January 24, 2016


According to Fennica Gehrman, the music company in Helsinki that produces Kortekangas' work: 
Olli Kortekangas’s Migrations for male choir, soloist and orchestra is to be given its first performance on 4 February 2016, in Minneapolis. Furher performances are scheduled for 5 and 6 February. A commission from the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, it will be recorded by BIS Records, coupled with Sibelius’s Finlandia and Kullervo. The soloist with the YL Male Voice Choir will be Lilli Paasikivi. Migrations celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Finnish migration to North America. The text is by Sheila Packa, and it tells tales of migration through themes of identity, transformation and hope.
Migrations is the second sizeable commission Kortekangas has received from the United States; the first, Seven Songs for Planet Earth, was premiered by the Washington Choral Society in 2011. This can next be heard in Minesota on 23 April, in a performance by the Masterworks Chorale of Augsburg College conducted by Peter Hendrickson.

Feb 4-6, 2016 The Minnesota Orchestra will perform "Migrations" composed by Olli Kortekangas (and text by Sheila Packa)

Here is a link to the program notes:

For more information about this new music, see


January 19, 2016

Louise Glück

The book Wild Iris by Louise Glück is a brilliant collection of poems.  Inside are persona poems, told from the perspective of poppies, violets, etc.  Some of the poems are matins, or prayers.  It is as if Glück is throwing her voice.  There are prayers, and sometimes there is a creator who replies. The effect is stereophonic, the voices from low to high, from earth to gardener to sky.

More information:  https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/louise-gl%C3%BCck

Article about her work: http://www.thenation.com/article/writing-without-mattress-louise-glueck/

Invisible Forces

Henry Ace Knight describes Diaz's fiction writing in this way: "His work concerns diaspora, belonging and exclusion, race, masculinity, and privilege..." In their interview, Junot Diáz said:

I, for one, don’t think it’s possible for anyone as an individual to be liberated from the larger forces that overwhelmingly control our lives. Like how does one simply excuse themselves from class, from race, from gender? You can say that you’re excused from them but of course these forces will work on you in spite of the fact that you’re bowing out. I think that what interests me as an artist is the way that these invisible forces press down on our lives. I’m interested in how history has this spooky quantum effect on people. How history, even when we run from it, even when we disavow it, even when we forget it, is like some very strange dark-eyed dog. It always finds its way back to us. Not to say that this is the way the world works, but it’s what brings me to the page.

To read the entire interview, see http://www.asymptotejournal.com/interview/an-interview-junot-diaz/

January 18, 2016

Poetry & Spirit

No matter what your spiritual practice, poetry can deepen it.


Hirshfield, Jane. "Spiritual Poetry."  Poetry Foundation.  June 28, 2006.  Web. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/178390

Maitreyabandu.  "Thirteen Ways of Making Poetry a Spiritual Practice." Magma Journal.  c2013.  England.  http://magmapoetry.com/archive/magma-51/articles/13-ways-of-making-poetry-a-spiritual-practice/

These articles by Sheila Packa explore sacred texts and poetry. Each has links to source materials. The Poetry and Spirit Group @ UUCD for the Interfaith Group (2014).  The participants read selected sacred text(s) at each session and these were followed by writing exercises.

The Forms of Grief - Kaddish, Eulogy, Elegy, Requiem, and Poetry of Witness

Walt Whitman and Dharma - Bhagavad Gita

The Language of the Mystics - The Cloud of Unknowing, Mechthild von Magdeburg

Emily Dickinson: Poetry and Spirit - Emily's poems are based on a hymn structure

Carl Jung and Spirit of the Depth: Gnosticism and Art

Poetry and the Spirit - Diving for the Pearl

Thunder of New Wings - New Beginnings and Margarite Porete - The Mirror of Simple Souls

January 10, 2016

Writers on Writing

Doris Lessing: “Whatever you are meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”

Jayne Anne Phillips: "Writers focus perpetually on the half seen, and we live in the dim or glorious shadows of partially apprehended shapes. We could bill ourselves as perceptually challenged — given that we live two lives at once, segueing from one to the other with some distress — but we accept, long before we publish, the outlaw's mantle. We occupy a kind of border country, focused on the details that speak to us."

William H. Gass: “For me, the short story is not a character sketch, a mouse trap, an epiphany, a slice of suburban life. It is the flowering of a symbol center. It is a poem grafted onto sturdier stock.”

Natalie Diaz: “My friend and I call grief the beautiful terrible because it is a wound that opens you but also shows you the miracles of what is inside you. Rather than try to escape my griefs, I’m trying to recognize them as a wildness I can submerge myself in, to be washed clean by the very thing that aches me so deeply. To give my grief to a beloved’s body, to take her grief into my body, to rearrange ourselves with it and become both more and less of one another and of our own selves—this is a lucky thing.”  See poem: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/grief-work

January 4, 2016

February 2016 Borealis Writing Workshop

In Hibbing, Borealis has invited me to do a workshop February 13, 2016 from 1:00 - 4:00 pm.

Opposing Forces: In Stories & Forms

Hibbing is the location of a three way continental divide. Waters flow toward the Mississippi River, Hudson Bay, and the St Lawrence Seaway (Lake Superior and the Great Lakes).   At this workshop, we will take our cue from the landscape and consider opposing directions.  Participants will do guided writing exercises to develop short narratives (poems or prose).  We will also talk about forms or narrative strategies that enhance a story.

To register, contact Borealis.  Georgia Andria 952-426-8533 or email glandria@yahoo.com