Monday, September 29, 2014

Michigander Monday: Saara Myrene Raappana

I'm pleased to welcome Saara Myrene Raappana to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Saara, please tell us a little about yourself.

Saara:  I’m from Michigan, but I currently live in southwest Minnesota with my husband, our cat, and our coffee pot. I was born and raised in the U.P. (Palmer, Sault Ste. Marie, Suomi Location, Rudyard, etc.), and while I’ve lived and travelled all over since going to college (Wisconsin, Florida, China, Minnesota, etc.), I still think of the U.P. as home. When my husband and I were living in southwest China, I carried everything in a Michigan-map tote bag that I’d bought in the Detroit airport. It was great because whenever someone asked me where I was from, I could point to the right place on the bag, and most people in China know about the Great Lakes, so it was a wonderful conversation-starter. I used it so much that it started to fall apart, so I paid a street vendor with a cart that had a key-duplicating machine and a sewing machine on it to fix the straps.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your writing and about the forthcoming anthology, Here.

Saara:  I’m really excited to get my hands on Here. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Ron Riekki, the editor, in the past on his last U.P. anthology The Way North, and the man knows how to put together a great book. My included poem, “All I know of white,” is set in Suomi Location (near Negaunee, in Richmond Township). It was originally supposed to be a sonnet, but it didn’t cooperate.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Saara:  I’m working on putting together a manuscript now. I think I’m nearing completion, which means I’ll realize very soon that I need to start all over again. Shechem Press also featured one of my poems in their recent Artist Broadside Series, along with poems by Stephen C. Behrendt and Robert Wrigley [http://www.shechempress.com/?page_id=154].

Cellpoems [www.cellpoems.org], a poetry journal that I edit, is about to hit its fifth anniversary, so we’re pretty excited to celebrate that. We distribute poems via text message (and then, later, we also publish them on our website), so all the poems are short-short-short—140 characters or fewer, including title and the poet’s name (most poets opt to shorten their names to free up some characters for the poem).
 
Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Saara:  I just received a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council to finish my manuscript and embark on The Great Southwest Minnesota Poetry Book Tour, so in the next several months, I’ll be hitting places throughout the 18-county Southwest Minnesota area. The first will be The Attack of the Space Zombies Halloween Party on October 25 in Currie, Minn.—a Halloween-themed, family-friendly art opening featuring work by Minnesota artists David KelseyBassett [http://davidkelseybassett.com/] and Jessie White [https://www.facebook.com/attackofthewhitespacezombies/timeline]. I think I’ll do it in costume. I’ll have tour dates on my website [http://www.saaramyrene.com] as they’re confirmed.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Saara:  Oh, so many. I’ve always loved Snowbound Books in Marquette. When I was a kid, we’d drive to Marquette to go shopping, and I was always most excited about the comic book store and Snowbound Books. I still get a thrill whenever I get to go.

I also love Aurora Books in Menominee. They’ve got a great poetry selection, and it’s got a beautiful view of the lake.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?
 
Saara:  Um. All of them? But specifically: Suomi Location. The Goose Lake overlook on M-35 just outside of Palmer, especially in fall. The Calumet Theater in Calumet. Every ounce of Lake Superior.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Saara:  I love going ice fishing with my Uncle George and his dog Nakoot. I love going sauna in the winter. I love watching boats go through the Locks in the Soo. The Soo Film Festival every late summer/early fall in Sault Ste. Marie.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Saara:  Wow, there are so many; here’s an incomplete list: I love Catie Rosemurgy’s poetry; TheStranger Manual is haunting and hilarious and resonant, as is the recurring character Miss Peach. And Janeen Rastall’s poetry, her new chapbook, The Yellowed House—her gorgeous “When Asked About My Inner Goddess” was recently made into a film [https://vimeo.com/100894952]. Mary McMyne’s Wolf Skin is hypnotic and lush and delightful. Julie Brooks Barbour came out with Small Chimes this year; her poems balance delicacy and robustness perfectly. I’m also happily anticipating Lisa Fay Coutley’s first full-length collection, ERRATA, coming out next year. And you can’t go wrong with any of Jamaal May’s poetry; Hum won a mess of awards because it’s beautiful, important poetry about people and machines and the spaces between them. I also do work for Motionpoems, a poetry-film production company, so I had the pleasure of reading and watching the film adaptation of [http://www.motionpoems.com/this-is-not-a-fairytale/] Laura Kasischke’s haunting “This Is Not a Fairytale,” and now I can’t get it out of my head. Fiction too! I just got Joseph Daniel Haske’s North Dixie Highway: literary and gritty and engaging. Oh, and everyone should check out Ron Riekki’s U.P. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking, which are my two favorite things for a book to be.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Saara:  Don’t forget about the Upper Peninsula! We’re up there too!

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Saara:  Yooper! And Michigander. I’m in favor of any moniker that allows me to pretend I’m a migrating bird. Just curious: Which is winning?

Debbie:  Saara, Michigander is in the lead, but I'll have to run the numbers to see which is second -- Michiganian or Yooper!  Thank you so very much for joining us today for Michigander/Yooper Monday!!

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