“January brings a new year, and it’s a great time to focus on rising stars,” says host - curator Stan Kusunoki. “It also give me the opportunity to tap some of my former students and give them a chance to read their work in public. It should be an evening of discovery and connections!”
The roster includes:
Anthony Ceballos recieved his BFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University in St. Paul. In 2016 he was seleced to be a Loft Literary Center Mentor Series mentee. His poetry has been featured in Yellow Medicine Review, Midway Journal, Sleet, Writers Resist and the Great river Review. He is pursuing an MFA in Cretive Writing at Randolph University in Virginia. He lives breathes and writes in Minneapolis, minnesota. He can be found penning staff recommendations at birchbark Books and Native Arts.
A tall, left-handed descendant of White Earth Anishinaabeg, Carter Meland takes writing seriously, but does so with good humor. His novel Stories For a Lost Child (a finalist for the 2018 Minnesota Book Award) invokes the waters of Lake Superior and the Mississippi River, and the deep woods voice of Misaabe (Bigfoot) to help his characters make sense of the problems in their lives. By day he teaches students in American Indian Studies at the U of MN about the wicked smart, moving, and profound things that Native writers have to say about the world and by night he tries to rise to the standards they set.
Anuj Priyadarshi is in 7th grade at East Middle School in Shakopee. He loves to play tennis and cooking is one of his greatest hobbies.
Janelle Tabakov a 7th grader in East Middle School in Shakopee. She loves to travel— this year she was in Florida, Russia, Turkey and Puerto Rico.
Hannah Becraft is a senior at Shakopee High School. She enjoys being a part of multiple choirs at school, as well as writing music and poetry outside of class. She’s planning on studying environmental ethics at the University of Manchester in England.
Chavonn Williams Shen was a winner of the Still I Rise grant, a first runner-up for the Los Angeles Review Flash Fiction Contest and a Best of the Net Award finalist. She was also a Pushcart Prize nominee, a winner of the Mentor Series in Poetry and Creative Prose through the Loft Literary Center, and a fellow through the Givens Foundation for African American Literature. A Tin House and VONA workshop alum, her poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in: Yemassee, the Los Angeles Review, Permafrost Magazine, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere.
The BRIDGES Reading series is intended to bring together writers across genres and cultural backgrounds to express themselves, but also build links to each other. The title comes from a performance piece, LANDBRIDGE: THE BERINGIA PROJECT, a performance piece co-written and performed by Kusunoki and Jamison Mahto, an Anishinabe performance poet/trickster coyote. “Starting with conflicting creation myths, we came to a point where we understood and connected with the commonalities of our histories and cultures,” says Kusunoki. “It is the hope of the series that readers and the audience will do the same.”