The process of creating a new Saint Paul Almanac each year is an epic community journey that begins with a simple call like this one—to writers and aspiring writers everywhere—to submit essays, poems, reviews, recipes, and short stories about Minnesota’s capital city, Saint Paul. Each year, the call is heard by literary giants, everyday residents, kids, grandparents, journalists, new Americans, lovers of Saint Paul who now live in other corners of the world…and the submissions start pouring in.
As pens dart across paper and fingers clatter on keyboards in corner cafes here and around the world, the Almanac gets to work with a team of 21 community editors of diverse backgrounds that include 4 professional editors/writers. Seven of the 21 community editors are high school students.
In 14 three-hour meetings, the community editor team is commissioned to determine collectively what ends up in the Saint Paul Almanac. Our writing workshop method is the same process universities use to strengthen writers’ and editors’ skills. Critiquing other peoples’ writing in a group environment and defending that analysis enhances one’s own writing and editing abilities.
Each of the 450 submissions to the Almanac is carefully reviewed by the community editors, who select the 100-plus pieces to be included in the new edition. All pieces are read with author names removed. Even Garrison Keillor’s work is reviewed anonymously! At the last few meetings, the top-rated 200 pieces are reviewed one more time. As a result of the workshop process, new community editors’ concepts of quality and inclusivity are refined. Apprentices often re-rate work that early on in the process they rated differently.
The final Almanac that is crafted from this collaborative community process is both a literary campfire around which the diverse community of Saint Paul has gathered to share stories, and a year-round calendar and guide designed to take the curious urban adventurer through a year of seasons in Minnesota’s capital city. In our partnership with the Saint Paul Public Schools, 2,000 high school students receive a copy of the Almanac as part of their social studies curriculum, returning the Almanac to the young members of the community to begin the process again.
For more information about how to submit to the Almanac, see:
For more information about our Community Editor Apprenticeship Project, see:
About the Almanac
The Saint Paul Almanac is a literary campfire around which people gather to share their St. Paul stories, poetry, fiction, and recipes as well as a guidebook to Minnesota’s capital city, its festivals, exhibits and more!
The Almanac’s generous sponsors and partners include the City of Saint Paul’s Cultural STAR program, McKnight Foundation, Mardag Foundation, Bigelow Foundation, Saint Paul Foundation, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC), Lowertown Future Fund, Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, SPPS, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), Black Dog Café, Clouds in Water Zen Center, Twin Cities Daily Planet, A to Z Gallery, and KFAI.