Volume 9: Saint Paul Almanac (2015)

Includes work by new writers alongside writers Connie Wanek, Nimo Farah, IBé, Julia Klatt Singer, Louis Jenkins, Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, Patricia Kirkpatrick, Garrison Keillor, Mary Kay Rummel, Margaret Hasse, Peter Rachleff, Pamela Fletcher, Mike Finley, Laurie Hertzel, Steve Kaplan, and Mike Hazard.

Cover art by Ricardo Levins Morales.

Jump to: Selected Stories · Purchase the Book · Contributors & Community Editors

Selected Stories

Blessed for Life

By Mike Hazard ● 2015

A wild-looking man I don’t know from Adam begged a ride from the PO to the Dorothy Day Center. He’s jazzed, jazzed about a Thanksgiving feast. With a shock of


By Maryam Marne Zafar ● 2015

The steady drum beat. The high trilling voices. The whipping colors of the people.   POW WOW!   The soft stomping of moccasins upon the earth matching the shush-shush shuffle

Saint Paul Connections: The Labor Movement and the Civil Rights Struggle

By Peter Rachleff ● 2015

The August 28, 2013, march in Saint Paul commemorating the fif­tieth anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington expressed the historic interconnections of the labor movement and the civil rights

Art by Lisa-Marie Greenly

Young Sins

By Beth L. Voigt ● 2015

“Mom, what’s a sin?” Mom straightened the newspapers on the coffee table, picked up my brother’s two sweat socks and his blue Highland Groveland baseball shirt, and moved the armchair

Contributors & Community Editors

KEN AVIDOR’s art appears throughout this edition. He is a cartoonist and illustrator living in a loft in Lowertown’s Union Depot with his wife, Roberta Avidor (creator of the Saint Paul Almanac maps). Ken is also the custodian for and frequent contributor to the Twin Cities Urban Sketchers blog found at www.urbansketchers-twincities.blogspot.com. www .AvidorStudios.com

ROBERTA AVIDOR is the illustrator and updater of the Saint Paul Almanac maps. She works as an illustrator and lives at the Union Depot Lofts with her husband, Ken. She’s a participant in the Twin Cities MetroSketchers and volunteers at Vail Place in Minneapolis running a watercolor workshop. www.AvidorStudios.com

SCOTT BADE is a loving father, husband, and brother who resides in North St. Paul. He is a graduate of Metropolitan State University with an English degree and is working toward becoming a full-time author.

PAMELA BALLARD grew up in Saint Paul, and will always think of it as home in her heart. She is the mother of seven and active in the creation of home-sewn baby quilts and embroidered blankets for her grandchildren.

Originally from Saint Paul, Minnesota, BONNIE J. BEATSON has lived in Hawai‘i since 1973. After working as a graphic designer for over twenty years, she returned to college to earn her bachelor’s degree in visual communications from Hawai‘i Pacific University. First Shot was her final project, a historical documentary about the secret submarine attack on Pearl Harbor coproduced with fellow students and friends in Saint Paul, the USS Arizona Memorial Association, and the United States Navy. The film appeared at the Minnesota Historical Society, in Hawai‘i, and on Minnesota television and has won several awards. Bonnie is currently the marketing and public relations director at the University of Hawai‘i–Windward Community College.

WILLIAM BIRAWER was born in Saint Paul and received his BFA in illustration from the College of Visual Arts in the spring of 1999. William works as a freelance illustrator and caricature artist, and is the production manager for Michael Birawer Art. www.wbillustration.com

AMY BRENDMOEN lives in the lovely South Como neighborhood with her three fabulous sons (Sawyer, Haakon, and Lars) and a brood of urban chickens (Madam Hootch, Miss Muffin, Parmesan, and Cosmo). She is a fun-seeker, a problem-solver, and a bona fide bacon-kicker. She truly loves her job as Saint Paul City Councilmember for the Fifth Ward.

WENDY BROWN-BÁEZ is a writer, teacher, performance poet, and installation artist. Wendy has published poetry and prose in numerous literary journals and anthologies and authored the poetry collections Ceremonies of the Spirit and Transparencies of Light. Wendy received McKnight and Minnesota State Arts Board grants to bring writing workshops into nonprofits and is a member of the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. What brings her joy is the creative process, alone or in circles. Of her four grandsons, one loves to write and one loves to read, so apparently her genes did get passed on after all.

COLLEEN CASEY uses language and other arts to facilitate positive transformation. From Bdote and of Mdewakanton Dakota and European American heritages, Colleen considers herself a person of crosscurrents and confluences. She loves supporting people who are strengthening their voices. She believes we are all related.

RIDDHISH CHAKRABORTY is an industrial engineer by profession. Photography was never a subject of his attention until few years back when he bought a digital camera to capture some family memories. Riddhish says, “I capture anything that attracts me—from wildlife to nature, and from action moments to people’s candid emotions. I take this art seriously and always try to learn new tricks and techniques.” Riddhish lives in Coon Rapids with his wife, Bipasha ,and their four-year-old daughter, Mimili.

JULIE FOLEY COLEMAN, new to publishing, profoundly appreciates the craft of writing. She believes written words are powerful precisely because they exist in the physical yet nonphysical world, sparking ideas, shifting minds. More of her writing can be found in the December 2013 issue of The Edgemagazine in her article “‘Now . . . how lemonade?’ Pathways researches value of shifting consciousness.”

DEBORAH COSTANDINE is a visual artist whose heart has never left the West 7th Street area. Deborah has a BA from Metropolitan State University in experiential creativity and an MA from Adler Graduate School in counseling and psychotherapy. She is a practicing Adlerian psychotherapist and an art therapist. She loves to collaborate with people of all ages using art materials in her practice to promote health and healing.

PATRICIA CUMMINGS grew up in Saint Paul. After graduating from St. Catherine’s, she taught school, married, and had three children. She then spent twenty-five years in the field of philanthropy, finishing her career as the executive director of the Phillips Foundation. Pat now serves on the boards of Hope Community and Becketwood Senior Co-op and reads scripts for the Minnesota Jewish Theater Company, but always makes time for writing.

KRISANNE A DATTIR likes to plant stories and take notes and on occasion share these with others. An award-winning writer of poetry and prose, she holds an MFA in creative writing and works in a birth center as a registered nurse. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Open to Interpretation: Love & Lust; Sleet; Chinook Book TC; and Pink Ribbon Blues. She’s an avid community gardener, proud mother of two, and budding aerialist.

VALÉRIE DÉUS is poet living in Minneapolis. When she’s not curating films for the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival, she is dreaming about the ocean.

LOUIS DISANTO worked at Como Zoo for over twenty years before retiring in 2005. He was also a reporter/photographer for the weekly Sun newspaper. Special interests include photography, classical music, black-and-white movies, writing children’s stories, and watching Jeopardy! and the Three Stooges. Louis is especially honored to be one of the winners of the 2011 St. Paul Sidewalk Poetry contest.

NORITA DITTBERNER-JAX was born in Frogtown and has lived in Saint Paul all of her life. She thinks the city is beautiful, with its hills and flatlands congregating around the Mississippi River. Her widely published poetry collections include The Watch, Longing for Home, and What They Always Were. Her fourth collection of poetry, Stopping for Breath, will be published by Nodin Press in the fall of 2014.

LIBBY DONOHUE is a technical writer who lives in Minneapolis. A former reporter, she has also resided in Saint Paul and Seattle, as well as in Montana, Missouri, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. As a kid, Libby wrote lots of swashbuckling plays, which she bribed her siblings to perform with her in public. Nowadays, she volunteers at KFAI Community Radio, explores the Twin Cities, and takes violin lessons.

TOM DUNN is an award-winning photographer specializing in business and art photography. Tom photographs on location and at his Northern Warehouse studio located in Lowertown.

MARK EAST grew up in Minnesota but left at age twenty-six and lived in Portland, Oregon, for twenty years. He has been back here for fourteen years. He attended Lakewood Community College here in Minnesota and went to Portland State University in Oregon, where he worked as a hall director and was in charge of student housing. He lives alone with his dog and enjoys writing short stories and poetry.

KAREN ENFIELD, a left-brained CPA who longs to be a right-brained author, lives in Maple Grove with her husband, Scott. When she’s not busy cleaning up the books for her many clients, you can find her alone in a park, under a tree, writing stories of her childhood and laughing out loud.

SANDRA ERSKINE may wear a white starched shirt to work, but at home, it’s all about the soft black robe.

NIMO H. FARAH uses language to express things she finds too confusing. Her current undertaking is to develop her skills as an orator while blending Somali and English. She thinks herself charming and hilarious in the Somali language, but rarely does that humor translate into English. Her poetry and short stories have been published in Water-Stone Review and the Saint Paul Almanac. As a storyteller she has shared her words at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, the Loft, and Pillsbury House. She cofounded SALLI, a nonprofit organization promoting art and literature in the Somali community. Currently a Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellow, Nimo is working on a bilingual spoken word CD.

MIKE FINLEY is publisher of LIEF Magazine and coauthor with Danny Klecko of several books of odd thoughts. Mike’s website, http://mikefinleywriter. com, is loaded with all kinds of cool, free downloadables and videos.

When he’s not writing or taking pictures, MICHAEL B. FISHMAN spends much of his time making other plans and practicing the art of quintessential procrastination. You can read his blog at http://michaelsfishbowl.com.

PAMELA R. FLETCHER BUSH serves as a writer, an editor, and educator—all three roles, having words at their core, collaborate to make meaning of an astounding, outrageous world. She’s tried to leave words, but they wouldn’t give her a divorce. Although it’s a contrary relationship, they make it work.

MAMENEH writes, “I am an artist and Liberian immigrant currently working in education. In my free time, I work with local community organizations as an advocate on issues regarding immigrants, women, education, youth, and art.”

SAIBAL GHOSH is a digital photographer specializing in events, portrait, landscapes, architectural details, travel scenes, night photography, nature photos, and macro photography. He enjoys taking photos that will capture everlasting moments. He is a member of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Photographers Society and the North Metro Photo Club. His photos are published in the Twin Cities Daily Planetnewspaper, Getty Images, and Capture Minnesota II. www.saibalghosh.com

SHIRA GRANOTE is a doula and a public health registered nurse working with teenage mothers and their children residing in Hennepin County. She has a passion for talking to people she’s never met before, writing, dancing, yoga, hiking, and greeting moments throughout the day with laughter.

LMNOP (LISA-MARIE GREENLY), a Saint Paul illustrator, can usually be found working on several bodies of work concurrently, oftentimes combining themes or media among them, frequently reworking an image in several forms to explore new ways to view a concept. Fluent in watercolor and penwork. www.facebook.com/LMNOP.art

ROBERT HALE lives in the Como area and grows vegetables. After he washes his hands, he writes about local history and plays the violin. He is the author of Frogtown Fade-In, the story of his immigrant ancestors who settled in the Frogtown district.

CHAD HAMBRIGHT is a Saint Paul–based artist who works in a variety of media and styles. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Intermedia Arts program and a member of the Northern Warehouse Artists Coop. For more examples of his work, check out www.facebook.com /rockwellallnight.

MARGARET HASSE is proud to have a poem in the sidewalks of Saint Paul and in a syndicated newspaper column called American Life in Poetry sponsored in part by The Poetry Foundation. In 2013, Nodin Press released Earth’s Appetite, Hasse’s fourth collection of poems. She’s lived on Lincoln Avenue in Saint Paul for twenty-six years and works as a freelance consultant to many arts and community organizations.

JUDY HAWKINSON has been living in Merriam Park since 1989. She and her husband have raised three children, four dogs, three cats, two rats, several other small rodents, two parakeets, goldfish, frogs, and a turtle (not all at the same time). She is a walker, a coffee drinker, a photographer, an observer, an extrovert, a storyteller, a friend, a mom, a traveler, a wife, a professional fundraiser, a consultant, a taker of community education classes, a reader, and a writer.

Filmmaker, photographer, and poet, Media MIKE HAZARD loves seeing. His poems have been published in MPLSzine, Dakota Territory, County Lines, Tenth Assembling, Lief Magazine, Preview Magazine, and the Saint Paul Almanac. Red Dragonfly Press has published a selection of his poems about people, This World Is Not Altogether Bad. For more, visit Hazard’s website, www.thecie.org.

KEVIN HERSHEY is a Saint Paul native, Merriam Park lover, and graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall. He recently crossed the river to live on the beautiful Powderhorn Park and work at Waite House Neighborhood Center, where he is repeatedly amazed by the power of resilient communities and their stories. Kevin writes as an activist seeking to understand the world he wants to change.

LAURIE HERTZEL is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked as a writer and editor for nearly twenty years. She has also been a writer and editor at Minnesota Monthly magazine and at the Duluth News Tribune. She is the author of News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist, published by the University of Minnesota Press and winner of a 2011 Minnesota Book Award.

SUNNY HILDEN is a singer, musician, and songwriter who has written for Ray Charles, Sting, Patti LaBelle, The Temptations, Yolanda Adams, David Archuleta, Disney, TV, and film. She visits her childhood’s beloved Mac-Groveland neighborhood often to see her parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews and to marvel at the snow and lilacs. www.sunnyhilden.com

JODY HUBER lives in the fine Saint Paul neighborhood of Merriam Park. Although she grew up in Duluth, she spent years away in Houston, Texas, and Edmonton, Alberta, before she came to her senses and returned to Minnesota. She is a freelance advertising copywriter who loves to read just about anything, with a penchant toward female fiction writers from Great Britain, India, and Russia.

People say Saint Paul is confusing to navigate, but IBé has never gotten lost driving around it. Oh wait, must be the GPS in his phone! But still, even before the advent of so-called smart phones, he did just fine. The more he reads about Saint Paul through the Almanac, the more he loves the city. IBé writes poems, essays, and other things. They are always stories— about Guinea, Sierra Leone, and America. They are all his home! He has been honored with a few awards for his writing, but he doesn’t feel like showing off to you right this minute. You may find out more about him on his website at www.AtlanticRock.com if you are at all interested.

DC ICE currently resides in the historic Schmidt Brewery Artist Lofts and is an active co-op member at AZ Gallery in Lowertown Saint Paul. Art is the safe place where Ice gets to be hurtful and cruel without feeling guilty. View her sinister but sweet artwork at www.DCICE.com.

LOUIS JENKINS’s most recent book is Tin Flag: New and Selected Prose Poems from Will o’ the Wisp Books. He appears frequently on A Prairie Home Companion, and his poems have been published in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 1999 and Great American Prose Poems. His play, Nice Fish, written in collaboration with renowned actor Mark Rylance, premiered at the Guthrie Theater in April 2013. He and his wife, Ann, are longtime residents of Duluth.

TIM JENNEN is a Saint Paul artist who has created various series of Facebook-centered art projects, including The Alternative Tim Jennens, Freeze Frame Drawings (a personal, idiosyncratic diary of film, television, and internet video), and most recently, Superheroes I Have Known. Tim co-hosts the popular MetroSketchers group with founder Liz Carlson, a monthly sketching group that meets at locations throughout the Twin Cities.

ROSEMARY JENSEN is a teacher, school librarian, writer, and volunteer at Ramsey County Library. She received her master of arts in liberal studies from Hamline University. Tuesday mornings you can find her at Nina’s Coffee Shop on Selby with her writing group, which has met weekly for almost eleven years. No matter the weather or whether or not . . . , she continues her relentless attempt to reflect life in her favorite art form: haiku.

LEANN E. JOHNSON has been creating art (scratchboard illustration, relief printing, and tile design) for over fifteen years. A current resident of Minneapolis, she has illustrated for other publications such as the New York Times. To see and learn more about her commercial and fine art work, go to www.lea-way.com.

LYN JOHNSON has been legally blind for about five years. She was born and raised in Saint Paul and currently resides in Oakdale.

LINDA KANTNER is a longtime Saint Paul resident who appreciates the many stories the city has to tell. As a social worker she sees the strengths in the broken, the beauty in the beleaguered, the humor in all of it.

STEVE KAPLAN is a freelance writer who was the founding editor and editor-in-chief of both Minnesota Law & Politics and Super Lawyer magazines for their entire two-decade run.

NORMAN KATKOV (1918–2009) immigrated with his family to Saint Paul from Ukraine in 1921. He graduated in 1940 from the U of M with a journalism degree, becoming a police reporter for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press for about a year before moving to New York and then Los Angeles. Katkov wrote novels, short stories, and magazine articles, but he is probably best remembered as a screenwriter for movies and television, including the 1959 movie It Happened to Jane and TV shows Ben Casey, Mission: Impossible, Kung Fu, and others.

GARRISON KEILLOR is an author, a humorist, the host of A Prairie Home Companion radio show, and the proprietor of Common Good Books in Saint Paul. In 2013, he published his first book of poetry, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic and Profound (Grove Press), and The Keillor Reader (Viking).

PATRICIA KIRKPATRICK received the Lindquist & Vennum Poetry Prize for Odessa, published by Milkweed Editions and awarded a 2013 Minnesota Book Award. She has taught writing in many colleges, universities, and community settings and worked as an editor for various publications and individuals. She loves the Saint Paul street lamps, green tea at Golden Thyme, oysters at Meritage, walks along the Mississippi, and her friends, neighbors, and backyard rabbits. (http://www.patriciakirkpatrick.com)

SUSAN KOEFOD regrets that she lives two blocks from Saint Paul, but is happy to report she was born there, so that she can factually claim to be a native Saint Paulite. She writes and publishes in various genres.

SARAH J. K. KOPER writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. “Moonwalker” is engraved on a sculpture located at St. Cloud State University. “Baseball Bits #2” was published in A View from the Loft (2001). “Searching for Answers” was selected for Hazelden’s Conference on Arts and Healing. Her first book, Potholes—A Collection of Poems, Quotes and Cameos, was released in 2008 (Frogtown Press). Her website, www.the-liberal-prude. com, showcases her writing and art.

ALEX KUNO is a full-time artist and illustrator based in Lowertown, Saint Paul. The Miscreants of Tiny Town—his ongoing series of satirically apocalyptic fairy-tale paintings, drawings, sculptures, and installations—have appeared in numerous galleries throughout the Twin Cities and around the country. This summer, Alex is debuting all new work for a large group show at CO Exhibitions in Minneapolis. He also creates custom pieces for private clients and regularly shows new pieces at 262 Studios during Lowertown’s First Fridays.

ELLEN LARSEN is an artist who paints what she sees and loves to sketch people in their environment. She is a member of the MetroSketchers group, which gathers monthly to sketch at various locations around Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

GLORIA BURGESS LEVIN’s heart remains in Saint Paul, where she lived all her life until several years ago. Now living in Minneapolis, she makes frequent forays across the river to walk favorite streets. She is a psychoanalyst in private practice.

DOUGLAS K. LIMÓN, enrolled member of the Oneida Nation and a descendent of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, has been creating authentic Native American art for fifty-three years. He is a cofounder and former chairman of the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce (MAICC), established in 1986 to expand the economic opportunities for American Indian entrepreneurs. Doug is married with four children and lives in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The First Peoples Fund has recognized him with the 2014 Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award.

GAVINO LIMÓN is five years old. He was named after his great-grandfather Gavino Limón, who immigrated from Jalisco, Mexico, and after his Uncle Joseph Lemon. He is Oneida and Ojibwe. His Oneida name is tewa’tahko’te? (day-wah-dah-go-day), meaning “Moccasins are standing up,” and his Ojibwe name is Miikinaak, which means “turtle.” He has danced in powwows since the age of fourteen months. He loves to talk, sing, write poetry, draw, drum, and dance.

BILL LINDEKE is a writer, teacher, and flaneur who was trained at a young age to defend Saint Paul at all costs. He blogs at Twin City Sidewalks, cofounded the urban design website streets.mn, and is a member of the Saint Paul Planning Commission. He teaches urban geography at a few different universities around the metro, and his research specializes in urban planning, biking, and walking. He lives on the West Side, where he enjoys the wind chimes, walks up the bluff, and the ever-changing seasons.

MARGARET LOVEJOY is the executive director and founder of the Family Place. Ms. Lovejoy’s education includes a doctorate of educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas. Margaret attributes her love of writing to her love of reading. Currently she is working on a trilogy specifically focused on issues sustained by children who are or have been homeless.

CATHERINE PHIL MACCARTHY won the 18th annual Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry on April 9, 2014. The event was sponsored by the Center for Irish Studies of the University of St. Thomas.

ROBERT MCCLAIN, a resident of Saint Paul for forty-four years and originally from Philadelphia, enjoyed writing short stories as a young man. Robert came to Minnesota to attend Macalester College and decided to stay, taking up residence in the Summit-University and Frogtown neighborhoods. His creative writing began as poems and jingles he would make up as alternatives to the ones he heard on TV commercials because none of the people looked or talked like him. Robert expresses creativity through photography, theater, and creative writing. Robert has an interest in publishing and performing some of his writings in book form.

MARIETTA MCCULLOUGH is a wife, mother, and teacher/librarian who loves her Saint Paul neighborhood and her Italian heritage. She pushes books during the week and sells lots of bread on the weekend. Both jobs involve the art of gentle persuasion.

TOM MCGREGOR has had a studio in Lowertown since 1990. His love for this historic area of Saint Paul and the West Side neighborhood, where he lives with his wife, artist Jerri Jo Brandt, is evident in many of his plein air paintings. An active community member, his involvement with the Saint Paul Art Crawl dates back nearly twenty years. www.mcgregorart.com

By day, MARIANNE MCNAMARA is a grandmother and self-avowed computer junkie. Her granddaughters keep her life filled with love, humor, and most especially wonder. By night, she writes poetry in celebration of the wonder.

ARDIE BUCKHOLTZ MEDINA is an Anishinabe poet and playwright from the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin. She has been published in several anthologies, including Blood, Bone and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poets, Yellow Medicine Review, and Gatherings, an anthology with her fellow Loft Literary Center poets. Ardie lives in northeast Minneapolis with her husband, Mike, and their King Charles Cavalier, Amos.

JOHN MINCZESKI’s poems have appeared in several other editions of the Saint Paul Almanac. He has published a number of poetry collections, most recently A Letter to Serafin (University of Akron Press, 2009), and his poems have appeared in literary journals around the country and abroad. Several of his essays may be found on his blog: johnminczeski.wordpress.com. He has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, and The Loft. In addition to teaching at colleges and universities in Minnesota, he continues working as a poet-in-the-schools, which he has done for the past forty years.

Puerto Rican–born RICARDO LEVINS MORALES created the cover art for this edition. He is both an artist and activist, and believes that art can contribute to changing people’s perceptions, hearts, and understandings of what has been, what is, and what’s possible. You can see more of Morales’s art at his studio, RLM Arts, in Minneapolis, and on his website www.rlmartstudio.com.

ALISON MORSE’s poems and stories have been published in Water~Stone Review; Natural Bridge; Poetry City, U.S.A.; Rhino; and mnartists.org. In 2012, her work won a Tiferet Fiction Award. From 2011 to 2013, she was a writer for the Women Peacemakers Program at the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. Alison also runs TalkingImageConnection (TIC), a reading series that invites writers to respond to visual art in Twin Cities galleries. Her poem in this Almanac was begun while Poet-in-Residence at the Saint Paul Jewish Community Center in April 2012.

NIGEL PARRY has lived in the Twin Cities for much of the last decade and has a special place in his heart for Lowertown, Saint Paul. A journalist, activist, web designer, and singer-songwriter, Nigel worked for the Saint Paul Almanac from 2008 to 2014, and today blogs and raises heck at nigelparry.com, works at nigelparry.net, and plays at pocketof resistance.net.

PETER RACHLEFF is a labor historian who has taught at Macalester College and Metropolitan State University. He is a founding codirector of the East Side Freedom Library, which will be a center for labor, African American, and immigrant history, housed in the historic Carnegie Library on Greenbrier Street. He writes the monthly Conversations Between the Past and the Present blog in the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

REBECCA ROEPKE is a poet, social worker, and activist (all really the same) who firmly believes in the arts’ power to create change. Through performances and poetry-infused presentations, she strives to inspire audiences to empathize with people and situations they have never considered. Her social work passion is helping clients discover inspiration in their own stories and find the voice to author the lives they wish to lead.

SHELLEY ROHLF believes our hearts, and possibly our souls, speak to each other through the art we make. Along with painting and drawing, she loves living in Lowertown with her family and friends and exploring the Mississippi River on her bike. Find her on www.mnartists.org.

MARY KAY RUMMEL’s seventh book of poetry, The Lifeline Trembles, has just been published as a winner of the 2014 Blue Light Press award. She grew up in Saint Paul. She divides her time between Fridley, Minnesota, and Ventura, California, where she teaches part-time and is the first poet laureate of Ventura County, California.

DEB RUNYON came in the “back door” of the Saint Paul Almanac via an honorable mention in the 2012 Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk contest, published in the 2013 Saint Paul Almanac. She loves her new discovery, is excited to be a community editor, and hopes to be back next year. So sharpen your pencils! She’ll be looking for your stories!

MIKE SANCHELLI (1915–2003), the son of Italian immigrants, was born in Swede Hollow, where he lived for most of his youth. He attended Johnson High School in the 1930s but left to find work to help his family’s finances. Mike served in the army during World War Two. Afterward, he married Sue Barilla and they lived on the East Side, where they raised two children. Mike worked as a clerk in the city’s central post office until his retirement in 1974. His two passions were playing music and writing about the history of the Italian community of Saint Paul.

RODRIGO SANCHEZ-CHAVARRIA is a writer and spoken-word poet of Peruvian heritage heavily involved with Palabristas, a Minnesota-based Latin@ poets collective. He is a graduate of the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and an involved activist in the Latin@ community. He writes about fatherhood; the duality of two cultures in English, Spanglish, and Spanish; and issues pertaining to his community and life experiences.

KATHARINE KLEIN SAWYER was born, bred, and wed in Saint Paul. She has seen all fifty states and visited Canada, Chile, and China. She wonders what Cambodia, Chad, and Cuba might be like. However, cruising the Mississippi with her husband from Saint Paul to Dubuque in their ’89 Glastron was by far her favorite journey.

JULIA KLATT SINGER is the poet in residence at Grace Neighborhood Nursery School, and works as a visiting writer to the school through COMPAS. She is coauthor of Twelve Branches: Stories from St. Paul(Coffee House Press), and author of a chapbook, In the Dreamed of Places (Naissance Press), and a book of poetry, A Tangled Path to Heaven (North Star Press). She has cowritten several songs with composers Tim Takach and Jocelyn Hagen. When not writing, she can be found walking the dog.

SUN CHI SOM is a Twin Cities–based mixed media artist who creates music, poetry, and paintings.

REBECCA SONG has parts made in China and Canada and assembled in the United States. In writings that could be considered poetry or spoken word, she explores her reality as a 1.5-generation immigrant, Asian/Asian American, and woman of color. She is the recipient of the 2013 Inroads Mentorship Award and a community editor for the Saint Paul Almanac, and currently sits on the organizing committee for the Twin Cities World Refugee Day. She also loves reading and performing her pieces, but only time will tell if she’s any good at it!

CHAUNCE STANTON is the author of two novels: The Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives and Luano’s Luckiest Day. He and his wife, Naomi, live in Saint Paul’s North End, where they have converted their city lot into an organic urban garden. Raised in the small town of Annandale, Minnesota, Chaunce graduated with a degree in English and creative writing from St. Cloud State University after being expelled from North Central Bible College for skipping morning chapel and playing unauthorized rock-and-roll music on the college radio station.

ELIZABETH EILERS SULLIVAN is a writer and a mother of four boys ages eight and under. She is a native of Saint Paul who has left and come back, left and come back, left and come back to this city, which in some native eyes may not make her a native anymore. She writes about what she knows, and she knows a lot about the outdoors, boys, dogs, travel, and living elsewhere—returning back to Saint Paul.

MARK KENNETH TILSEN is an Oglala Lakota Jewish poet born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He currently is studying creative writing and philosophy at Hamline University. A sometimes activist, he can be found scribbling in his notebook at Kopplin’s coffee house when hiding from irate professors.

WILL TINKHAM has published short fiction most recently in Skive Magazine, About Place Journal, The Fieldstone Review, and D-Day 68th Anniversary Anthology (mgversion2>datura press). “Why Ain’t You a Doc?” is an excerpt from an unpublished novel. Earlier work appeared in MSS, Lake Street Review, and the anthology Stiller’s Pond (New Rivers Press). Acting credits include the Guthrie Theater and Theatre in the Round. He can be found at willtinkham.blogspot.com.

RIVER MARIA URKE has the heart of a poet and the eyes of an artist. She lives in Stillwater with her teenage daughter, Willow. River’s poetic writings and artistic touches reflect her Ojibwe and Celtic heritages along with her ponderings being a forty-something American mother. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks and a nonfiction work. She has been published a handful of times in online publications and is a contributor to two anthologies. River won the 2013 Made Here poetry contest in Minneapolis and is currently working on her first full-length poetry book, Spirit Songs. River is a member of the Mulberry Street Poets in Stillwater and the TGI Frybread poetry group in Minneapolis.

MAIVBOON VANG loves folktales, fairy tales, and myths, though what she’s studying is more on the sciences side than the humanities. She writes as a hobby and always has a terrible time with writing poetry, but she loves it anyway.

BETH L. VOIGT has been writing from an early age, first drafting stories she left around the house for her eight siblings to read; later writing narratives for her mentor, Emily Crofford, who lived across the street. More recently, she has published essays in local and national publications, including Christian Science Monitor, Midwest Home & Garden, Minnesota Moments, and Parenting, and in National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” series. Beth’s passion for writing is exceeded only by her love of family, whom she writes about often.

CONNIE WANEK, a frequent visitor to Saint Paul, lives north of Duluth where in May, summer cars begin to appear on country roads and city streets. She recently published Summer Cars: Ten Stories (Will o’ the Wisp Books), and she is the author of three books of poetry, including On Speaking Terms, published in 2010 by Copper Canyon Press. www.conniewanek.com.

GREG WATSON’s work has appeared in numerous literary journals and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His most recent book of poetry is What Music Remains. A new collection, All the World at Once: New and Selected Poems, is forthcoming from Nodin Press. He lives in the Mac-Groveland area of Saint Paul.

CLARENCE WHITE is a former bookseller living in the Merriam Park neighborhood of Saint Paul. He has worked and taught in artist residencies in Saint Paul and suburban schools and was a 2011–2012 Givens Foundation for African American Literature Retreat Fellow. He is the calendar editor for the Saint Paul Almanac, and the writer of This Week in Saint Paul, the Almanac’s weekly arts events blog. He is also the author of The Clarence White Blog.

SID CARLSON WHITE is currently a sophomore at Mounds Park Academy. He doesn’t write as much as he should, as he is more likely to be found at a chess tournament or a math competition. He is known for the spontaneous limerick and comparing just about everything to baseball.

WALT WHITMAN (1819–1892) was one of America’s most important and influential poets, and an early adopter of free verse. He self-published his book of poetry Leaves of Grass in 1855 and continued to add to the collection in subsequent editions.

JUDE WIESNER is a full-time writer living in Burnsville. She had a wonderful childhood growing up close to Lake Phalen. Previously, she published a memoir in the 2013 Saint Paul Almanac. Jude is active in the writing community as a member of The Loft, WOW—Women of Words, Midwest Fiction Writers, and Romancing the Lakes. She heads off to Florida with her husband to visit her youngest of two sons whenever she can.

DWAYNE WILLIAMS is a senior at Johnson High School, a captain of the wrestling team, and a role model for his younger siblings. Dwayne has been accepted to Augsburg College for the fall of 2014, and he plans to study physical therapy. A naturally quiet young man, he has taken his leadership to the next level, speaking at events and mentoring younger peers.

A native New Yorker (Lenape-Piegan-African American-Jewish), MARYAM MARNE ZAFAR is a fine artist and graphic designer. She attended the College of Architecture, Art & Planning at Cornell University. As a collage-lithographer, her work has been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Queens Museum, and the Portland Museum of Art and is in private collections. As a writer, creative director and executive art director, she has worked at VOGUE, Women’s Wear Daily, Macy’s, Dayton’s-Hudson’s-Marshall Fields, and now, Beautopia LLC. Marne loves living life with a smile and much laughter, enjoying her writing, art, beading, quilting, her two cats and visiting her family and friends.

JAMES ZIMMERMAN lives in Saint Paul with his wife, two children, and cat. He had stories published in the 2013 Saint Paul Almanac and is the author of the book Deliverance at Hand! (Freethought House, 2013).

Yunisa Abdi loves Chipotle so much that she’ll love you if you buy it for her. It’s just that easy. She’s a book fanatic, especially when it comes to romance. She’s a hopeless romantic, and she loves her family and friends.

Yonis Ali says, “This is the first time I have been a community editor. I have always enjoyed reading articles on different subjects. I became familiar with different styles of writing community stories while I was a community editor with the Saint Paul Almanac. I also like reading biographies and world histories. I am currently taking land surveying courses at the Saint Paul College, and I expect to graduate in the spring of 2014.”

Nina Hernandez Beithon is a Chicana sister, daughter, housemate, artist, dreamer, and womyn.

Norita Dittberner-Jax was born in Frogtown and has lived in Saint Paul all of her life. She thinks the city is beautiful, with its hills and flatlands congregating around the Mississippi River. Her widely published poetry collections include The Watch, Longing for Home, and What They Always Were.

Shaunté “Dr3amCh8sr” Douglas is a new spoken word artist and writer who lives in Saint Paul, and works at the Mall of America and Barnes and Noble Booksellers. She is an admitted art addict and certified shopaholic who hopes to do more work with the Saint Paul Almanac.

Elizabeth Ellis worked for both the county government and the federal government, raised three children, and graduated college.

Pamela R. Fletcher Bush serves as a writer, an editor, and an educator—all three roles, having words at their core, collaborate to make meaning of an astounding, outrageous world. She’s tried to leave words, but they wouldn’t give her a divorce. Although it’s a contrary relationship, they make it work.

Shaquan Foster: Community editor. Board member. Assistant editor. Writer. Designer. College student. Bookseller.

Kevin Hershey is a product of the intricate Catholic school system in Saint Paul. He writes as an activist trying to better understand the world he wishes to change.

Farha Ibrahim writes, “I am a high school senior. I love writing and art that connect to me to the point that I’ll always remember it. Life is a beautiful thing, and I love people who acknowledge that fact in writing, art, music, or any other artistic form.”

Kemet Egypt Imhotep was conceived in Oklahoma and born in Saint Paul. Kemet was left under the care of his great uncle and aunt through marriage. His aunt, Willia Mae Johnson, who was born on a plantation in Arkansas in 1918, was a strong believer in faith and trust in the Creator. Kemet says the school system failed him. He was in the class of 1990 at Central High School, and finished at the Area Learning Center located in the Uni-Dale mall. At present he says he is a lost troubled soul, still finding his way through the quicksand.

Richard Merlin Johnson Jr. was born on May 20, 1972, on the Yankton Sioux Nation. His father, Richard Sr., and mother, Suzanne, met in Los Angeles, California, during the ’60s. Richard Sr. was the then-director of the L. A. Indian Center and was the organizer for the Alcatraz Occupation. Richard Jr.’s life is greatly influenced by his parents’ activism. He is Santee Sioux Dakota, Californian Chumash, and Chicano. Richard is an Artist, Poet, Writer, Painter, and Actor.

IBé Kaba likes to write. Since he doesn’t have the time or desire to follow rules, he writes free verse. He likes the word free, as in free to bend the rules of language any which way he wants. IBé likes to read poems out loud, especially to his children. But they don’t seem to like it, at least not as much as strangers do. And speaking of strangers, they call him a spoken word poet. IBé likes this—having people listen to him read his poems. But he also wants you to read his poetry… for yourself. IBé likes that you like him; however, if you visited AtlanticRock.com and spent more than fifteen minutes, he’d consider you a stalker, and probably would not want you to have his phone number.

Patricia Kirkpatrick received the first Lindquist & Vennum Poetry Prize for her book Odessa, published by Milkweed Editions, and awarded the 2013 Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. She has taught writing in many academic and community settings.

Abe (pronounced “uhhhh-beee”) Levine was told when he was a kid that he had special genes, being of Chinese and Jewish heritage. Really he felt kind of ordinary and out of place at the same time, like many kids. Abe is now a grown-up and still finding his groove and place. Abe enjoys talking, writing, eating, dancing, rapping, bopping, teaching, and editing. You may say that he is a renaissance man, but he might say, “What?”

Gozong Lor graduated from Central Senior High School and will be ­attending Macalester College in the fall of 2013. She is a student by day and masked crime-fighter by night. Her greatest weakness is a good book.

Jamila Mame was born in Ethiopia. She loves to write poems and watch documentaries. In the future she would like to enroll at Princeton University and major in neurology.

Hafsa Mohamud is someone who is always looking for meaning, whether it be the meaning of a literary piece, a picture, or life in general. She is a junior in high school and plans to be a part of next year’s Almanac.

Kathryn Pulley has been a teacher for almost ten years and recently received her MA in English. If her life were a poem, it would be an epic: a sweeping narrative of heroic mental battles and fascinating characters, with a driving, thriving rhythm. She would be ready to write the next ­stanza.

Simone Schneider grew up in Saint Paul, aka “Saint Small.” Though she loves to travel, she’s always happy to return to her sweet city. Currently pursuing a master’s degree in education at St. Kate’s, Simone is passionate about reading, writing, learning, and teaching. As a teacher she looks forward to helping her students appreciate the joys that words can bring to their lives.

Lisa Steinmann is a Saint Paul–based freelance writer, editor, and laundress who specializes in sorting, soaking, and scrubbing before hanging things on the line. She loves sunny mornings spent standing in the yard watching clothing flutter in the breeze. Each sock, tee shirt, and pair of blue jeans tells a story shaped by the wearer. At the end of the afternoon, it is a pleasure to gather and fold each piece, starchy-stiff and fragrant, into her arms.

Parthenia Swyningan is a candidate for a master’s degree in gerontology at Bethel University in Saint Paul. Through her lengthy career in the “helping profession,” she ­enhances, illuminates, and empowers the elderly.

Muriel Tate is a mother who is always giving love mixed with counsel.

Ka Zoua Vang is a senior at Johnson High School and a community editor for the 2014 Saint Paul Almanac. During her free time, she enjoys writing fictional pieces and poems and drawing anime cartoons.

Diego Vázquez Jr. is proud that his lineage is from people who were not afraid to cross invisible lines. They are commonly known as illegals. Yet Vázquez has never met an illegal human. This is Diego’s last year serving as a community editor.


  • Page 70 – Passover Begins the evening of April 3 (not “April 4”).