Lao Science Fiction On the Rise

Lao science fiction is making its mark! This weekend in Bloomington, award-winning Lao American playwright and poet Saymoukda Vongsay will be one of the guests of honor at the MarsCon convention, presenting “Kung Fu Zombies vs. Shaman Warrior.”In her presentation, she will discuss the often taboo subject of mental illness. She notes that for many communities it is often explained as demonic possession. Beliefs like this stem from centuries of folklore about demons, ghosts, monsters, and witch doctors. Continue Reading

This Week in Saint Paul: Monday, January 19 – Sunday, January 25, 2015

Even though the Saint Paul Winter Carnival is creeping up on us, our atmosphere is making its march toward spring. How is this? The calendar still says “January.” I think it may be because the Almanac arts and culture calendar is sharing something else. It’s warming us up. All those hands clapping seems a plausible enough explanation, as opposed to the scientific explanations that get in the way of important things like…well, getting elected to office and gratuitous pollution. Continue Reading

New Phillips literary magazine to be unveiled January 29

“The Phoenix of Phillips”, a new literary magazine sponsored by the Semilla Community Arts program of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church will make its debut at the Midtown Global Market on Thursday, January 29, with a program at 6 pm. The annual youth photography show of St. Paul’s “We Are Midtown Phillips” will also have its opening that evening.For the past eight years, St. Paul’s Semilla program has taught mosaics, mural arts, photography, puppetry and creative writing to over 1900 people and installed 21 murals and over 50 other artistic place holders throughout the neighborhood of Phillips. Continue Reading

What will become of Dinkytown’s Southeast Library?

Dinkytown could soon lose its public library, but Hennepin County will ultimately decide if that’s worth it, or if they should replace or upgrade it.The four neighborhoods that surround the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis are underserved by library services and space, said a consultant who organized a study that could be the first step toward determining whether the Southeast Library at Dinkytown will be updated or replaced.Steve Kelley, senior fellow at the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, was the lead consultant to coordinate the 25-member, four-month Southeast Library Engagement project for Hennepin County. He summarized their report on Dec. 15 to the directors of the University District Alliance.Kelley said his report will be transmitted by Dec. 31 to the Hennepin County commissioners and the library administration, which will decide whether to remodel, replace or close the current Southeast Library at 1222 Fourth St. S.E. Kelley’s task, however, was to discover what activities the four university neighborhoods – the West Bank/Cedar-Riverside, Marcy-Holmes, Prospect Park, and Southeast Como – need in library services and space, separate from any particular location.His graduate student researchers and community meetings demonstrated a strong desire for a traditional library with stacks of books that can be browsed, with places to meet and study, and large and small meeting rooms.Libraries are still strongly associated with reading, he said, and with children. Continue Reading

Legacies, leadership and the Lao literary arts

Next year, the Immigration History Research Center is partnering with the Lao American Writers Summit to host a symposium marking 40 years of Lao in the United States. Saengmany Ratsabout framed the event by noting ‘Lao refugees have been resettling in the United States since 1975, following a civil war complicated by U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.” Continue Reading

Princess talk

I am sick of talking about princesses. I am sick of my daughter talking about how much she loves princesses, but I’m also sick of hearing and reading about parents hating princesses. So when a review copy of The Princess Problemlanded on my desk at work, I rolled my eyes and ignored it for a while. Continue Reading