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Minnesota receives more than $4 million in NEA grants; a Pride party at Mia

ALSO: Roxane Gay presents “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” at Magers & Quinn; Lit Community Picnic at The Commons; and more.

The Minnesota grants include one for St. Olaf College in Northfield for a series of site-specific performances.

In its second round of funding for FY 2017, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded 30 grants totaling $4,437,075 million to arts organizations and agencies in Minnesota. The latest round of grants supports the arts in all 50 states and five U.S. jurisdictions. Minnesota ranked third – behind New York (267 grants, $8.5 million) and California (162 grants, $5.3 million) – in the number of dollars awarded.

This funding round includes partnerships with arts organizations and agencies that employ artists and cultural workers who provide programs for thousands of people across the state and throughout the Midwest. Competition for NEA grants is stiff. The value of a grant goes far beyond the actual dollar amount. NEA grant winners are required to match their grants 1:1 with other public and private funds, but the NEA seal of approval carries such weight that in 2016, the ratio of NEA dollars to matching funds was 1:9, or $500 million.

The Minnesota grants ranged from small ($10,000 to Bemidji State University for its Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference; to Theater Latté Da for its Next Festival; to St. Olaf College in Northfield for a series of site-specific performances; to In Progress for a media arts education program for Native American youth; to Teatro del Pueblo for a series of live bilingual radio theater productions) to large ($1,439,600 and $1,235,000, two separate grants, to Arts Midwest; $775,300 to the Minnesota State Arts Board; $100,000 and $75,000 to Springboard for the Arts; $100,000 to Dayton’s Bluff District Four Community Council; $75,000 to Artspace).

Here’s a complete list of grantees by state and jurisdiction. Click on Minnesota to jump.

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In a bit of synchronicity, this year’s Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference in Bemidji, mentioned above, has Tracy K. Smith as its Distinguished Visiting Writer. See below.

New U.S. Poet Laureate has Minnesota ties

The United States has a new poet laureate: Graywolf Press poet, Pulitzer Prize winner and Princeton professor Tracy K. Smith.

Announcing the appointment on Wednesday, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden praised Smith as “a poet of searching. Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture.”

Smith told NPR that as poet laureate, “I would love to go to places where people might be struggling, where people might wonder if there are voices out there for them. … I think it will be very easy to say, ‘Let’s have a diversity of voices, perspectives, experiences, aesthetics that we draw from. And let’s listen.’”

All three of Smith’s poetry collections – “The Body Question” (2003), “Duende” (2007) and “Life on Mars” (2011) – were published by Graywolf in Minneapolis. “Life on Mars” was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Graywolf will publish her fourth collection, “Wade in the Water,” in April 2018.

Tracy K. Smith
Library of Congress/Shawn Miller
Tracy K. Smith

“Tracy K. Smith is the poet that we need as Poet Laureate right now,” Graywolf executive editor Jeff Shotts said in a statement. “She shows us an America that is infinite and that is made of boundless music.”

As the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, Smith succeeds Juan Felipe Herrera, who served two terms, and follows in the footsteps of Robert Penn Warren, Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky, Billy Collins, W.S. Merwin, Philip Levine and Natasha Trethewey, among others. Her tenure begins in Sept. 2017.

Smith is Graywolf’s third U.S. Poet Laureate. The press published Trethewey’s first two poetry collections and, posthumously, five by William Stafford.

If you’re in or near Bemidji on Wednesday, June 21, Smith will give a free public reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Gathering Room of the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University, as part of the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference.

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Schubert Club announces new composer-in-residence

Reinaldo Moya
Courtesy of Reinaldo Moya
Reinaldo Moya

Venzuelan American composer Reinaldo Moya is the Schubert Club’s new composer-in-residence. During his two-year appointment, he’ll create music, take part in education and community programs and advise and advocate for the Schubert Club. Moya already has plans for his residency: to write a chamber opera, to introduce a composition element to the Schubert Club’s Kidsjam workshops and to mentor young composers. One of Moya’s stated goals is “to bring awareness to the role that Latin American immigrants have played in our state, both historically and in the present.”

The Schubert Club also announced financial awards to support the creation of new works by two more Minnesota-based composers, deVon Russell Gray and Tiffany Skidmore. Gray was recently named a 2017 McKnight Composer Fellow. Skidmore is a founding member of the Minneapolis composer collective 113.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, June 15) at Mia: Third Thursday: Pride. It’s Pride month (the Pride Festival is next weekend) and Mia is throwing its own Pride party, with live music by Nick Jordan and Lady Lark, chances to chat with people from OutFront Minnesota and make your own Pride flag, pop-up drag performances, a screening of the new TPT documentary “Out North,” with the film’s director, Daniel Bergin, in the house. Presented in partnership with Twin Cities Pride. 6-9 p.m. Free.

Tonight at Magers & Quinn: Roxane Gay presents “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body.” The feminist writer, cultural commentator, Purdue professor and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bad Feminist” is touring with her new book, “Hunger.” It’s a deeply personal, frank and fearless memoir about her life and her own “wildly undisciplined” body. A self-described “woman of size,” Gay was raped at 12 and “ate and ate and ate” to make herself bigger and invisible, which should be a contradiction in terms but isn’t, because the bigger you are, the less you are seen and taken seriously. 7 p.m. Free.

Tonight at Reverie: Wayne Horvitz Group. Last fall, Doris Duke Artist, McKnight Visiting Composer, pianist and electronic musician Horvitz toured Minnesota with an old, small (67 keys), out-of-tune ship’s piano, visiting 21 towns and cities across the state, inviting people to play and recording their performances. (Read about his “21 Pianos” project here.) We have no clue what he’ll do when he plays the Thursday Night Jazz at Reverie series, but he’ll do it in good company: Davu Seru on drums, Josh Granowski on bass and Noah Ophoven-Baldwin on trumpet. 9 p.m. No cover, but show some love to the tip jar. Or you can reserve a seat at a table near the stage for $20. FMI.

Tonight through Sunday at the Southern: Gadu DouShin: “BOKU-Uncarved Human.” A crash course in Butoh, the super-slow, hyper-controlled contemporary Japanese performance art form born after World War II. Butoh artists often wear white body makeup and distort their faces and bodies; Butoh “emerges from within” and involves highly charged stillness and trance-like movements. It’s very un-Western. “BOKU-Uncarved Human” is a collaboration between Butoh artist Gadu, a dancer/choreographer in the Twin Cities for more than 20 years, and composer/sound artist Michael Flora. Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20 advance/$24 door; ARTshare members free).

Saturday on The Commons: Lit Community Picnic. Bring a picnic lunch or (if you want) a food item to share, meet others in the Twin Cities literary community (a fine group of human beings), and celebrate eight full years of the Twin Cities Literary Calendar, a tremendous resource we’d be lost without. Rain Taxi and The Commons will provide soft drinks and snacks, tables and chairs. 12 noon-2 p.m. FMI. Free, but RSVP.

Saturday and Sunday in the Northfield area: Cannon River Clay Tour. Eleven clay artists host 11 guest artists from around the country in a self-guided studio tour and sale at four locations. Good pots by Donovan Palmquist, Becky Lloyd, Glynnis Lessing, Ryan Myers, Kelly Connole, Megan Mitchell, Chris and Sue Holmquist, Peder Hegland and more. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. FMI. Free.