Literary panel features Hamline writers

Members of the Hamline community spoke at a virtual reading of the “We Are Meant to Rise” anthology on April 6.

Lydia Meier and

“We Are Meant to Rise,” a virtual reading and panel on the evening of April 6, was a chance for attendees to listen to and engage with four talented writers in the Hamline community.

Hamline University’s Creative Writing and English departments hosted the panel, alongside community organization More Than a Single Story, founded by Carolyn Holbrook. Besides being the moderator and panelist for the Facebook live event, Holbrook is an adjunct professor of creative writing at Hamline and the co-editor of “We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World,” a 2021 anthology from the University of Minnesota Press that features over 30 essays from Indigenous writers and writers of color from Minnesota.

“[‘We Are Meant to Rise’ is] a brilliant and rich gathering of voices on the American experience of this past year and beyond,” the panel description reads. 

The anthology reflects on the challenges of 2020. It is a testament to endurance, to community, to heritage, to love and to grief.

At the panel, Holbrook was joined by contributors to the anthology: Hamline graduate Kevin Yang, and Hamline faculty Sun Yung Shin and Erin Sharkey. Contributors connected with each other and the viewers by answering questions posted in the live Facebook chat on many topics, from books that are currently inspiring them, to their writing process, to their upcoming projects.

Holbrook also spoke on her experiences while editing the anthology.

Dr. Jennifer Scanlon was the keynote speaker at the Hedgeman Center’s Social Justice Symposium talking about her book,
“Until There is Justice: the Life of Anna Arnold Hedgeman,” and Hedgeman’s life and legacy. (Jacob ‘Coby’Aloi)

“Some of the conversations on family that people are sort of weaving…their reactions to the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd with historical moments and family moments, and just lots of weaving of stories and moments that this thing triggered. That has been a really interesting and beautiful thing that has happened as a result of the anthology,” Holbrook said.

Holbrook is the winner of several awards, grants and fellowships, including the 2021 Minnesota Book Award for her memoir, “Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify,” and the Hamline exemplary teacher award in 2014.

“[Holbrook] has played such an important role in generations of Hamline students’ lives and in the Hamline community—as she has in the lives of generations of BIPOC writers and in the broader Twin Cities arts community, as the writers who read at the event all testified,” Professor Kris Deffenbacher wrote in an email. 

Deffenbacher is a Hamline English professor who organized the panel alongside creative writing professor Sheila O’Connor and one of the organizers of the panel, also noted the attendance.

“We had 70 engaged audience members in a week with a lot of other events going on, so that was great,” Deffenbacher said.

At the time of this reporting, the event is still available to view on the Hamline University English Department Facebook page or here.  For print :