Twin Cities weekly literary round up

Fellow Twin Cities book lovers!

There’s so many new things to write about now that my motivation is coming back (seriously, I was wondering if I could even consider myself a blogger anymore), so I think I’m going to try to compile the latest and greatest for you to peruse. Here’s just a few recently awesome local literary news on my radar:

loft_facebook1. Get reading recommendations and a writing prompt from Kao Kalia Yang: 

Even if you don’t live in the Twin Cities, this still applies to you! If you support the Loft Literary Center by becoming a member—with a contribution of any amountby November 9you will receive an exclusive writing prompt and reading recommendations from our very own local author Kao Kalia Yang! Contribute here at loft.org/support.

kao-kalia-yang(If you don’t know who she is, get on that! Kao Kalia Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008) and more recently The Song Poet (Metropolitan Books, 2016) and a speaker and teacher.)

I can’t get over how incredible this opportunity is! the-latehomecomerReally a win-win for everyone! For more information, visit the Loft’s website or their Facebook page with this announcement for more information.

 

mn-state-arts-grants

 

2. The winners of the Minnesota State Arts Board Grants were announced yesterday!
No one is better at reporting local literary book news than Laurie Hertzel, so head on over to the Star Trib to learn about who won Minnesota State Arts Board Grants. Among the winners are 10 poets and 32 prose writers including familiar names such as Sun Yung Shin, Kao Kalia Yang, and Ed Bok Lee. Congratulations to everyone!

3. NaNoWriMo 2016 (National Novel Writing Month) has begun!
I’m sure most writers are going to busy typing furiously at their keyboards this month. I am honestly jealous of all of you! I participated in years past and “won” a few times, but those novels were always trash and I never ever wanted to see them again. This year I get to watch my husband participate while I sit back nanoand partake in NaNoREADMo, so I’m fairly pleased. There’s even a website over on Tumblr so like, it’s pretty official guys. Haven’t made any goals yet, but I’ll get back to you if I do. And heck, I may decide to just try writing personal essays or something this month anyway.
Happy writing!
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favorite (contemporary) lit luminary

Since the name of this blog does imply it’s about human luminaries, I thought I’d start off with one that inspires me the most.

When people ask me who my favorite writer is, I’m often very stumped. Not only do I hate “favorite” questions, but there’s so many to choose from! And then there’s the matter of what works you have read by said writer, and how many are needed to feel justified in favoriting them. I actually don’t read as much or am not as well-read as people think. I wish I was, and yes, I was an English major, but that doesn’t automatically guarantee I’ll know even a lot there is to know about writing, and I wish I knew more writers. Factors such as the school, the professors, preferences, and even the year change things drastically. I haven’t even most of the classics other English majors have (although I have read, finished, and written an extensive literary theory paper on Bleak House by Dickens, of which I am quite proud). So I wanted to focus on my favorite contemporary literary luminary, since lately I’m reading lots of new ARCs and recent lit.

So when I think of my “favorite” writer who is also still alive, I think of someone who, though I may not have read everything by this person,  challenges me almost daily to be a better person. I think of this person’s words almost every day—that is how much they resonate with me.

anne lamottThis writer is Anne Lamott.

My favorite words of hers are always changing. I loved her book Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, but I actually disliked the only novel of hers that I’ve read (Blue Shoe). However, for the writers out there, her writing “advice” book Bird by Bird, which I DID read in college, is UH-MAZING.

But the writing that has resonated the most with me are her occasional Facebook posts. They are small gems of essays that literally look and sometimes read like she wanted to write a Facebook status but then had so much wisdom she just let herself go. Sometimes they’re rambly, sometimes very well thought out, and always insightful.bird

My faith is something so small and quiet these days, and it’s not something I like to talk about very much. However, Lamott reminds me that my roots remain true, that there is hope, and that it doesn’t have to be conservative Republican 😉 (Trying to avoid politics AND faith topics on this blog, just so I can encourage unity, but this is what had to be said. I’ll leave it at that.)

She also is a firm feminist, believes in equality and human rights, and isn’t afraid to speak up or go against the status quo. She talks about the tough stuff. She talks about real life. She has dreadlocks, she gets a little sweary, and her angst is real and raw and admitting to fault but not afraid to say it like it is. And yet she remains a positive voice impacting many—regardless of faith, sexual identity, political opinions, or other differentiating factors. AND OF COURSE she loves books.

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

—from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (emphasis mine)

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”

Anne Lamott, thank you for your words on life and hope and mental illness and grief and trying to enjoy and life fully each day. You are a one of my favorite voices, and I want to go on reading your Facebook posts forever. If I could have coffee with any writer on earth (which is SUCH A HARD QUESTION) it would be you.

Sincerely,

An admiring writer.

What about you? Who is your favorite contemporary literary luminary? Or, if you could have coffee with one writer on earth, who would it be?

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