Su Smallen and Larry Gavin Poetry Reading

May 12, 2014

Su Smallen and Larry Gavin will read from their latest poetry collections Thursday, May 15, 7:30 pm.

Buddha, Proof is a funny, smart book, a Minnesota Book Award Finalist republished by Red Dragonfly Press in a new, lg_buddhaproof_cover(sept4)-1382383183expanded edition with twice as many poems. Buddha befriends Barbie, shops at Target, rides roller coasters, contemplates the complete perfection of toast. “The poems are a fresh encounter with the Buddha, with his perceptive eye, brought right up into our contemporary American cultural landscape, with his customary humor and gravity” (Joyce Kennedy). These imaginative poems meet him on the Western road and “invite the Buddha into our lives as someone with whom we might at last have something in common” (Lawrence Sutin). Premised on questions of purpose, suffering, and compassion, these are whimsical and thoughtful poems you’re likely to remember a long time.

“Buddha, Proof offers readers compelling collisions between Smallen’s re-imagined Buddha for our time (for all time) and a vast array of characters, landscapes, and philosophical bewilderments. These poems enliven the spirits of all who read them.” -Deborah Keenan

lg_gavin_praise_cover(1-28-14)-1395427450 Larry Gavin’s fourth collection of poetry, contains poems about Carp and post holes and rivers, poems about weather, fishing, and friends. Like a river persists past all obstacles, these poems simply insist on gratitude. They suggest that everything begins with The Initiation of Praise.

Larry Gavin is a writer, editor, and poet. His first collection of poems Necessities was published in 2005 and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His second book of poems titled Least Resistance was published in 2007 and nominated for a Minnesota Book Award. In addition, he edits a postcard magazine called Tumbling Crane dedicated to the haiku in English. Mr. Gavin has been a field editor for Midwest Fly Fishing Magazine since 1994 and has written over 75 articles on entomology, conservation, and travel for the magazine. His work has also appeared most recently in the August issue of Lake Country Journal, and it has been anthologized in Minnesota Seasons: Classic Tales of Life Outdoors and in Farming Words (2008) edited by Bill Holm. His poems also appear in the sesquicentennial anthology County Lines which will contain poems that represent all 87 counties in Minnesota. His poems were featured in September 2008 as a road sign poetry project on Tower Road in Fergus Falls. Each line of a four line poem will appear in sequence along the roadside.

Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr

April 4, 2014

Review by Steve Swanson

Nevada Barr, Destroyer Angel. an Anna Pigeon mystery, St. Martins, April, 2014, 342 pp.MC.May_.DestroyerAngel.Jacket-150x227

When Jerry of the Literate Monkey handed me this pre-publication mystery, I remembered having read several other Anna Pigeon mysteries, two of them set in Minnesota’s Isle Royale Park on Lake Superior.
Reading Nevada Barr’s biography, I wondered if we might have had the same writing tutor, James B. Hall, she at University of California, Irvine, and I at University of Oregon.
There are a dozen and a half Anna Pigeon mysteries, all of them set in national parks. This one, also set in Minnesota’s north woods, opens with four campers—one of them a paraplegic, and one extremely wealthy–kidnapped and held captive by urban thugs.
A third of the way into the book I had plausibility traumas on behalf of Anna Pigeon who, arriving late at the campsite without even her Swiss Army knife, finds four armed and vicious criminals holding her four friends hostage out in the woods. Is she The Lone Super-Ranger?
Anna must figure out how to free the hostages. The action starts early, 20 pages in, and it’s a real potboiler. Anna, weaponless, sneaking around outside the kidnappers’ campsite, manages to rescue all four hostages and save a wounded dog, though she and one of the hostages is wounded and the others are brutally injured by the thugs.
If you like wild, violent, gory stories, if you like relentless suspense, if you like Nevada Barr, and if you like narrative twists and turns, settle into your easy chair with this one.

Jane McDonnell reading postponed

January 23, 2014

Jane McDonnell’s poetry reading has been postponed until the spring.  The reading had been scheduled for tonight, but we will reschedule it.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

September 26, 2013

a review by Steve Swanson

This book, by Pulitzer Prize winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri, is begins in India and ends in the U.S.  Much of the action is in the ibg.common.titledetail.imageloader1970’s, a time of political and religious turmoil in both countries.  Two brothers, Subhash and Udayan, born a year apart, are excellent students.  Both are aimed for careers.

The older brother studies in Rhode Island, the younger brother, in India, marries against his parents’ wishes and because of his rabid political views, is killed by the police.  Out of grief and concern, the brother then marries his sister-in-law, now a pregnant widow, and takes her to the U.S.  From then on the story is mostly about them, and about the daughter who doesn’t know that she was sired by her “father’s” brother.

In a variety of bi-cultural relationships, this engaging narrative explores courtship, arranged marriages, a charitable marriage, immigration, unwed pregnancy, parenting, and  lesbianism.  It is told with a shifting point of view–the life stories of two brothers, one wife, and one daughter–and those wrapped around and woven through their lives.  It is a jigsaw puzzle, exotic and complex, but like most jigsaw puzzles, a fascinating and enlarged picture when finished.

Scott Carpenter Reading Friday, March 8th, 7:30 pm

March 3, 2013

Scott Dominic Carpenter will read from This Jealous Earth Friday, March 8th at 7:30 pm. ibg.common.titledetail.imageloader

A man puts his beloved pets to the knife; a family prepares for the Rapture; a woman in a department store slips a necklace into her purse. Whatever the situation, the characters in This Jealous Earth find themselves faced with moments of decision that will forever alter the course of their lives. Always moving and often touched with humor, Carpenter’s stories examine the tension between the everyday and the transcendent—our struggle to grasp what lies beyond our reach. Whether hawking body parts in a Midwestern city, orbiting through the galleries of a Paris museum or plotting sibling tortures in an Arizona desert, his characters lead us through a series of dilemmas of universal appeal.



Joyce Sutphen and Basma Kavanaugh Poetry Reading

January 10, 2013

Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen and Canadian poet and graphic artist Basma Kavanagh will read from their work at Monkey See, Monkey Read on Saturday, January 19th, at 7 pm. This event is free and open to the public.

Basma Kavanagh, a visual artist, printer, and poet, will read from her recent books Distillo (Gaspereau Press, 2012) and A basmaRattle of Leaves (Red Dragonfly Press, 2012). Kavanagh is in Minnesota during the month of January as an artist-in-residence at the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts. Her poetry displays a profound commitment to the natural world, so much so that her descriptions of both flora and fauna often feel like potent elixirs or ritual charms, rather than words on a page. Her artwork can be viewed at

Joyce Sutphen, the current Poet Laureate of Minnesota and English professor at Gustavus Adolphus College, will be reading joyce_sutphenfrom her forthcoming collection After Words (Red Dragonfly Press, 2013), her fifth full-length collection and an obvious companion to her last collection First Words (Red Dragonfly Press, 2010). These two books center around the poet’s family and life on a rural Minnesota farmstead. From these down-to-earth, Minnesotan themes, Sutphen crafts poems that are approachable yet deeply steeped in the tradition of English literature.

A Christmas Home-Midwest Connections

December 16, 2012

The touching sequel to the beloved novel A Dog Named Christmas.

On Sunday, November 29, 2009, more than 12.5 million families fell in love with the television adaptation of the novel A Dog Named Christmas. Within forty-eight hours after the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie aired, the initial run of twenty thousand DVDs sold out. Two years later, when Christmas with Tucker, the prequel to the McCray family stories, was released, it was described by Dean Koontz as ”a perfect Christmas read,” by A. J. Jacobs as ”lovely and poignant,” and by Publishers Weekly as ”cute, hopeful, and heartwarming.” Now, the much-anticipated third installment, A Christmas Home, will prove to be yet another holiday classic.

Watching their children move out and live independently is a difficult task for many parents — but for George and Mary Ann McCray, it’s nearly impossible. Even though Todd, their disabled son, is in his twenties, George and Mary Ann fear that he cannot thrive without their support and supervision. But Todd is determined to be his own person — and he has a dog named Christmas and an entire community ready to help him find his way.

Gregory Kincaid lives on a farm in eastern Kansas with his wife, two cats, and two dogs, including Rudy, adopted from a local shelter. When not writing, he is a practicing lawyer and pet-adoption advocate.


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