1. November 8th, 2010—The Saint Paul Almanac continues its year-round literary celebration of Minnesota’s capital city with the acclaimed Lowertown Reading Jams. The second season of the eclectic series, curated by Tish Jones, will be presented on Monday, November 8, 2010 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street in Saint Paul. The Jams will continue on the second Monday of each month through July 2011.

    Jones’ theme, “The Truth: Wants More” offers an evening of critical social and personal analysis through poetry. The guest poets will be speaking on the educational system, the prison industry, their own personal journeys through life and much more; through song, melody, simile, and metaphor; exposing their truths on the microphone before you. Featured writers include:

    Mankwe Ndosi — Mankwe Monika Nkatuati Ndosi is a Minneapolis-based, multidisciplinary performer of Tanzanian and Midwestern descent. She has been working for over a decade in the media of theater, dance, music, spoken word and improvisation. In addition to her independent work, Ndosi is part of Douglas R. Ewart & Orchestra Inventions, a Chicago-based improv group rooted in creative Black music. Her interests include myth, healing, and bridging the distance between African and African-American people and music. Ndosi teaches workshops in voice, writing and stage work, leads wild plant walks, and writes “unfinished spirituals.”

    Ibe Kaba — Although very few know what it is, we all have a reason, a calling for which we are sent here to earth. After 10 years in America, five years ago Ibé found his raison d’être: to tell the stories of Africans in America. A Mandinka of the great Mandin Empire, if you ask him he’d be the first to say, “Spoken word, we started that shi_.” And if you know anything about the art form, and the keepers of history called the griots, you’d have to agree. From Guinea by way of Sierra Leone, Illinois, and Minnesota, if you ask him his address you’ll get a house number in Eagan, Minnesota. But ask him where he lives and he’ll tell you “the middle of the Atlantic.” From that rock in the middle of nowhere, Ibé’s poems mix metaphors and similes that bridge the Atlantic.

    Jake Virden — A poet and educator from Northeast Minneapolis, Virden loves sharing and hearing thoughts, stories, histories, and “dope styles.” He is interested in building relationships and solidarity to protect and celebrate life.

    Mahmoud El-Kati — An elder in the Black community, Professor El Kati teaches a course in The Black Experience since World War II. A frequent contributor to the opinion pages of both Twin Cities dailies as well as the local Black press, El-Kati has published dozens of monographs and pamphlets, as well as two books. His latest is titled Haiti.

    Tish Jones — Tish Jones is a Saint Paul-based, spoken word artist and lover of the written word. As a teaching artist, she has presented courses and workshops in creative writing, theater, spoken word, and hip hop for over five years. She has a passion for cultivating and encouraging youth voice, social change, and a strong sense of community in — and through — the arts. Tish Jones was one of the featured lecturers and performers for the three-day conference, “From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action” at the University of Minnesota in April 2010. The conference included workshops, lectures, and performances from rap artists, activists, politicians, poets, and writers, and was hosted by the University’s Weisman Art Museum. Talks focused on the positive, transformative power that hip-hop culture can have on communities. The event also covered B-girl ground with talks on feminism in hip hop. Here (approx min. 19:00), Jones is part of a panel discussion on “Hip Hop for Healing: Old Problems, New Solutions.”

    ABOUT THE LOWERTOWN READING JAMS

    The Almanac has been hosting the monthly Lowertown Reading Jams since October 2009, and they have been steadily gaining in popularity as excited audiences spread the word about their powerful, shared experiences. The Jams provide an opportunity to explore and bridge the cultural and social breadth of the city of Saint Paul throughout the year.

    Each Jam is produced and hosted by a well-known writer or spoken word artist. Saint Paul “performance drawing” artist Lara Hanson interprets the readings using Japanese ink brushes. All Reading Jams are American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted.

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  2. March 14, 2011—The Saint Paul Almanac continues its year-round literary celebration of Minnesota’s capital city with the acclaimed Lowertown Reading Jams. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, the March presentation of the eclectic series, curated by Carol Connolly, features readings by six of the finest poets and performers of Irish descent working in Minnesota today.

    The all-Irish Reading Jam will be presented on Monday, March 14, 2011 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, 308 Prince Street in Saint Paul. The Jams will continue on the second Monday of each month through July.

    ABOUT THE PERFORMERS

    CAROL CONNOLLY is Saint Paul’s Poet Laureate, appointed by Mayor Chris Coleman. She will emcee and read from her new book All This and More (Nodin Press). Connolly writes the “Hearsay” column for Minnesota Lawyer and was recently named the 2011 recipient of the Minnesota Book Awards’ Kay Sexton Award in recognition of her long-standing dedication and outstanding work in fostering books, reading, and literary activity in Minnesota.

    KEVIN FITZPATRICK, poet and author of Down on the Corner and Rush Hour (Midwest Villages and Voices), and Greatest Hits 1975 to 2000 (Pudding House Press), is a founder and was editor of the Lake Street Review, a highly regarded literary magazine, now extinct. Widely published in literary magazines and anthologies, his poems have been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac.

    TED KING, at 50, started writing beat and dada poems and presenting them as part of an improvisational jazz group. His Word Jazz CD is Close to the Cool. He has performed in many venues including The Loring Bar, 7th Street Entry, Kitty Kat Klub, the Varsity Theatre, and more. One critic said of his work, “It’s like Charlie Parker and the Dalai Lama steal a car and run over Leonard Cohen.”

    BRIAN LAIDLAW, poet and folksinger, is from San Francisco. His lyrics have appeared in American Songwriter Magazine, and his poems appeared or are forthcoming in New American Writing, FIELD, Quarter After Eight, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. He was the recipient of the 2009 Gesell Award for Poetry and a finalist for the 2010 Loft Mentor Series. Laidlaw is completing an MFA in poetry at the University of Minnesota. He teaches songwriting at McNally Smith College of Music.

    ETHNA McKIERNAN, poet, whose book The One Who Swears You Can’t Start Over, from Salmon Publishing in County Clare, Ireland, follows her Minnesota Book Award nominated Caravan (Midwest Villages and Voices), is widely published in anthologies here and in Ireland. Her new book, Sky Thick with Fireflies, also from Salmon, is set for October release.

    MARY KAY RUMMEL, poet, will read from her new book, Sometimes What’s Left is Singing (Blue Light Press). Earlier collections include Love in the End (Bright Hill Press), Illuminations (Cherry Grove Collections), Green Journey; Red Bird (Loonfeather Press), Long Journey Into North (Juniper Press) and This Body She’s Entered - a Minnesota Voices Award winner from New Rivers Press. Rummel is a University of Duluth professor emeritus, and teaches at California State University, Channel Islands. Her poems trace a woman’s passionate search for illumination, which began with her personal exploration of the Book of Kells.

    The Almanac has been hosting the monthly Lowertown Reading Jams since October 2009, and they have been steadily gaining in popularity as excited audiences spread the word about their powerful, shared experiences. The Jams provide an opportunity to explore and bridge the cultural and social breadth of the city of Saint Paul throughout the year. Each Jam is produced and hosted by a well-known writer or spoken word artist. All Reading Jams are American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted. Saint Paul “performance drawing” artist Lara Hanson interprets the readings using Japanese ink brushes: larahanson.com

    ABOUT THE LOWERTOWN READING JAMS

    The entire 2010-2011 season of Lowertown Reading Jams will be presented at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, a popular Saint Paul venue for spoken word artists, and a co-sponsor of the series. The Jams are curated by the following creative writers and agents for social change:

    Oct. 11, 2010 - Deborah Torraine
    Nov. 8, 2010 - Tish Jones
    Dec. 13, 2010 - Matthew Rucker
    Jan. 10, 2011 - May Lee-Yang
    Feb. 21, 2011 - Tou SaiKo Lee
    Mar. 14, 2011 - Carol Connolly
    Apr. 11, 2011 - Marcie Rendon
    May 9, 2011 - Desdamona
    June 13, 2011 - Melvin Giles
    July 11, 2011 - Diego Vázquez, Jr.

    ABOUT THE SAINT PAUL ALMANAC

    Now in its fifth edition, the Saint Paul Almanac features essays, poems, photos, maps, and listings of events, bars, restaurant, theaters, and other cultural venues within a datebook format. The 2011 Almanac features 129 works by 118 writers. These writers include literary giants, everyday residents, students, journalists, new Americans, and lovers of Saint Paul who live in other corners of the world. Writers interested in having their work considered for the 2012 Almanac have until March 1, 2011 to make a submission. Information on upcoming events, how to make a submission, and other Saint Paul Almanac news is available at saintpaulalmanac.com.

    The 2011 Saint Paul Almanac sells for $11.95 online at saintpaulalmanac.com, and is available in independent and mainstream bookstores everywhere, as well as at libraries and coffee houses throughout the City.

    Saint Paul Almanac activities are made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council from an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature. Sponsors and partner organizations include the Black Dog Café and Wine Bar, the City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul STAR Program, Clouds in Water Zen Center, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, KFAI Radio, The Lowertown Future Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), Travelers Arts & Diversity Grant, and Twin Cities Daily Planet.

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