Category Archives: Friends of the Library

Readers, writers, books — and plans – coming together in Northeast

As gardeners and farmers reap the harvest, it seems that ideas that may have remained dormant during the growing season suddenly come full  bloom. Ideas flower. Plans come together.

Such is the case with the inclusive and expanding voices of the literary arts, a vital strand of the Northeast Minneapolis arts community. These are examples only, definitely not the whole, of the ways in which the voices of Northeast Minneapolis community of the book – broadly defined – are being shared.

  • The Friends of Northeast Library are sponsoring another in their series of Salon Nordeast set for Saturday, September 19, 4-7 p.m. at the Gallery Solar Arts Building, 711, NE 15th – All are invited to mingle, enjoy the art, meet with authors, buy a book and have it signed. Readings and discussion follow at 5:30. Author presenters include local resident John Jodzio, and others including writers Neal Karlen, Julie Schumacher, and Brad Zellar. The readings will be moderated by local Northeast author Sarah Stonich.   $5 donation is suggested to support the Friends of NE Library.
  • Voices of Northeast – a series of video interviews with Northeast writers, publishers, booksellers and others who give voice to people who are engaged with the northeast community of the book. Each week Peter Shea conducts extensive informal interviews these individual who represent the various aspects of the literary world. The interviews are cablecast on Metro Cable Network Channel 6, which is carried on every cable system in the metro area. Videos are then archived at the University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Studies – accessible for download, editing or other reuse. The series so far includes Chris Fischbach, celebrating his 20th year at  Coffee House Press, writer Sara Stonich (Vacation Land), storyteller Jerry Blue, Michelle ­­­Filkins of Spout Press and others. This season’s interviews include staff of the American Craft Council, Education Director Perry Price and Library Director Jessica Shaykett, as well as Scott VanKoughnett, proprietor of area bookstore Eat My Words, and local writer John Jodzio. Many more to come.

On the road with Minnesota’s writers and readers

Minnesota’s robust community of the book is thriving and sharing this summer.   It’s likely that there is a book-related event within reach – geographic and financial – of every Minnesotan.

One highlight, the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA), now in its 27th year, has become an honored tradition. The awards were announced a week ago, so though it’s too late to attend the gala event, it’s not too late to enjoy the great reads.

Following is an incomplete smattering of what’s happening around the state in weeks to come – just enough to give the flavor…

On June 1 Chel Anderson and Adelheid Fischer, authors of North Shore, will offer a book talk, slide presentation and signing of their book. It’s at 7:00 at the Hartley Nature Center, 3001 Woodland Avenue, Duluth. North Shore is described as “a comprehensive environmental history of one of Minnesota’s most beloved places.”

The Minnesota Association of Library Friends (MALF) and their community partners in Ely will dedicate the Sigurd Olson Literary Landmark on Friday, June 5. This, the sixth and newest Literary Landmark in the state, honors the renowned conservationist; the official site of the Literary Landmark will be housed at Vermillion Community College, Olson’s academic home. The program includes reflections and memories of Olson shared by his close personal friend Chuck Wick. Doug Wood, president of the Listening Point Foundation, Shawn Bina, Vermilion Community College provost and representatives of MALF will are share remarks. Organizers encourage attendees to “make a weekend of it.” The Ely-Winton Historical Society invites all to a free exhibit on the life and career of Sigurd Olson while local Friends will host a tour of the new Ely Public Library. On Saturday, June 6, guests are invited to attend Author!Author!, a local literary showcase sponsored by Ely Greenstone Public Art.

The week of June 8-13 features the Bemidji Library Book Festival sponsored by Kitchigami Regional Library system. It’s a star-studded week that features a multi-generational musical show with the Ross and Bart Sutter, a book presentation with Heid Erdrich, programs from the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, an evening of poetry, writing workshops and more! Most programs are held at the Bemidji Public Library and all are free and open to the public. More information at http://bemidji, or

If you move fast you can make it to the Jon Hassler Festival, June 14-15 in Brainerd. There’s a slide tour of Hassler’s art, a panel discussion on “Teaching Jon Hassler,” opportunities to tour the Jon Hassler Library, and much more. There is a $100 registration fee for the full program.

Then it’s back to Brainerd for Wine and Words, August 13 at Grand View Lodge. The gala event is sponsored by Friends of The Brainerd Public Library. Emcee Lorna Landvik will host a program that includes several authors – Jenna Blum, Peter Geye, Kathleen McCleary, William Kent Krueger and Nadia Hashimi. Find author bios and more about their works at!untitled/mainPage

As the new school year starts and you plan your autumn reads, you’ll want to check out Marshall Festival ‘15, October 22-24 at Southwest Minnesota State University. The “celebration of rural writing and culture” features Susan Power, Gordon Henry, Philip Dacey, David Allan Evans and Bart and Ross Sutter.

These are just a few of the literary possibilities that invite Minnesotans and tourists alike to sample the rich resources that reflect Minnesota’s writing and reading community of the book. If you know of others, please share here in a comment. These literary events are not always listed on tourism calendars so take time to check out what’s happening along the roads you will be traveling. Stop by or call ahead to the local library to find out what’s happening in town – you will probably be amazed by the wealth of opportunities for bibliophiles and bibliophile wanabes. Don’t miss the chance to learn more about the town, the region, and the writers who call the community home!





Celebrating the Northeastern Minnesota Community of the Book

For nearly three decades the Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA) has recognized the area’s writers, bringing to the attention of the state’s and nation’s readers the wealth of literature created by established and emerging writers from the region. For purposes of the NEMBA the definition of a Northeastern Minnesota book is one that is “substantially representative of northeastern Minnesota in the areas of history, culture, heritage lifestyle.   Northeastern Minnesota is defined to include Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis Counties.

Sponsors of NEMBA, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Kathryn A. Martin Library and the Friends of the Duluth Public Library, are now accepting nominations for the 2014 award.

Books, including e-books, may be nominated in one of six categories: General Nonfiction; Fiction; Art, Photography; Children’s literature; Poetry; Memoir and Creative Nonfiction.

Nominated books must have been originally released in 2014. A non-refundable $25 entry fee is required for each nominated title.

For details on how to nominate a book, visit the NEMBA website at Questions? Call 218 726 6843 or email

Nominations must be postmarked or delivered to the Kathryn A. Martin Library, University of Minnesota Duluth, by January 16, 2015.

An awards reception honoring all nominated authors will be held on Thursday, May 21, 2015, in the Kirby Ballroom on the UMD Campus. The reception is free and open to the public.

Hot Dish Revolution Rocks Northeast Minneapolis

Residents of Northeast Minneapolis, especially the Holland Neighborhood, shared a knowing nod last week when the mainstream media heralded the fact that Representative Tim Walz (1st Congressional District) took first place honors at the Minnesota Hotdish competition.   This is the fourth annual competition initiated by Senator Al Franken “as a way to give members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation a chance to mingle without the usual political sniping.”

With all due respect to their elected representatives, Northeasters know that, while Representative Walz’ Turkey Trot Tate Tot” hotdish may go down in history, the Inside The Beltway competition pales by comparison with a time-honored Northeast tradition.  Even as the solons rest on their laurels, Northeast residents are busily testing their culinary expertise for a local tradition that long pre-dates, and definitely sets a pace,  for the Congressional chefs.

Holland Neighborhood and all of Northeast will be turning out on Sunday, April 6, for what is, in fact, the tenth annual Hotdish Revolution, sponsored by the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association.

The legendary Hotdish Revolution features actually categories – Spice, Vegetarian, Tater Tot Excellence, I Made It? (kids), Darn Good (beef, pork, other) and Fins and Feathers.   And then there’s the jello competition that defies categorization.

Hotdish-toting neighbors will gather at 4:00 on Sunday afternoon at St Maron’s Cedars Hall, 602 University Ave Northeast, prepared to face a distinguished panel of celebrity judges.

Dining for all begins at 4:30.  ($5 for entrants, $10 for others, $5 for kids 5 and under)

To complement the feast there’s beer tasting sponsored by the esteemed brewers of the Northeast Brew District.  ($10/flight)  Indeed Brewing, and Barley John’s Brew Pub will be joined by the folks from Sociable Cider Werks  and others to provide choice libations.

Music and, yes, you guessed it – Haiku!  The Friends of Northeast Library are sponsoring a hotdish/jello themed haiku competition judged by MinnPost columnist –about-town, Andy Sturdevant.

Revolution hotdish style

Jello too and beer

Haiku adds a lyric touch.

Follow the Holland Hotdish Revolution on Facebook or contact the Holland Neighborhood Association:  612 781 2299 or


Minnesota writers are World Book Night “tradition”

Organizers of the third World Book Night ( have just announced the list of titles that will be shared round the globe on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.  On World Book Night “reading ambassadors” will reach out in their communities to share a half million books with random, unsuspecting individuals.

Once again Minnesota writers are prominent on the list of 30 selected titles.  IN 2012 it was Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River and Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie that made the list.  At that time, Enger captured the spirit of World Book Night as “a beautiful foolish idea.”

It’s such a beautiful foolish idea that the selectors this year wisely turned to three more Minnesota writers, that’s 10% of the 30 chosen titles!  The 2014 selections include Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, Garrison Keillor’s Pontoon and Peter Geye’s The Lighthouse Road.  For a full listing of the 2014 list of WBN titles, click here.  Reading selections from past years are posted here:

World Book Night is an annual collaboration first organized in the U.K. three years ago.  The intent of the nonprofit organization is to share the love of reading through a one-person-at-a-time distribution of a half million books.   World Book Night visionaries live their vision – it’s more than giving away books; “It’s about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways – through the sharing of stories.”

Books for World Book Night are selected by an independent panel of booksellers and librarians.  The selections are based on lists curated by experts in the bookselling and library world.  Each year givers from the previous year’s World Book Night nominate books for the panel to consider.  The criteria used by the selectors is explicit:  Acceptable books of high quality; recently published books or established classics; books available in paperback; published books of any genre, and gender, ethnic and geographical balance.

In years past both individuals and groups – Friends of the Library, reading circles, youth groups and others – have participated in WBN as enthusiastic  — and much appreciated – “book givers.”

World Book Night planners are now accepting applications for book givers.  The “Be a book giver” posting covers the rules, e.g. givers will be asked to think about where  and to whom they intend to share the books.  Applications can be made online and are due January 5, 2014.  Answers to everything you ever wanted to know about WBN are posted at

WBN has all of the characteristics of a “beautiful foolish idea’ whose time has come!


What’s Really Happening – Or Not Happening – At Mpls Central Library

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.?  The quote belongs to our beleaguered postal employees, of course.  It also applies to iindependent researchers with a deadline – people like me.

And so I headed out this morning for the Central Library, inhibited by the icey sidewalks far more than by the purveyors of evil about whom I have been reading in the Strib of late.  Since I hadn’t been to the library for a couple of weeks I had assumed that the letter writers to the Strib had the latest take on what goes on at this beloved bastion of learning.

During my hours at Central Library I observed:

  • Moms and dads, caregivers  and grandparents, introducing toddlers to the wonders of the Children’s Room.
  • A couple of grey-haired gentlemen deeply engrossed in the Genealogy 4th floor Genealogy collection.
  •  A clutch of young folks digging into the Government Documents collection
  • A young man earnestly exploring the Foundations collection.
  • Two scholarly-type colleagues delving into the magnificent riches of the Minneapolis Collection.
  • Dozens of seekers, or others who don’t have broadband in their homes, using the technology in an earnest search for employment or food assistance or housing options..
  • Avid readers eying the exhibit of fiction related to  “Growing Up.:.”
  • Earnest citizens solving problems over a cup of coffee at Dunn Brothers.
  • A string of teens obviously on a field trip from a local high school, last seen headed for the revamped Teen Room on the Second Floor.
  • A gaggle of “suits” absorbed in the business collection.
  • Bargain hunters spending their lunch hour treasure-hunting at the Friends book store.
  • An ESL class or discussion group hard at work in one of the meeting rooms adjacent to the New Americans collection.
  • Bibliophiles engrossed in a read, totally oblivious to their environment.
  • Optimistic green thumbers exploring the early seed catalogs.
  • Aristocratic looking gentlemen reading the Wall Street Journal.
  • Library staff and volunteers on hand to point me and my learning colleagues in the right direction.

I saw Minneapolis residents working to solve personal and civic issues in an environment rich with information and conducive to clear thinking.  I’m sure some of these residents of the city are homeless, at the library to get a grip on a job or a home or a life.

What I did not see were the thugs that others apparently encounter – or fear they might encounter – at Minneapolis Central Library.  The public library may not be to everyone’s taste, but then again it is for everyone.

Twin Cities writers Peter Geye & Thomas Maltman read new novels, discuss sense of place, at Northeast Library

Thomas Maltman and Peter Geye have more than a little in common.  Both are Minnesota writers whose fiction, prose and essay works create and then explore the sense of place.  Recent works by the two authors are set in an environment that is familiar to Minnesota readers and increasingly known to readers everywhere.  Maltman and Geye will share their experience and their thoughts on the sense of place at a reading and book discussion on Thursday evening, November 8, at the Northeast Library, 2200 Central Avenue NE in Minneapolis.

Maltman’s most recent work, set to be published by Soho Press in January, is entitled Little Wolves.  The story unfolds during a tragic drought that is driving families from their farms on the Minnesota prairie.  The book delves into the lives of individuals and families while it explores the sense of place in small-town America. One reviewer writes that the author “weaves together elements of folklore and Norse mythology while being driven by a powerful murder mystery.”

Maltman’s first novel, The Night Birds, won a number of literary awards including selection by the American Library Association as an “Outstanding Book for the College Bound.”  Maltman earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato. Those who cannot wait until the publication of Little Wolves may enjoy reading a lengthy excerpt online.

The Lighthouse Road is also a second novel for local author Peter Geye.  His earlier work, Safe from the Sea, is a staple on library shelves.

Geye’s newer book, published by Unbridled Press, is set in the rugged landscape of northern Minnesota in the late 1900’s and the early years of the 20th Century.  The novel explores the lives of Norwegian immigrants living in what is now known as the Arrowhead Region along the North Shore.  Geye writes of real life in the lumberjack camp, in a small town, even a skiff riding the waves of Lake Superior.  At the heart of his work is a penetrating description of how the mood and atmosphere of a setting shapes the lives of the denizens of the area.

A Twin Cities native Geye holds a PhD degree from Western Michigan University and a Masters degree from New Orleans University.

The joint appearance of these two local authors will be 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Northeast Library.  The reading and discussion is sponsored by Friends of the Northeast Library.

The evening is free and open to the public.  Off-street parking is available on the West side of the Library or hop the #10 bus that runs frequently on Central Avenue.


One Minneapolis-One Read Selection Offers Stories of the Impact of U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this 150th commemoration of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 Minnesotans struggle to unravel the facts and, even more, to internalize the reality of a War so near at hand, so close in time, and so unknown to 21st Century Minnesotans.

The Minnesota Historical Society has launched a massive multi-faceted program to uncover, interpret and share the facts and forces that led to, infused and flowed from the War. Through the exhibit at the History Center, public discussions, a guide to historic sites and more, MHS has focused Minnesotans’ attention on a piece of Minnesota history long overlooked – because it is just too difficult to face.

Minneapolitans who dip into fiction for a better understanding of the 1862 tragedy are already deep into Diane Wilson’s Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, the book chosen by the Minneapolis City Council as this year’s One Minneapolis One Read Minneapolis choice. The book explores Wilson’s Dakota Indian ancestry over generations. The story begins with the U.S-Dakota war, then follows Wilson’s family members through five generations life in South Dakota and Nebraska.

The One Minneapolis One Read initiative launches early this fall. A host of organizations and institutions are involved, all focused on encouraging local community explorations of the themes posited in the “one read.”

Spirit Car, published by the Minnesota Historical Society, is widely available in area libraries and bookstores and at MHS Press. The book can be downloaded from the Hennepin County Library and is also available in e-book format from commercial vendors.

Readers will find additional information about the book and resources about the Dakota War through the Minnesota Historical Society Press and at the MHS website. There is also a discussion guide prepared by the Minnesota Book Awards/The Friends of the Saint Pubic Public Library.

Librarians at Hennepin County Library have created a great website for readers who want to explore other writers’ perspectives on the War and its implications. The website lists a generous reading list of fiction and nonfiction titles related to the Native American experience in Minnesota along with comments from other readers. All of the titles listed are available for reserve and check-out from the library.

This is the second year of the One Minneapolis One Read program. Hundreds of Minneapolitans took part in community discussions of last year’s book, the Grace of Silence, written by NPR host and Minneapolis native Michele Norris. Rebroadcasts of One Read Week events are available on Comcast on Demand. Follow One Minneapolis One Read developments on the website, on Facebook or on Twitter. Email

Musician/writer Dylan Hicks and Poet Dobby Gibson at the Northeast Library

Once again the Friends of the Northeast Library will sponsor a very special author talk on Thursday, May 17, 6;30 p.m. at the Library, 2200 Central Avenue Northeast.  The May program is a classic double-header:

Dylan Hicks, is a man of many interests, talents and faces. Readers who know Dylan Hicks are eagerly awaiting his first novel which is set for publication in May by Coffee House Press, a Northeast independent literary force.    Though difficult to categorize, Boarded Windows is already receiving national acclaim.  The novel reflects and spirit of Uptown Minneapolis in the Nineties.

One reviewer, Sam Lipsyte, writes “Do yourself a favor and read this smart, tender book.  The characters will  haunt you with their longing, and inspire you with their sweet, caustic wit.  Dylan Hicks knows his music and his prose is a song in itself.  He’s given light to the shuttered and boarded parts of life.”

The theme of the novel comes as no surprise to the many locals who know Hicks as a songwriter and musician. Earlier this year he released his first album in ten years. The book includes a free download of Sings Bolling Green, a soundtrack to the novel written and performed by Dylan Hicks himself.

Followers of popular culture know that in the past several years Hicks has melded his writing and musical talents as a prodigious writer.   He’s a familiar name as contributor to City Pages, a position he left to focus on Boarded Windows.

A search of the web discloses some intriguing information about Dylan Hicks’ life and interests.  His own website contains a forthright author statement that reveals much about Boarded Windows.  A lengthy conversation  with his colleague Brad Zellar goes into real depth about writing and music.  Zellar concludes with an intriguing observation that “there’s no Minneapolis novel.   Boarded Windows, Zellar writes “is the first book that I can think of that’s really steeped in Minneapolis, that really gets it.”  A question the author may address at the Friends program….

Joining Dylan Hicks on the program is Minnesota poet Dobby Gibson who will discuss his new collection It Becomes You, forthcoming from another independent press Graywolf Press in 2013.  The collection of poems is described as “meditative, lyrical, aphoristic, and always leavened with a wry wit.  The reviewer writes that “through Dobby Gibson’s poems you explore the divergent conditions by which we’re perpetually defined—the daily weather, the fluctuations of the Dow, the growth of a cancer cell, the politics of the day.”

Dobby Gibson’s first book of poetry, Polar, published in 2004, received the Beatrice Award and was a finalist for the 2006 Minnesota Book Award.  He is also the author of a second collection of poetry, Skirmish, published in 2009 by Graywolf Press.

Again, a web search will discover several interviews with Dobby Gibson, reviews and readings of his works of poetry.

The Friends of the Library programs are all free and open to the public.

Author Martin Kihn featured at Friends of Northeast Library talk

Martin Kihn writes about the world he knows – with a twist.  This includes his recent novel, Bad Dog: A Love Story, a touching tale that marks a true departure in Kihn’s  writing style.  Bad Dog follows the trials and triumphs  of Hola, the “most beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog in the world” who clearly lacks the niceties of training, and her “supposed master” who has some troubles of his own.

Kihn will share his unique take on the world on Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 6:30 p.m. at the Northeast Library, 2200 Central Avenue Northeast.

After twenty years of living and working in fast-paced New York City  Kihn moved from NYC to Northeast Minneapolis in October with his wife singer-songwriter Julia Douglass and, of course, Hola  – When asked why the move, Kihn says that his wife is from this area and Hola is taken with walks along the Mississippi and the Stone Arch Bridge area.

Though he is first-and-foremost a writer, Kihn adds that he is also “a digital marketer, dog lover, balletomane and spiritual athlete.”  Born in Zambia, Kihn grew up in suburban Michigan, earned a BA in Theater Studies from Yale and an MBA from Columbia Business School.  In Minneapolis he pursues his writing profession while managing his business career at Fallon.

A prolific writer, Kihn has published in a host of publications including the New York Times, GQ, Us and others.  He was on the staff of several publications and, in the late 1990’s, was head writer for the MTV show Pop-Up Video for which he was an Emmy nominee.

The self-deprecating Kihn admits that most of his earlier writing “could be called satirical or snarky, meticulously researched and office-based.” One of his early publications, affectionately entitled House of Lies: How management consultants steal your watch and then tell you the time (Grand Central 2005) reflects his three years working for a large consultant agency.  Though praised by the press, the book was not well received by professional colleagues who spammed with one-star reviews intended to sabotage the criticism of their trade.

Kihn moved on to produce his most popular book of that “snarky” period,  a  satirical stunt-memoir the premise of which is that a person who is too nice to get ahead in business decides systematically to turn himself into a jerk and reap the rewards.  It was a rage round the globe.

Bad Dog reflects an entirely different side of the writer.  Bad Dog: A Love Story, is the warm story of a troubled man and his badly behaved mountain dog.  It’s described as a “journey of redemption, as together man and dog reclaim their lives by working toward a common goal.”  Much more about Marty Kihn on his website on which Hola even appears in a new video on Kihn’s website.

Martin Kihn’s talk is presented by Friends of the Northeast Library.  Contact the Friends at