we must keep our eyes and ears open to the stories that surround us, and take pride in the communities in which we live and work. Above all, when we sit down with a new round of stories and poems, we must remember that there will always be so much more to learn.

Thank you.

Sid Carlson White

]]> 0
IMPRESSIONS Keeps Rolling with Six New Broadsides September 1 at Union Depot Thu, 03 Aug 2017 19:45:18 +0000
Continue Reading]]>
Fall Colors and Sounds Come with Broadsides on Metro Trains and Buses!

Clarence White,


SAINT PAUL (Aug. 3, 2017) The brilliance continues with IMPRESSIONS artists and writers on Friday, September 1, 7 p.m. at Java Express in Saint Paul’s Union Depot. This third round of IMPRESSIONS will come in time to greet the autumn colors proud with six more beautiful broadsides from six local poets and six local visual artists who created the literal and visual images. The poets and artists will present their work at the evening’s event.

With funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, through its Knight Arts Challenge grant, Almanac is working with 24 writers and 24 artists to publish and produce six broadsides each quarter, 24 broadsides for the year, inside trains and buses and on train platforms and bus shelters in the metropolitan area. Each quarter 200 IMPRESSIONS of the broadsides are created and published. Each broadside is a unique poster of a local poet’s poem combined with a local artist’s work as a reflection of that poem.

“The uniqueness and impact of the IMPRESSIONS concept is the ability to provide an opportunity for Metro Transit riders to view powerful visual and literary art unconsciously and consciously, individually and interactively, and in balance with the ride,” said Saint Paul Almanac Board Chair Metric Giles. “It’s the Saint Paul Almanac and Metro Transit working collaboratively to connect people directly with art. It’s a way to bring art straight to the people.”

Featured broadsides in this release are:

“Orange Chicken” written by Maddie Schumacher with visual art by Leah Bedford

“Clouds” written by John L. Smith with visual art by Genevieve Hess

“When Everything Was Everything” written by Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay with visual art by Koua Yang

“I wish to lay before this world the last universal ancestor” written by Molly Sowash with visual art by Rosemary Davis

“How to Explain Death to Your Daughter” written by Katie Vagnino with visual art by Sydney Willcox

“Fractures” written by Lucas Scheelk with visual art by Justin Terlecki

What: IMPRESSIONS fall broadside release

When: Friday, September 1, at 7 p.m.

Where: Java Express at Union Depot, 214 East 4th Street, Saint Paul, MN 55101

Who: Everyone is welcome!

Broadsides will be posted in Metro Transit trains and buses and at bus and train stops throughout the metropolitan area. We continue to be grateful for support from Knight Foundation, Metro Transit, Intersection, and the City of Saint Paul Cultural STAR Program for this grand project.

]]> 0
Saint Paul Almanac Literary Festival – April 13 through June 17, 2017 Mon, 08 May 2017 15:53:38 +0000
Continue Reading]]>

The Saint Paul Almanac Literary Festival involves writers in the Twin Cities who have been published in the Saint Paul Almanac. The readings take place in different Saint Paul venues to make them as accessible as possible. Each reading features readers diverse along lines of genre, gender, writing background and history, ethnicity, and age, so that each event is a celebration of the multi-faceted talent we have in Saint Paul and draws a diverse audience to create cross exposure for the writers involved.



April 13–June 17     Saint Paul Almanac Reading Festival

Venue day date time
Trotter’s Thursday 4/13/2017 7pm
Artista Bottega Friday 4/14/2017 7pm
Subtext Sunday 4/23/2017 2pm
Amore Thursday 5/4/2017 7pm
East Side Freedom Lib.






7 pm


Java Express

Common Good Books








12 p.m.



Golden Thyme Monday 5/22/2017 7pm
Golden’s Deli Friday 6/2/2017 7pm
Polly’s Coffee Cove Saturday 6/17/2017 1pm


On a Collected Path readings

]]> 0
IMPRESSIONS Releasing Six New Broadsides June 1 Tue, 02 May 2017 16:56:38 +0000

Saint Paul Almanac’s Flashing Poetry and Art in the Twin Cities Summer Sun!

Clarence White

SAINT PAUL (May 1, 2017) Meet the Summer IMPRESSIONS artists and writers on Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at Black Dog in Saint Paul’s Lowertown. Saint Paul Almanac is proud to celebrate six new beautiful broadsides on transit.

This is the second cohort of six local poets and six local visual artists whose work will appear on Metro Transit trains and buses. The poets will read their work and the visual artists will share their process. The following poets and artists are featured in the summer release:


  • “Wiigwaasabak” – Marcie Rendon, art by Sara Endalew
  • “Eleven” – J. Otis Powell, art by Ni’Kol Imani Dowls
  • “_ism” – Liza Docken, art by Kazua Vang
  • “Father Bought Mangos” – Marion Gómez, art by Jill Ness
  • “Sisyphus the Minnesotan Duck” – Victoria Tankersley, art by Thomas Cassidy
  • “Night Swim” – John Bly, art by Alexandra Norwick

In partnership with Metropolitan Transit, Intersection, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge, the Almanac is bringing together the work of 24 local writers and 24 local artists. Six broadsides will be published each quarter—24 broadsides for the year. In total, over 300 impressions of the IMPRESSIONS broadsides will be produced each quarter—1200 impressions for the year—inside trains and buses in the Twin Cities and on bus kiosks and train platforms. Each broadside is a unique poster of a local poet’s poem combined with a local artist’s work as a reflection of that poem.

The event will also feature cake from Saint Paul baker and poet Danny Klecko.

Event planning is provided by Occasions by Rosemarie.

What: IMPRESSIONS Summer Release Party

Where: Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar,The Northern Building, 308 East Prince Street, Lowertown, Saint Paul

When: Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m.



Marcie Rendon, White Earth Anishinabe, is a playwright, poet, performance artist, and author. She has four published plays, two nonfiction children’s books, and poems and short stories in numerous anthologies. Her first novel, Murder on the Red River, was recently published by Cinco Puntos Press.


Sara Endalew was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She holds an associate degree in the fields of sculpture and painting. She moved to the United States in 2006 and has been living in the Twin Cities for the last 10 years. She has had many opportunities to show her artwork in the Twin Cities in collaboration with about a dozen local and regional institutions, businesses, and public arts organizations.


 J. Otis Powell‽ is an author, mentor, performer, curator, editor, “jazz” appreciation tutor, and cultural consultant. J. Otis‽ has studied with Gloria Anzaldúa, Quincy Troupe, Amiri Baraka, Alexs Pate, Sekou Sundiata, and Yusef Komunyakaa. He worked as co-mentor and performed with Amiri Baraka for the Givens Writer’s Retreat and with TruRuts Endeavors in a production of Whys, Wise, Ys. His grants and awards include being the recipient of a Loft Creative Nonfiction Award, a Jerome Travel and Study Grant, a Jerome Mid Career Artist Grant, and an Intermedia Arts Interdisciplinary McKnight Fellowship. Mr. Powell‽ is a coeditor and contributor to Blues Visions, an anthology published by the Minnesota Historical Society. His writing appears in Barefoot in the Mountains and the anthology Views from the Loft; his poetry is featured in Bringing Gifts, Bringing News, an anthology of poems from Downstairs Press; and he is a contributor to Saint Paul Almanac. A CD project titled BALM was released through TruRuts/Speak Easy Records. He was a founding producer of the award-winning Write On Radio! at KFAI-FM in Minneapolis while working as a program director and community liaison at the Loft Literary Center. He wrote, with editorial collaboration and design from Rain Taxi, a chapbook titled Pieces of Sky.


Ni’Kol Imani Dowls is a multidisciplinary artist, storyteller, and teacher. She quickly fell in love with the combination of writing and illustration. She combines her love of photography, body movement, and writing to express the world around her. Ni’Kol is a self-taught artist.


Liza Docken earned her MFA from Hamline University while living across the river in Minneapolis. She is co-author of Hinge, a conversation between poetry and prose. The moon, birds, and love inform her writing.


Kazua Vang, a Hmong American born and raised in Minnesota, is an artist, photographer, and multimanager for various productions. She received her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, with a focus on photography, printmaking, and book arts.


Marion Gómez is a poet and teaching artist based in Minneapolis. She has received a Minnesota State Arts Board grant and was one of four poets selected by Linda Hogan and Ed Bok Lee for the Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series.


Jill Lynne Ness is a writer and artist living in Minnesota. Jill received an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston in 1994. As an artist, she is self-taught and is known for her use of intense watercolor. Currently, Jill leads a creative writing group at Bridgeview in Fridley, Minnesota, a community support program for adults with severe and persistent mental illness, where she is also a member.


Victoria Tankersley moved to Minneapolis for college but fell in love with the vibrancy and sounds of the city (the ring of the light rail gives her especially warm, fuzzy feelings). She now lives in Minneapolis with her partner and puppy and, somehow, can’t wait for winter to come each year.


Thomas Cassidy, aka Musicmaster, has been an active participant in correspondence art and visual poetry projects since 1973, and his artwork and written pieces have appeared in publications, galleries, and museums around the world. In the mid-1970s he co-founded the Portland, Oregon, performance troupe The Impossibilists, who were reunited in 2008 by the Oregon Heritage Commission. He hosted MTN’s Access to Art series for three years, co-edited a Minnesota Center for Book Arts’ vispoeologee (an anthology of visual literature with John M. Bennett and Scott Helmes), hosted open mikes for 25 years, and is on the board of Cheap Theatre. More of a stand-up poet than a word worshipper, his recent chapbooks include give up art and juiced up walnut (Musical Comedy Editions 2013). His doppelgänger has held the same real-world job with the Minnesota Multi Housing Association for 36 years. He owes his sliver of sanity to his beautiful and tolerant wife, Dawn, and their two deranged children.


John Bly likes to find, fix, and learn new things. He cooks and cleans with reckless abandon. His favorite time of year is fall, after the green drains from leaves and reminds you how many other colors were there the whole time.


Alexandra Norwick is a Ukrainian who moved to Minneapolis three years ago, starting everything from scratch on new terrain. Part of this transition consisted in going back to making art—returning to her roots, nurturing new beginnings, and exploring the nature and essence of the feminine.

Make an IMPRESSION in your home or office!

Prints of any broadside can be purchased for $20 each (including shipping and tax!) or you can buy a  bundle of all 6 broadside prints for just $100.

]]> 1
Saint Paul Almanac: On a Collected Path Release Party April 6, 2017 at the Black Dog Cafe! Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:08:43 +0000

]]> 1