Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

thanks to Karen O. for the beautiful photograph

Music on this week's episode

This week I talk with Holly Hughes about "Frommer's 500 Places To See Before They Disappear" and Martha Powers about "Conspiracy of Silence".

Music featured this week:
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss "Your Long Journey"
Mother Truckers "I'll Meet You There"
Oscar Peterson with Clark Terry "Mumbles" from Putymayo World Music's Swing Around the World
Marc Broussard "Home"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ideas for writers retreats/workshops

Around this time of year I start thinking about writing - how to jump start my own, places I could go to study/write, etc. There are many opportunities out there.

The following are a list of Minnesota based conferences/opportunities. Some are not specifically writer's retreats, but are places to get away from the world - and even have a silent retreat if you want one. Check these out:

Split Rock Arts Program/University of Minnesota

Now in its 25th year, the Split Rock Arts Program is comprised of two entities: Summer Workshops and Online Mentoring for Writers, both of which offer intensive learning opportunities with outstanding faculty from throughout the world. Split Rock's 2009 schedule will feature 40 workshops and retreats in CREATIVE WRITING, VISUAL ART, AND DESIGN, all taught by eminent practicing artists and writers. The wide range of topics and top-notch instructors are sure to inspire artists and writers to treat themselves to an unforgettable learning experience in which they afford themselves the time and space to explore art in a supportive artists’ community.

Anderson Center for the Arts
Since 1995, the Anderson Center has served the artistic community and the citizens of
Minnesota through artistic leadership, program development, and support. It is the
mission of the Anderson Center to uphold the unique wealth of the arts in the region; to develop, foster, and promote the creation of works by artists of all kinds; and to provide leadership and services that help to insure a strong, healthy arts community and a greater recognition of the value of arts in society. The Anderson Center provides retreats of two to four weeks duration to enable artists, writers, and scholars to advance or complete work in progress.

Northwoods Writers Conference
Every June, writers gather at Bemidji State University on the shores of Lake Bemidji for an enlivening week of literary activity at the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference. Each morning, participants gather their thoughts, notebooks, and writing utensils and head off to their workshops where their teacher and fellow participants provide constructive feedback and encouragement.

The Dwelling in the Woods in McGrath, MN

The Dwelling is many things

A place for quieting your mind and opening your heart.

A place of solitude that allows the integration of your mind, body and spirit.

A place to grow through hospitality, peacefulness, solitude, meditation and prayer.

A time to honor nature, beauty and the arts.

An experience of abundance, healing and spiritual awakening.

We are committed to your comfort, growth and well-being.

We specialize in small groups and individual retreats.

Iceland Writer's Workshop with Bill Holm
The Hofsos workshops were begun in 2000, by Bill Holm of Minneota, MN and David Arnason of Manitoba, two writers with strong Icelandic roots, who find Iceland a great place to refresh their own writing. Hofsos is a small fishing village whose people, determined to keep their town alive, established a fine museum of the Icelandic migration to Canada and the U.S. and restored their older buildings.

Blacklock Nature Sanctuary Fellowships in Moose Lake, MN
The purpose of the Blacklock Nature Sanctuary Artist Fellowship Programs is to provide artists with uninterrupted time in a quiet natural setting to initiate or develop an artistic project. Professional artists in all media are eligible to apply as individuals or in collaboration with another artist or naturalist.

St. Benedict’s Retreats in Collegeville, MN
Gift yourself with some time away! An air-conditioned facility, spacious grounds and a wooded area provide atmosphere for prayer, quiet, reflection and relaxation. You are invited to worship with the monastic community in the daily Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours (Link to Liturgy and Worship/Worship Schedule).

Arc Ecumenical Retreat in Stanchfield, MN (near Cambridge)
ARC (Action, Reflection, Celebration), is a Retreat Center operated by a residential community, rooted in Christian tradition, emphasizing the values of simplicity, justice and healing, mercy and prayer, serving individuals and groups seeking time apart, rest and spiritual renewal.

Also see here for more retreats in Minnesota.

If you know of more opportunities for writer conferences of retreats, post them here!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday is the day of book reviews

On Sundays I like to take a look at what is new in books or what the book critics are saying out there.

There is of course The New York Times Sunday Book Review. This can get a little academic for me, and the criticism is pretty pointed and sharp, but it's also a good indicator of what the literary world is taking notice of. I was curious about the review they did of Carolyn Chute's new novel, "The School on Heart's Content Road". The novel is what they call "a depiction of contemporary American poverty"....

“The School on Heart’s Content Road” is as idiosyncratic as it is engaging. A mytho­poetics of the Second Amendment isn’t exactly common in modern American literary fiction. But neither is the depiction of contemporary American poverty: of the slow, relentless grind of never quite having enough, of the leaching of hope and ambition from those for whom a job at Wal-Mart is a rare opportunity, of the impossible double-bind choices made by the poor every day. This is a beautiful novel, a polemical novel, a messy novel. It’s a love song to a part of America that doesn’t have much of a voice, and is armed.

It wasn't completely glowing praise... the reviewer also wrote...

Form doesn’t just follow feeling in these pages, it chases it helplessly with a butterfly net, casting about in multiple directions, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. But watching Chute miss what she’s after is more interesting than watching a lesser, better behaved writer catch tidier prey.

The StarTribune also has a good book section that I look at regularly. Today they wrote about young adult authors in Minnesota, which I am interested in too. Louise Erdrich has a new book for young adults that sounds good, "The Porcupine Year" - it's the third in a trilogy. This one is about 12 year old Ojibwe girl Oakayas having to leave her homeland. I'd also like to check out the young adult book published by Milkweed Press, "Discovering Pig Magic" by Julie Crabtree.

Business North writer Beth Bily reviewed Aaron Brown's "Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range" here.

The Pioneer Press in St. Paul has a list of new Minnesota authors publishing books this holiday season.... check it out. I'm curious about all of them, but especially Lorna Landvik's and Mary Logue's new books.

has an interesting article on MN poet Larry Shug.

Where do you find out about books? Let me know if you have a book you'd think I'd like or would be good for Realgoodwords on KAXE.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Music on this week's episode

Besides poet Todd Boss and writer Martha Brockenbrough, here's what you'll hear on this week's episode of Realgoodwords:

Eric Bibb "Troubadour" A Ship Called Love
Erin Mckeown "Born to Hum" Grand (check out her blog!)
Martin Sexton "Free World" Wonder Bar (see his vlog!)

Check out this FANTASTIC photo of Martin in the KAXE tent from last summer, but KAXE's photographer extraordinaire, Karen Oodhoudt.

Words and more words this week

MN poet Todd Boss is my guest on this week's episode of Realgoodwords... along with the president of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, Martha Brockenbrough.

Though very different, these two conversations have similarities in their respect and fervor for words and communication. Todd Boss's new book "Yellowrocket" that house his poems that have been described as buoyant and elegant, but swift. See here for examples and readings of his poetry.

Martha Brockenbrough's book "Things That Make Us [sic] - The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Holloywood, The White House, and the World" helps us finally learn the difference between lie/lay - how to write polite letters to officials and David Hasselhoff and the top 10 misused words.

Here's a sneak preview of those misused words:


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Those @#% words again

I hope you know by now that I am not a word snob. I like words (a whole lot actually) but I would never boast to know all that much about them - or know all that many of them for that matter. I'm getting ready for my interview with Bill Holm right now and reading through the press materials again.

Needless to say, I'm flummoxed by the words I am seeing there. Like:

Sere - (used especially of vegetation) having lost all moisture; "dried-up grass"; "the desert was edged with sere vegetation"; "shriveled leaves on the unwatered seedlings"; "withered vines"

Polemicist - a skilled debater in speech or writing

Flummoxed - to puzzle or confuse

MN writer Bill Holm this week!

"When Americans ask me to describe my little house in Iceland, I tell them not entirely disingenuously, that it is a series of magical windows with a few simple boards to hold them up, to protect your head from the rain while you stare out to sea."

from The Window Of Brimnes - An American in Iceland by Bill Holm

Read here for information on Bill being named the 2008 McKnight Distinguished Artist of the Year.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Be Honest

Do you ever go to bookclub without having finished the book? Do you admit it? Or do you nod alot?

The KAXE bookclub is meeting this Tuesday at 5:30 and though I'm reading a lot between today and Tuesday, it's possible I'm not going to get it done.

What should I do if I don't finish it? What have you done?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Music on this week's episode

Fairly often I get asked about the music that I include in Realgoodwords. I love the conversations I get to have with authors, but I also love the putting together of a show and finding music that to me, seems just right - in theme or tone.

Hackensaw Boys - "Suns Work Undone" from Love What You Do
Emiliana Torrini - "Sunny Road" from Fisherman's Woman
Willie Nelson - "Always Seem to Get Things Wrong" from the soundtrack to the movie "The Hottest State"
Aimee Mann "Nothing is Good Enough" from the soundtrack to the movie "Magnolia"
Adrienne Young "Room To Grow" from Room to Grow

Did you want to be a ballerina when you grew up?

Me neither! Neither did Whoopi Goldberg or the main character in her new book "Sugar Plum Ballerinas - Plum Fantastic". Alexandrea Petrakova Johnson's mother always wanted to be a ballerina and enrolls her daughter in the Nutcracker School of Ballet. Alexandrea Johnson wants to play hockey or be a speed skater.

I had the chance to talk with Whoopi recently while she was on a train from New York to Washington D.C.

Tune in
for our conversation this week, Wednesday evening from 6-7pm, CST or Sundaymorning from 9-10am.