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Spirit Room is one of 62 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2023-2024 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $20,000 will support a community reading program focusing on “The Bear,” by Andrew Krivak throughout September and October. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience.

From National Book Award in Fiction finalist Andrew Krivak comes a gorgeous fable of Earth’s last two human inhabitants, and a girl’s journey home

In an Edenic future, a girl and her father live close to the land in the shadow of a lone mountain. They possess a few remnants of civilization: some books, a pane of glass, a set of flint and steel, a comb. The father teaches the girl how to fish and hunt, the secrets of the seasons and the stars. He is preparing her for an adulthood in harmony with nature, for they are the last of humankind. But when the girl finds herself alone in an unknown landscape, it is a bear that will lead her back home through a vast wilderness that offers the greatest lessons of all, if she can only learn to listen.

A cautionary tale of human fragility, of love and loss, The Bear is a stunning tribute to the beauty of nature’s dominion.

"The Bear" book cover

Andrew Krivak is the author of three novels, two chapbooks of poetry, and two works of nonfiction. His 2011 debut novel, The Sojourn, was a National Book Award finalist and winner of both the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for fiction and the inaugural Chautauqua Prize. He followed The Sojourn, in what would become the Dardan Trilogy, with The Signal Flame, a novel The New York Times said evoked “an austere landscape, a struggling family, and a deep source of pain.” His novel The Bear received the Banff Mountain Book Prize for fiction, and is a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read title. Like the Appearance of Horses, the third novel in the Dardan Trilogy, is forthcoming in 2023. As a poet, Andrew has published the short collections Islands, and Ghosts of the Monadnock Wolves.  He is also author of the memoir A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life, and editor of The Letters of William Carlos Williams to Edgar Irving Williams, 1902-1912, which won the Louis Martz Prize for scholarly research on William Carlos Williams. He holds a BA from St. John’s College, Annapolis; an MFA in poetry from Columbia University; an MA in philosophy from Fordham University; and a PhD in literary modernism from Rutgers. Andrew lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Massachusetts, and Jaffrey, New Hampshire.

“The NEA Big Read programming focused on “The Bear” is designed to enlighten and uplift the community into greater synchronicity with our natural world and with one another while making this educational voyage exciting and heartening,” said Executive Director of the Spirit Room, Dawn Morgan.

Below you will find the full calendar of our programming. Many of the programs are free and open to the public, but some require pre-registration. Please click on the event below for details and registration.

Also, be sure to visit us at the Spirit Room, the Fargo Public Library, the West Fargo Public Library, or the Moorhead Public library for your free copy of "The Bear." We look forward to seeing you all soon!

Special Edition Spirit Room Shirts

Excited about the Big Read? Looking for a way to support our organization?

Consider purchasing a special edition shirt from Shirts From Fargo to commemorate the event. A portion of every purchase is donated directly to the Spirit Room, going towards supporting future programming and furthering our mission.

A special thank you goes out to Kat Smith-Savage for completion of our shirt design.

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Kristen Young  "The Bear" Art Exhibition
September and October
West Fargo Public Library

My name is Kristen Marie Young. I was born in St. Paul Minnesota and currently live in West Fargo with my husband Benjamin Young and children. I grew up south of town by Hickson North Dakota. In 2003 I received my Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in painting from MSUM and studied cosmetology at The Aveda Institute in Minneapolis.
Most of my paintings are a combination of abstraction and realism completed in oil paints. I often enjoy adventuring in nature, photographing my surroundings which I later use as references for my works. My grandparents Ralph and Lilah Rehder and Harold and Lorraine Lemke had a love of nature and were involved in nature conservation - likely a source for where my own passion derives.
Currently I am the first artist in residence at the Spirit Room, where I paint large scale images using oil and beeswax on canvas of photographs that I’ve taken when out in nature . Most recently I’ve been photographing the Sheyenne grasslands and various state parks in North Dakota and Minnesota. Through my paintings I would like to express not only the beauty but the importance of these places.

Additional events not part of our Big Read, but you may still enjoy.
a poster showing a tree carved into a skull, a sculpture of a Tarrah, and a busk of a woman with a yellow hair wrap, for an exhibit called Trees in Transition by Jim Motl

Jim Motl
Trees in Transition
Exhibition Sept 4 - Oct 16
Reception: Thur, Sept 7  5-7pm
Cost: Free

Wood carvings by Jim Motl, and thangka display

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Awakening Higher States of Conciousness
Sept 18  7 - 8:30pm
Cost: Free will donation
Workshop in mantra, breath, and meditation with traveling monk Brian Lottman

The Art of Relaxation with Nate Hanson
Wed, Sept 20  8pm
Wed, Oct 18   8pm
Cost: $10

Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Yoga Nidra
No prior experience necessary

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Holistic Workshops with Jeremy Gruensteiner
October 18 and 25  6-7pm
November 1   6-7pm
Free will donation

November 8   6-7:30pm
For more information visit here

A special thank you to our program partners and sponsors. Without your support this program would not have been possible. 

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