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MnWE News Late-Fall Issue:
CFP, AI Costs, OER, & Joy Harjo

November-December 2023                                  

In this issue:  





5.  Equity/Diversity Literary Resources (in each issue)

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         The MnWE Committee now is accepting proposals for MnWE 2024 at Normandale College in the southwest quadrant of the Twin Cities metro area: go to The annual, two-day conference this year focuses on “New Visions for College Writing.” With changes from the pandemic, the advent of AI, and other political and social issues, we live in a world leading to new teaching paradigms. Send us your thoughtful, brief proposal on our theme or any other subject related to college writing and English, tutoring, or related issues, and we’ll be glad to accept your presentation. The MnWE Committee accepts the great majority of proposals.
       The MnWE Conference is notable for emphasizing discussion in a kind, respectful, pedagogy- and sharing-oriented atmosphere that participants often discover is the equal of regional or even smaller national conferences. This year’s conference promises to be lively and well attended. Normandale is Minnesota’s largest community college. We will be situated in its beautiful Garden Room for a plenary and lunch each day with registration and modern breakout rooms nearby. All sessions will be held simultaneously in the rooms and on Zoom, so you may join us and/or present either way.

        Most attendees come from universities and colleges in Minnesota, but we also gladly welcome those from other states and nations. Presenters range from experienced professors to first-time adjuncts, graduate students, high school faculty, and undergraduate English majors. MnWE is an especially caring, gentle, and intelligent site for first-time presenters and for graduate students who would like practice in presenting before going out into the real world for jobs of all kinds. The conference also is a dynamic opportunity to learn the latest in person about new pedagogies—and old ones with new applications—in Minnesota and the nation.

        Join us April 12-13 for a relaxing and exciting experience with your colleagues. Go to to start your proposal.


        AI programs could, by 2027, use as much yearly electricity as smaller countries such as Argentina, the Netherlands, and Sweden, according to data scientist Alex de Vries in the peer-reviewed journal Joule. His “moderate” assessment was reported by Delger Erdenesanaa in an Oct. 10 New York Times article.

        AI uses specialized computers that De Vries refers to as “power-hungry beasts” because they need so much energy. Whole new computer farms are being built to serve AI interests. The overall estimated amount by 2027 still will be small compared to all use: about one-half of one percent. However, even bigger power drains are happening already because of searches, data storage, and cryptocurrency creation. “In 2022, data centers that power all computers, including Amazon’s cloud and Google’s search engine, used about 1% to1.3% of the world’s electricity,” not including cryptocurrency, which used about 0.4%, says De Vries. He estimates that Google’s search engines alone, if switched entirely to AI (a distinct possibility), could use as much energy per year as Ireland. With many companies using AI, and its popularity increasing in years to come, ir may cause significant global warming.
        Much depends on whether AI companies and adopters like Google and Amazon decide to choose green-powered sources over gas, oil, and coal. “But that’s a tough sell,” says Erdenesanaa, “when companies are racing to improve their AI models as quickly as possible.”
        Where do faculty and students come into this? As with any resource, good vs. frivolous use may be important. This may include training students in when AI is truly useful and when it is mostly a waste of time.


By Kelly Donahue and Randi Madisen

        Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning materials that are public domain or licensed to allow free use, remixing, and redistribution. Faculty often think of OER as an entire textbook that they use the same way they would use a publisher’s print textbook in a class. However, open resources allow much more flexibility. Often the best approach is to use the course modules in the Learning Management System (LMS) to arrange multiple resources, with one or two modules for each course goal.  

        Courses designed with OER often link students to multiple sites. For example, faculty may use library resources like films, articles, or even whole e-books for some course content. Other course work may link students to readings from websites like Gutenberg Project for past-copyright novels, professional sites like MLA to teach citation, or how-to explanations from online writing labs to review paragraph structure.

        Open resources are licensed under Creative Commons to allow adaptation and remixing, so they can be creatively reused, adapted, and made-to-order to fit the requirements of local learners like aligning to the Minnesota State transfer curriculum or diversifying the voices represented. Resources can also be remixed. For example, faculty can use the best chapter from this resource, an article from that resource, and a video from a third resource. Faculty have the subject knowledge to either adapt existing resources or even create new ones.

        No-cost OER benefit students by saving them money and increasing text accessibility. Classes using OER allow students access to course materials on the first day of classes, regardless of their ability to pay. And OER improve course grades and lower fail rates more for Pell recipients and historically underserved populations.[i]  Most college LMS sites and all library databases incorporate accessibility software that reads content aloud to students. Some colleges’ LMS sites even have software that translates written material into multiple languages for students to increase your course accessibility for all students.

        Use the resources below and your institution’s library resources to leave the constraints of a conventional textbook behind. Your students will benefit from anything you can do to reduce their costs.

OER for First-Year Comp and Lit Students and Beyond

- Button, Aly, et al. Writing in College, Open SUNY Textbooks, 19 Jan. 2016. Focuses on the reason students write

- Glynn, Alexandra, et al. You, Writing!: A Guide to College Composition. Minnesota State Opendora. Explores the writing process in a logical order: finding audience, purpose, and topics; developing a thesis and paragraphs that support it; writing a first draft; and revising, editing, and proofreading

- Jewell, R., A College Composition and Writing Textbook. Basic, first-year and advanced comp and disciplinary writing. Most chapters have student examples at three levels of difficulty.

- Kashyap, Athena, and Erika Dyquisto. Writing, Reading, and College Success: A First-Year Composition Course for All Learners. Humanities LibreTexts, 12 June 2020. Includes additional materials that support developmental or English language learners with college success skills, reading, and writing

- Literacy4DS. “Active Reading.” YouTube, 28 Nov. 2012. Short video to help students understand if their reading is active or passive, then review strategies to promote critical reading

- Purdue Online Writing Lab. All essential elements of writing with links to specific readings or exercises.

- Stedman, Kyle D. “Annoying Ways People Use Sources.” Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 1, ed. Charles Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky. WAC Clearinghouse. Helps comp students explore common source-use errors by comparing it to poor driving. The entire book also is free and aimed at higher-level FYC.
OER Designed for Writing about Literature Students

- Bennett, Tanya Long. “Writing and Literature: Composition as Inquiry, Learning, Thinking, and Communication.” GALILEO Open Learning Materials. Shows students how to read and analyze texts, then write about what they learned

- Jewell, R. “Response to Literature.” Step-by-step lessons on five typical methods of writing to and about literature, with clear instructions and student examples

- Ringo, Heather and Kashyap, Athena. “Writing and Critical Thinking Through Literature.” City College San Francisco through ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative.” Humanities LibreTexts, 13 Nov. 2021. A broad landing page connecting to multiple literature-based writing texts

Other Places to find OER

- Mason EER Metafinder. Simultaneously search 16 OER repositories.

OASIS. From SUNY Geneseo, Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS). It is a search tool that aims to make the discovery of open content easier. Try OER by subject label to find materials for a particular discipline.

- Opendora - Opendora. From Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, a repository to access, load, and share open educational resources.

- UMN Open Text Library. From the University of Minnesota. Find open-source textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. These books have been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality.

[1] Colvard, Nicholas, et. al. “The Impact of Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 2018, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 262-276.
Kelly Donahue and Randi Madisen are faculty members at Century College in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, Kelly in English and Randi as a Librarian.

4. Book Review: JOY HARJO’S POET WARRIOR: A MEMOIR. W.W. Norton, 2021
    Review by Steve Wiley

        Joy Harjo, born into the Muscogee tribe, has made art, music, and poetry since childhood. She recently complete three terms as the U.S. Poet Laureate.

        Her original, prolific output has won her many awards: a Yale Bollingen, PEN/Voelcker, American Book, Guggen-heim, National Women’s Hall of Fame, National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement, eight honorary doctorates, a nomination for a Lambda, and dozens more. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s famed MFA Program.

        My aim here is to explore her most recent memoir, Poet Warrior, its recursive density, and the lyrical beauty of its language and design. It mixes memoir with poems, dreams, and songs, with each telling becoming another layer of her deepening spiritual and artistic journey. 

        We encounter people and places Joy has known, a network that grows with her. Her charismatic father, from an oil-rich Creek family, and her beautiful mother fall in love and marry young. A cook and waitress who keeps a “spotless” kitchen, she loves talking with her friends. But his infidelity, alcoholism, and verbal and physical violence with her and Joy worsen, ending when he leaves for good. Without his airplane mechanic salary but four children to raise, her mother’s health erodes. Her second husband is white and provides economic stability, but he mercilessly oppresses his wife and the stepchildren he loathes. A brutal predator, he beats Joy with his belt, toys with her teen sexual vulnerability, and terrifies her. Joy seeks relief and connection with alcohol and sex, without solace. Her enervated mother submits, powerless and exhausted. When he dies, she’s institutionalized by the state and put on Thorazine for decades. 

        Joy’s close connection with the Old Ones, her council of ancestors, helps her not only survive all this pain but become increasingly aware of herself, other people, and nature (snakes, rivers, trees) as all being alive and related. The Old Ones live on the other side and visit her in mind, bidden or unbidden, always at need. They name her Girl Warrior in childhood and, throughout her life, show her the endlessly elaborate, vibrant connectedness of the whole living world. The girl intuits this easily. At puberty, she receives a song from the Old Ones: “The Life of Beauty” traces her from incarnation; to “tendrils of fire longing,” sexual and spiritual, in adolescence; to a retrospective on adversities she will overcome and connections that will strengthen; to the future when “she left this story behind her.”

        And after she turns fourteen, the Old Ones name her Poet Warrior. She now can survive her stepfather; she even credits him with compelling her to strengthen her imagination to live without fear. 

        Poet Warrior introduces several dozen other influences on Harjo’s creative life, some famous, some obscure, all of whom she is grateful for. Among them: Santa Fe’s American Indian Art Institute opens her full artistic breadth in high school and for decades afterward; Leslie Silko, Simon Ortiz, Galway Kinnell, and Walt Whitman influence her poetry; the Lascaux cave painters, Marc Chagall, and Native artists inform her art; African, African American, and Native jazz musicians are the impetus behind teaching herself sax in her late thirties and forming two jazz bands (one still touring). And Joy has had countless teaching and performing gigs.

        At nearly thirty, the Old Ones tell her she has a choice to commit to the path of poetry. She’s been publishing poetry since 1975 and writing it longer, but overwhelmed by years of being a single mother, she refuses the call and tries to escape her responsibilities. After seven aimless years in denial, Joy returns to her family in time to see her daughter’s daughter arrive. The Old Ones welcome her back, but her daughter disappears, and her tender genius boyfriend develops schizophrenia and dies, homeless, in a hit-and-run. 

        Both adversities and successes have made Joy Harjo strong. “Everyone is a teacher” to her, and she honors some of the mentors who have helped her resist “the multicorporate glut.” She corresponds with Meridel le Sueur from her college days until Meridel’s death in 2011, encouraged by her persistence against adversity. Scott Momaday’s poems show Joy anew how to craft. Audre Lorde’s live readings engage the power of speech to connect intimately with the listener and confirm that the personal and political are connected. Lorde says that mother, lover, and poet are all warrior roles. Hawaii, the Amazon’s pink dolphins and rainforest, and the reviving effect of a gift of pure coca leaves—all of them taught her.  

        Her mother is an especially powerful teacher. Free of Thorazine and the mental hospital, she comes home to die. Joy’s care becomes “midwifing [her] through to her next life.” She and her sister and her niece are with her mother at the end. Joy writes a poem envisioning washing her mother’s body, sadly poignant because she is not there to do it. Now, happily married and living on the Creek reservation, Joy looks forward to seeing her friends and family on the other side and joining the Old Ones. In her final vision, she holds her fifth great granddaughter, sings a song into her for ancestral strength, and walks her into her time to deliver her to this world. The recursive movement here comes full circle to the first pages of Poet Warrior

        Most students likely will find her story hard to stop reading. The topics are dramatic and easily set up for discussions and responses on multiple levels—artistic, political, social, historical. Harjo is an American literary treasure, and this book is but one more in a string of her “Memory Sack[s]” of people, beings, and forces of nature that she immortalizes in her several forms of art.
NPR Review     
Harvard Review    
Wikipedia on Joy Harjo


 Diversity Books: What might you or your students enjoy reading and researching?


50 Top Asian American Literary Books
Time's 25 Asian-Am. Celebrate
MN Hum. Center’s BIPOC Resources

Wikipedia Asian-Amer. Lit., Writer List
2000+ Books on Asian American Lit
Graphic: 85 AAPI Novels  Angel's 60+



44 Best Black Books–
30 Top Black Literary Books
MN Black Children's Bks.–Strive Publ.
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

Wikipedia African-Amer. Lit., Writer List
41 Black Fiction Classics–B & N
700+ Black Books–
Black Graphic Novels and Comics


Indigenous/Native American:

50 Native American Bestseller Books
32 Native American Authors
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

WikipediaNative-Amer. Lit., Writer List
Minn. Hist. Society Native-Amer. Books
Indigenous Graphic Literature



Latinx Writers’ 14 Recommended Bks.
10 Latinx
MN Hum. Center Diversity Resources

WikipediaLatinx LiteratureWriter List
2000+ Latinx Books–
Latinx Graphic Novels



25 Best Classics
40+ LGBTQIA Gay Fiction & Lit Bks.
50 Bestsellers

Wikipedia: LGBTQ General, Writer List
1000+ in Multiple Genres
LGBTQ Graphic Lit: Bestsellers  800+

Graphic Novels Offering Diversity:

NCTE: "Diversity in Graphic Novels"
NCTE: "In Defense of Graphic Novels"
NPR: "100 Fav. Comics/Graphic Novels"

Social Justice Graphic Novels (All Ages)
Best Graphic Novels of All Time
Top 10 Literary Graphic Novels


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Who are we? “MnWE” is “Minnesota Writing and English,” a listserv of over 2000 (the “English Discipline Listserv), and an all-volunteer organization started in 2007. MnWE offers an annual, two-day, spring conference attended by 100-200 faculty and students. Our main coordinating committee, which meets about ten times per year, is composed entirely of unpaid college, university, high school, and other professional and graduate student English/writing volunteers. 

      Who is MnWE’s audience? All activities are by and for college, university, and college-in-the-high-schools English and writing faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and related academic and literary scholars, tutors, publishers, authors, and others in the Upper Midwest and beyond. Our purpose is to bring together these communities in Minnesota and in the parts of bordering states and provinces within driving distance of Minnesota.

Where are we? Please visit us online at Our geographical center is Minneapolis-St. Paul. Over 2000 faculty, graduate students, tutors, and related administrators receive our emails, and forwards go to an additional hundreds of colleagues and students. Those on our listserv receive this newsletter six times per year, along with additional conference announcements and occasional helpful information. Our listserv members come from state universities, public and private two-year colleges, private colleges and universities, high schools, and the public universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and other schools and locations in the United States, Canada, and overseas.
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Book Reviews and Articles: Write a book review or article for us! We publish a review in most issues and are reaching out to find more article authors..

      A typical (though not required) book-review pattern for 400-600 words is an interesting introduction (creative, interrogative, anecdotal, controversial, or ?); one section each describing the book, its arguments/ implications, and your own evaluations; and a brief conclusion. Also helpful (but not required) are statements of awards, links to related sites for the book, and its possible use for teaching.

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Copyright: This newsletter is written primarily by MnWE News editor Richard Jewell without copyright so that anyone may quote, paraphrase, or forward any or all parts freely, unless otherwise noted. Articles written by others are credited, and those articles are copyrighted. We do ask that you give credit to the MnWE News and/or; and when you use material that has been quoted or paraphrased in this newsletter from another source, please be sure to give proper credit to the original source. 

Richard Jewell, Editor

MnWE News   
Pronouns: He, him, they, them (Why it matters)

Minnesota Writing & English

MnWE Coordination:
Julie Daniels, Program Editor, Century College
Mary Ellen Daniloff-Merrill, SMSU Advisor, Southwest Minn. State Univ.
Judith Dorn, 2023 Site Coordinator, Saint Cloud State University
Abi Duly, H.S. Faculty Advisor, New London-Spicer Schools
Gene Gazelka, Web Docs Coordinator, North Hennepin Community Coll.
Ed Hahn, Web and Registration Coordinator, North Hennepin Coll.
Ryuto Hashimoto, Undergr. Connection Coord., Mn. State U.-Mankato
Danielle Hinrichs, Program/Conf. Coordinator, Metropolitan State Univ.
Richard Jewell, Co-founder & Gen. Coord., Inver Hills Coll. (Emeritus)
Yanmei Jiang, 2023 Plenary Coordinator, Century College
Carla-Elaine Johnson, 2023 Plenary Coordinator, Saint Paul College
Eric Mein, 2024 Site Host Coordinator, Normandale College
Gordon Pueschner, Secretary & Conf. Floor Manager, Century College
Jonathan Reeves, Century College
Donald Ross, Co-founder, Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Emeritus)
Larry Sklaney, Conference & Cost Center Coordinator, Century College

MnWE Journal Coeditors:
    David Beard, University of Minnesota-Duluth,
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    Yanmei Jiang, Century College
    John Schlueter, Saint Paul College

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Format updated 5 Oct. 2022