March 26, 2014

Origin of Birds: Circles Within Circles

A new net-art installation will be at the Prøve Gallery in Duluth. The opening is on April 11 at 7 pm with live music by the Cosmic Pit Orchestra.  "The Origin of Birds" is created by Kathy McTavish: it features her new film generator, text, and music. For more information:  and and

In the creation stories, both the bird and its egg arrived before the earth was made. According to an ancient Greek story, the god χάος (Chaos) was the first to emerge at the creation of the universe. Soon after her came Gaia (Earth), Tartaros (the Underworld) and Eros (Love). In many versions, Chaos then gave birth to the Birds. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God created birds of on the fifth day of creation.  

March 25, 2014

Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range

"I excavate these words from a vein of iron….” these poems are “test drills and core samples” — a weave of memory, archive, dream, song, story — drawn from the history and people of the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota. These pages sound the whistles and roar of the mines, the dust in the lungs, the dangerous crossings into a new language, the accordion’s
breath. Culled from violence and tenderness, bone and ash, ore and light, they map a place, a time, a journey through love.”

Pamela Mittlefehldt, PhD and co-editor
The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home
Holy Cow! Press


Wildwood River Press announces the publication of Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range.  ISBN: 978-0-9843777-7-0  Available at bookstores.

This collection of poems draws from the rich geologic, mining, Native, immigrant, and women's stories on the Iron Range. The book has two sections, Track I: Night Train and Track II: Red Dust. Night Train is a narrative about travel and immigration. Red Dust is about derailments--of many kinds including labor strikes, cancer, violence, accidents, and relationship splits.  The project Night Train Red Dust is also more than a book. It's a work of transmedia and it forms a multiverse: the poems are in the book, several essays and articles about the poems and the Iron Range are on the Red Dust blog (linked on the book website, and live music and video are done in theater or installation settings. The essays and articles offer literary explorations of writers, influences and Iron Range history. 

The book uncovers and excavates layers. It asks the questions: are we using everything until it's gone? taking from another body?  The characters in these stories are metamorphosing, dealing with overburden, effluence, and tailings. They walk on the Divide, like the Laurentian Divide, and they are rivers flowing in opposite directions. The stories reflect the lives of the people who built this community: Mary Bassett Bray, MD; Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, union organizer; women miners in WWII; Meridel LeSueur, writer; Rev. Milma Lappala, Unitarian minister; Viola Turpeinen, accordionist. This is a working class story of the midwives, farmers, miners, immigrants, and many others with iron in their veins. 

The Iron Range is economically supported by and environmentally damaged by mining.The poems provide strong images of the beautiful landscape of open pit mines and ore dumps, the Boundary Waters, and the wildlife. My grandparents arrived here because of the employment opportunities: one grandfather was a lumberman, and many relatives worked in the mines. My aunts worked in the iron mines during World War II, in the war effort. I have tried to present the music and the frictions of the Iron Range. 

Collaboration: Cello & Poetry - Echo & Lightning

PlayList - Sheila Packa - Migrations

Read a review of Migrations in Culturology at PRX

Migrations: Poetry and Prose for Life's Transitions received an Honorable Mention at the North East Minnesota Book Awards, administered through the University of Minnesota, Duluth Library.