Thursday, May 24, 2012


When Colin Nelson decided to become a member of the Edina Art Center (EAC), he wasn't setting out to change people's perceptions of art. But that is exactly what the local defense attorney and author did when he started The Author's Studio. He added the universe of fiction to EAC's already prestigious curriculum of painting, pottery and sculpture.

Colin Nelson

During his first board meeting, former director, Diane Hedges, threw down the gauntlet and asked Colin what he was he going to do for EAC. Colin had a lot to offer, but as a writer, he knew the importance of connecting local authors with the community. By designing a discussion format loosely based on well-known PBS's The Actor's Studio, Colin seamlessly advanced two opportunities with a single action. By introducing another form of art - fiction - he not only helped expand what the center already offers, but, additionally, created a necessary nexus between readers and authors. According to Colin, people are always looking for more reading opportunities, fare beyond what the traditional celebrity writers bring to the shelves.  That works out well for The Author's Studio because it turns out that the metro area, and Minnesota, generally, are loaded with richly talented and prolific writers.

Each month, Colin interviews a different fiction author, and he likes to mix it up by bringing in writers from a variety of backgrounds and genres.  One time you might be introduced to a suspense novelist, the next, a spiritual poet. At each event Colin begins by introducing the writer and giving us a brief biography of his or her writing style and accomplishments. Colin has a knack for asking insightful questions and the guests open up easily to reveal the nitty-gritty of a writer's life. The second half of the program is opened up to a Q & A where the audience and author are able to freely exchange thoughts and ideas.

So far, five local writers have graced the author's chair at The Author's Studio:  Christopher Valen, Erin Hart, Gary Armstead, Sujata Massey, and David Bredeen. The interviews take place in EAC's comfy and inspiring exhibit gallery where audience members are also able to view the latest show by talented artists. In May, Colin's guest was the lively and spirited David Bredeen who talked about his books of fiction and poetry.


David Breeden's educational experiences are wide-ranging and dynamic. He received an MFA from Iowa Writers Workshop, a Ph.D. from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Master of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological. Breeden also attended Alan Ginsburg and Ann Waldman's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Writers in Boulder, Colorado. Breeden is a Minnesota poet, novelist and Unitarian Universalist minister.

Are you out of breath, yet!  I hope not, there's more.

David Breeden
When Colin asked the author about early influences, Breeden cited Kurt Vonnegut, Bob Dylan and the beat writers.  According to Breeden, that generation of poets and writers had a lot of respect for the image and sought to tell stories around concepts and ideas. Breeden also believes that the story serves the idea and not the other way around. That's probably why, Breeden says, that he prefers poetry to fiction. In fiction, he inadvertantly writes the story and then tries to squeeze the characters into the plot.

Breeden's true loves are theology and poetry, and he is a long-time student of the gnostic gospels and eastern religions. As a result, the writer's poetry melds many religions and philosophies, and often centers on forgiveness.  Once a tenured professor of creative writing, these days the writer enjoys reading poems during sermons. "Poetry is the rhythm of the universe. In the past, poets were considered shamans," Breeden said.

There is a familiar and easy rhythm to David Breeden's poetry because it feels honest and always calls up the universal experience.We heard many lovely lyrical pieces, but I'm still haunted by two short lines from a poem that addresses the psychological choices each of us makes when we greet the new day:
 ". . . what to burn 
         what to box."  

Bredeen writes every day, even if it's only a line or two. He admits that for him, it is a spiritual practice and a necessary exercise. The author has written four novels and ten books of poetry. These books, including his latest, News From The Kingdom of God, Meditations from the Gospel of St. Thomas, are available on Amazon.

The Author's Studio meets at 10:00 a.m., every second Saturday of the month at the Edina Art Center. The Author's Studio is on break for the summer and will resume on September 8, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Cool. Now I know what the Author's studio is. I was wondering!