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Sons and Daughters of the Northern Lights

Duluth Public Library, 520 W. Superior St., Duluth, MN

Arrowhead Library Performance


North Country Characters - The Sutter Brothers

Westbrook Community Center, 556 1st Ave., Westbrook, MN

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The Sutter Brothers - Nordic Accordion

A Swedish runaway listens to Italian opera while gutting fish. Not the image you usually think of when you read poetry. But Bart Sutter, former poet laureate of Duluth, makes it work just fine.   It’s one of the stories in Sutter’s new collection “Nordic Accordion: Poems in a Scandinavian Mood,” which fulfills a promise he made to himself years ago.   “The first really good poem I ever wrote — better, somehow, than I knew how to write — was called ‘Swedish Lesson’ inspired by an adult ed class I was taking at the American Swedish Institute,” Sutter explained. “I had enrolled in the course because I thought a poet ought to do something about his ancestors. ‘Swedish Lesson’ was one result. The poem left me somewhat shaken, and I vowed that I would continue to explore this Scandinavian material in my future writing, partly in honor of the old people who looked after me so often when I was small, old people burdened with heavy brogues and memories of the Old Country. Forty years later, I’ve done my best to fulfill that vow with publication of ‘Nordic Accordion’ ” (Nodin Press, $17).   The book’s heart is a cycle of dramatic monologues by old women about their half-pagan younger years as cowherds in the mountain pasture camps of Sweden:   Well, we were farm girls! We knew life  And had our ways to please a boy  Without a vow to be his wife! There’s such a thing as animal joy.   Exploring the experience of Scandinavian immigrants, their ancestors and their descendants, Sutter also tells of two old Norwegians who meet at a funeral, which results in romance, Icelanders who drop over a cliff to collect seabird eggs, and an American writer who speaks to a dead Finnish poet and invites her home. One of the old women who came to America takes on a  literary giant:   I’ve enjoyed my life here close to nature  And my neighbors, with a man who cared for me.  I was never like Kristina in that novel  Wilhem Moberg wrote, always pining  For the fatherland. Nor were any  Of the women that I knew who  Came over as girls …  ” - Mary Ann Grossman

— St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Ross & Bart Sutter mesmerized our patrons with well chosen words and songs that you don’t hear on the radio anymore. This duo was easy to work with, and our audience was laughing and joining in on the songs throughout the entire program. The Sutter Brothers are a couple of great ‘North Country Characters’ to bring to your library.”” - Rachel Heinrich, Librarian

— Ely Public Library

“The Sutter Brothers were a dream act! From set-up, through the performance, to take-down, they were professional and polished. Their performance was one of the best I've ever hosted in a library, and the audience loved them. The combination of poetry, music & Minnestalgia really hit our audience sweet spot. I would take a return performance in a heartbeat! Truly, one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve spent in years!”” - Steve Harsin, Librarian

— Grand Marais Public Library

“‘North Country Characters’ with The Sutter Brothers was the most popular program we have had at Two Harbors Public Library so far this year. The people who came really liked the combination of humor and appreciation of Scandinavian culture. I heard comments about what a good voice Ross has, and also someone who said she doesn’t usually read poetry but really liked hearing Bart’s. They were easy to work with, arrived early and helped put out chairs and had minimal requirements for their set-up. Several people asked if we can have them come back again, and I hope that is possible.”” - Becky Norlien, Librarian

— Two Harbors Public Library

“Boy, where do I start with The Sutter Brothers! It is rare for a group to call ahead to make sure everything is in place. That was very much appreciated. The show was deep and silly, wise and foolish. The like of it has not been seen in these parts before! The audience loved singing along. Some of the poems have already entered into rotations in family storytelling. We are so grateful to have been able to have such a great show in West Duluth. Our patrons loved it.”” - Andrea, Librarian

— West Duluth Branch Library