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Birchbark Blog

Emily Johnson is a City Pages Artist of the Year!

Birchbark Books - Wednesday, January 05, 2011

By Alec Soth
We are so excited!

Birchbark bookseller and extraordinary choreographer, dancer, director, writer, etc  Emily Johnson graces the cover of the 2010 edition of the City Pages Artists of the Year. Emily says she is flattered and honored to be selected alongside such locally and internationally recognized artists as Marina Abramovic, Ryan Olson, M.I.A., Alec Soth, Robyn, and Banksy. Alec Soth, world-renown photographer whose work was recently featured at the Walker Art Center, took the cover photo. Emily's latest work, The Thank-you Bar (recently performed at the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis) has been receiving the acclaim of audiences and critics alike. Emily is of Native Alaskan (Yup'ik) descent, which richly informs her creative work.

Find out all about Emily by visiting her website at catalystdance.com.

Have a look at her Press page to read about her selection as a City Pages Artist of the Year, her experience shooting with Alec Soth, and to see some of the alternate cover images.

Check out the Productions page to see video excerpts of The Thank-you Bar, her current work-in-progress Niicugni, and her many previous works (don't miss the video Wingspan 5' 2").

See the Catalyst Presents and Collaborations pages to find out about Emily's collaborations with painter Carolyn Lee Anderson (also a Birchbark Staffer!) and the musical duo BLACKFISH.

Finally, make sure you visit Emily's Facebook page, where you will quickly decide that you Like her. 

Congratulations, Emily! We are so proud of you!
Comments
Mary commented on 11-Jan-2011 09:10 AM
Bravo to Emily and to Birchbark for creating a haven for artists and readers. Dance on.
Louise commented on 09-Apr-2011 09:57 AM
Not only is Emily an utterly compelling artist with an outrageous, strangely sweet creative spirit, but it is a joy to have her selling books at Birchbark Books. Welcome back!
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Victim of Narrative

Louise Erdrich - Sunday, January 31, 2010
Our first book and supper club selection was Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro.  I chose the book because I am a great admirer of Alice Munro and because I love short stories.  She never lets me down.  Mordant, ordinary, strange, funny, offhandedly sublime.  The two nights of book club discussion were so much better than I'd feared (as an introvert).  The people who came were tremendous and they had loads to say so I didn't have to carry the conversation at all.  Elation!  And I must say that the dinner by Kenwood Cafe was utterly delicious and left me warm and happy.  But was there too much happiness?  Well, the title is found in the last story of the book -- possibly the last words of a female mathematics genius.   Too much happiness, indeed.

Yet my distress over my addiction continues, and I seek some affirmation that will free me from the endless Aubrey/Maturin series of sea novels about The British Navy, a series well known as the tar baby of narrative (too much boredom?  Alas, no, vertiginous sea battles!  Utterly compelling characters, both male and female)  I've known relationships to founder on these rocks.  Marriages to beat against the lee shore of these novels and succumb.  Once you've started, with Master and Commander (forget the movie), you'll be keel hauled right in and there goes your winter.  You'll be a victim of narrative.

Coming up in May: the publication of Mohamed's Ghosts, by the young old-school prize-winning journalist Stephan Salisbury.  His book is about all of us -- victims of narrative following 9/11.  He cared to think about what was happening to the ordinary people who belong to a mosque, struggle to be American and to follow their beliefs as well.  This is a wrenching and outrageous story of our own shadow country conjured out of fear.

If I can unstick myself from Patrick O'Brian I will let you know how I did it.  I'm going to check out a 12 step sea novel program . . .  
Comments
Anonymous commented on 02-Feb-2010 01:23 PM
hoka hey! fight the good fight against surfeit of PO'Brian. My wife and i love the dog page-- how about a dog blog? next time we come to Minn/StPaul, we'll drop by (we're in Los Angeles).
Marlee Atkinson commented on 12-Feb-2010 11:43 AM
Louise,

Just recently heard about your new novel (which I will order from Birchbark), and wanted to send out a congrats to you from Austin Peay State University. We all miss you and hope the best for you in the coming years. I must admit that your visiting was one of the best experiences of my college education. Thank you, thank you, thank you! -Marlee Atkinson (the redhead)
Scarlet commented on 19-Feb-2010 02:33 AM
Honestly, there is no escaping Aubrey/Maturin. I devoured the series three years ago and now I'm listening to them (wonderfully read by Simon Vance). It has launched me on a hopeless Napoleonic Wars and sea novel obsession. I thought that surely I would be tired of it by now, but the fascination continues.
ann commented on 09-Mar-2010 08:22 AM
Addiction is as addiction does-I want to suffer from Tiger Woods
illness. Alas millions of dollars are not coming my way right now.
I do enjoy your illustrations as in your National Geographic book and hope that you continue this expression of your thoughts..Alice Munro's book has so many stories that were published earlier and I did read some of them and what is your next selection for discussion?
P S Susan's hospitality impressed me and your store is wonderful !
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Too Loud A Solitude

Louise Erdrich - Sunday, July 12, 2009
I have trouble writing this blog post because I take it all so seriously.  I still write by hand in art paper notebooks, and am thinking of getting out my old typewriter because I miss typed manuscripts.  Then again . . . I am also thinking of writing  a whole book on birchbark with my teeth.  I do have news of a terrific read.  If you like Borges, Saramago, Kafka, Angela Carter, or writers born in Brno in 1914, who died in Prague in 1987, if you liked Bohumil Hrabal's Closely Watched Trains, or if you have never heard of Hrabal and you love books -- this is your book. 

Too Loud a Solitude, by Bohumil Hrabal.  I read it a month ago.  Then I read it again last night.  Maybe I'll read it again today.  The book is about a man whose job is crushing books.  It is a book about loving books and destroying books, about love and destruction, the crushing of ideas, the drinking of beer.  It is not a long book, but you will read it again and again.  It is a perfect book, I think. 

Besides reading this one book again and again, I've been reading newspapers.  I have been reading lots of newspapers with the awful feeling that the wonderful feel of print under my fingers, the dry snap as you unfold a newspaper, the paging back and forth, the tactile reality of the newspaper, is going to vanish.  So I've suddenly subscribed to several newspapers that I casually picked up every other day at the grocery store.  And all I give people for birthdays now is newspaper subscriptions.  I am doing this not only for the integrity of the news and the selfish feeling of joy I get when unfolding a newspaper, but for the many people I know who rely on completing the puzzles on newspaper pages -- for the lovely Finnish-American-Upper Peninsula Geology Professor I met on the airplane.  He was in his late eighties and had a folded crossword puzzle in his hand.  He was stuck but did not want me to brainstorm on an answer.  He enjoyed looking at his puzzle last thing before he went to sleep, and waking with the answer.  His was too loud a solitude, and puzzles are a friendly noise.

Buy a newspaper today.  Or Too Loud A Solitude.

Louise   
Comments
Kathy Streitz commented on 14-Jul-2009 09:30 PM
I enjoyed your address to Dartmouth graduates. Did you bring the podium with you? You could have. I just finished a teacher's course with St. Mary's of Winona. We met in Stillwater. Multiculturally Responsive Literature and Teaching English Language Learners. Your name came up many times. My husband have me your book Four Souls for my 50th birthday three years ago. I started it again for the third time and refer to the family tree often. Four Souls is so much more than a story. I enjoy reading and jumping in and out of the story. Mauser's son's condition makes me sad right now.

I teach at a charter school in East St. Paul. We have just finished our 14th year and have about 450 PreK - 8th graders. Hmong, Hispanic and other families speaking many languages
attend. I do love what I do. Thanks for your work and for your words.
KS

KS
Marybeth Lorbiecki commented on 27-Jul-2009 01:07 PM
I was so inspired and thrilled about your speech that I wrote a blog about it and about Ohiyesa, Charles Alexander Eastman -- hope that's okay! www.Ohiyesa-Eastman.blogspot.com
Tracy Mangold commented on 05-Aug-2009 08:12 PM
Thank you for recommending, "Too Loud a Solitude." I just finished reading it today and I loved it. Hrabal's writing is rich and beautiful, simplistic yet powerful. It is indeed the perfect book, especially for those of us who adore our books and appreciate them for the friends and teachers they are. I look forward to reading more of his works and am thankful that I have been made aware of this wonderful writer.
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