Last week, the Saint Paul Almanac received news that it has been nominated in five categories for this year’s Midwest Book Awards—in the Culture, Midwest Regional Interest: Text, Publisher’s Website, Reference, and Travel categories. There are many congratulations to be shared with hundreds of people who share their stories and acknowledgement of all the sweat and tears behind the sweet voices. So many voices, sometimes it is overwhelming—like everything we would like to tell you about what’s happening this week!
Right: The 2013 Saint Paul Almanac and the Midwest Book Awards brass winner’s coin. The 2012 Almanac won the Midwest Book Award for Travel, and the 2013 Almanac won the award for Culture.
This spring’s Saint Paul Art Crawl is about to take place—a spark that lights so many fires of warm community activity that it makes it very hard to not find something interesting to do. As I write this, I feel as if letting all of you take turns leading me around the Art Crawl would be a better way to tell the world what’s happening this week. Letting you tell the story is the Almanac way, and it’s why we, again, are finalists for five book awards. People like our event series too! In related news, we recently received a $10,000 grant for the Soul Sounds Open Mic series from CURA from April 10 through December 2014 and $15,000 from the Lowertown Future Fund for the Lowertown Reading Jams for next season, from October 2014 through July 2015.
The Art Crawl is big, but there is life before the Crawl. We start our Lowertown meander with this month’s Lowertown Reading Jam. On Wednesday, April 23, the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar will host one of our favorites, Robert Karimi curating “Poetry about Food & Sex.”
I spoke with May Lee-Yang last week. She said she was cooking up something special for the night, although any slice of her past work would be delicacy-caliber fare. Her show “Ten Reasons Why I’d Be a Bad Porn Star” isn’t even the beginning. She is a poet, playwright, and performance artist whose most recent work, The Divorcee Diaries, received a reading at the Playwrights’ Center. She is best known for her production Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman. Like Robert, she is funny and promises to bring words about food to add to the fodder.
Chaun Webster‘s star continues to rise in the Twin Cities poetry world. A couple of Jams ago, he shined a little of that sparkle when he took over the emcee duties. We will get a better glimpse of this poet, publisher, and graphic designer this Wednesday. Chaun is a poet whose words are in action, moving consciousness forward, for himself and for those who can hear him—perhaps even a world that might have to be left behind sometimes. Rutgers University professor Ewuare Osayande, says, “At times his poems call for retribution and utter visions of battle-cries, bullets and blood. At other times they convey a palpable frustration of being powerless to defend against the everyday acts of violence by the ‘Leviathan’ that violates our senses, if not our very bodies, on the daily. At all times, they offer us an authenticity in expression and execution that leaves us inspired or convicted or both.” You can see more about Chaun and his work at his project, Free Poet’s Press at www.freepoetspress.com.
Jessica Lopez Lyman is a performance artist and poet who, after graduating from St. Kate’s, opted for a PhD Program at UC Santa Barbara in Chicano studies. She is an organizer who believes deeply in the transformative power of art. A lot of us—people of color and those with other gender or non-normative identities—will be able to see ourselves in her current project, Hair Volume, which focuses on people’s relationship to hair to explore larger cultural issues. She values her strong feminist mentors and helps young girls answer the question, “What is our place in the world?”
Right: Robert Karimi performing: “No one prays 5 times a day at Hogwarts”
The curator for this show is no stranger to the Lowertown Reading Jams. Robert Karimi has been the emcee for many of this year’s events. He is a busy man, a funny man, and—if you can’t keep up with him, it’s okay, because the creativity will come full circle and catch you delightfully off guard. His work has peppered a landscape that ranges from National Public Radio to the Nuyorican Poets Café, literary journals like the Asian American Literary Review , the Loft Literary Center in the Twin Cities, and the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived before coming to the Twin Cities in 2006. His projec