by Dennis Dalman
Aging, loss of memory and life-threatening diseases all sound like depressing topics to be avoided, but in fact they can be, in some ways, as life-affirming as blooming health-and-happiness.
Those who doubt that should attend a free event at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Minnesota Street Market on St. Joseph’s downtown main street.
The gathering, dubbed “Book Nook Conversation,” will feature four local writers who will read poems or prose from their books, followed by a discussion in which all are invited to participate.
The book reading/discussion is one of an ongoing series of book presentations and discussions that take place at Minnesota Street Market, which promotes local literature and the visual arts.
The main theme of the Feb. 11 program is “On the wisdom of memory and the lessons of memory loss.”
The books and their authors are the following:
“A Hit of Hope (for when it really gets bad)” by Betsy Johnson of St. Joseph. Johnson teaches in the Communications and English departments at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. She is also a yoga teacher. In 2018, Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her struggles, undertaken with “hope and grit,” inspired her collection of meditations in her latest book.
“To heal,” she wrote, “we have to get real and name the mess, the fear, the pain. And we have to see a way forward. A way out. Or at least a way to sit while the storm crashes.” Johnson’s book can be purchased at the Minnesota Street Market.
“Going Blind: A Memoir,” an autobiographical work by Mara Faulkner of St. Joseph. Faulkner is a retired professor of English and literature of the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. “Going Blind: A Memoir” was a finalist for the 2010 Minnesota Book Award. “Going Blind” examines many forms of blindness (psychological and physical), including Faulkner’s father’s gradual loss of his eyesight. Faulkner teaches writing workshops at the Spirituality Center in the St. Benedict’s Monastery, where she lives. “Going Blind: A Memoir” is available at the Haehn Campus Center near the St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph.
“The Kontum Madonna,” a book of poems by J. Vincent Hansen of Sauk Rapids. Hansen grew up on a farm near Sauk Rapids, graduated from Cathedral High School in 1965 and spent three years in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, including a tour in Vietnam. He then served for seven years as a lay volunteer in Tanzania in East Africa with the Maryknoll Fathers. He has won many awards for his poetry and his essays, including the 1990 Loft-McKnight Award, a Bush Artist Fellowship in Poetry and a Central Minnesota McKnight Artist Award. Hansen’s book is available at the Minnesota Street Market.
“Still Life, Broken and Replaced” a book of poetry (just published) by Tracy Rittmueller of Sauk Rapids. Rittmueller is the executive director of Lyricality, an organization that connects Minnesota poets, prose writers and artists to audiences. Her poems are explorations of the pain dementia causes as its darkening shadow threatens a man and woman. The poetry evokes the encroachment of despair and the persistence of hope, along with the constant renewal of the bond of love between a married couple. Ritmueller’s book can be purchased at the Minnesota Street Market.