Minnesota Public Radio| American Public Media pays tribute to one of Minnesota’s most beloved writers, Bill Holm, on Tuesday, April 14 at The Fitzgerald Theater. Friends of Bill Holm with Robert Bly and Jim Harrison, hosted by Fred Child of Performance Today, will feature an impressive list of writers and musicians who were friends with, inspired by, and connected to Bill Holm (see below for complete list).


We'll begin the evening with a shot of Bill's favorite spirit, Reyka Icelandic vodka. We'll share memories of Bill and selections from his works, plus some of his favorite music—from Scott Joplin to his beloved Bach—performed by pianist Dan Chouinard and organist Bill Chouinard, with a special appearance by soprano Maria Jette. We'll finish with the music of the Southside Aces, a New Orleans brass band that will lead us out onto Exchange Street to give Bill a rousing, raucous sendoff.


About Bill Holm

A poet and essayist who traveled the world but always came home to his native Minneota , Minnesota , Bill Holm died on Feb. 25, 2009, at the age of 65. He wrote more than a dozen books, including The Windows of Brimnes, named for the cottage near the small fishing village of Hofsos , Iceland , where he spent his summers. Holm's other titles include Boxelder Bug Variations (1985), Coming Home Crazy (2000), Eccentric Islands (2000), The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth (2001), and Playing the Black Piano (2004). In 2008, the McKnight Foundation presented him with its 11th Distinguished Artist Award, a prize given annually to one artist who has enriched Minnesota by choosing to make a life and career in the state.


About the Presenters

Poet and translator Robert Bly was Bill Holm’s mentor and close friend. Bly was born in western Minnesota in 1926; his work Iron John: A Book About Men is an international bestseller which has been translated into many languages. Recent books of poetry include What Have I Ever Lost by Dying? Collected Prose Poems and Meditations on the Insatiable Soul.

Jim Harrison, Bill's longtime friend, sounding board, and dining companion, is a novelist, essayist, poet, screenwriter and food writer—anointed "the poet laureate of appetite" by Salon.com—whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Outside, Playboy, Men's Journal, and The New York Times Book Review.


The evening's host, Fred Child, is the host of American Public Media's Performance Today, the most-listened-to classical music radio show in America . Fred interviewed Bill in 2008 as part of the Poetry Radio Project, a collaboration between American Public Media and the Poetry Foundation.


Emilie Buchwald, the publisher of Milkweed Editions from 1979 to 2003, was Bill's publisher/editor for more than 25 years. Buchwald was the 2002 McKnight Distinguished Artist and is a Kay Sexton Award winner who commissioned important books like Transforming a Rape Culture and Toward the Livable City.


Phebe Hanson is a poet who appeared with Bill on the Fitzgerald Theater stage and toured the state with him in the 1970s as part of the "Minnesota Poetry Out Loud" series sponsored by the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her collection Why Still Dance was published by Nodin Press in 2004.


Jim Lenfestey, Bill's good friend, has worked in academia, advertising and journalism (as an editorial writer for the Minneapolis  Star Tribune, where he won several Page One awards for excellence). He writes poetry, reviews, articles and essays, including The Urban Coyote: Howlings on Family, Community and the Search for Peace and Quiet.


John Calvin Rezmerski, poet laureate of the League of Minnesota Poets, taught creative writing and journalism at Gustavus Adolphus College , and has led writing and storytelling workshops for more than 30 years. The founder and coordinator of "Minnesota Poetry Out Loud," he has long been committed to bringing poetry to non-traditional audiences.


Barton Sutter is the only author to win the Minnesota Book Award in three different categories. Primarily a poet, Sutter has published six books that include essays, fiction and poetry, as well as essays and stories in dozens of magazines. His poem “Not Sleeping at Bill Holm’s House" was one of Bill's favorites. Sutter performs Bill’s work with his musical brother Ross Sutter.

About the Event

MPR Presents Friends of Bill Holm with Robert Bly and Jim Harrison will be hosted by Fred Child at the Fitzgerald Theater on Tuesday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through The Fitzgerald Theater Box Office at 651-290-1221. All proceeds will go to the Bill Holm Memorial Fund benefiting authors, artists and community programs.

About the Broadcast

This event will be broadcast on Classical Minnesota Public Radio on Saturday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. and on Minnesota Public Radio News on Sunday, April 19 at 6:00 p.m. Online programming TBA. This special is part of our April programming to honor National Poetry Month.

Special Thanks

To Bill Holm’s longtime publisher, Milkweed Editions, for sponsoring the opening toast: at the start of the program, each audience member of legal drinking age will receive an ice-cold shot of Bill’s favorite spirit from Iceland , Reyka Vodka.


To the McKnight Foundation for providing each audience member with a complimentary copy of the commemorative volume published when Bill Holm was named the Foundation's 2008 Distinguished Artist.

About The Fitzgerald Theater

The Fitzgerald Theater is committed to programming that reflects the audience and mission of Minnesota Public Radio. This 1,000-seat theater acts as MPR’s largest broadcast studio, reaching millions who tune in each week to A Prairie Home Companion. Our staged productions commission authors, artists and radio hosts to create programs that delight and enlighten our community of listeners. The Fitzgerald Theater is Saint Paul ’s oldest theater and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2010.



Common Good Books will be in the lobby with publications from presenting authors. 10-percent of the proceeds will go to The Bill Holm Memorial Fund.

Production staff:

Fred Child, Host

Sanden Totten, Producer

Jenel Farrell, Radio Production Editor

Tom Campbell, Theater Production Manager


Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Eileen Smith, April 16, 2009
What a beautiful evening! Thank you.

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