Saturday, August 23, 2014

Art, Writers, Culture and Fairs, Oh My!

Today we're heading for the Northwoods Art and Book Festival in Hackensack, MN. I've been seeing more and more references to sustainable rural community economic development benefitting from a relationship with the arts, plus, it looks like fun. I went to the state fair once and still haven't developed a taste for "chocolate covered, deep-fried books on a stick," so it's up north for us. I'm going to be reading a few of my poems. Now that I'm toughened up by email rejection letters, I thought I'd test what in-person audience reaction does to or for my writing. UPDATE: One of my submissions was a Popular Choice winner. Sue Ready, Northwoods Arts Council's Poetry Chair, facilitated the poetry recognition event. (Thanks, Sue.) Here's a link to her blog posting on yesterdays event.
Ever Ready: Northwoods Art and Book Festival-Poetry Recognition Event.

mist-filled St. Croix River Valley
Photo by J. Harrington

Maybe the arts activists in the St. Croix River Valley could organize something like the Northwoods Festival, including a large emphasis of Minnesota and/or Valley authors to augment the existing Valley potters' tours. ArtReach St. Croix seems to be pretty much focused on the Hastings to Stillwater stretch, and the St. Croix Splash lists reading and book signings of individual authors. Something in the Taylors Falls / St Croix Falls vicinity that  also draws from the upper Valley might work. I hope we haven't reached the point where almost everyone in the general vicinity of the Twin Cities is reading just ebooks or on-line but I also realize that the St. Croix Valley is much closer to The Loft Literary Center at Open Book and to the Twin Cities Book Festival than Hackensack Minnesota is. I also remain frustrated by the reluctance of local bookstores to have a regional or Minnesota section for poetry. I continue to believe we have much literary talent to honor and celebrate locally and having an ongoing, aggregate focus on local authors and poets, in addition to the Annual Minnesota Book Awards, contributes to that. Joyce Sutphen, our poet laureate, tells us why it's important.


I spend part of my childhood waiting
for the Sterns County Bookmobile.
When it comes to town, it makes a
U-turn in front of the grade school and
glides into its place under the elms.

It is a natural wonder of late
afternoon. I try to imagine Dante,
William Faulkner, and Emily Dickinson
traveling down a double lane highway
together, country-western on the radio.

Even when it arrives, I have to wait.
The librarian is busy, getting out
the inky pad and the lined cards.
I pace back and forth in the line,
hungry for the fresh bread of the page,

because I need something that will tell me
what I am; I want to catch a book,
clear as a one-way ticket, to Paris,
to London, to anywhere.  

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.

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