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!

get these October events on your calendar!

hello-october

Here’s a rundown of things to get on your radar for October.We’re in FULL SWING busy season, so yes, you’re going to have to choose when there’s two events on the same night!

Again, I know I’m not super consistent with posting the same events every time (if they’re monthly or recurring) but just shoot me a line to include what I missed! I’ve tried to be more inclusive by focusing on each bookstore and linking to all their upcoming events after featuring just one on here.

As always, in the “Events” tab above you’ll find the Rain Taxi official literary calendar and other resources to help with finding book readings  and lit events in the Twin Cities area.

  • Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Book Festival is on Saturday, October 15th!  You don’t want to miss one of the most important TC literary events of the year! 
    • Normally I write this post in chronological order, but this event is just TOO COOL to pass up. It’s 1) at the MN State Fairgrounds and 2) it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE. I hope to see you there!!
    • And there’s an Opening Night Party!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming 😉

  • Friday, October 7th: Dave Eggers will be chatting with guests and signing books at new Milkweed Books! Don’t miss checking out the new bookstore, if you haven’t already!
    • There’s also an event also on Tuesday, October 4th:Poets in Conversation with Milkweed Editions featuring Michael Bazzett, Patricia Kirkpatrick, Chris Santiago, and Jennifer Willoughby and that will be a conversation about the formation of poets and the supporting ecosystem here in Minnesota, with Milkweed Editions’ publisher, Daniel Slager.
    • Though they’re a powerhouse press, they’re still a baby bookstore, so a lot of events are hosted or run by Milkweed Editions! For a list of all events at Milkweed Books/Editions, check out their Facebook events here, or visit their website!
  • Thursday, October 6th: Poetry Happy Hour hosted by MN Book Awards and Friends of the St. Paul Library featuring Todd Boss, Heid Erdrich, Dobby Gibson, Ed Bok Lee, and Katrina Vandenberg.
  • Also Wednesday, October 12th: Nathan Hill reads from The Nix at Magers & Quinn Booksellers!
    • Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost presents The Secret History of Twin Peaks on Saturday, October 22!
    • There’s more great ones this month including authors Charlie Quimby, Karen Brennan presenting her new book Monsters (get in the Halloween spirit!), James P. Lenfestey, and many others! For a list of all events at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, check out their Facebook events here, or visit their website!
  • Monday, October 17th: Gary Dop and Amy Munson at Common Good Books! In undergrad, Amy Munson was my poetry professor and Gary Dob was my sister’s (though she turned out to be a better poet than me, I don’t think that has anything to do with our professors), so I’m a little biased but I think you should check them out. Amy Munson’s debut poetry volume Yes Thorn is now out from Tupelo Press!

And because this is literally only the first half of the month, but I’m already all our room, see below for other bookstores and their events pages, featuring authors such as Ben Percy, Caroline Burau, Cheri Register, Nick Flynn, and many others!

If you can, I encourage you to check one or two of these great events out and perhaps discover some new awesome reads along the way! Let me know in the comments if there are any others you’re excited about this month! 

books & the literary community as healing

Alright, friends. Here I am after QUITE the absence, and for that I am sorry. It’s totally not that there haven’t been July events to keep you aware of or awesome June events to talk about (because there have been! I have so much to catch up on), but that I think it’s not secret July has been a total shitstorm in our country.

The day after Philando Castile was shot and killed, I decided to take a break from speaking my own voice out into the social media depths and simply share those voices which haven’t been feeling heard. I received some backlash, I solidified some viewpoints, I worked up the courage to share controversial content for what I believe in, and I got to know myself a bit better.

My desire is not for this blog to cover that content. Not because I don’t believe in speaking up, but simply because I don’t want to alienate anyone who loves books or calls Minnesota home, and also because I don’t think my voice, as a white woman, is so very different. I’m learning that the best thing I can do right now is support, learn, and assist those who’s voices need to be heard right now.

I AM going to plug what I’ve been reading and plan to read, of course, and coincidentally that covers the turmoil the nation has been experiencing. I think readers have a big responsibility right now to read and, at least for those of us who don’t experience racism good timeday to day, educate themselves and open up their minds to the voices and experiences of their neighbors, friends, coworkers, and fellow citizens.

MPR last week published a GREAT piece about how books about racial studies or by people of color are flying off the shelves of our local Minneapolis/St. Paul bookstores. I can testify that I’ve sold at least one copy a day of Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I watched A Good Time for the Truth (by local, Minnesotan authors, which is what I’m reading now!) sell out before the weekend of July 9-10. I believe strongly in the power of that book:

The impact of “A Good Time for the Truth” is different, though, Zumberge said, because it’s local.

The book “is the experiences of people of color who live in this state. You cannot say ‘Oh, it’s not us,'” Zumberge said.

“I’m glad that people are turning to bookstores,” [Martin of Common Good Books] said. “Because it’s what bookstores are really good at: Helping understand the world around us.” (Read the whole piece here).

I echo that statement, which is why I see the literary community as a place for healing.

I had the privilege of experiencing that directly last Monday evening at Subtext Books. I heard word that there’d be a discussion of A Good Time for the Truth with editor Sun Yung Shin, and so my partner and I went even though I had only read the first two chapters at that point. We were a big taken aback that it wasn’t a regular event but rather an intimate book club of around 25 people, but we stayed and listened to a wonderful discussion about the influence of the book and the courage of the writers who have shared pieces inside.

Sun Yung Shin spoke about how the anthology came about, how she wanted an anthology including many different viewpoints and representations of different races, and that it was important for it to be a creative piece. Those of us there agreed–the stories really are so well written you feel as if you are friends with the writer and listening face to face. In that way, the stories are that much more real and influential. They cannot be ignored. 

I have more notes from that discussion that I’d love to share some other time, but it’s important that I say we all agreed that reading matters. Our discussion leader asked the question: is reading enough?

The unanimous conclusion was yes. Reading is important, and it does make a difference. If just one person’s mind is changed and they tell their friends, that’s a difference. If one of those people becomes an activist or has influence where some laws could be changed, that’s definitely a difference. And so on.

If you’re a reader who wants to make a difference but perhaps doesn’t know how, or doesn’t know where to start, or wants to know which books could be deemed most important right now, here’s a list of books Writers of Color Say We Should All Read Now. This list is so, so good because I don’t think any one person could have come up with all these important works. I’m a bookseller and I didn’t even know about most of them (partly because our sections on racial, gender, women’s, and LGBTQIA+ studies are always going fast! An awesome problem to have). blues vision

I would also like to spotlight Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota from the list, another anthology on race also published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press last year. I’ve sold books for well-attended readings from this anthology at the Loft and always been sad I couldn’t listen in from my book table. If there are more events like this, you can bet I’ll do my best to be there.

Don’t minimize the influence you could have. Read these books. Share them with people, and start seeing the literary community as a place of discussion, healing, and beauty.

Do you agree that books and the literary community can be a place of healing? Where have you see this for yourself? Do you have books you would recommend strongly at this period in time? I’d love to start a discussion on this!