Letter from our Executive Director
Dear friend of MOI,
“How does literature offer you a way back home?”
This question opened up a night of conversation earlier this month at MOI among some of the Twin Cities most captivating literary talent. Two students who participate in our Writers’ Room programming at South High, Ben and Henry, interviewed five members of MOI’s literary board- Marlon James, Kelly Barnhill, Bao Phi, Safy-Hallan Farah, and Tom Rademacher. The students asked questions about what inspired these writers to make a writing life, how identity impacts their writing, and how they write for an audience different from themselves. This group of powerful storytellers told us...
“As a socially awkward refugee kid, libraries and books were basically how I survived.” -Bao Phi
“Writers don’t necessarily need to have missions, but we do need to write about what’s happening outside our window… A writer is in the world, and so we reflect the world.” -Marlon James
“When children take our books in, they use them to look forward because children are in the process of writing the world.” -Kelly Barnhill
“I would’ve killed for a place like this place growing up, and I didn’t have it… The ability for kids to communicate their experience and perspective in a way that other people can hear them is my primary goal as a teacher.” -Tom Rademacher
“I hope that youth in Minneapolis can see that they can write themselves into any narrative they want to be a part of.” -Safy-Hallan Farah
The night ended with another powerful question: “How have you used literature to open up the possibility for envisioning new futures?”
Literature— both writing and reading— allows us to go home, and to look forward to envision something new. Thanks to our young authors, and the few older ones, who helped make this literary event so thought-provoking and engaging.
If you missed the evening, but are still inspired by the questions and commentary that came out of it, consider a donation to MOI in your end of year giving. Help us continue to be a space where brave and bold minds meet.
Porthole into Programming!
Our Young Authors Book Project is well underway at South High School. About 40 9th and 10th grade students from the All Nations program have begun composing poems around place, identity and family. On Nov. 8, our guest author and hip-hop artist Paul Wenell Jr., AKA Tall Paul, joined our classroom to talk with students about weaving their life stories into art. Like our students, Wenell was part of the All Nations program and graduated from South in 2005. He will join our classroom again on Dec. 4.
On Dec. 10, we will celebrate the students of After-School Homework Help with a chapbook release party. Students from ages 6 to 16 have been working all semester on poems, letters, and short stories around the themes of Power and Empowerment at the Writer’s Table after they finish their homework. Come enjoy food, community, and the students’ amazing work from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Dec. 10. All students, parents, volunteers, and community members are welcome to attend.
In the whimsical realm of Field Trips, we’ve had a blast making stories with students from first through fourth grades while they have created characters as varied as shape-shifting unicorns and one-eyed aliens. In December and January, our Field Trip program will take its own field trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where students will build their stories based off of Mia’s beautiful collection.
In the News
Safy-Hallan Farah, a member of MOI's literary board, has a new magazine out about the Somali Diaspora, 1991. Safy was chronicled by the Star Tribune and MOI received a shout out in this November 19th article.
As we experience our first snowfall of the year, young author Selama (grade 5) reflects on the season:
It's ten below
It's cold in a row
It's low to grow
It's cold on my nose
I froze to my toes
I curled like a bowl
The ice glows in the cold
It shines and it glows
It froze in my nose
My mom curls and blows