Over the last decade, The Friends has developed a number of award-winning annual program series or events. Listed below are our annual events with a brief description. Please check the calendar for the time and location of current and upcoming events.
FRIENDS COORDINATED SERIES
- Fireside Literary Readings
- Untold Stories: Labor History
- Eating Reading and Living Well
- Park Square Theatre Discussions
- The Rose Ensemble Presentations and Sing-Alongs
FRIENDS CO-SPONSORED EVENTS
For 10 years, the Chicano and Latino Writers Festival featured local and national writers including such luminaries as Isabel Allende, Esmeralda Santiago, Luis Rodriguez and Juan Felipe Herrera, as well as nationally recognized Minnesota writers such as Ray Gonzalez, Sandra Benitez and George Rabasa. The Festival also included a program with high school writers and a Day of the Dead event.
Series co-sponsors include the Guadalupe Alternative Programs (GAP), Neighborhood House, and Adams Spanish Immersion School. The Festival usually runs from mid-October to mid-November and is based at the Riverview Branch Library. The Festival has received financial support from the American Library Association's LIVE! Program, COMPAS, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the City of Saint Paul's Cultural STAR program.
Now in its 17th season, the Fireside Literary Readings Series is one of The Friends' oldest and most popular events. The series annually highlights the work of some of Minnesota's finest writers who have published a new work in the previous year. Past readers have included Heid and Lise Erdrich, Alexs Pate, Faith Sullivan, Lorna Landvik, Carol Bly, Pete Hautman, Mary Logue, John Coy, Jack Weatherford, Ellen Hart and Kate DiCamillo.
The author readings take place in the cozy atmosphere in front of the hearth at the Hamline Midway Branch Library and include free coffee, cider and cookies. Fireside readings occur from late January through February, on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. The Friends has previously received support for the Fireside series from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC). The Fireside series is co-sponsored by Micawber's Books.
- January 11: Larry Millett, The Magic Bullet: A Locked Room Mystery Featuring Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock Holmes
- January 18: Eric Dregni, Vikings in the Attic
- January 25: Mary Rockcastle, In Caddis Wood
- February 1: Ed Bok Lee, Whorled
- February 8: Peter Smith, A Cavalcade of Lesser Horrors
- February 15: Diane Wilson, Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life
- Jan. 19: Peter Geye, Safe from the Sea
- January 26: Coffee House Press Poets Lightsey Darst, Greg Hewett and Steve Healey
- February 2: William Kent Krueger, Vermillion Drift
- February 9: Bonnie Blodgett, Remembering Smell: a Memoir of Losing - and Discovering - the Primal Sense
- February 16: Will Weaver, The Last Hunter: An American Family Album
- February 23: Swati Avasthi, Split
- January 14: Brian Freeman, In the Dark
- January 21: Poet Dobby Gibson, Skirmish
- February 4: Eric Dregni, Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy's Culinary Capital
- February 11: Sarah Stonich, The Ice Chorus
- February 18: J. C. Hallman, The Hospital for Bad Poets
- February 25: Marisha Chamberlain, The Rose Variations
- January 15: Julie Kramer, Stalking Susan
- January 22: John Coy, Box Out, and Julie Schumacher, Black Box
- February 5: David Mura, Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire
- February 12: Nora Murphy, Knitting the Threads of Time
- February 19: James Cihlar, Undoing, and William Reichard, This Brightness
- January 31: Bill Holm, Windowsof Brimnes.
- February 7: Lise Erdrich, Night Train.
- February 14: Wing Young Huie, Looking for Asian America: An Ethnocentric Tour.
- February 21: Sun Yung Shin, Skirt Full of Black.
- Wednesday, February 27: Mary Logue, Maiden Rock.
- January 18: Ellen Hart, Night Vision.
- January 25: Mary Rose O'Reilley, The Love of Impermanent Things.
- February 1: Poet Stephen Burt reads with Eric Lorberer, editor of Rain Taxi, a local literary magazine.
- February 8: Lawrence Sutin, All Is Change.
- February 15: David Treuer, The Translation of Dr. Apelles.
- February 22: Georgia Ray, The Memoirs of Grace Flandrau.
In celebration of labor history month each May, the Untold Stories series presents programs and talks on both local and national labor history topics. Past programs in the series have featured historian Robin D.G. Kelley, singer Larry Long, author Cheri Register, and walking tours by local historian Dave Riehle. The series received the 2003 John Sessions Memorial Award from the American Library Association for service to the labor community.
Untold Stories is coordinated by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit us online at www.thefriends.org or call 651-222-3242. Co-sponsors include Coffee House Press, Jewish Community Action, Macalester College History Department, Department of Social Sciences at Metropolitan State University, Micawber’s Books, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, Ramsey County Historical Society, Saint Paul Labor Speakers Club, Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, Twin Cities Labor History Society, Twin Cities Musicians Local 30-73, the University of Minnesota Department of American Studies and the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service. This series is supported by an endowment created with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation.
FRIENDS CO-SPONSORED EVENTS
The Lawrence M. O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry is presented annually to a contemporary Irish poet by the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas. This internationally noted award is presented in April, and each year for the past eight years, The Friends has proudly co-sponsored a series of public events featuring the O'Shaughnessy Award-winning poets. Most of the readings or other events occur on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas or in one of the branches of the Saint Paul Public Library.
The 2012 O'Shaughnessy' Poetry Award honoree, Gerard Smyth, was born in Dublin in 1951. He has been publishing poetry in literary journals in Ireland, Britain and North America since the late 1960s. He is the author of six poetry collections: World Without End (New Writers' Press, 1977), Loss and Gain (Raven Arts Press, 1981), Painting the Pink Roses Black (Dedalus, 1986), Daytime Sleeper (Dedalus, 2002), which also appeared in a Romanian translation in 2003, A New Tenancy (2004) and The Mirror Tent (2007). His most recent collection, The Fullness of Time: New and Selected Poems, was published in April 2010. Click here to visit his website.
"Gerry Smyth is a poet of the mundane and the mysterious, a poet of the everyday and also of the eternal." – Dennis O’Driscoll
In those days soon after mid-century
the dead air of Sunday was like a sedative.
It settled on the Dublin Mountains
and Garden of Remembrance.
The radio was a choice
between Dixieland, plainchant
or the shipping forecast told in snatches.
It was the day of darkest moods,
of rain as black as the Sunday prayerbook
and streets all silent
except for the marching band
whose tunes I loved
as much as their walk of righteousness:
the swagger in the way
the musicians advanced,
playing their anthem without looking back.
Monday, April 16 • 7 p.m.
Hamline Midway Branch Library, 1558 West Minnehaha, Saint Paul
Join Irish poet Smyth in conversation with local writer Patricia Kirkpatrick, poetry editor for the Water~Stone Review, for a Writers in Conversation event focusing on “The City as Muse: The Poet in the Urban World.” Presented by The Friends and the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas.
Friday, April 20 • 7:30 p.m.
O’Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, University of St. Thomas – Saint Paul campus, near the corner of Cleveland and Ashland
Smyth will present a reading, free and open to the public, capping a week of events, classroom visits and public appearances. He will also participate in the Minnesota Book Awards Gala on April 14.
Leanne O'Sullivan is the recipient of the 15th annual Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry presented by the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies. Born in Cork, Ireland in 1983, Leanne O’Sullivan had her first collection Waiting for my Clothes published when she was just 21 years of age. She has been writing poetry since she was 12, and began writing poems not thinking they would ever form part of a book, but 'writing down the reasons one should live for' and 'becoming addicted to looking at things to find the beauty in them.' Poet Billy Collins writes of O'Sullivan, "A [young] Virgil, she guides us down some of the more hellish corridors of adolescence with a voice that is strong and true. For that alone, she deserves our full attention."
Her work has been included in various anthologies, including Best Irish Poetry 2010 (Southword Publishing), Selina Guinness's The New Irish Poets (Bloodaxe Books, 2004) and Billy Collins's Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Random House, 2003). Her latest collection is Cailleach: The Hag of Beara published by Bloodaxe (2009).
An excerpt from the poem Self Portrait
This is the woman as God has created her,
this is the woman I am outdoing.
She is a ghost the more I see her.
Her eyes dry against my breath. She is moving
from me into this true radiance while
I stare. I don’t move, the heart stops its flood
of rust and the mirror crackles to sand.
My babe, the brush is slipping from my hand.
In 2010, Irish poet Theo Dorgan of Dublin received the 14th annual Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry. Theo Dorgan was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1953 and now lives in Dublin. His poetry collections include The Ordinary House of Love (Salmon, 1991); Rosa Mundi (Salmon, 1995); Sappho’s Daughter (Wave Train, 1998); What This Earth Cost Us (Dedalus, 2008); and Greek (Dedalus, 2010). He has had a lengthy career as a broadcaster of literary programs on both radio and television, as a presenter of “Poetry Now” on Irish radio, and as the host of the book program “Imprint” on the Irish national television station.
See and hear Theo Dorgan reading the poem "Visitors" from Greek.
Bread Dipped in Olive Oil and Salt
Bread dipped in olive oil and salt,
a glass of rough dry white.
A table beside the evening sea
where you sit shelling pistachios,
flicking the next open with the half-
shell of the last, story opening story,
on down to the sandy end of time.
The stars coming out on the life that I call mine
In 2009, Irish poet Mary O'Malley of County Galway received the 13th annual Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry from the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies. O'Malley was born in Connemara and educated at University College, Galway. Her poems have been translated into several languages. She travels and lectures widely in Europe and the U.S., and lives in the Moycullen Gaeltacht, County Galway.
To celebrate the award, Mary O'Malley read from her work at the John Roach Center for the Liberal Arts on the University of St. Thomas’ Saint Paul campus. The reading capped a week of events, classroom visits and public appearances by the poet, including a public conversation with local poet Margaret Hasse, on the topic "Going Away, Coming Home: Poetry and Displacement" at the Hamline Midway Branch Library. Hasse is the author of three books of poetry: Stars Above, Stars Below (New Rivers, 1984), winner of the Minnesota Voices competition; In a Sheep's Eye, Darling (Milkweed, 1988) and Milk and Tides (Nodin Press, 2008), and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Both events were co-sponsored by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.
The winner of the 12th annual award, Pat Boran is a poet, fiction writer, publisher and radio broadcaster. He was born in Portlaoise in 1963 and currently lives in Dublin. He has published four collections of poetry: The Unwound Clock (1990), which won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award, Familiar Things (1993), The Shape of Water (1996) and As the Hand, the Glove (2001). His New and Selected Poems was first published by Salt Publishing, UK, in 2005 and reissued by Dedalus in 2007. In addition to poetry, he has published a collection of short stories, Strange Bedfellows (1991) and a fiction title for children, All the Way from China (1999) which was shortlisted for the Bisto Book of the Year Award. His non-fiction works include the popular writers' handbook The Portable Creative Writing Workshop (1999), reissued in a revised and expanded edition in 2005, and A Short History of Dublin (2000).
For many years he was the Program Director of the Dublin Writers Festival, and he has held writer-in-residence posts with Dublin Corporation, Dublin City Libraries and Dublin City University. In 2005 he took over the running of the Dedalus Press, one of Ireland’s longest-standing literary imprints, specializing in contemporary poetry from Ireland and poetry from around the world in English translation. In 2006, he edited the anthology Wingspan: A Dedalus Sampler.
A selection from Boran's 1996 collection, The Shape of Water:
A flashing light will mean I'm not alone.
A moment later maybe I'll hear your voice,
or that of a stranger, or the sound
of someone somewhere having second thoughts,
and hanging up. But at least I'll know it means
that someone thinks about me, now and then,
and whoever they prove or do not prove to be,
at least there is a sort of consolation
in the fact that they send a gift of light,
a sign to welcome me on my return.
You are not alone, it will say, first thing,
the green light of the answering machine.
Or else: how desperate you've become
for love, the glimmer of surprise,
alone there in the doorway of your room
like a man before an endless, starless sky.
Previous winners of the O'Shaughnessy Award are Eavan Boland, John F. Deane, Peter Sirr, Louis de Paor, Moya Cannon, Frank Orsmby, Thomas McCarthy, Michael Coady, Kerry Hardie and Dennis O'Driscoll.
Each fall, the Jewish Community Center of the Greater St. Paul Area (JCC) presents an extensive festival featuring nationally renowned books and authors. The Twin Cities Jewish Book Fair is co-sponsored by a number of other community groups, including The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. The majority of the Festival events occur at the JCC, but for a number of years, one or more of the programs have also been featured at the Saint Paul Public Library, usually at the Highland Park Branch Library. Visit the JCC website's book fair page for more information about the three-weeks-long festival.
Free and open to the public. All films begin at 7 p.m. and take place in St. Paul.
Since 2004, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, in partnership with The Advocates for Human Rights, has presented a Women's Human Rights Film Series. Documentaries on a wide range of women's rights issues are screened, followed by discussions led by The Advocates' staff and guests. The screenings take place at Saint Paul Public Library branches and are free and open to the public.
- Born Into Brothels
- Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America
- From Risk to Action: Women and HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia
- Killing Us Softly 4
- Africa Rising
- A Walk to Beautiful*
- La Americana
- Rough Aunties
- Sentencing the Victim
- Mrs. Goundo's Daughter
- Women of Tibet: A Quiet Revolution
Films screened in 2008-2009 series:
- The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo*
- Finding Dawn*
- Iron Ladies of Liberia*
- Maquilapolis: City of Factories*
- SASA! A Film about Women, Violence and HIV/AIDS*
- To See If I’m Smiling*
- Women on the Frontline
- Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai*
Films screened in 2007-2008 series:
- Enemies of Happiness*
- Journey to Safety*
- Killer’s Paradise*
- Crimes of Honour
- Not For Sale*
- So Deep a Violence*
- View From a Grain of Sand*
Films screened in 2006-2007 series:
- Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan
- Love, Honour and Disobey**
- Love, Labor, Loss
- Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman*
- Women of the Holy Kingdom
- Border Echoes: The Truth Behind the Juarez Murders
Films screened in 2005-2006 series:
- The Vienna Tribunal
- Operation Fine Girl
- ¡Basta! Women Say No to Violence
- Peace by Peace: Women on the Frontlines
- No More Tears Sister: Anatomy of Hope and Betrayal*
- Afghanistan Unveiled*
- God Sleeps in Rwanda*
* Catalogued in the Saint Paul Public Library system
**Available at the Ramsey County Bridges to Safety/Domestic Abuse Service Center
Sign language interpretation and other accommodations are available with advance notice. To request this service, contact The Friends at 651-222-3242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact Mary Hunt, The Advocates Program Associate, at 612-341-3302, ext. 107, or email her at email@example.com.