toni mcnaron's garden

Toni McNaron has been talking about and writing books and stories for many decades. As a child, she often chose to read a good book rather than going to the local ice cream shop with neighborhood friends. After trying to be a physics and math major in college, she admitted that it was her literature class and teacher who really inspired and satisfied her intellectual curiosity. As a college professor for thirty-seven years, Toni worked with young people to help them feel the power of beautiful language and the centrality of reading about people whose actions and cultures stretched students’ perspectives and awakened empathy even for characters who overt actions might offend or frighten them.

Her own writing has ranged widely:  editing a pioneering collection of stories by women who survived incest; two memoirs of growing up in an unreconstructed South and, more recently, of wrestling with God until she has forged a comfortable faith for herself as a lesbian-feminist; editing essays about famous sister pairs in literature; editing and writing articles about Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, writing in code, pedagogical concerns, and attraction based on sameness rather than opposition.

Since 2001, Toni has been able to refashion how she wants to spend her time, finding in retirement creative ways to “teach” good books to curious adults even as she has turned her considerable yard into a series of wonderful gardens that sustain her, lots of local birds, and the occasional welcomed bunny rabbit. In these times so full of race-based inequities, Toni has decided to use her considerable teaching skills to introduce mostly white and older readers to books by and about black life now and into the inglorious past. This is her way to resist as she enters more seriously into consideration of mortality.

Read more about Toni


Alvin Ailey Magic

I’ve been watching the amazing dancers who work with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company since their first time to perform in Minneapolis, decades ago when they toured cities in the US.  That night, I watched spell-bound as Judith Jamieson, a lead member of the corps,... read more

Music for Two Queens

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and Netflix are producing multi-season programs about two of England’s three queens–Victoria (PBS) and Elizabeth II (Netflix).  Perhaps an early clue to what each series is “about” comes in the titles: ... read more

Bde Maka Ska

When I moved to Minneapolis in 1964, I was encouraged to ride around and see all the lakes located right in the city.  For the past four decades, I’ve been privileged to live just a couple of blocks from one of the largest of these wonderful  places.  When I... read more