Autumn Renewal Begins with Food and Music and Poetry

by Sam Black

I am writing this at the very end of our official Summer, but you will most probably be reading it very early in Autumn. I love the outdoor colors that have come early this year, and I love the increasing variety of local art as we move into this season of renewal. 

Benedictine Impact over the past century

This past weekend there was an Open House at the St. Scholastica Monastery. The Duluth Benedictine Sisters celebrated 125 years (1892-1917) of bringing education, medical care, religious faithfulness, and an abundance of the arts to the ‘daisy field’ just off Kenwood Road in Duluth. Sr. Dorene King shared organ music with the K.C. Marin instrument in the Queen of Peace Chapel, and the spirit of renewal was in the air. The contribution to the local arts by the sisters of this monastery is locally beyond measure in this past century-plus.

The Road to Compostela

Just before, on Friday afternoon, Bill Hodapp, English faculty at CSS, shared his pilgrimage in 2016 along the multi-branched path that guides pilgrims to Compostela in northwestern Spain, a legendary destination of St. James in the earliest years of Christian expansion. Hodapp shared pictures and stories as he experienced the architecture, culture, and dramatic arts celebrated by centuries of dedicated pilgrims. 

Autumnal splendor:  Longhorn Burrito at Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill
Autumnal splendor:  Longhorn Burrito at Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill

Sustenance with a flare
Adding to the autumnal colors in motion was the artful dinner I ordered after this Compostela journey, at Little Angie’s Cantina. I was amazed at the brilliant colors of the grilled Longhorn burrito, so I celebrated with a glass of Zuccardi white wine from the Torrontés grape. This is a delicious and refreshing Argentine wine from the Mendoza region at the foot of the Andes Mountains. I had artfully wandered from western Spain to southwestern Argentina, all in the very center of Duluth, Minnesota.

Deborah Gordon Cooper releases Blue Window, her newest poems
Deborah Gordon Cooper releases Blue Window, her newest poems

New poetry as only the heart can render

I rounded out my weekend with a stop at Peace Church on 11th Avenue E., where Duluth poet Deborah Gordon Cooper was releasing her newest (and sixth) collection of poems, titled Blue Window (Clover Valley Press, 2017).  Cooper read eighteen poems from this new collection, while Jody Anderson and Lynn Brasgala (Mood Swings) shared folk tunes on guitar and violin, and pianist Steve Coll added some emotional Brahms into the spoken poetry. These sensitive poems added a richness to the Sunday afternoon. Cooper shares deeply from her personal world, including the close friends who have died, who “like stars,/ long after their deaths / their light still finds me.”

In four distinct sections, Night Life, Blue Window, Deliverance, and Kismet, Cooper explores nature, family connections, freedom/ imprisonment, and the varieties of love. Her hands might still occasionally catch on fire, but we have the poetry to read and re-read. As she teases us all, “I only know / if you are still enough / and wait // you’ll hear the songs / the stones remember.”

Excitement in the new autumnal air

The local theater houses jump into motion in the coming week, and on Saturday night the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra launches into its new season of Revolution, Reformation, Inspiration, and Revelation. Concertmaster Erin Aldridge will share the Violin Concerto by Peter Tchaikovsky, and Conductor Dirk Meyer has chosen the Symphony No. 12 (The Year 1917) by Dmitri Shostakovich, as Revolution powers the opening of the 2017 - 2018 season. I hope to see you at the next performance.