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Sheila Packa

Sheila Packa is a poet, writer, and teacher with Minnesota and Finnish roots. She was Duluth’s Poet Laureate in 2010-2012. Her poems became part of playwright/director Tom Isbell’s award-winning documentary “One River” performed at University of Minnesota Duluth and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in 2017. Olli Kortekangas used Packa’s poems for “Migrations,” a cantata for mezzosoprano and male voice choir. This classical music piece premiered by the Minnesota Orchestra in 2016. She has poems in several literary magazines and anthologies, including Good Poems American Places, Finnish-North American Literature in English, Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude, and To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present. Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac and Prairie Home Companion has also featured her work.

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Michelle Matthees

Michelle Matthees is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s MFA program in Creative Writing. She has received grants and awards from The Jerome Foundation, The Minnesota State Arts Board, The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, AWP, and other arts organizations. In 2016 New Rivers Press published Flucht, her first book-length collection of poems about Eastern Europe, immigration, and adoption. She lives in Duluth and is currently at work on a new book of poems about institutionalization.

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Dianna Hunter

Dianna Hunter is the author of two nonfiction books, Wild Mares: My Lesbian Back-to-the-Land Life and Breaking Hard Ground: Stories of the Minnesota Farm Advocates. Both were finalists for the Minnesota Book Award. She is also the creator of the radio programs Breaking Hard Ground, which were broadcast nationally on public and community radio stations. She was a farmer and farm advocate before beginning a career in writing and college teaching. She directed programs in writing and gender equity and taught writing and women’s and gender studies at four universities, including the University of Wisconsin-Superior, from which she retired in 2012. She has published, read, and performed short stories, poetry, journalism, and creative nonfiction in many regional and national venues and now writes, gardens, and forages urban green spaces in Duluth, Minnesota.

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Mary Casanova

Once a can’t-sit-still reader, Mary Casanova now writes stories that matter and books readers can’t put down. She is the author of numerous award-winning books, from picture books (One-Dog Canoe) to books and book-inspired movies for American Girl (Grace); from middle grade adventure novels (Wolf Shadows and The Klipfish Code) as well as historical fiction for teens and adults (Frozen and Ice-Out). Her awards include the ALA “Notable,” Aesop Accolades by the American Folklore Society, Parent’s Choice Gold Award, Booklist Editor’s Choice, and two Minnesota Book Awards. When she’s not traveling for research or speaking, she’s “up north” on the Minnesota-Canadian border with her husband, Charlie, snowshoeing through deep woods, paddling a canoe, riding their horses down old logging trails, or reading a good book.

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Tony Dierckins

Tony Dierckins, Duluth author and Saint Paul native, has written or co-written more than two dozen books. His regional history books include Crossing the Canal: An Illustrated History of Duluth’s Aerial Bridge and, with Maryanne C. Norton, Lost Duluth: Landmarks, Industries, Buildings, Homes, and the Neighborhoods in Which They Stood (both finalists for the Minnesota Book Award) as well as Glensheen: The Official Guide to Duluth’s Historic Congdon Estate and, with Nancy S. Nelson, Duluth’s Historic Parks: Their First 160 Years (both winners of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award).

Dierckins is the 2012 recipient of the Duluth Depot Foundation’s Historic Preservation and Interpretation Award and the publisher of Zenith City Press, celebrating historic Duluth and the Western Lake Superior region. His newest book is Naturally Brewed, Naturally Better: The Historic Breweries of Duluth & Superior.

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Linda LeGarde Grover

Linda LeGarde Grover is a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe and a professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Her works reflect her scholarly research on federal policy and American Indian families. Her fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction have received the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, the Wordcraft Circle Award for Fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award.

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Julie Gard

Julie Gard’s prose poetry collections include Scrap: On Louise Nevelson and Home Studies, which was a finalist for a 2016 Minnesota Book Award. Her chapbooks are Obscura: The Daguerreotype Series and Russia in 17 Objects. Gard’s poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Gertrude, Fourth River, Clackamas Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Ekphrasis, and Blackbox Manifold, among other journals and anthologies. A former Fulbright Graduate Fellow in Vladivostok, Russia, she lives in Duluth and is Associate Professor of Writing at the University of Wisconsin, Superior.

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Margi Preus

Margi Preus is the author of the Newbery Honor book Heart of a Samurai; the Minnesota Book Award winning West of the Moon; Shadow on the Mountain, a Notable Book for a Global Society, and The Bamboo Sword, which Bookpage called “historical fiction at its best.” Her newest, The Clue in the Trees, is the second in the Enchantment Lake mystery series. Her books have won multiple awards, landed on many “best of” lists, including the New York Times Bestseller list, been honored as ALA/ALSC Notables, selected as an NPR Backseat Book Club pick, chosen for community reads, and translated into many languages.

Preus enjoys traveling, speaking, and visiting schools all over the world. At home in Duluth, she likes to hike, ski, paddle, or sit quietly with a book in her lap.

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