News &  Events:


Build Me a Boat: A Virtual Reading

Wednesday, November 11, 7:00 – 8:30 pm (via Zoom)
Wisdom Ways Center

1890 Randolph, St. Paul MN

Savor an evening of beauty and reflection, anchoring us in the hope that both poetry and music offer to us. Join poet Michael Dennis Browne as he interweaves music clips and words in a virtual reading from his new book Build Me a Boat, which gathers words that Browne has written for music over the past fifty years. Some are poems written with music in mind; others are lyrics, song cycles, songs for children, and libretti written as he collaborated with a number of different composers.

The result is a volume that sits comfortably between poetry and music, lyrical and rhythmic and memorable.


Build Me a Boat: Words for Music, 1968 – 2018

Build Me a Boat gathers a selection of the words that poet Michael Dennis Browne has written for music over the past fifty years. Working with a number of different composers, Browne has ranged widely across forms; what we discover here are lyrics, song cycles, songs for children, excerpts from libretti—some of them in free verse, some of them formal—as well as poems that, while not written to be part of specific musical works, were nonetheless written with music in mind or under the influence of particular works. The result is a volume that sits comfortably between poetry and music, lyrical and rhythmic and memorable.

Available November 2020
Carnegie Mellon University Press Poetry Series


Stephen Paulus’s The Road Home
King’s College Choir

Librettist Michael Dennis Browne talks about working with the composer Stephen Paulus on The Road Home. American composer Paulus, who passed away in 2014, co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now known as the American Composers Forum, and won posthumous Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Classical Composition and Best Classical Compendium. The Road Home has been performed by King’s College Choir on its two most recent tours to the USA, and has become a favorite for the performers and audience members alike.

News & Events Archive

  • Considering Matthew Shepard performed at Hult Center for the Performing Arts, U of Oregon. May 2019

  • American Hymn and Spirituals performed in Tacoma, Seattle, and Medina, WA. MDB guest artist with Choral Arts Northwest. May 2019

  • To Be Certain of the Dawn performed at the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, Elkin Park, PA. Singing City, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Boys’ Choir. May 2019
  • Considering Matthew Shepard performed at New York Society for Ethical Culture Concert Hall, New York, NY. April 2019

  • Considering Matthew Shepard performed at NorShor Theater, Duluth, MN, TwinPorts Choral Project. February 2020.

  • Considering Matthew Shepard performed at City Recital Hall, in Sydney, Australia by Sydney Philharmonic Choirs, VOX Choir. February 2020.

  • MDB was part of the Aging and Becoming Workshop December 2019 Wisdom Ways Center, St Paul, MN.

  • To Be Certain of the Dawn, post-Holocaust oratorio, music by Stephen Paulus, words by MDB, performed at the Ted Mann Concert Hall, University of Minnesota. November 2019.

  • MDB was part of the “Dark Though It Is”: poetry reading at the Benedictine Center, St Paul, MN. October 2019.

  • Considering Matthew Shepard with Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare was performed at the Ravinia Festival, Chicago. September 2019.

  • MDB participated in a panel discussing setting words to music at SourceSong Festival, Minneapolis, MN. August 2019

  • On Friday October 26, Matthew Shepard’s ashes were interred at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C; Conspirare performed during the ceremony and give a concert afterwards, and they have invited MDB to be there.

  • Recent performances by Conspirare at which Michael Dennis Browne gave either pre-concert remarks or took part in post-concert discussion: Lincoln, Los Angeles, Laramie, Fort Collins.

  • Considering Matthew Shepard, a documentary produced by KLRU in Austin, is now being shown on PBS stations all over. See it here.

  • “The Call,” a concert on the University of Minnesota campus on Sunday October 28, concluded with”North Star Song,” which MDB wrote for the occasion. The music is by Ryland Angel and Malcolm Archer.

  • MDB was a part of Dare to Hope: Music and Poetry for Uncertain Times, at Holy Spirit Catholic Church. March 2018.

  • MDB participated in pre-concert remarks at Considering Matthew Shepardperformed by Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare, Lied Center for the Performing Arts, February 25, Lincoln, NE.

  • MDB appeared in Twentieth anniversary concert performances of The Three Hermits. November 2017.

  • MDB released Chimes: Selected Shorter Poems, Nodin Press. November 2017

  • MDB appeared at Poets and Writers and Musicians Against the War on the Earth. June 2017, Saint Joan of Arc Church.

  • See Michael Dennis Browne in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Minneapolis poet’s song to be performed at Trump’s inauguration — but he’s not a supporter” Watch video/read story here.

  • MDB participated in Considering Matthew Shepard performance at Symphony Hall, Boston. February 2017. (Performance taped for Austin City Limits Live.)

  • Michael Dennis Browne was featured on The Mary Hanson Show, Monday October 3, conversation, TPS.

  • MDB taught “Believing in Writing: Poetry, Prose and Prayer: a writing workshop” at the Collegeville Institute, St John’s University.

  • MDB was a featured guest with Saint Paul Vocal Forum’s “Sing Love, Be Love,” April/May 2016.

  • MDB was featured at 6th Pankake Poetry event at the University of Minnesota in April. He read from his new book, The Voices, and the afternoon featured a musical performance by Kathy Saltzman Romey and the University Singers, the flagship choral ensemble of the University of Minnesota. See a video of the event here.

  • Read Michael Dennis Browne’s remarks from the memorial service for Stephen Paulus. November 2014. Click here to read his remarks.

  • MDB has new poems in online magazines Sleet Magazine and Tinderbox Poetry Journal.