The new Local Authors & Books Committee of the Minnesota Street Market in St. Joseph is hosting a local literary event the evening of Thursday, June 23, 2022.

What “There’s a Poem in This Place”: A Conversation and Performance. Featuring Mary Moore Easter and five Central Minnesota poets. Celebrating the memory of local poet Charles Wm. Preble (1936-2021).
When: 7pm, Thursday, June 23
Where: Minnesota Street Market, 27 West Minnesota Street, St. Joseph
WhoEvent is free and open to the public. Donations to cover the cost of food will be accepted.

This event offers an opportunity for local authors to take center stage in a lit fest setting — and for people from the local area to connect with some great local authors they may never have heard of.

The program features short readings and dialogue — with authors of different backgrounds to create a varied, rich experience for our community.  It also will have live translation in Somali.

Produced and directed by Tracy Rittmueller

Tracy Rittmueller, an award-winning poet, founding director of Lyricality, and chair of the Local Authors & Books Committee, is the cultural producer/director of this 75-minute event. She says her ideas for this performance were planted in 1992 at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, now widely acknowledged as the largest poetry event in North America. “As a guest of one of the festival’s organizers, I gained insider knowledge of how a poetry celebration can spark intercultural literary conversation.”

The Minnesota Street Market’s General Manager Pia Lopez, says, “With this event in June, we want to begin a new literary festival tradition that engages people with the power of storytelling and place.” She continues: “We’ll also share food, which fits with the Minnesota Street Market’s daily celebration of natiural and local foods.”

The aim of the Local Authors & Books Committee’s is to make St. Joseph into a literary arts hub for central Minnesota.This first annual litfest invites the public to spend an evening in the unique setting of the back lot of the Minnesota Street Market (the historic 1899 Loso Building), bringing people together in an outdoor cafe atmosphere, with food and conversation.

Featuring poet and dancer/choreographer Mary Moore Easter 

Mary Moore Easter will be performing from her recent collection, Free Papers: poems inspired by the testimony of Eliza Winston, a Mississippi slave freed in Minnesota in 1860, “a wrenching story of heartbreak and persistence” that captures Eliza Winston’s world in 1860 and our world today. Moore Easter holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence and an M.A. from Goddard. She taught at Carleton College in Minnesota, where she was founder and director of the Dance Program. She is a Pushcart Nominated, widely published and nationally revered literary poet, as well as 2020 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. She is the editor of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: Poems in the Wake of Racial Injustice (Rain Taxi, 2020) and the author of four poetry books.Moore Easter said that she is excited to be returning to St. Joseph. She fondly remembers the long ago summer she spent here with her children and her mother. She was in residence at the College of Saint Benedict, taking a workshop with the dance company Choreogram, directed by Margret Dietz.

Honoring Charles Wm. Preble 

“There’s A Poem In This Place” will honor the life and poetry of Charles Wm. Preble, who began writing poetry when he was in his 70s and wrote prolifically up to the time of his death. Charlie also was a priest in the Episcopal Church who served in Iowa, New York, Utah and Nevada. Upon moving to Minnesota he served parishes in St. Cloud and Little Falls. He was also instrumental in the early years of the development of the Episcopal House of Prayer at St. John’s, Collegeville. Following his retirement from active ministry, Charlie pursued a new career as a fine woodworker. His award winning furniture designs grace many homes and other venues. One of his pieces was chosen by the Minnesota Historical Society as part of their permanent collection. He also crafted an altar and the meditation chairs for the Episcopal House of Prayer.

With central Minnesota poets Hedy Tripp, Anisa Hagi-Mohamed, Larry Schug, and Abdi Mahad

Five poets will read from Preble’s poetry and offer some of their own poems in conversation with his. The roster includes central Minnesota poets Larry Schug, Hedy Tripp, Anisa Hagi-Mohamed and Abdi Mahad.

A Somali translator will be present to facilitate understanding and intercultural dialogue in this celebration of the poetry of place. 

Hedy Tripp is a Saint Cloud elder with the Minnesota Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL), and retired professor/lecturer who writes poetry and memoir. She is a recipient of multiple CMAB grants for artists, and for the past year, has been active in a vibrant, national online Black-Indigenous-People-Of-Color (BIPOC) writing community, meeting weekly. 

Anisa Hagi-Mohamed is a teacher, artist, and writer. Born in Somalia, she spent most of her school years in Fresno and San Diego CA before coming to central Minnesota with her family two years ago. As author of My Diasporic Diary, a reflective journal, she is known on the trendy audio app Clubhouse as “The Somali Oprah” for facilitating lively discussions using prompts from her book. She has an M.S. in Applied Linguistics, and is a 2021 of recipient of a Waterers gift to BIPOC culture bearers. Waterers are grassroots assemblies who distribute wealth to strengthen local creative place-tending in the regions commonly known as Minnesota and the Dakotas. 

Larry Schug is retired after a life of many kinds of manual labor. He is a volunteer writing tutor at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University writing centers, who has published eight books of poems and is working on a ninth. He lives with his wife, dog and two cats near a large tamarack bog, which is forever preserved with a conservation easement, in St. Wendel Township, north of St. Joseph. 

Abdi Mahad was a guest poet in Lyricality’s 2021 online poetry celebration. “an Evening with Louise K. Waakaa’igan. His poems and conversations have been published on The Lyricality Way. He has a master’s degree in Teaching English as Second Language (TESL) from Saint Cloud University and Bachelor degree in Business Management. 

Why the event is called “There’s A Poem In This Place”

The title of the event, “There’s a Poem in This Place,” is the opening line of “In This Place (An American Lyric)” by Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. By celebrating “There’s a Poem in This Place” at the Minnesota Street Market, attendees will help lay the foundations for a thriving literary scene in St. Joseph and feel more connected to where they live.   

Donations from Minnesota Street Market members Jana Preble, Don Renshaw and Janelle LaBlanc, and member volunteer support, have created a book nook stocked with a diverse slate of local writers’ works at the Minnesota Street Market. Literary events at the Minnesota Street Market, including a monthly “Poetry of Place” writing group with Nicole Borg, as well as this June 23 literary event are made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central MN Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

About Minnesota Street Market

Minnesota Street Market is a small food & art co-op of 1,000 member-owners located on the historic main street in the thriving university community of St. Joseph. We opened in July 2011 and our mission is to provide high-quality, natural foods, art and books with a focus on locally produced products in a welcoming, educational and convenient environment. 

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central MN Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.