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September 28, 2009

Maxine Hong Kingston/ The Art of Making Peace

Sponsored By: Department of English
Additional Sponsors: Ted Mann Concert Hall

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Free and open to the public

Ted Mann Concert Hall
Minneapolis Campus

Terri Sutton at 612-626-1528

From her first groundbreaking melange of imagination and (self-)history The Woman Warrior (1976), to her striking account of life during wartime (her lifetime, from WWII to the Iraq War) The Fifth Book of Peace (2003), Maxine Hong Kingston has created some of the most widely read (and taught) literature of the late 20th century. She has won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, NEA Awards, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and, in 2008, The Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. And she has taught and mentored thousands of writers, from Hawaiian high school students and undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley, to the veterans she has met through her writing-and-mediation workshops (and whose work she edited in the award-winning 2006 collection Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace). The Department of English is honored to host her. Reception and book-signing to follow.

Givens Black Writers Collaborative Retreat

Passing along information regarding the Fall Givens Black Writers Retreat.

The Givens Foundation for African American Literature
Invites Black Writers in Minnesota to Apply
For the 2009-2010 Givens Black Writers Collaborative Retreat Program

Information Session: October 7, 2009, 7P @ Open Book Rm. 303
Application Deadline: October 21, 2009
For More Information Visit: www.givens.org

For more than 20 years, the Givens Foundation for African American Literature has been the only organization in the Twin Cities exclusively dedicated to advancing and celebrating black literature and writers. At the Givens Foundation, we understand that African American writers are the future of African American literature. This is one reason that we developed the Givens Black Writers Collaborative Retreat Program -- to promote the "writing life," to support the crafting of excellence in African American literature, and to provide opportunities for the creation of literary collaboration, community, and the sacred space within which art is born.

Collaboration Retreat Program Quick Facts
What: A program for 10 emerging and established black writers living in Minnesota that includes a four-day retreat, writing workshops, one-on-one mentoring, peer support and a literary performance.
Retreat Dates: Nov. 12-15, 2009 (4 days, 3 nights)
Retreat Location: The Dwelling in the Woods, McGrath, MN (www.thedwellinginthewoods.org)
Mentoring Writers: Ishmael Reed (National) & Laurie Carlos (State)
Mentoring Workshops: November 2009 to April 2010
Literary Performance: April 2010
Cost: Free (Sponsored by the Jerome Foundation)

Eligibility Criteria
In October of 2009, 10 black writers will be selected to participate in the collaborative retreat program. For this program, the Givens Foundation will strive to have participants represent a balanced distribution of ages, genders, and geographic residences within the state of Minnesota. Applications will be subject to blind review by a panel of three local African American writers.

Selected participants will:

* Be aged 18 and older
* Be identified as emerging artists (6 applicants who exhibit significant potential yet are not recognized as established creators by fellow artists and other arts professionals; not yet or only recently published or produced)
* Be identified as established writers (4 applicants with multiple works published or produced)
* Not be enrolled in an academic literary arts program
* Not be past participants in the Givens Black Writers Collaborative Retreat Program.

Writers interested in applying should plan to attend the Retreat Program Information Session:
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
7:00p to 8:00p @ Open Book, Rm. 303
1011 Washington Avenue, Minneapolis, MN.

For More Information Visit:

Or Contact:

Ellena Schoop
Collaborative Retreat Program Coordinator
Phone: 651-895-5603
Email: retreat@givens.org


let honey bees be

by Theresa Crushshon

always said
the best way
to get
the bees

to let
the bees
the honey.

September 24, 2009

Road trip: Sights, Comments and Questions

Ths post is my attempt at remembering and writing about what I saw on my road trip to Lethbridge, Alberta. The tense changes a lot, paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence. Please hang with me as I try to get to the gut of seeing the beauty of our land.

I know I am speaking from a point of privilege to even say that I have enough time to take vacation and enough money to go some place outside my neighborhood.

I am at Waterton Park in Alberta, just north of Glacier National Park. I am visiting friends who moved to ALberta to teach. Today it's a trip to the mountains to see the view of the Rockies. As I walked slowly up the trail putting one foot in front of the other, I watched the tops of the other mountains get closer. I noticed the way the earth and rock were formed, at angles, layers of rock moved further towards the sky. The sides littered with trees standing, leaning or fallen against the others that are standing, leaning or fallen. I reach the top of the summit to gaze at what the earth has been making for over 10,000 years or more. How old are the Rockies? The mountains are large and imposing. But aren't all mountains, Olympus, Rainer, Everest, and the Himalayas?

The wind blows my linen pants and strands of hair. My friends and I take pictures, pointing, posing and gazing. Standing close to the edge of a mountain/hill me and my friends hiked up, I took in the vast sky before me and the lake below, big and blue, reflecting the sky. I fell small. I feel big. I feel that warm fuzziness when you are in the presence of something grand. I wish to stay there forever in the present moments.

A crowd starts to gather and a family with three boys joins us on the summit. Reality sets in, it's time to head back down the mountain. Descending requires more concentration. I must pick my steps carefully so I don't slide on the small stones. I see scenes I didn't see on the way up, I look away for a second, lose my footing, slide a bit, and catch myself. Life changes quickly. Lose your footing and you can be a rolling stone. But life up here on this mountain doesn't seem to change that fast. Not from what I can see. I regain my footing and walk slowly down to the parked car and the bustle of the town.

The mountains were inspiring but then so were the plains. Our road trip took us through some beautiful fields of sunflowers, grazing cattle and cows. Once we reached Painted Canyon of North Dakota, just before Medora,my mind turned the glaciers that carved out this place and made the buttes that were popping up as we drove towards Montana. I would get out of the car at a rest stop and try to get my heart to catch up with what I was seeing, before we moved on.

A week doesn't do the landscape justice. I was slowing down as I sped across two states to visit friends who I would see for about five days. I wanted to take in every scene and document it. There is something valuable in seeing the land and its natural beauty. I try to visualize the mountains that were forming around Lake Waterton and also Lake St. Mary, MT, and how the coulee in Lethbridge was carved in the land, with Chief Mountain looking on. The plains give way to pastures that are larger than most neighborhoods. My thoughts would wonder to who surveys and keeps track of all this land? The fences that are so close to the rodas and highways? What will we do if the population gets too large? Will we expand out here? What will become of this land and the beauty?

Looking out the window beyond the twisting road to the foothills of the Rockies in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, drawing me in with it's pine trees like flag poles, covering the range and the creek rushing past us, heading north as we travel south. Bright blue sky hangs above and I feel free. Not myself, not anyone for a moment. I am in the moment. I am that blip of a blip in the history of the world. All I know for sure is this land will continue to be. It was here before me. It will be here after me. And for that I feel thankful, grateful.

Lori Young-Williams

September 22, 2009


i especially noticed
how beautiful the trees were.

purely accidently
i found my way to an urban park
no swings for children
i noticed.
just benches for the adults

it was the kind of park where folks would go to on their lunch break.
as a kid, I often wondered why they had those kind of parks.
seeing how life is...
i now know why those kind of parks exist.

in the middle of the afternoon
i walked
and took in
the fragrance from the gorgeous flowers

immersed in the beauty
under my breath
i said
thank you God
for your earthly presents.

the exotic plants were in abundance
first time
i saw
birds of paradise

afraid to touch
i took pictures

and noticed
an oversized metal sculpture of a child dancing
handsomely painted in vibrant colors
it too

but what was so picturesque
a bee
i followed

crazy of me.

i know.

i wanted a picture
not of the flower
but of the bee on the flower
making love to life

don't mind me,
i said to the bee.
just go on
do your business

he moved and I followed
like a fool
i followed
and continued to follow

hoping to capture a snapshot
of this moment

a glimpse of life
and beauty
in this small park where most just walk by
not noticing nothing

the chase continued

he moved
i chased
and chased
and snapped in between all the chasing.

the pictures were blurred.
Oh this I will call art.

a bold me zoomed in.
and captured

a picture of a bee.

but the best picture
was the one not taken.

of me
traveling this great distance
to take
a picture

by Theresa Crushshon

September 10, 2009


I went on a road trip a couple of weeks ago to visit friends in Lethbridge, Alberta. My travel buddies and I drove through North Dakota and Montana cutting up to Canada via Interstate 15. What has stuck with me, since being back, is the land and the way it looks, the mountains, buttes, river valleys and the great plains.

How does nature affect us as we live in it and around it, or not? Does the sight of mountains, lakes, etc. renew your spirit? Inspire growth? How does nature speak to you?

Please consider writing a blog post for our collective blog. Please pass on to your writer friends! Also, remember this is simply a suggestion to get your thoughts and writing going, we welcome all writings by women of color on our blog!

Happy Writing!

Kandace and Lori