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Launch of Literary Bridges: A Cracked Walnut Celebration

August 10—St. Paul For immediate release:

“I suppose you could call it a wedding, but then we’ve been like twins over the years,”
says Stan Kusunoki, talking about the merger of his reading series, Bridges, with
Literary Lights hosted by fellow Twin Cities writer, Donna Isaac.

Both series have a home at Next Chapter Booksellers near the Macalester College
campus, and when COVID forced the bookstore to cut hours, “Bridges” needed to
consider different options in order to continue.

“Donna’s series was on Sunday afternoons, and we run on different months, so it made
sense just to merge both series into one,” says Kusunoki.

“It also made sense to merge the names,” says Isaac. “ Literary Bridges really is what
we are both trying to do with our separate series.”

Literary Bridges will have its inaugural session Sunday, September 12 at 2:00 P.M. It
will be in conjunction with a literary celebration of Cracked Walnut, the umbrella
organization that sponsors both series and wants people to know they are still here
despite having to postpone some events due to the pandemic.

“It's going to be a celebration, for sure,” Isaac says. “There will be over a dozen writers
who have read at one or both series, some suggested by Cracked Walnut.”
“And cake!” says Kusunoki. “You have to have cake to make it a real celebration!”
Featured readers include: David Mura, Isadora Gruye, Mary Jo Thompson, Janna
Knittel, Michael Kleber-Diggs, Jeanne Lutz, Margaret Hasse, Carolyn Holbrook, Lia
Rivamonte, Michael Dean, Rosie Peters, Carol Masters, Hawona Sullivan Janzen
Anthony Ceballos, and Ardie Medina.

“It’s really a celebration of being able to read together in person again, maybe with
masks or by being vaccinated,” says Isaac.
“…And it’s a snapshot of where we have been as reading series, with an eye for what’s
next,” Kusunoki adds.

Next Chapter Booksellers is located at the corner of Snelling Ave. and Grand Ave.--
38 Snelling Ave S., St. Paul, MN 55105
For more information, and updated COVID policy, go to



Biographies of Readers for the Literary  Bridges Launch

Janna Knittel has published a chapbook, Fish & Wild Life (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and has poems published or forthcoming in Between These Shores Literary and Arts Annual, Blueline, Constellations, Cottonwood, North Dakota Quarterly, The Wild Word, and Waters Deep: A Great Lakes Anthology. Recognition includes 2021 and 2019 grants from the MN State Arts Board.


Jeanne Lutz grew up on a small dairy farm in MN. Her writing has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the Oberholtzer Foundation, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts; she is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Best-of-the-Net nominee, and Loft Mentor Series winner for poetry. Her first full-volume collection, Until the Kingdom Comes will be released in early 2022 (Atmosphere Press). She divides her time between MN and Italy.


Michael Dean grew up in Japan, worked in public health policy, made a family, and became a poet and photo editor addict. His book of poetry, Sea Shells, was published by Distillate Press. He is the founder of The Martin Lake Poetry Journal. Michael writes most of his poems on his smartphone with one-finger taps and is known from Haight Ashbury to Greenwich Village as the one-fingered poet. 


Isadora Gruye is a writer and photographer living in MN. She believes in cartographers and beekeepers but has little need for maps or honey. Her work has appeared in both the tactile and virtual world. Her first poetry collection The Ladies' Guide to the Apocalypse was published in 2019, and her second collection Doomsday Heart Brings Her Dream Journal to the Book Burning was selected to be part of the 2020 Ghost City Press Summer Series.


Mary Jo Thompson’s first poetry collection, Stunt Heart, was selected by Henri Cole for the Backwaters Poetry Prize (2017). Her work has appeared in North American Review, The Journal, Missouri Review, and, Prairie Schooner. She is anthologized in Best American Poetry and Another and Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series. She received a residency at Monson Arts and VT Studio Center to develop a hybrid memoir and lives with her dog Pico on a Mississippi island.


Carolyn Holbrook is a writer, educator, and advocate for the arts' healing power. Her memoir, Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify (U of M P, 2020) won the 2021 MN Book Award for memoir/ nonfiction and honorable mention for the 2021 Society of Midland Authors Literary Award in Biography/ Memoir. She is co-author with Arleta Little of Dr. Josie R. Johnson’s memoir, Hope In the Struggle (U of M P 2019) and co-editor with David Mura of We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World (U of N P, forthcoming November 2021).


David Mura’s newest book is A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity & Narrative Craft in Writing. He’s written four books of poetry, The Last Incantations, Angels for the Burning, The Colors of Desire (Carl Sandburg Award), and After We Lost Our Way (National Poetry Contest winner).  His two memoirs are Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei (NY Times Notable Book and Oakland PEN Josephine Miles Book Award) and Where the Body Meets Memory. With Holbrook, he is co-editor of the upcoming MN BIPOC anthology, We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World.


Lia Rivamonte lives in the Little Bohemia neighborhood of St. Paul with her husband Matt Brown. Her poetry chapbook Tell Me When You Get There was published in 2019 (Finishing Line Press.) She is the recipient of a MSAB Artist Initiative Grant and a Metro Regional Art Council Next Step Grant. 


Margaret Hasse moved to the Twin Cities in 1973 where she's been a teaching poet for The Loft, correctional institutions, schools, and the community. Summoned, her sixth collection of poetry, will be published soon, followed by a chapbook entitled The Call of Glacier Park. 


Michael Kleber-Diggs is a poet, essayist, and literary critic. His debut poetry collection, Worldly Things, won the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize and is available through Milkweed Editions. Michael’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Great River Review, Water~Stone Review, Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, Potomac Review, Hunger Mountain, and Memorious.


Ardie Medina is an Anishinaabe poet/playwright from Lac du Flambeau, WI. Her poems have been published in Loonfeather Press, Yellow Medicine Review, The Saint Paul Almanac, and two self-published anthologies, Gatherings and In the Company of Others, with fellow poets from the Loft's  Foreword Apprenticeship program. She currently co-facilitates the Birchbark Reading Series with Michael Kiesow-Moore. Ardie lives in N.E. Minneapolis with her husband Mike.


Carol Masters is a poet, peace activist, and grandmother. Her Dear Descendent poems (Nodin Press 2019) was a finalist for the Midwest Independent Publishers Associations Award, 2020. In 2010, You Can’t Do That: Marv Davidov, Nonviolent Revolutionary was a finalist for the MIPA award. The Peace Terrorist, short stories (New Rivers Press) was a MN Voices Project winner in 1994. 


Anthony Ceballos is a poet, writer, and turkey sandwich enthusiast. In 2016 he was selected as a Loft Literary Center Mentor Series mentee. He has been featured in Yellow Medicine Review, Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose and Pride, and Great River Review. He graduated from VA's Randolph College's low residency creative writing program. He lives in Minneapolis and pens staff recommendations at Birchbark Books and Native Arts.   


William J. Anderson is an observer of life and writer based in Champlin, MN.  He is a Board member for Cracked Walnut and a member of the Peace and Social Justice Writing group at the Loft. His work has appeared in an assortment of on-line literary journals, an anthology from Changing Times Press, and an anthology of short stories (Twin Cities Sisters in Crime.)  William believes all he sees and hears provides source material and inspiration.  


Claudia Hampston Daly: Writing, broadcasting, and children form the braid of Claudia’s work and life. Her The Lives of the Children and For Kids’ Sake! Radio series earned more than 50 awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Award, the Casey Gold Medal, top citations from the United Nations and the NY Festivals and two UNDA Gabriel Angels. Claudia served as radio associate director for the William Benton Broadcast Project at the U of Chicago and has built and managed six MN Public Radio stations. She has freelanced as a writer for print, radio, television, and film and continues to write from collected manuscripts.


Date: 09/12/2021
Time: 2:00pm - 3:00pm