Volume 2: Saint Paul Almanac (2008)

Stories, articles, poems, events, and a calendar & datebook for your own notes—all about Saint Paul!

Cover art by Kevin R Brown.

Jump to: Selected Stories · Purchase the Book · Contributors

Includes writing by Alexs Pate, Ethna McKiernan, Garrison Keillor, Carol Connolly, David Mura, May Lee, Judith Niemi, and Phebe Hanson, and other acclaimed Saint Paul writers.

352 pages, 5-3/16″ x 8″, 180+ B&W photos. ISBN: 978-0-9772651-2-1

Selected Stories

Somewhere I’ll Find You

By Phebe Hanson ● 2008

So we moved from my small town in western Minnesota to St. Paul where I had to go to Murray High, a school with more people than in the entire town of Sacred Heart...

Art by Patricia Bour-Schilla

The Fruit Of Summer

By Jan Zita Grover ● 2008

My nails have been black for over a week now. This is the price I pay for picking mulberries, whose juice has a staining power the military might want to look into. Under the guilty tree, a (doomed) white car has been parked for the past nine days, and I know from experience that its hood will never be pure white again: pale pink blooms will adorn its surface, souvenirs of its time beneath that tree.


By Kevin FitzPatrick ● 2008

"You'll get a ticket parked that way," I called. A slim black woman in cleaning clothes that workers wear at Regions Hospital had parked her rusty car along the curb, but pointed south, the wrong way on that street.

Notes on the Winter Carnival Medallion Hunt

By Brad Yaritz ● 2008

Just about the time our Vikings' season is over, all of the grass is covered by snow. The mornings of scraping the ice off your windshield have become repetitive. It's getting to the coldest time of the year. Thanks to the great City of Saint Paul, there's a week of celebration in the snow. Parents and their families come out of their homes. It's like a Minnesota version of a hibernation break. After months of being indoors, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and the great treasure hunt are finally here!


Halwa Abdulkadir Hussein is eighteen years old. When she lived in Somalia she spent her free time getting in trouble for fighting. But now in her free time she can be found winning dance competitions or cooking tasty food for her family.

Linda Back McKay grew up about a block from Mrs. Brindle’s, where she attended tap dance lessons. McKay is author of the poetry collections The Cockeyed Precision of Time and Ride That Full Tilt Boogieand several non-fiction books. Her only excuse for moving to Minneapolis is that there’s no place to park in Saint Paul.

Dylan Belden is an editor for a certain non-Saint Paul daily newspaper, but don’t judge him for that. He lives in South Como, went to college at St. Thomas, and sometimes goes to Saints games, and he thinks those give him a decent amount of Saint Paul cred.

Ilka Alexa Bird is not Scandinavian, though you can’t tell from the name. She was raised in Brooklyn, but now lives, eats, and sleeps in Saint Paul. Yeh, you betcha! She’s a hairstylist and make-up artist in this great conservative city. She does hair for all the important people of Saint Paul, and you can find her at 878 Selby Avenue in a great little hair shop called Get Gorgeous! The number is 651.291.8997

Patricia Bour-Schilla is a nanny/freelance photographer from Saint Paul who loves long bicycle rides with her husband. She reads constantly but would never purchase a skinny book—she wants to get her money’s worth. The skinny ones she checks out from the library.

Tim Bradley has been a police officer for over thirty years. He’s proud of being a street cop, just like his dad. He was named Police Officer of the Year in 2000.

Sara Collison was born and raised in Torreon, Mexico. She has a bachelor’s degree in international business and used to write for a Hispanic newspaper in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Now she works as a publicist and copywriter for the publishing company Llewellyn. Even though she hails from a warm climate, she loves Minnesota.

Carol Connolly is poet laureate of the City of Saint Paul, appointed by Mayor Chris Coleman. Carol’s family has lived in Saint Paul since 1845. Carol has been a political candidate, activist, journalist, poet, and playwright. Today, Carol writes for Minnesota Law and Politics and hosts the SASE Carol Connolly Reading Series, which presents public readings by almost 300 writers and poets each year, performing in almost a dozen different venues to over 5,000 audience members.

Mark Connor is a Saint Paul writer and a member of the National Writers Union. His work has appeared nationally, internationally, and locally. Most recently, he has written for the Saint Paul Almanac and Upsize Minnesota.

Cynthia Davidson Bend has worked as a counselor and a trainer/teacher of dogs, horses, and humans. Her publications include Arthur’s Room, the story of a boy living with cerebral palsy, and his caring sister; Burning Clean, stories of love, loss, and healing; and Billy’s Goat, about two country boys with unusual pets. Contact Cynthia at www.cynthiabend.dgi.bz

Norita Dittberner-Jax grew up in the Frogtown neighborhood in Saint Paul and was educated at St. Agnes High School and the College of St. Catherine. She loves this city, which is the subject of a number of her poems in What They Always Were (New Rivers Press).

Teri Dwyer is a Saint Paul-based freelance health and fitness writer. She loves running, walking, bicycling, and inline skating throughout Saint Paul. Her work has appeared in the 2007 Saint Paul Almanac, Silent Sports, Twin Cities Business, and Saint Paul Illustrated, among many other publications. She has published over 200 articles.

East Side Senior Ladies have been meeting for over twenty years at the East Side Community Center. Current members include Dee Svendsen, Mary
Lou Langlois, Polly Ronayne, Peggy Richie, Mary Wojcik, Diane Ricci, Shirley Yardley, Helen Ashton, Laura Henk, Eva Snaza, Janet Linke, Sandy Palumbo Henton, and Nadine Iacoboni Reilly. They love the jokes Fran finds and reads to them every week.

Mahmoud El-Kati is a lecturer, writer, and commentator on the African-American experience. For thirty-three years he taught at Macalester College. He advocates giving back to local communities, studying African-American history, and understanding how that history deeply affects every American’s life. His work appears frequently in the local press and he hosts many community-based conferences and events. Macalester College established the Mahmoud El-Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American Studies in 2007.

Catrina Engelby is currently attending college at Saint Cloud State, where she is studying photography. She graduated from Como Park Senior High, where she was active in theatre and choir and played badminton. In addition to all her hard work on the Youth Mapping Subcommittee of the Saint Paul Second Shift Youth Commission, Catrina was involved in Youthrive, the midwestern affiliate of PeaceJam International.

Kevin FitzPatrick‘s poetry is rooted in the city. He grew up in Saint Paul, currently works in downtown Saint Paul, and lives in Minneapolis. Much of the raw material that goes into the making of his poems comes in bits and pieces and quite unexpectedly on his daily walks in both of these cities. He was a founder and the editor for many years of the Lake Street Review, a Twin Cities literary magazine. He has two collections of poetry, Down on the Corner and Rush Hour (Midwest Villages & Voices). His poetry has been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies and heard on public radio’s The Writer’s Almanac.

Stephen J. Gallivan is a 72-inch, curly-headed monolinguistic Saint Paulite. He and his wife are raising their children to be monolinguistic, just as he was raised by two very proud monolinguists. In his spare time he likes to read books in English, his primary and only language, although he prefers books with mostly pictures. Gallivan is a concierge at the Saint Paul Hotel and has been at the historic property for nearly seven years.

Geoffrey Gill graduated from Central Senior High last year and is enjoying his first year away at college. He really appreciated his time on the Saint Paul Second Shift Youth Commission, where he played a leadership role on the Junior Commissioner Subcommittee. When Geoffrey isn’t hitting the books, he is writing music with his band, Brothers from Another.

James S. Griffin said awards and honors are wonderful to receive, but it was his family and friends who were his life’s treasures. He joined the Saint Paul Police Department in 1941 and became Saint Paul’s first Black deputy chief. He was a founding member of NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives), served on the Saint Paul School Board, was inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame, received an honorary doctorate from Concordia, and was on the board of directors of the Sterling Club. In 1988 the Central High School football field was renamed the James S. Griffin Building and the Saint Paul Police headquarters was also named after him.

Heidi Grosch (www.heidigrosch.com) uses her imagination daily and so is not surprised to find trolls in her back yard or talking mice in her kitchen. Everything is inspiration for a new creative project. Heidi directs children’s choirs, teaches writing and drama in schools, and is co-founder of the Silly Sisters — www.thesillysisters.com

Jan Zita Grover lives in the Tilsner Artists’ Cooperative in Lowertown Saint Paul, where she bakes sourdough bread, writes, edits, and teaches.

Patricia Guerrero is from Mexico and has been living in Minnesota for eight years. She currently works at Hennepin County Medical Center. She is taking ESL classes from the Minnesota Literacy Council at Rondo Library to improve her English and job skills. She would like to go to college and get a degree as a Spanish interpreter.

Phebe Hanson has been keeping a diary since she was ten, writing poems since she was forty-seven, and emailing since she was sixty-nine. She is the proud grandmother of nine and the great-grandmother of one.

KateLynn Hibbard‘s writing class at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC): John Awad, Sid Brown, Nate Donze, Bria Fast, Tony Guerrero, Colin Johnson, Patricia (Buffi) LaPre-Buffington, Adam Lifto, Jenny McDougal, Ian McGinn-Flomer, Travis Meyer, Neda Mikhchi, Bud Trnka, Jess Welch, Nick Whitmore.

Vernon D. Holmberg grew up on Forty-third Avenue near Minnehaha Park. He majored in sculpture and design at the Minneapolis School of Art. Vern worked at Remington Rand Univac, now Unisys, and made sculpture at night. In middle age he started to write, concentrating on family stories and travel diaries.

Ronnie Howell moved to Minnesota from the East Coast in 1977. She is a professional mediator/negotiator, mother, accomplished cook, and published author. You may contact her at ronniehowell1@yahoo.com.

Matt Jackson is twenty-nine and has lived in Saint Paul his whole life. He owns rental property and so has a lot of free time. He spends it eating pho on University, drinking beer on Selby, and reading in the sun on Grand Avenue, accompanied by a cup of Earl Grey. Drop by and say hello.

Barbara Jones is a cocktail of English, Welsh, and Moroccan-Spanish, frequently shaken and often stirred, especially by the music of Govt Mule, Patti Smith, Jarvis Cocker, and a song by Joy Zipper. She likes to visit Minnesota as often as her bank account permits and is looking forward to spending a winter here so she can build a snowman.

Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of A Prairie Home Companion, the author of many books, including the Lake Wobegon novels and Daddy’s Girl, and the editor of Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times. His syndicated column, The Old Scout, is seen in papers coast to coast. A member of the Academy of American Arts and Letters, he lives in Saint Paul.

Evelyn Klein‘s poetry swooshes between personal relationships and community, appearing last year in the 2007 Saint Paul Almanac, Full Circle 27, and Moccasin. She gives voice to her work, including the poem “A Place Called Home” touring the Twin Cities in exhibit, the multicultural anthology, Stage Two: Poetic Lives, and the poetry book, From Here Across the Bridge.

Susan R. Larson and Tom Lewis (aka the Larson/Lewis Project) have lived in Saint Paul since 1999. Tom, a classical historian, is an editor at a local law publisher, as well as a freelance author and poet; he has been published in Listenlight, fhole, and PoetrySz, and is currently working on a series of solo chapbooks. Susan also writes freelance for several local and national websites; she will complete her Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Studies from the University of California-Berkeley in December 2007. Both Tom and Susan are devotees of cultural exploration and investigation, which leads them on expeditions into the diverse worlds to be found around the corner and up the street.

May Lee is a writer aspiring to get paid for it. Instead of listing generic statistics, May believes in revealing more important things about a person, such as her idiosyncrasy for eating plain pho, her insistence on defending the legitimacy of reading romance novels, and her penchant for perpetuating Asian stereotypes by perfecting her skills as a karaoke singer. She is a former member of the spoken-word group F.I.R.E. (Free Inspiring Rising Elements) and has been published in Paj Ntaub Voice, Unarmed Journal, and Bamboo Among the Oaks, the first anthology to explore the creative voices of Hmong Americans. She is a winner of the 2005 Loft Mentorship Program in Non-Fiction, a recipient of the 2004 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and a 2002-2003 Playwright Center Many Voices Fellowship.

Arleta Little lives her love of literature and service to community through her work as the executive director of the Givens Foundation for African-American Literature. You can catch her wild curls as she puts pen to paper at a poetry reading near you!

Najla M. is from Yemen. She is twenty-six years old and has lived in the United States one year. She is studying English at the Minnesota Literacy Council Lake Street School. Every day she learns more and more inside and outside her school that helps her find her way in this new country. Her plan for the future is more English practice and to finish her current schooling. She would like to go to college. “I know my dream is not easy, but I think there is nothing impossible in life!”

Maria Manske grew up in Saint Paul and eventually took off to live in other places. Before long she returned, realizing that Saint Paul is one of the nicest places in the country. Maria is a mom, artist, writer, Julia Child worshipper, film lover, fan of Top Ten album lists, ex-anglophile, and dangerously partial to Monkey Bay Sauvignon blanc.

Virginia Martin wrote a short reflection several years ago about living in the Summit-University neighborhood for twenty years. As a historian as well as a lifelong writer and editor, she now finds herself knee deep (almost literally) in research for a book about the complex, multifaceted, and controversial events in this remarkable community, from which stories like the Luckert house frequently emerge.

David Martinez lives and works in the West Seventh Street neighborhood. His love of cooking led this native of Mexico to a career in the restaurant industry. David has been in the business for many years in Cancun, Texas, Chicago, and now as a manager at Cossetta’s in Saint Paul. David dreams of owning a restaurant where he will serve a diverse menu featuring many ethnic cuisines. He studies English in an advanced class at the Minnesota
Literary Council Learning Center on Lake Street.

Ethna McKiernan lives in Minneapolis, though her Saint Paul roots run over thirty-five years deep, when her family of eleven moved from Dublin to the Crocus Hill area. McKiernan’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart, and her second collection of poems (The One Who Swears You Can’t Start Over) drew praise from Booklist, Bloomsbury Review and The Irish Literary Supplement.

Arthur C. McWatt taught for thirty-three years in the secondary schools of Saint Paul. He received his M.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1969. He has been writing about African-American history for more than ten years.

Melissa Mierva is a graduate of Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a degree in fine art. She is an avid gardener and baseball fan. She lives in Saint Paul with her daughter and two cats.

R. Allen Miner is a writer, son, husband, father, and now grandfather who keeps his day job to put his daughters through college and to partially fund their weddings. In his spare time, he writes song parodies, plays with words, and waits patiently for the return of vaudeville. His most quotable quote: Truth is relatives.

Michal Moskow (called Anne by the Bingo ladies) lives in Gothenburg, Sweden, but spends as much time as possible in Saint Paul. She’s a university teacher (Sweden and Saint Paul) and a writer and a lover of senior ladies. How could she ever know that volunteering would be so much fun?

David Mura has written three books of poetry: After We Lost Our Way, The Colors of Desire, and Angels for the Burning (Boa). His memoirs Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei and Where the Body Meets Memory were listed by the New York Times as Notable Books of the Year. His novel Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire will be published by Coffee House Press in 2009. David has lived in Saint Paul and teaches writing at Hamline University.

Trinh Ngo moved to Saint Paul from Vietnam. She has experienced two Minnesota winters so far and says springtime is her favorite thing about her new home. She has a beautiful yard planted with flowers in front and vegetables in the back. Trinh began learning English in May of 2005, took a break for the birth of her daughter in 2006, and has now resumed her English study at Saint Paul’s Ronald M. Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning.

Judith Niemi is a freelance writer and wilderness guide with home bases in Saint Paul and Lake Vermilion. She runs Women in the Wilderness trips, writes and edits in her shady Saint Paul yard, teaches now and then, and plays in a klezmer garage band.

Kimberly Nightingale conceived and produced the Saint Paul Almanac. She’s a true believer in people from all cultures understanding and caring for each other through friendship, sharing food, arts, culture, and education. Dancing to live music and walking in the rain are two of her passions.

Kim Ode is a veteran newspaper reporter and former columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She lives with her family in Edina, where the aroma of fresh-baked bread regularly wafts from the wood-fired brick bread oven in the backyard.

Mugesi Ogongi loves Saint Paul. She hails from Kenya.

Myunghwa Oh studies English at MORE Multicultural School and is happy living in Saint Paul. She lives near Como Park and loves to stroll around the lake, visit the zoo and amusement park with her children, and attend concerts at the café. The Childen’s Museum and Science Museum are her family’s favorite places to visit.

Eva Palma-Zuniga is a Chilean journalist currently working as the Spanish acquisitions editor at Llewellyn Worldwide. She was the editor of La Prensa de Minnesota and one of the writers of Viceversa magazine in the Twin Cities. She also worked for The Resource Center of the Americas as the assistant editor of The Connections.

Alexs Pate‘s debut novel Losing Absalom received a Minnesota Book Award and was named Best First Novel by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Other novels include the New York Times bestseller Amistad, Finding Makeba, The Multicultiboho Sideshow (winner of a 2000 Minnesota Book Award), and West of Rehoboth. Pate is assistant professor of African-American and African Studies at the University of Minnesota. He taught creative writing and literature in Saint Paul at Macalester College in the 1990s. Pate lives in Minneapolis.

Ron Peterson, a physicist and former corporate executive, is finishing the final edit on his science fiction novel The Children’s Chrysalis. He does community lobbying with the organization ISAIAH, keeps many computers running for friends and family, and plays with his grandsons. This is his second Saint Paul Almanac story.

John Rosengren, a Minneapolis-based, award-winning freelance writer, thought curling was goofy before he tried it. Now he thinks it’s cool.

Maximilian Selim is currently studying English and film at the University of Minnesota. When he isn’t being delusional about his future career in major league baseball, you can find him relaxing with his lovely friends, making short films, coaching Saint Paul Central Varsity baseball, or being a frustrated writer.

Faduma Shirelle is a high-school student at Higher Ground Academy and hopes to be a teacher someday. She recently completed a 10-week course on the campus of Concordia University for future elementary educators. When she’s not studying, she can often be found cooking for family and friends. Just a note of caution about her specialty, sambusas: it’s impossible to eat just one!

Jami Shoemaker lives on the West Side, which is south of downtown and east of the river. (If anyone can figure out what it is west of, please let her know, because this is keeping her awake at night.) It was her goal to sample every coffee house in the city, but after the twelfth cup of joe, she was shaking so badly she could not find her way to the thirteenth. She has since taken up decaffeinated beverages and hopes that you succeed where she has failed.

W. Sosa continues to study English at MORE Multicultural School in Saint Paul whenever his work schedule provides the time. Jogging around the Saint Paul lakes is one of his favorite activities. His one-and-a-half-year-old niece brings special entertainment and joy in his life. He loves filling up on Chinese food at the Great Moon Buffet.

Claudia Stack-Kremer is an artist who moved from the Twin Ports to the Twin Cities in the late 1970s. She paints local landmarks that have lots of character. These places aren’t always picture-postcard material, but they make neighborhoods unique.

Bryan Thao Worra is a Laotian-American writer and the author of On The Other Side of the Eye, Touching Detonations, and The Tuk-Tuk Diaries: My Dinner With Cluster Bombs. He appears in international publications across Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. He lives in the Twin Cities and raises crustaceans and carnivorous plants.

David Tilsen is a traveler from another dimension. As a computer scientist and cosmologist, he invented what he expected to be a time machine. He used it in an attempt to prevent the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which he failed to do. Upon returning, he found that he’d returned to a different timeline, one in which Kennedy was assassinated and Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and two generations of George Bushes were elected president. In his world, the presidents were Tom Hayden, Jimmy Carter, Jessie Jackson, and Dennis Kucinich. He can be seen talking to himself and riding his motorcycle too fast.

Drew Tilsen is the new owner of Magic’s Automotive Repair and Towing in Saint Paul. He spends his days working on cars and learning all the new automotive technology and spends his nights thinking of new cars to build and new projects to work on.

Steve Trimble lives in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood near Indian Mounds Park. A college teacher of sorts, he specializes in researching and writing the story of the Twin Cities, serves on the editorial board of the Ramsey County Historical Society, and asks that you not overbid him on eBay items.

Camille Washington is a freelance photographer from Saint Paul. Contact her at Camille773@hotmail.com, 651.894.3773.

Rosalyn Washington is founder of The Washington Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with individuals transitioning from incarceration to society. Rosalyn is also editor/publisher of several news magazines. Rosalyn is currently a M.P.A. candidate at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Greg Watson was born in Saint Paul and lives in the Mac-Groveland area. His collections of poetry include Pale Light from a Distant Room and Things You Will Never See Again (March Street Press). Most recently his work was featured in What Light: A Poetry Anthology from mnartists.org (mnartists.org/Walker Art Center). He hopes to have written his last poem about the rain.

Peter Yang is an artist residing in Saint Paul with his wife. He sometimes wants big things but more often believes he would be happy in a little home with four kids, playing Wow on his computer. A jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.

Brad Yaritz works as a pharmacy technician during the day and as a college student in the evenings. During the Minnesota summer he enjoys playing softball, fishing, and cheering on the Twins. When wintertime comes about, he loves getting involved in the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and cheering on the Wild and Vikings. He currently lives in Roseville.