This year's recipient of the Kay Sexton Award has helped many an author write their own books.
Photo: Minnesota Book Awards
The 330 acre estate offers residencies for writers and artists, and hosts several events each year for both writers and readers. Now in its 18th year, the center is the largest artist community in the Upper Midwest.
The Kay Sexton Award is presented at the Minnesota Book Awards each year to an individual for his or her contributions to Minnesota's literary scene.
Hedin has already won two Minnesota Book Awards for his writing. He edited Where One Voice Ends Another Begins: 150 Years of Minnesota Poetry, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2007 in honor of the state's sesquicentennial.
The 2013 Minnesota Book Awards take place on April 13 in Minneapolis.
The annual "America's Most Literate Cities" report is out for 2012, and once again the Twin Cities have placed prominently.
Minneapolis remained in third place, while St. Paul climbed from 12th to sixth place.
Many people claim the cold weather in the Twin Cities helps foster a healthy readership.
(MPR Photo/Tom Weber)
The report is conducted by Dr. John Miller, President of Central Connecticut State University, and is compiled based on six indicators: number of bookstores, educational attainment, internet resources, library resources, periodical publishing, and newspaper circulation.
The study only looks at cities with a population of 250,000 and above.
Washington, D.C. took first place for the third year in a row; Seattle came in second.
According to President Miller, the ranking "presents a large-scale portrait of our nation's cultural vitality. From this data we can better perceive the extent and quality of the long-term literacy essential to individual economic success, civic participation, and the quality of life in a community and a nation."
Interestingly, while Minneapolis has remained consistently in the top three for the past eight years, St. Paul has bounced around a bit, from as high as 3rd place down to 12th place last year.
A closer look at the rankings finds that St. Paul claimed first place in the 'booksellers' category, but scored rather poorly in the categories of 'education level' and 'internet resources.'
Miller does acknowledge that his study measures quantity but not quality, "which would be more subjective."
Miller notes that spending on reading materials nationwide has declined 22% since 2000, while over the same period, federal statistics show spending on other forms of entertainment is up 25%.
Club Book, the program that brings authors to Twin Cities libraries, has announced the line-up for its next season, and the emphasis is on Minnesota writers.
From February through May 2013, eight authors will give talks in libraries from Anoka to Woodbury, including Minnesotans Lorna Landvik, Cheryl Strayed, Arthur Phillips, Brenda Langton and John Sandford.
For your planning purposes, here's Club Book's official line-up; all events are free and open to the public.
Club Book with Pam Houston: Tuesday, February 5, 7 p.m.
Maplewood Library, 3025 Southlawn Dr., Maplewood
Club Book with Lorna Landvik: Thursday, February 28, 7 p.m.
Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Ave., Prior Lake
Club Book with Li-Young Lee: Monday, March 18, 7 p.m.
Saint Anthony Park Library, 2245 Como Ave., Saint Paul
Club Book with Cheryl Strayed: Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m.
Central Park Amphitheater, 8595 Central Park Pl., Woodbury
Club Book with Cheryl Strayed: Wednesday, March 20, 7 p.m.
Galaxie Library, 14955 Galaxie Ave., Apple Valley
Club Book with Arthur Phillips: Thursday, April 18, 7 p.m.
Stillwater Public Library, 224 3rd St. N., Stillwater
Club Book with Lorna Landvik: Sunday, April 21, 2 p.m.
Chanhassen Library, 7711 Kerber Boulevard, Chanhassen
Club Book with Brenda Langton: Wednesday, April 24, 7 p.m.
Hennepin County Library - Southdale, 7001 York Ave S., Edina
Club Book with John Sandford: Wednesday, May 8, 7 p.m.
Rum River Library, 4201 6th Ave., Anoka
Club Book with Benjamin Percy: Wednesday, May 29, 7 p.m.
Hennepin County Library - Southdale, 7001 York Ave S., Edina
The Minnesota Book Awards has named Jana Pullman the winner of the 2013 Minnesota Book Artist Award. The award is presented each year to a Minnesota book artist or group of artists that has shown excellence and innovation in the field over the previous three years, and has contributed significantly to the local book arts community.
Pullman is well known in the community for her work as a book binder and conservator, and especially for her work with leather and wood covers. But her knowledge runs deep in several veins of the book arts, including not just binding but paper-making, printing, box-making, and the history of bookbinding.
Pullman has been involved in the book arts for thirty years, studying the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at the University of Iowa, where she later worked for several years with noted paper maker Tim Barrett.
"Open Horizon" - a cover for the book Open Horizons by Sigurd F. Olson, about his love affair with the wilderness in Wisconsin.
Pullman arrived in Minneapolis in 1997. Since then she has become a pillar of the local book arts community, regularly teaching classes at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and running her Western Slope Bindery. She also teaches workshops throughout the country, and has received several prestigious awards.
Full disclosure: I've had the pleasure of taking several classes with Jana Pullman over the last few years. She is a treasure of book arts knowledge and a gem of a teacher.
In conjunction with the Minnesota Book Artist award, an exhibit of Pullman's work will be on display at the MCBA January 18 - February 24, and will subsequently tour to other venues across the state.
"Water" - Full bound goatskin over sculptured boards. Silk endbands and chiyogami endpapers. Air brushed background and title in aluminum leaf.
Images courtesy of the Minnesota Book Awards.(0 Comments)
Archivists find value in things we often take for granted: old ticket stubs, playbills, and notes written in the margin of a script.
Today and tomorrow archivists, librarians and theater professionals from around the country are gathering at the University of Minnesota to talk about the importance of archiving the work of theaters.
University librarian Cecily Marcus, who organized "The Play Within a Play: Saving the Story of Your Theater's Productions," says people often don't realize what's at stake when the work of a theater company is lost to history:
As [the McKnight Foundation's] Neal Cuthbert said in a recent talk, the question of what American culture is has not yet been fully answered. It's theaters and the work of other arts organizations that are shaping the answers, and many of these companies operate outside of the walls of the country's largest cultural institutions. Cuthbert said, "By preserving the legacy of theaters, it becomes possible that others can gain support, meaning, faith, and energy from the work theaters do today."
Marcus says the current financial situation of Penumbra Theatre, and its decision to go dark for a season, underscores the urgency behind today and tomorrow's conference:
The history of African American theater, from its earliest influences to its current artists and thinkers, is not common knowledge. It's not taught in schools, it's not part of university curricula, it's not a well known part of American history. That means that the choices made by theaters of color--from the plays selected to choices made in set and costume design--are part of a larger, often unspoken context.
Marcus says context is important, especially for theaters of color, because their histories, if written at all, are too often written--and then revised--by others. She says it's possible that the lasting, well preserved archive of a theater may do more for making history than even the productions themselves.
This week's hounds put their stamp of approval on a haunting singer-songwriter from the Northwest, a fiber artist whose oversized pieces are as detailed as photographs, and giant bird houses that books fly in and out of.
Minneapolis poet Amelia Foster is drawn to the impressionistic lyrics and layered sounds of Mount Eerie. 'Fuzz folk' is how some people categorize it. Mount Eerie is the moniker of Washington singer-songwriter Phil Elverum, who's making a stop at CO Exhibitions gallery in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Sept. 5. On this Twin Cities visit, "Mount Eerie" will be backed by a full band.
The Little Free Library has changed writer and poet Juliet Patterson's life. Little Free Libraries look like purple martin birdhouses but they're actually repositories designed to facilitate neighborhood book exchanges. Juliet put one in her front yard and is now on a first name basis with book loving neighbors from several blocks away.
Lin Nelson-Mayson says you're in for a visual feast if you go see the tapestries of Helena Hernmarck at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. Lin, who's director of the University of MInnesota's Goldstein Museum of Design, calls Hernmarck one of the world's most innovative fiber artists, whose enormous weavings are known for their eye popping photorealist detail. By the way, Lin says the American Swedish Institute's brand new expansion is quite stunning, too. The exhibition, entitled "In Our Nature: The Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck," is up through Oct. 14.
Art Hounds is powered by the Public Insight Network.(1 Comments)
The Hennepin County Library has announced the upcoming season of Talk of the Stacks, its free author series. Here are the details:
Author Michael Chabon will be the featured guest of Talk of the Stacks on September 21
September 21: Michael Chabon, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, will present his new novel, Telegraph Avenue.
October 4: Best-selling author and respected social critic Naomi Wolf shares Vagina: A New Biography. This latest work uses science and cultural history to reframe how we understand the vagina and the female consciousness.
November 17: British writer Geoff Dyer, known for his wildly inventive novels and uncategorizable works of nonfiction, will discuss Otherwise Known as the Human Condition, which won the National Book Critic's Circle Award for Criticism.
December 6: Journalist, humorist, food writer, poet, and novelist Calvin Trillin will present his new book Dogfight: An Occasionally Interrupted Narrative Poem About the Presidential Campaign and the paperback edition of Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of His Funny Stuff.
All talks are held at the Hennepin County Library - Minneapolis Central in Pohlad Hall, and are free and open to the public.
Recently I returned from a week long trip out of town to find a new library had popped up in my neighborhood.
Now usually the arrival of a library would come with some fanfare, but this one showed up without a word of warning. Take a look:
Located in my friend Rita Dalbec's yard, this "little free library" is part of a growing movement to encourage reading in your neighborhood.
Dalbec said she heard about the project from a friend, got a hold of the suggested plans for building your own, and handed them over to her dad. He made a few modifications of his own, and voila! Dalbec's boulevard is now home to Little Free Library #0624.
This miniature library project was started by two Wisconsin guys. Todd Bol made the first library in the form of a schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a teacher. When he saw how popular the little library was with passersby, he joined forces with his friend Richard Brooks to expand the idea. Now, what is dubbed "little" has become a huge success.
Rita Dalbec says the concept of the little free library is simple; take a book, leave a book.
I added two books. If you have a look in the box you will see many more books. Users that I am aware of are 13 months to 83 years old.
Enthusiasm for the project appears to be infectious. Recently the Walker Art Center along with three local presses got involved.
Back in March, NPR reported that over 200 libraries had been installed. Just a few months later that number has exploded, with little free libraries popping up in Haiti, Ghana, and Afghanistan. Now over 1700 libraries are registered around the world. There are dozens in the Twin Cities.
Bol and Brooks say their goal is to see over 2,500 Little Free Libraries constructed around the world. That would exceed the number of libraries built by Andrew Carnegie.
Asked why she got involved in the project, Dalbec's response is short and sweet:
Reading is good for you and me. That's why I did it.(2 Comments)
This summer, the Hennepin County Library will be putting authors on its walls, not just on its shelves.
The library will host "Author, Author," an exhibition of portraits of more than 50 writers, screenwriters and playwrights by photographer Michael Childers.
Photo by Michael Childers
The exhibit will be on display at Minneapolis Central Library's Cargill Gallery from June 26 through August 18.
As part of the Talk of the Stacks series and in celebration of the exhibit opening, Childers will give an informal lecture on his work and life.
Photo by Michael Childers
Hunger Games Tributes prepare:what will they read when they are done? (Image courtesy Lionsgate.)
As a buyer at the Red Balloon Bookstore in St Paul Julie Poling was one of the people who received an advanced readers copy of Suzanne Collins "The Hunger Games." She says she knew immediately it was going to be a huge hit.
"I just knew," she said. "It was so well written."
It was late 2007, or early 2008 and she read it aloud with her daughters who were then 11 and 13.
"We just plowed through it," she told me the other day. "Loved it. Every minute of it. They were just blown away by it, And my daughter said at the end 'This is it. This is the kind of book I ant to read,' and she has been into that dystopian thing ever since."
She admits they did the same with "Catching Fire," and "Mockingjay," the other books in the Collins trilogy, but they had to swear in advance to the distributors that they would not reveal anything about the books till they were released to the public.
Poling says there is nothing new about young readers fascination with dystopian portrayals of our world could go horribly wrong. She points to how Orwell and Bradbury produced the stories which thrilled and chilled slightly older generations.
Which led to the inevitable question to someone sitting before a wall of books: given that many fans have already inhaled the Hunger Games trilogy, what does she recommend to readers with a dystopian appetite?
"The best book ever written, I say, or the best book written so far, and I have been reading books for a long long time, is "Knife of Never Letting Go." by Patrick Ness," Poling said.
It's the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. It's about a boy called Todd Hewitt growing up on a planet where due to a strange germ everyone can hear what everyone else is thinking. They can even hear and understand what the animals around them are thinking. Todd has to learn how to deal with what they call the Noise that is all around him, and as he does he begins to learn the dark secrets of his community.
"And then there is "Maze Runner," continued Poling. The James Dashner book about young people living in a maze filled with hideous monsters is a 2011-2012 Maud Hart Lovelace nominee in the Minnesota Youth Reading Awards. As a result Poling says it sells well on its own.
"There's a new one just out that's just fantastic called "Divergent"" Poling continued. The Veronica Roth book is set in a dystopic Chicago where young people are assigned to warring factions based on an aptitude test.
So gentle dystopian reader, what might you recommend? Please post your answers below!
Most of the Oscar news we read earlier this week was about The Help, or The Artist, or Hugo, so you're forgiven if you didn't notice the winner for short animated film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
The film is a charming homage to the joy of reading, your local library and the secret lives of books. It was inspired in part by Buster Keaton, Hurricane Katrina, the Wizard of Oz, and children's books publisher William Morris.
Yet it only takes fifteen minutes to enjoy:
Interestingly enough, while the film obviously praises the physical book, it also has an iPad app, where you can interact with the story. In a story for the LA Times co-creator William Joyce said "There was some trepidation about doing the app -- we didn't want to kill the thing we love -- but at the same time we thought, 'This new technology could very well be a way to help save publishing. But we're not sure. Let's dive in and see.'"
The history of African-American literature is vast and rich, but its beginning can be traced back to 1773 with the publication of a small volume of poems by a sweet 19-year-old girl named Phillis Wheatley.
Image courtesy the Givens Collection of African American Literature
Phillis was a slave, brought to Boston from West Africa at about the age of 7, and bought by the Wheatley family (they named her "Phillis" after the boat she arrived on). Too frail to work, Phillis instead came under the tutelage of the Wheatleys' daughter, who set about teaching her to read and write English, study the Bible, and eventually learn Latin.
Wheatley soon became known far and wide for her intelligence, her way with words and her poetry. By the age of 14, she had her first poem published in the local paper.
In her lifetime she would meet with the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire and George Washington. Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. calls her the "Oprah Winfrey of her time."
Unable to find a publisher in Boston, Mr. Wheatley brought Phillis with him on a trip to England, where a collection of her poems was readily printed. She was the third American woman ever to have her poetry published.
At his English friends' urging, upon returning to the United States, Wheatley freed Phillis.
I could go on telling you Wheatley's remarkable life story, and the various controversies that have surrounded her writing, but I have to stop there because her book is just one of the many important and fascinating works of African-American literature currently on display at the Elmer L. Andersen Library on the U of M Campus.
Image courtesy the Givens Collection of African American Literature
The library's small gallery feels as though it's bursting at the seams with portent as it brings together the works of such famous figures as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, but also presents the transcripts of slave memoirs, the science fiction writing of Samuel R. Delany, and countless letters, plays and songs depicting the vast range of African-American culture.
Curated by Cecily Marcus and research fellow Davu Seru, "Bibliophilia: Collecting Black Books" examines how the collecting of African-American literature by African-Americans is connected to questions of social equity, cultural diversity and self-respect.
"There is no American literature without African-American literature," says Marcus, after hosting a tour of the exhibition. "It is not a 'contribution' to American culture -- it is inherent to American culture."
Many of the first written works of blacks living in the United States deal with personhood and natural rights. Phillis Wheatley had such a hard time publishing her work in Boston because few people believed a slave was capable of such nuanced expression. For a black writer to publish a compelling literary work flew in the face of the era's propaganda.
In addition, black writers were committing to paper a history of oppression that the majority was uncomfortable facing.
Still other authors dive into African culture, seeking to reclaim a history that was ripped from them.
"The intent has always been to move African-American life from the margins to the center," says Seru.
Image courtesy the Givens Collection of African American Literature
The exhibition represents just some of the highlights of the Givens Collection of African American Literature, housed at the Elmer L. Andersen library. But those highlights span genres from the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement and contemporary writing.
The exhibition also marks the first opportunity for visitors to examine works that were recently donated to the Givens collection under the name "The Lou Bellamy Rare Book Collection." An anonymous donor gave a gift of more than 850 significant works of African-American literature in honor of Lou Bellamy, artistic director of Penumbra Theatre, and until his recent retirement, professor at the University of Minnesota.(4 Comments)
Humorist Calvin Trillin's September 28th appearance at the Talk of the Stacks series in Minneapolis has been cancelled.
Trillin, who has been touring with his new book "Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of His Funny Stuff," has returned to New York as a result of a medical emergency. A release from the Hennepin County Libraries which sponsors Talk of the Stacks, says Trillin is doing well, but the tour has now been postponed.
Organizers hope Trillin's appearance may be rescheduled for later this year or early in 2012.
The Minnesota Historical Society is launching an on-line encyclopedia about the state.
The site, www.mnopedia.org, is designed to offer multimedia entries about significant people, places, events and things in Minnesota history.
The site will grow and evolve over time, but MNHS is inviting the public to kick the tires of this new internet resource. Users are encouraged to test the site, give feedback and help make MNopedia an invaluable A-to-Z resource about Minnesota.
Currently, the prototype provides content in more than a dozen categories, including agriculture, women, architecture, sports and the environment.
In a release sent out this afternoon, Erica Hartmann, MNopedia Editor and Project Manager with the Minnesota Historical Society Press, said "MNopedia is a Legacy project, paid for by Minnesotans, so we want to give the public a real role in shaping it. We want users to tell us what's working and what's not, so we can refine and expand MNopedia in the coming year."
The MNopedia is designed to be a resource not just for history buffs, but teachers, students, journalists and the general public.
Most of the entries will be written by experts; Hartmann says historical society is continuing to recruit new parters and contributors to reflect the states diversity.
Printmaking - especially letterpress printing - is a precise art with a long tradition and a lot of rules.
In fact, says the Minnesota Center for Book Arts' executive director Jeff Rathermel, letterpress printers on the whole are a little bit anal.
For instance, the print should "kiss" the surface of the paper; embossing or indenting the page is considered "bad printing," because it will show up on the other side of the page.
Rathermel continues to rattle off a number of other rules involving page size and design, colors and fonts. Indeed, there are a lot of rules.
"Connect the Dots"
But Rathermel says there is letterpress as a fine art tradition, and then there's the letterpress of the contemporary artist, which is constantly testing the boundaries of the form.
And that's why the MCBA is currently presenting an exhibition of letterpress artists who know all the rules, and have chosen to ignore them.
And they're not just breaking the rules in order to be mavericks -they're doing it in service to the art. Everything about an artist book is in service to the content- you're breaking rules because it's helping you to tell the story. It's adding another element to the text. It's adding a visual component, a texture, a layer to the story. Whereas if you're going by the traditional rules, you have a very straightforward approach to telling the story.
The exhibition is called "Fine & Dirty: Contemporary Letterpress Art."
The show comes at a time when book artists are enjoying newfound respect in the art world. According to Rathermel, just twenty-five years ago, letterpress printing was oft dismissed as irrelevant.
Rathermel co-curated "Fine and Dirty" with book arts scholar Betty Bright. Bright is the author of No Longer Innocent: Book Art in America, 1960 to 1980, the first comprehensive history of the book art movement in America. Bright says what's changed in the world of book arts in the past 25 years is, well, pretty much everything.
When I walk through the gallery, I am struck by the rampant diversity on show. Pattern and scale, text and image, structure and material - the letterpress printed book continues to absorb and transform every conceivable artistic element into a cohesive art work that you can touch and hold, page through, then pass along to the next reader.
"Air, Water, Oil"
Bright says contemporary artists are not only working with new media, but are using their voices to speak out on all manner of issues and ideas. And, she says, they are exploring and playing with the physicality of the book.
I believe that a larger cultural influence driving the interest in book art is a reaction against the overwhelming screen-based media stream that all of us live within. We don't live in our bodies as we used to, and we reach out to a medium that reconnects us with all of our senses. Don't get me wrong: I do not ascribe to a simplistic Luddite attitude, quite the contrary. Computer technology has played the hero's role in the revitalization of book art and of letterpress in particular. What I mean, is that the hours spent in front of a screen fosters an equal desire in humans for the sensual, for touch, for contact.
This show, according to Jeff Rathermel, features "the best of the best" in contemporary letterpress, with more than 40 artists from several countries. It also includes work by local artists Chip Schilling, Regula Russelle and Paulette Myers-Rich, among others.
Betty Bright says, by all art world standards, the field is healthy and growing.
Over the last twenty-five years book art has grown in every conceivable category. Every major U.S. city boasts a strong collection of artists' books, along with a place to study, either at a community-based or at a higher educational institution. Collections of artists' books exist at colleges and universities, in book art centers and museums (where they are often dispersed among print and photography departments). I cannot keep up with the organizational and educational vitality: it appears to be in a constant growth pattern.
"Fine & Dirty: Contemporary Letterpress Art" runs through October 16 at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.(1 Comments)
The cover of Central High School's yearbook from 1890
Image courtesy of Hennepin County Library
Who knew that the most popular books in the Central Library's special collections are old yearbooks?
But, as it turns out, the 50 oldest yearbooks - which date from 1890 to 1922 - are so fragile, and also so in demand, that the Hennepin County Library has digitized them.
Now people can browse them at their leisure on the HCL website.
The digitized yearbooks can be searched by name or browsed by a particular school or year.
The yearbook digitization project is made possible by Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and is administered by the Minnesota Historical Society. More yearbooks will be digitized and added to the collection in the future. The remainder of the project will be funded by a gift from the Professional Librarian's Union of Minneapolis.
Librarian Heather Lawton says the yearbooks are commonly sought by family historians, people trying to track down former classmates or planning class reunions, or children looking for material for a parent's or grandparent's retirement or anniversary party.
Interested in donating an old yearbook to the collection? Contact Special Collections at 612-543-8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org