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.

 

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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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help make Milkweed Books happen!

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(photo from http://www.openbookmn.org)

I haven’t yet written about Milkweed Editions‘ new bookstore opening in the Open Book building in downtown Minneapolis called Milkweed Books! This store is particularly exciting because 1) any new independent bookstore is worth celebrating, and 2) it will be rather unique even among indie bookstores.

Originally the store planned to open in late June but now the grand opening will be on September 20th. The store will be located in the Open Book building in Minneapolis, shared by The Loft Literary Center: one of the biggest nonprofit literary centers in the United States, which also houses the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Imagine all of these businesses in one building! There’s a small coffee shop/cafe inside as well as the MN Center for Book Arts’ retail store, meaning that if you like books or writing at ALL, you’ll be pretty happy hanging out there for hours on end. The Milkweed Books store will be open before that but the grand opening is scheduled for the 20th.

You can read more about the bookstore here, where there’s a Kickstarter raising money (their goal is $25,000) to help make the bookstore happen. You can pledge as little as $5, just the price of one fancy Starbucks coffee, to help make a difference. As of my writing this, they’re almost to $15,000 in just a few days since its launch.

“Milkweed Books will showcase and sell titles primarily published by independent presses, nonprofit presses, and other publishers working to bring the most exciting literary art to the marketplace. If you want to find the best new poetry, or creative nonfiction, or short stories, or translations, this bookstore is for you.”

The manager is Hans Weyandt, who edited a book with Coffee House Press called Read This! Handpicked Favorites From America’s Indie BookstoresI loved this book when I picked it up before National Indie Bookstore Day this year, and I especially love knowing the book recommendations come from experienced booksellers who have waded the vast pool of literature before me. I’ve said this before: the hardest part about being a bookseller myself is the ever-growing, endless TBR (to-be-read) list I create by talking with coworkers and customers!

Consider pledging to this fantastic new bookstore and supporting one of the coolest centers for books in the States. For more information, check this article by the American Booksellers Association. Hope to see you at the grand opening!

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! 

 

 

 

where I went in May

Here is my long overdue recap of the literary events I was able to attend in May! It’s a big season of change in my life right now, so bear with my lateness. I will also be posting very soon a post of literary news of things happening in the Twin Cities area that aren’t event-specific.

May was a busy month due to a wedding I was in and being out of town, but I caught some really great events featured below!

May Event Recap

On May 1, I was able to attend the Twin Cities bookstore Rep Night where we listened to Random House representatives talk about the exciting new books coming out this summer. I landed an ARC of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (review to come soon!) as well as some others I’m really excited to dive into quite soon. We also listened to short readings and talks by authors Peter Geye, author of recently released Wintering and Nathan Hill, author of The Nix. Other perks of being a bookseller include meeting other booksellers in the area and nerding over our love of books.

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Poetry bingo & Strongbow at honey mpls!

Later that week on Wednesday, May 4, my partner and I went to honey mpls for a poetry reading with Coffee House and Graywolf presses complete with POETRY BINGO, and it was bomb. The release of Amanda Nadelberg’s Songs From a Mountain from Coffee House Press. She was hilarious and, in honor of Mother’s Day, read excerpts from her mom’s journal from when Amanda was a baby. Good drinks with good publishing friends.

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This is my ACR of his short story collection along with teasers of 3 of his re-released novels!

Over the weekend on Saturday, May 14, Andy and I listened to Brian Evanson read at Magers & Quinn from his new short story collection A Collapse of Horses just out from Coffee House Press! It’s a delightfully spooky short story collection best read in Evanson’s voice himself. Saw friends from Coffee House at this event as well!

alimon_brightdeadthingsOn Monday, May 16, Milkweed hosted “Taking the Risk to Change Your Life for Art: A Reading & Conversation with Ada Limón and Joan Vorderbruggen” at Open Book/The Loft Literary Center, which was an absolutely fantastic evening. Ada Limón read from her latest poetry volume Bright Dead Things, which was incredible, and they all had a lovely discussion about creativity and how it does or should fit into our lives. I will be writing up a whole separate post about this talk because it was just that good. And check out Ada’s poetry collection if you want to read some great poetry!

Unfortunately I didn’t make it to many events last month, but we are making up for it in June for sure!

Did you attend any awesome literary events in May, or listening to any readings on NPR or any book-related podcasts? Please share in the comments! 

get these May events on your calendar!

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Each month, I will be posting a “looking ahead” post of events coming up that month to stay tuned for! These are events that are on my radar, either via Facebook or events I am personally interested in going to. 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 in the Twin Cities area.

I already posted just yesterday, but I know it’s a little late in May already, so here is your rundown of awesome May events coming to a Twin City near you:

  • Wed, May 11: MN Publishing Tweet Up from 5-7pm
    • These happy hour socializing events for publishing and book industry people are run by the MN Publishing Tweet Up group. I haven’t been to one since January, but it’s a great place to meet people in the industry. The “pitch” event I went to was a different format and authors came to pitch their manuscripts to publishing professionals.
  • Mon, May 16: Milkweed and the Loft’s “Taking the Risk to Change Your Life for Art,” a discussion with Ada Limón (poet with Milkweed!) and Joan Vorderbruggen, moderated by Kathryn Savage, with a reading & book signing from Ada Limón to follow at the Loft Literary Center at 6:30pm.
    • Free to the public, but RSVP requested.
  • Tues, May 17: Sun Yung Shin presents A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota at Magers & Quinn at 7pm.
    •  This book! I am so excited to read this book. I think it’s such an important topic that unfortunately needs more attention than it’s getting. Consider coming to hear from the editor the following contributors: Kao Kalia Yang, Ibé, David Mura, Venessa Fuetes, and Diane Wilson. 
    • I will be working in the store this evening, and sadly won’t be able to sit down and listen, but you can always come chat with me before and afterwards too! Extra incentive (:
  • Sat, May 21: Little Free Library Festival at Minnehaha Park from 10am-4pm.
    • Free and open to the public! From the Facebook page: “The Little Free Library Festival is an opportunity to spend an afternoon celebrating the joys of sharing books and reading.”
    • OMG I am so sad I have to miss this (in a wedding).
  • Thurs, May 26: Story Club Minneapolis at Bryant Lake Bowl, 7pm.
    • Usually they have two featured performers read/perform and then open up the stage to others, but in May this will happen: “this month we are delighted to give our stage to a memoir writing class from residents of Redeemer Health and Rehab. We will be glad to share more details about the performers and their work as the month goes on.”
    • “As always, Story Club features both an open mic segment and a curated selection of stories from invited performers. Our stage showcases stories, like a slam, but with a more welcoming structure – no judges, no scores.” (from the Facebook link above)

And that’s it! Did I miss anything, anyone? I’m SURE I missed many, but as I said, these are the ones that have been on my radar. I really 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! 

 

where I went in April

Alright, so since there’s a TON of events going on and my poor fingers can’t keep up with typing up each one after I attend, I thought I would do monthly recaps of the awesome ones I went to. This way, you get a look at the bigger picture of what’s going on in the Twin Cities every month!

I will also be doing monthly looking ahead event posts so I can highlight some of the awesome things coming up in the near future! These will be posting towards the beginning of each month. (But bear with me as I form these blogging trends on this baby blog!) I’m working on a post to give you SOON because there’s some great ones coming up just this week!

April Event Recap

As you know, the last day of April included the second annual Independent Bookstore Day 2016, which you can read about here (part 1) and here (part 2).

milkweedOn April 29, my husband and I attended Milkweed Editions’ and Motionpoems’ National Poetry Month + Reading Party at Milkweed Editions and the Loft Literary Center in the Open Book building. I wasn’t able to attend the pre-party, but the reading was BOMB. So. Good. First, Adam Clay read from his new poetry book, then Mary Austin Speaker, and lastly Anders Nilsen.

And let me tell you, I was blown away by all three. Anders brought a fantastic twist to the reading by showing us his drawings as he read his poetry/stories, and I was floored. Definitely so thankful I attended this. download

On April 21, as I talked about here, Andy and I were able to attend Coffee House Press’ Bowling & Books Happy Hour event at Bryant Lake Bowl. It was so fun to get to know some of their staff on a more informal level while bowling, and now I am way more excited to read more of their books that I now have to explore!

helen macdonald

April 14 marks the day I met Helen Macdonald at the Loft. I think it’s safe to call it an understatement how EXCITING THIS WAS. She was just lovely—so very personable, relatable, and down to earth. I loved hearing her stories about what raising her hawk Mabel taught her. Seriously, I wish I could grab tea with this woman. So much wisdom, ugh! I have yet to locate the picture that was taken of us at the Loft by their photographer, but when I track it down it WILL be on social media, haha. This event was also fairly bittersweet because it was my last official event I worked for Magers & Quinn. I am now just part time a bookseller in the store and occasionally help out with in-store events only now. This event was extra special as I was able to take care of selling books while also hearing the talk on the big screen in the overflow room. It was so wonderful. I wish I had the time to read her book NOW.

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our book table at the Helen Macdonald event! 

 

Even though it feels like such a short month for me with only 4 literary events that I attended, that’s still hitting my goal of one every week! I actually looked back at it like this yet and it feels so good to be closer to accomplishing all my professional goals. Of course, there were many great ones that I know I missed. I’d love to hear about them from you!

Did you attend any awesome literary events in April, or listening to any readings on NPR even? Please share in the comments!