Monthly Archives: January 2017

Poken Sword – A space where love of language matters

The evening’s program is so rich and varied that I contacted the planner to be certain that all of these people, all of the talent, all of these ideas will be shared in just one evening at Poken Sword!   Yes they are, and here are the details!!!

“A luminous evening dedicated to the Love of Language” is the tagline for Poken Sword.   The phrase sings out as we as a nation come to grips with the reality that words matter, truth matters.

The theme for this week’s Poken Sword literary salon is “Solitude.” Guests this week include Franklin Knoll, legislator, judge and poet.   Joining Franklin Knoll are writer and artist Hannah Kreibich, Judoka poet Gumo Orenji (Eric Tu), writer Noel Labine, Earl Crosby and Jason Wells. Each will share an original work on the theme of “Solitude.”

The evening is one in a monthly series of literary salons, gathered the fourth Friday of each month at 2001 A Space, located at 2001 5th Street NE in the heart of the vibrant Northeast Minneapolis Arts Area. Doors open at 6:30 PM.   Salons are free and open with a simple $5 voluntary contribution.

Each salon features original work by local writers and thinkers; each will focus on a specific theme – future salons are these:

  • February 24 – Passion
  • March 24 – Turbulence
  • April 28 – Fools
  • May 26 – Joy

Learn more about Poken Sword in this interview with  founders, Christine Jaspers and Dean Hawthorne:

Learn more about this month’s and future guests here:



Minneapolis Hosts Nation’s Indie Booksellers

If you happen to be trolling the Minneapolis skyways next week and bump into a tourist with her nose in a book it could by a stray attendee or escape exhibitor from the American Booksellers Association conference. Hundreds of members of ABA will be in town January 27-30 for the annual “bacchanal” (their word) known as the ABA Winter Institute. The truth is, the 1000+ attendees won’t have a lot of time to enjoy the skyways, construction on the Mall, the Mary Tyler Moore statue or the weather – they’ll be busy at action center at the Hyatt Regency. Their loss.

Local ports of call for the visitors include a welcome reception at the Open Book, a visit to the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, and an event at the Mill City Museum. There are scores of exhibits, countless programs, and authors of past, current and future renown.

One session that caught my eye was a program on “Indie Next List Authors” featuring Kate DiCamillo, Alice Hoffman, Joshilyn Jackson, Ann Patchettt, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and Ben Winters. Another was a talk about about the ABA partnership with Shelf Awareness that provides indies with a new monthly e-newsletter for customers. In a community that prides ourselves on incubating emerging writers, this has special interest.

Among the featured talks at the conference is one entitled “Partnering to create a dynamic city”, a brief history of the Open Book. (

Lots more about the wide range of programs and social events that will keep the booksellers busy during their brief stay can be found here:

Let’s hope the guests find time to visit some of the Minnesota’s excellent indies while they’re in the land of independent booksellers and the independent readers who frequent – and support — them!


Minneapolis bookstore suggestions for ABA visitors:

Roxane Gay Pulls Book from S&S to Protest Yiannopoulos Deal

Roxane Gay has pulled her next book, How to Be Heard (TED Books, 2018), from Simon & Schuster in protest over Milo Yiannopoulous’s controversial $250,000 book deal with the publisher. “I can’t in good conscience let them publish it while they also publish Milo. So I told my agent over the weekend to pull the project,” she told Buzzfeed News.

Gay will present the opening keynote this Saturday at Winter Institute 12 in Minneapolis. Her talk will focus on how people can proactively address the need for more diversity of both representation and thought in the book industry and beyond.

In a letter to authors, S&S president and CEO Carolyn Reidy addressed the controversy, noting that “we do not support or condone, nor will we publish, hate speech. Not from our authors. Not in our books. Not at our imprints. Not from our employees and not in our workplace.” Gay, however, tweeted that her decision stands.

Update from Shelf Awareness:  The Winter Institute’s app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

The app contains a full schedule, a list of attending authors, maps of the hotel and Minneapolis and more. The ABA will use the app also for late-breaking news and schedule changes.

By the way, the list of attending authors is also available here.






Women’s March — Is that all there is?

Remember this?

The pussyhat has been decommissioned and passed on to someone who needs a hat-cum-history, the dust has settled and the world has not shifted on its axis. Is that all there is?

Not so, say tens of thousands of women, families, marchers and observers who experienced last weekend’s Women’s March – which has now become more like the March that raised awareness of the obvious.

For those interested in catching up and keeping up, there are boundless opportunities.

Some articles that suggest response and follow-up:

This is but a sampling of what’s happening  – the Women’s March is not history history, only  the beginning.  It is definitely not “all there is.”

Extra, Extra – Read all about it!!!


UPDATE — Save those placards!


Gloria Everson
January 27 at 6:27pm

Since this is an event page and our event is over, there are some things Facebook won’t allow us to do here. We need to transition, but it will not happen overnight.

We still have so much work to do; therefore, here are a new business page and a new group page. You know how important posts could get lost as more and more posts were added to the feed? The business page helps us with that. This page will not change often but will allow the important stuff to be easily located.

The group page is more of a social page. The privacy settings are on ‘open’ now, so anyone can join. In about two weeks, we will change it to a ‘closed’ group, which simply means new people need to be approved and any current member of the page can do the approving.

It will be tough moving from our home, but it is for the best if we want to move forward. Please ‘like’ and ‘follow’ both of these pages.

New Business/Non-profit page

New Group page

Don’t miss this graphic depiction of the March!


 NEW: Comic take on the Women’s March:

Chinese New Year–Roosters,dragons, lanterns, spring!

ADDENDUM — Saturday, January 28 – Be sure to click on today’s Google back story – great info on Chinese Lunar New Year – Year of the Rooster!


Something to crow about!” caught my eye as perhaps the best promo line for a Chinese New Year celebration! It’s posted by the Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville, announcing their Year of the Rooster celebration! Read more about the fun family event here. (

Roseville’s event is just one of scores of ways in which Minnesotans join in the traditions of the Chinese New Year, a grand celebration rich with ritual, stories, customs and legends. Though dates vary slightly, many agree that Chinese New Year 2017 begins January 28 and continues through February 3. This new year is something to crow about because it’s the Year of the Rooster!

The Calendar: And here it gets a little complicated. According to the traditional Chinese solar calendar the zodiac year begins with ‘Start of Spring’ on February 3rd in 2017. However, most Chinese tend to name a zodiac year from Chinese New Year according to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, thus the 2017 lunar year of the Rooster starts on January 28th.   To add to the complexity, actually Start of Spring occurs twice in lunar year 2017. As lunar year 2017 starts on January 28th 2017 and finishes on February 15th 2018, there will be two ‘Starts of Spring” one on February 3th 2017, and another on February 4th 2018.

Moreover, to keep the Chinese lunar calendar within half a month of the traditional solar calendar, there will be a leap month in 2017 (a second lunar month 6 starting July 23rd). So there are 13 lunar months instead of 12, which means there are 384 days in Rooster year 2017.

Year of the Rooster: Roosters played a major role in the daily lives of people living in ancient times – so important that they were regarded as mascots because they ate harmful insects. They also served as timepieces, announcing the hours of the day. The term “rooster hours” actually refers to the early evening, 5:00-7:00 p.m., when the roosters would go back to their roosts.

Roosters are characterized by five virtues — literary, military prowess, courageous, benevolent, and trustworthy. People born in the year of the Rooster are said to be active, popular, outspoken, happiest in groups – probably in a group celebrating Chinese New Year! They’re also healthy and maybe a little moody!

Customs: A few highlights offer just a hint of the rich cultural tapestry. The first three days of the New Year are celebrated as public holidays.

The sea-dwelling monster Nian shows up on New Year’s Eve to eat people and livestock. Fear of Nian once sent folks scurrying for shelter until an old man visited to the village, saving the villagers by pasting red papers on doors, burning bamboo to make threatening noises, lighting candles and wearing red clothing. The old man’s techniques worked so well that the villagers adopted the firecrackers, red clothing, and other tools that have forever become the hallmarks of the new year festivities.

There was also a demon named Sui that showed up to terrify children while they were sleeping. Legend is that the children who were touched by the demon would be too frightened to cry out; thus, to keep children safe from Sui parents would light candles and stay up with the little ones. On one New Year’s Eve the parents gave their child coins to play with in order to keep him awake and alert to the treacherous demon.   The child wrapped the coins in red paper, opened the packet, rewrapped it, and reopened it until he fell asleep at which point the parents placed the red packet under his pillow. When Sui tried to touch the child’s head, the coins emitted a strong light, which turned out to be a cadre of fairies who scared the demon away. Of the many New Years customs this money-centric culture places special focus on the red packets so that today there is an entire etiquette of financial exchange.

There are layers upon layers of wonderful traditions, most revolving around family reunions and customs. Prominent among the traditions is the dragon, a popular and omnipresent symbol of strength and good luck.   Giant dragons, animated by teams of humans, are the main feature of every New Year parade. Another fascinating custom is the “spring couplet”   – not so much a literary effort but a poetic weapon designed to scare evil things away – long story.

The wrap-up of the New Year celebration is the Lantern Festival, a time to enjoy the beauty of holiday lanterns and the taste of sweet rice dumpling soup.   The best way to join in one of the many local Lantern Festivals is to check local online and print calendars – you may be surprised at just how many ways there are to share those red packets of coins and the fun of joining in the many and varied Chinese New Year customs.







Poet Naomi Shihab Nye honored, scheduled for March residency

The May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award, one of the most distinguished honors conferred by the American Library Association, is announced each year at the ALA Midwinter meeting, happening this week in Atlanta. The award recognizes “an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children’s literature” – a broad category and a high honor.

Just yesterday the Association announced that the 2018 Arbuthnot Lecture will be delivered by poet and writer Naomi Shihab Nye. In the announcement of the Arbuthnot honor sponsors describe Nye as “an active voice for Arab-Americans who explores her heritage in her work and speaks out against both terrorism and prejudice.”

The announcement of the Arbuthnot award has special meaning for Minnesota bibliophiles who will have an opportunity this March to renew acquaintances or to get to know the poet during Nye’s week-long residency in St. Paul.

Naomi Shihab Nye’s heritage is Palestinian-American. The nomination for the Arbuthnot award describes her as “a wise and lyrical observer” who “draws on her heritage and writing to attest to our shared humanity.” Nye is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes of poetry, essays, short stories, YA novels and picture books. In Nye’s words “the primary source of poetry has always been local life, random characters met on the streets, our own ancestry sifting down to us through small essential daily tasks.”

Nye will conduct a residency at Wisdom Ways, the lifelong learning ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. (

“The Poetic Conversation of Being Human: A Week with Naomi Shihab Nye” is scheduled for March 26-31. Nye’s robust agenda includes five public programs, a self-guided writing retreat and several informal conversations with local readers and writers. Click here for a full agenda of the week’s varied programs.

For more about the author click here: — if you problems with the link (as I did) go to the Poetry Foundation then the bio for Naomi Nye.

For a video of Nye reading her own work, click here:


Mizna is pleased to host the acclaimed Palestinian American poet and memoirist Ibtisam Barakat. We are partnering with Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality to present Ibtisam in a reading and conversation with the wonderful Naomi Shihab Nye, and are offering a number of opportunities for writers to engage with acclaimed Ibtisam during her Twin Cities visit. She will be reading from her new memoir Balcony on the Moon, joining poet Naomi Shihab Nye for a literary conversation. Additionally, she will present a workshop, a craft talk and conversation, and writing feedback for a limited number of people.





Rainy days, Mondays — and a Google alert!

Though we all delight in the Google graphics sometimes we click too fast and miss the message! Slow down this gloomy Monday morning – take time to Explore the work of disability rights advocates in America

It’s a great story, one that reminds us that progress comes not from financial deals and alternative facts but from hard work, commitment and hope.

Thank you Google!

Disability March on Saturday, January 21, enables inclusivity


Activism isn’t always access – and the Women’s March on Washington is no exception. 

And this is why some marchers and march planner have created the Disability March. (

My personal suggestion is that anyone who is unable – or even hesitant – to participate in the march think about clicking in to participate. This applies to anyone who may have problems walking, or who simply doesn’t have the time to participate in either the state or national march

The Disability March is an all-volunteer effort, made for the disability, by the disability community. It’s also an official co-sponsor of the national Women’s March in Washington.

Understand that this is not simply streaming the DC March so people with disabilities can view! As of last week over 50 online “marchers had signed up to participate in the virtual march. They and countless others will participate by sharing their opinions and stories and statements online. All will be uploaded Friday and Saturday to coincide with the DC March;

Sonya Huber,  one of the organizers of the Disability March, is quoted as saying:

I began to wonder about other ways to be visible, especially for our community, besides marching – even though the march will of course include many disabled people…Since the disabled community is going to be so impacted by the Republican agenda, it seemed that giving people a platform to tell their individual series was most appropriate.

This is also a good example of the ways in which resources created by and for people with disabilities serve the needs of a much broader community.

Submissions due by January 20.  To participate online, click here:

Note: I had some difficulty with this link – just keep trying or go to the facebook Women’s March on Washington – Disability Caucus, twitter #disabilitymarch or email




Honoring the Writers of Northeast Minnesota

Organizers of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA) have posted a “date due” notice – not for loaned library books but for nominations of books for the 29th Annual NEMBA. The awards recognize books that are substantially representative of northeastern Minnesota which includes Aitkin, Carleton, Cook, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis counties. Categories include these:

  • Nonfiction
  • Fiction
  • Art and Photography
  • Children’s literature
  • Poetry

Eligible titles must have been originally released in 2016; nominations should include a nonrefundable entry fee ($25) for each title.

The annual awards are co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library and the Friends of the Duluth Public Library. An awards reception honoring all nominated authors will be held on Thursday, May 18, in the Kirby Ballroom on the UMD campus. The reception is free and open to the public.

For past recipients and more about the awards, click here:

Questions? Call 218 726 7889 or email



Discovering truth starts with independent thinking

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.  Albert Einstein

The fake news flap, having gone viral, is now a topic of social hand wringing. It’s trendy to fret about fake advertising while extremists charge that fake news is a phantom fashioned by the mainstream media to discredit the “competition.”

With all the lamentations and calls for censorship, little attention has focused on realistic solutions to what is in truth a pernicious threat to our politics, physical and mental health, individual and societal equilibrium.

Thinking about how to cope with the reality of fake news – which will only get more sophisticated — inevitably leads me back to the realization that the solution lies not with the source or even the target of misinformation and disinformation – the power, and thus the solution, rests with the “missing link” – the receiver of information.

In earlier posts my focus has been on the need to hone the basic skills of the post-truth age – how to locate and then evaluate information, how to relate sources of information to good decision-making, whatever the context. Clearly, “information literacy” is an essential first step.

The challenge is to go beyond find, assess and apply skills to deal with the fact that the receiver of information – whether student or voter, politician or parent. We are sentient human beings whose mode for processing information is insanely complex. Granted it’s more complicated than censoring or censuring the producer or connector; focus on the receiver, the “missing link” on the information chain, recognizes that information is inert until a human being gives it life, puts it to work, turns information into an opinion or incentive to act.

The first step is to consider the situation and condition of the information user – what does the user need? To date, the emphasis has been on information skills. My thought is that we need to know more about the condition of the receiver, in particular the role of self-confidence as a component of critical thinking. It takes self-confidence to welcome new ideas and match them against our own beliefs.

In an intriguing essay entitled “losing the courage of convictions” Timothy Ogden presents this puzzle:

There’s an old saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.  Unfortunately, it’s probably got things exactly backward. The more you stand for and defend the beliefs you strongly hold, the more likely you are to fall for anything – anything that confirms your existing beliefs.”

 A thought to ponder…..

The initial challenge is to fire up inquiring minds so that they have the confidence to assess, compare and weigh the facts. Only then comes the tools to locate, then assess and evaluate the relevance and truth of information – broadly defined to include everything from tweets to infographics to juried journals.

Though skepticism gets a bad rap, the skeptic, aka critical thinker, possesses and builds both the confidence and the skills to examine assumptions, weigh alternatives, confront one’s own or others’ biases.   Confidence sparks a sense of inquiry and independent thinking. Success will favor the seeker who is master of the tools.  The challenge of this chaotic era is to envision, then work to create and sustain, a society of confident seekers of truth.




Creating a culture of encounter – some info tools

Creating a culture of encounter

My first reaction was negative, until I realized that, heretofore in this democracy, “encounter” has not been a pejorative term. “Creating a culture of encounter” is the theme of National Migration Week 2017 (January 8-14), an initiative of the U.S. Conference of Bishops. Though the effort may be dismissed as parochial, it is one of numerous immigration-related initiatives ongoing and forthcoming in the faith community. It also signals the urgency to concentrate our thoughts and energy on the challenge before us.

The persistance of plans to Build the Wall permeates the nation’s political and social discourse. The leadership of the faith community is needed and readily accessible at this hour.

By training and habit, my inclination is to start with the facts – and there is no better source than Ballotpedia for a profile of immigration facts across the nation:

For an overview of the complexities and legal intricacies of family-based integration the authoritative Congressional Research Service has prepared this excellent report:

To understand the human pain of mass deportation read this commentary published in the Guardian:

Minnesota resources:

Resources that reflect the current state of immigration in Minnesota abound; these are some good starting points for state-specific information – they’ll lead to more (maybe more than you want to know about the issues…..)

Just a few Minnesota organizations that are taking a lead – these will lead you to countless others::

Resources that illuminate the lives of immigrants:

On an ongoing basis follow Greg Aamot’s articles in MinnPost:

These are simply sparks that may kindle the quest to create a culture of encounter — encounters of the sort that fuel the mind, warm the heart, build and sustain a just society.