Bridges Reading Series, September 2020
Bridges Reading series celebrates 4 years in online reading
“The Bridges Reading Series is four years old” says Stan Kusunoki, host/curator of the Bridges Reading Series. “As is tradition, I have lined up hosts/curators of other reading series to share their wit and wisdom. It is a celebration of the breadth and depth of the Twin Cities literary scene.” Since this is a Zoom reading, those who wish to view it should register with Next Chapter Booksellers to get the link sent to them.
The roster includes:
Mimi Jennings taught French in American public schools, English in the French school system, dharma in prisons; single-mothered two daughters; buried three parents in two months; turned at last to poetry. She hosts Midstream and Transition Town readings, circulates two collections. Her rap, blues, sonnets are in anthologies and journals (Closed Eye Open, Saint Paul Almanac, Martin Lake, Wising Up Press, Sleet, Red Bird, Persimmon Tree, Silkworm, more). She’s won: a Saint Catherine’s Creative Work Award, a Banfill-Locke first, several from the League of MN Poets, one Fulbright, two from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mimi, her English husband and their Ivoirian housemate believe we are all kin
Micheal Kiesow Moore co-facilitates the Birchbark Books Reading Series with Ardie Medina. He is the author of the poetry collection What to Pray For and the forthcoming The Song Castle (both Nodin Press). His work has appeared in numerous journals including Poetry City, Water~Stone Review, The James White Review, and in anthologies such as Queer Voices (Minnesota Historical Society Press), Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares & Rebels), and Fierce Lament (Red Bird Chapbooks). His honors include a Minnesota State Arts Board fellowship, a Loft Mentor Series Award, nominations for the Minnesota Book Award and Pushcart Prize in poetry, and he founded the Birchbark Books Reading Series. He especially enjoys opportunities to collaborate with visual artists and musicians, and he teaches creative writing classes in the Twin Cities at various locations including the Loft Literary Center. When he isn’t drinking too much coffee, Michael can be found dancing with the Ramsey’s Braggarts Morris Men.
Greg Ruud has written and performed stories and poetry all his life, all 72 years so far. A former teacher at St Kate's for the 4 year RN nurses Program, he became more interested in the class held there in the healing art of Poetry Therapy. Over the last 20 plus years he has met with 16 or more mostly women every two months as a part of the Minnesota Poetry Therapy Network. Through the group, he has come into his own as a writer of screenplays, short stories, and prose. He is one of the facilitators at Birds Nest Poetry Open Mic.
Donna Isaac hosts the Literary Lights series at Next Chapter Booksellers and is a teaching artist who organizes community readings in the Twin Cities. Published work includes a poetry book, Footfalls (Pocahontas Press); two chapbooks, Tommy (Red Dragonfly Press); Holy Comforter (Red Bird Chapbooks); and work in journals. Persistence of Vision, a chapbook about love of movies, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press, November 2019.
Tony Plocido holds the undisputed title of host/curator about town. While most of us are racing to host one series, Tony is currently the maestro of THREE series: Writers Read at Coffee Shop N. E., Poets and Pints at Sisyphus Brewing, and Mainstreet Open Mic at Cream & Amber in Hopkins. Tony is a local poet who was born and raised in the Twin Cities (west side of the river). He has published three books of poetry: Sucker Punch Wisdom in 2012 (along with Kansas City poets - Jeremy O'Neal & William Peck), Aging and Other Side Projects in 2016, and Felt This so Many Times from Spartan Press KC in 2018. Starting in 2019, he be became a board member of Cracked Walnut (the local chapter of The League of MN Poets) & The MN Fringe Festival. He currently lives in Hopkins with a very old cat.
Tim Nolan continues the legacy started 20 years ago by Carol Connolly by hosting the Readings by Writers series at the University Club in St. Paul. Tim was born in Minneapolis, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in English, and from Columbia University in New York City with an M.F.A. in writing. Tim is an attorney in private practice in Minneapolis. His poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Nation, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and on The Writer’s Almanac and American Life in Poetry. His three collections—The Sound of It, And Then, and The Field have all been published by New Rivers Press.
Janna Knittel ives in Minnesota but still sometimes calls the Pacific Northwest “home.” Janna’s publications include a chapbook, Fish & Wild Life (Finishing Line, 2018) and poems forthcoming or recently published in Between These Shores Literary and Arts Annual, Blueline, Cottonwood, North Dakota Quarterly, Split Rock Review, Up North Lit, Whale Road Review, and Waters Deep: A Great Lakes Anthology. Awards and recognition include a 2019 Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
Diego Vázquez Jr is a poet, novelist, storyteller. He has never met an illegal human. Working with the writers in The Women’s Writing Program has profoundly affected his insight into the joy and passion of the heart. Vázquez is the editor of more than 40 anthologies of poems written by women in the jails. A Loft Mentor in Fiction for 2014–2015, Vázquez is the author of Growing Through the Ugly,(W.W. Norton, New York, NY). Vazquez is a founding member of the Poetry Slam community in Minnesota. He was the first Poetry Slammaster in the state. On Valentines night of 1998 Vazquez organized the first Erotica Poetry Slam at Kieran’s in Minneapolis. This event has been held every year since then. Vazquez was also a member of the first two slam teams from Minnesota to compete at the National Poetry Slam. The first one in 1998 at Austin, Texas, and the second one in Chicago, Illinois. He was instrumental in the Twin Cities hosting the National Poetry Slam in 2002. He has conducted school residencies in grades 4 through 12 that conclude with a poetry slam in hundreds of schools throughout Minnesota. Vazquez has conducted workshops at the annual Young Authors Conference for more than 20 years. A recent poem, “Good for So Many” can be found in the anthology, Fence-Fall 2018.
David Bayliss is a poet & musician who resides in South Minneapolis. He has curated several regular monthly poetry readings throughout Minneapolis, including the Poets & Pints series. In 2020 he founded the literary nonprofit Gris Literatura, which sponsors classes, workshops, and readings for both poets & lovers of poetry. He works exclusively in the medium of poetry as he has a very short attention span, even for his own work. In his free time he likes to discover new ways to make his guitar sound like barking animals
George Colburn, a life-long St. Paulite, graduated from Hamline and Indiana Universities. His first book, Payday – Poetry, Prose, and Possibilities, came out while he was a student at Hamline; his two most recent, A Punctuated Echo (2018) and Milking the Dragon (2019), are available on Amazon Books. He has performed extensively across the Twin Cities and currently manages Birds Nest Poetry Open Mic Series. His work has appeared in anthologies: Dasein, Admit One, Demilitarized Zones – Veterans After Vietnam, A Coloring Book of Poetry for Adults, and others; his poem, “Peace With Honor (Cam Ranh Bay, Christmas, 1971)” is collected online in Minnesota Remembers Vietnam – The Story Wall. George’s work is strongly influenced by interpreting between his deaf parents and the larger world, and by the deaf community itself.
Michael Kleber Diggs was host/curator at the Banfill-Locke Reading Series, and is a poet and essayist. His writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, Poetry City, North Dakota Quarterly, Pollen Midwest, Paper Darts, Water~Stone Review and a few anthologies. He enjoys collaboration with visual artists. Michael is a past Fellow with the Givens Foundation for African-America Literature, a past-winner of the Loft Mentor Series in Poetry, and the inaugural Poet Laureate of Anoka County libraries. His work has been supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Michael is husband to Karen. Karen and Michael have a daughter who is an accomplished dancer.
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.”