I was recently in St. Paul, Minnesota to visit my sister, Karen, and to attend Integrity in Health Care: The Courage to Lead in a Changing Landscape, the second annual Courage & Renewal in Health Care Institute. A number of literary places and events clustered around the trip. One aspect of institute for me was a renewed interest in poetry, a sort of “return to poetry” for me. So I wanted to go to a bookstore and browse a bit. Karen and I ended up going to Common Good Books. Garison Keillor, host of Minnesota Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” is the proprietor of the book shop. In addition to his story-telling on the show, Keillor is also a lover of poetry and is the host of “The Writer’s Almanac” which is a short radio piece that tells a little about the lives of writers and often includes a poem.
Karen and I happened to see Keillor in a cafe we were working in. I spent a lot of time in St. Paul in cafes working on my Website which Karen is assisting on. I was reviewing and editing some of my poems to include on the Website when we realized Garison Keillor was in the room.
The other literary aspect of the visit was a trip to W.A. Frost a restaurant that was a neighborhood pharmacy and soda fountain when F. Scott Fitzgerald was living down the street in the Commodore Hotel. In his first novel, This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald wrote, “Here was a new generation, . . . dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success, grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.”
After some time at W. A. Frost, we took a night walking tour of the neighborhood and walked past the Commodore Hotel, where Fitzgerald and Zelda lived and their son was born.
All in all it was a great trip to St. Paul and it was unexpected to have such literary stimulation there and to have my “return to poetry” strengthened. Now I am back in Auckland, working away still on the Website, my book, job interviews, my work as Clinical Director at the rehabilitation centre and my impending move back to the States.