Literary pick for week of June 2

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More Than a Single Story began in 2016 when Carolyn Holbrook used a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant to launch a series of three discussions with women writers of the African diaspora aimed at showing there are different cultures represented by women who could not be simply defined as “Black” writers. Holbrook had worked at the Loft Literary Center, founded SASE: The Write Place to help writers of color, and taught at Hamline University. But she wasn’t sure how More Than a Single Story would go over. She needn’t have worried. So many people attended the first program they filled the Loft’s auditorium and extra chairs had to be found.

Suleiman Adan (Courtesy of More than a Single Story)

Since then MTSS has gained a five-person staff, with Holbrook as executive director, and expanded to include a variety of free panel discussions/public conversations where writers of color discuss issues of importance to them in their own voices and words. In 2021 the organization published “We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World,” edited by Holbrook and poet David Mura (University of Minnesota Press). The 34 essays in the book, focusing on race and police violence after George Floyd’s murder, are by Twin Cities-based BiPOC writers, most of whom participated in MTSS programs.

The theme for this Father’s Day month is Songs for Our Fathers, panel discussions celebrating fatherhood. The next program is at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at Highland Park library, 1974 Ford Pkwy., St. Paul, with the theme of The Invisible Load: The Unsung Realities of Modern Fatherhood with moderator Suleiman Adan, writer, poet, and writing teacher whose work is in “We are Meant to Rise.” He is a systems builder and community advocate with more than a decade of experience empowering teams and building capacity through grassroots training and organizing efforts. An advocate of youth education, he has operated a free tutoring company focused on increasing literacy and proficiency in BIPOC youth. Panelists will be Erik Anderson, Jonathan Brown, Linus Chan, Chris Martin and Michael Torres. Although they come from different backgrounds, they are united in navigating the complexities of fatherhood in today’s world.

The final program, For the Love of Our Grandfathers, will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at the Highland Park library, co-moderated by Adan and Ben Weaver, father, caregiver, songwriter, poet and hide tanner who travels by bicycle. They will be joined by grandfathers Russel Balenger, David Mura and Jim Rock discussing how historical practices and events affected them as fathers, what it is like to see their own children as parents, how they connect with their grandchildren and advice they have for today’s young fathers. (RSVP to

Ben Weaver (Courtesy of Nicollazzi)

“I love the way things happen sometimes,” Holbrook wrote to the Pioneer Press. “Last year Ben Weaver, a young single father, asked me if More Than a Single Story would consider doing something around single dads. A couple weeks later, Suleiman Adan, a young married father, asked if we’d consider doing something with married dads. Then I decided to include something with grandfathers. So we ended up with a series of three panels (one has already been held) we’re doing in partnership with The Friends (of the St. Paul Public Library). I’m so excited about this.”

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