Tag Archives: Senator Al Franken

National Poetry Month — Poetic ways to spend the days!

Today’s weather notwithstanding, we are well into April – which means we are well into National Poetry Month.  Whether it’s politics or taxes or a brief spate of springlike weather, the fact is that this post is late to herald the month!   The good news is that there is much to come!

A veritable potpourri of possibilities –  this simply gives the flavor of the host of readings, celebrations, blog posts and creative ways in which we welcome spring with a collective celebration of well-chosen words that enrich our lives throughout the year

The best way to learn everything there is to know about National Poetry Month is to start by diving deep into the official website sponsored by the Academy of American Poets: https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home   There you’ll learn about the two decades of celebration of the world’s literary treasures we share;  you’ll also find  a delightful poster, listing of events, and some unique projects including Poem in Your Pocket Day, details of the Dear Poet Project”, a chance to sign up to read a Poem-a-Day and scores of other ideas.  It’s not too late to dip into this overflowing pool of celebratory options!!!

Don’t stop with the National Poetry Month section though – take time to explore more of the website.  This is a never-depleted, always refresh source of ideas, insights, videotaped interviews and readings, poems for every occasion and more!  A year-round treasure-trove!

Then move on to explore what’s happening closer to home.

  • April 20-21 Magers & Quinn Booksellers will sponsor back-to-back evenings of poetry readings. Milkweed Editions co-founder Emilie Buchwald will read from her latest collection of poems The Moment’s Only Moment and Margaret Hasse will read from her new poetry book Between Us. On April 21 the store will host poets Lyle Daggett, Wang Ping and Morgan Grayce Willow reading their contributions from Resist Much, Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance.  Magers & Quinn is at 3038 Hennepin Avenue.  Free and open. (Magersandquinn.com)
  • Schools, colleges, public libraries, book clubs, indie bookstores and poetry lovers everywhere will be celebrating National Poetry Month in diverse and wondrous ways.
  • The Wadena County Historical Society has invited local writers to submit an original poem; selected poems will be read at “Minnesota Voices,” April 20, at noon at the Wadena County Museum as part of April’s National Poetry Month.
  • In honor of National Poetry Month, MPR’s The Thread is celebrating Poetry Fridays. Each Friday in April, The Thread will publish a selection of poetry from local independent publishing houses Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions and Coffee House Press.
  • Be sure to explore My-Minnesota (My-minnesota/blogspot.com). This special blog describes a delightful range of poetic possibilities you will want to explore – and possibly emulate.
  • And this may be my favorite. Senator Franken is soliciting young people’s poetic thoughts on the theme “Celebrating the Veteran in My Life:  Students are invited to write about any veteran or active military member who has had a positive impact on their life.  Entries will be judged by a special panel; winners in each age group will receive a book autographed by Garrison Keillor.  They will also be invited to attend a reception at Senator Franken’s St Paul office.  Guests at the reception will include Senator Franken, Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota National Guard Major General Rick Nash, Minnesota National Guard Brigadier General Sandra Best, and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.  Winning poems will be framed and displayed in Senator Franken’s Minnesota or Washington, DC office. The poetry contest is open until April 21.  Contact poetry@franken.senate.gov or mail to Office of Senator Al Franken, c/o Poetry Contest, 60 Plato Boulevard East, St Paul, MN 55107.  Questions: contact Marc Kimball (651 221 2649 or marckimball@franken.senate.gov.

There are countless celebrations –  ideas, activities, contests, visuals, projects and other ways to celebrate poetry!   Though this list is abbreviated, sponsors, poets, and readers are welcome to forward notices of National Poetry Month 2017 activities at this late date.  I will happily add notices to future events as soon as I learn the details.  Thank you!

p.s. Recognizing as I do that the suggestion will raise an eyebrow or two, you might want to check out the Wikipedia post about National Poetry Month.  Lots there about the genesis of the idea and the many ways poetry lovers have found to honor the poets and their work.

UPDATE FROM THE NATIONAL POETRY MONTH WEBSITE:  https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15b5dc2bb5124021

UPDATE FROM U OF M : PANKAKE POETRY READING – BAO PHI http://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/pankake-poetry-reading-featuring-bao-phi/utm_source=continuum++News+from+University+of+Minnesota+Libraries&utm_campaign=c7df777509News_from_RSSFEED_TITLE_for_RSSFEED_DATE_3_17_2015&utmmedium=email&utm_term=0_35496412ca-c7df777509-174925501

 

April’s Poetry Month – A Time to Rhyme?

When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence.

When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.

Given the times it is no wonder that this JFK quote comes to mind as we rev up – poetically speaking – for National Poetry Month 2016 (https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home). Our last best hope may be the cleansing properties of a well wrought poem….

Poets and poetry lovers are celebrating prematurely with news today that the 2016 Walt Whitman Award recipient has been named. She is Mai Der Vang who is being honored for her first book, Afterland, which is scheduled to be published in April 2017 by Graywolf Press (https://www.graywolfpress.org), one of Minnesota’s distinguished independent publishers.  More than this, the 2015 Walt Whitman Awaard-winning book, Rapture, by Sjohnna McCray, will be also published next month by Graywolf.

For the past twenty years the Academy of American Poets has sponsored National Poetry Month, a massive project that involves poets, educators, librarians, booksellers, publishers and readers in a concerted effort to share the love of poetry, particularly contemporary poetry. The celebration includes an attractive (free and online) poster, a Dear Poet project for young readers, the Poem in Your Pocket initiative, and a month-long calendar of fun activities designed to share the written and spoken words of poets.

Though the calendar of Poetry Month overflows with events, projects and good ideas, one entry caught my eye – Al Franken’s Poetry Contest. Seems our Senator is hosting his fifth annual poetry contest for Minnesota students grades K-12. The theme of this year’s contest is “Celebrating the Veteran in My Life.” For all the details on Senator Franken’s contest, click here: http://www.mnmsba.org/Portals/0/PDFs/Advocacy/ChildrensMilitaryPoetryContest2014.pdf

 

 

Politics in the produce aisle

Last weekend I was pursuing Saturday afternoon-type pursuits.  I landed at Lund’s and the Prairie Stone Pharmacy in St. Anthony where I quickly sought out and inhabited one of the cushy leather chairs which I think are theoretically reserved for prescription waitees.  There I discovered a long-time colleague with whom I had a grand conversation, interrupted by the entrance of a stranger who was breathless to know “what’s going on at Lund’s.”  I knew nothing, of course, but her exuberant description of cameras, press crews and anticipation was enough to halt the conversation, catapult me out of complacence, and send me off to search out the story.

 

Come to find out, it was a press conference, replete with cameras, store security, hovering aides and, eventually, the star performer, Senator Al Franken.  There he was midst the quinces the arugala and the raspberries (remember this was condo-city), launching a profound discourse on legislation passed recently by the US Senate.  Actually, I think it was essential information about tracking sources of agricultural products as a way to stop the spread of disease.   Unfortunately, the microphone wasn’t transmitting beyond the Senator’s nose, but that didn’t really matter much.  I could learn the details later.  What overwhelmed me was that there I was amongst the avocados and curious Minnesotans, right there in the produce section at Lund’s, on a nondescript Saturday afternoon, hearing from and having the open opportunity to talk with, reach out to, slap on the back, our Senator – at the same time that the good people of Tucson were gathered to meet with their Representative.

 

Though I never did follow up on the Ag policy, I did think of the scene all week, a week during which we were mesmerized as a nation by the tragedy in Tucson.  The Tucson scene must have been  similar as Representative Giffords reached out to her constituents.  Open, friendly, informative, an exchange of views and information.  The parallel is disquieting.

 

President Obama reminds us in elegant words of the challenge to the nation to engage in civic discourse on issues that are no more remote from the Lund’s produce section than they are to the Safeway story in Tucson.  My memory of a quiet experience cannot be separated from the tragedy.  My hope is that I will always be able to run into my elected representatives in the quiet discourse I enjoyed on Saturday.

The FCC is Having a Public Hearing in MN Thursday Evening

Once again The UpTake steps to the plate!  The UpTake crew, mostly volunteers, will be on hand Thursday evening when media moguls, access advocates, journalists, librarians, entrepreneurs, and information mavens of every stripe —  just about anybody who has dipped a toe into the digital world – will gather for a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) public hearing on the future of the Internet.  The hearing is Thursday, August 19, 6:00 p.m. in the South High School Auditorium, 3131 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

What’s well publicized are the details of the unique hearing  featuring FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn along with locals including i Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and other speakers TBA.  Not so well publicized is the fact that The UpTake will be on site.  TheUpTake will provide live broadcast and will also video the entire event. You can catch the hearing in real time or at your leisure – when the kids go to bed or you get off work.

The hearing is hosted by three national organizations, i.e. Free Press, Main Street Project, and the Center for Media Justice. Through their Media Action Grassroots Project (MAG-net). These are among the national organizations that have lobbied long and hard on a host of pressing issues, most notably network neutrality and broadband access.  The premise of the TC’s hearing is that the big guys have had their say and that the Commission needs to hear from the rest of us.  The fact that Minnesota’s junior Senator has become the poster child for these progressive groups may have influenced the designation of Minneapolis as the one and only Greater-US hearing.

By way of introduction, the Uptake is currently providing great background material, including an overview of the hearing, a talk presented earlier this summer by Commissioner Copps, and an interview with Senator Al Franken, a vocal advocate for network neutrality and access.  You’ll find them all on the Uptake website.