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!

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! 

Updated event: Max Porter on June 23

briefOriginally I posted about a reading at Magers & Quinn on Thursday, June 23 that I am SUPER excited for: Max Porter reading from his debut from Graywolf Press, Grief is the Thing With Feathers.

BUT let me tell you, I just found out that Man Booker Prize winner and author of A Brief History of Seven Killings Marlon James will be joining him (and reading from his own book)!

WHAT. Oh my gosh I’m excited. I saw Marlon James at Friends of the Hennepin County Library last year even though I didn’t get to personally meet and he is incredible. You don’t want to miss this, guys.

Excerpt from the M&Q event page41xE70s+S8L._SY344_

“One of the only accurate representations of grief I have ever found in literature. [Porter] combines verse, narrative, essay, myth, drama, jokes, bad dreams, and the language of therapy in a way that seems magical, permanent, utterly integrated, as impossible to distill to its components as it would be impossible to remove or isolate grief from love, or from life itself. Says Crow of grief, ‘It is everything. It is the fabric of selfhood.’” —Sarah Manguso

P.S. Sarah Manguso also happens to be a Graywolf author, and I am reading her book Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, and it is beautiful. Just sayin’.

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! 

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?

Leave a comment! Chat with me on social media! 

lit luminaries: a place for community

Welcome to Lit Luminaries, a lit blog about literary events in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, books, and lit-related randomness.

You may know about me from my previous blog for 20-somethings navigating life called The Process of Becoming. You may know me from real life via work, publishing events we’ve attended together, or other such circumstances. You may only know me through social media and our Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter profiles. It’s possible I don’t even know you or you have no idea who I am yet. 

And that’s okay. 

The point of this blog is to foster community. Community centered around books. But frankly, a lot of people are already running such sites (and are really famous for doing it, too. I don’t think I need to name names!). But when I looked around at all the awesome blogs and websites I was following, I didn’t find many based in and focused solely on the Twin Cities area. Shout out to MN Publishing Tweet Up and Rain Taxi for posting a literary events calendar and starting the conversation about local books and publishing as a center point for all! However, not many others were bringing it all down to one place. 

I want to be that place. An extra, additional place. I want to be a place for young, dreaming wanna-be publishers—whether undergrad, getting an MFA, or a floater like me—to find a community of like-minded people to discuss books and life with. I want to be a place where local booksellers can come to see who’s going to be in town, what’s selling, and what people are talking about. Or, simply, a place where book enthusiasts can come to get a taste of what’s happening here in Minneapolis/St. Paul and why we should be so proud of our lit scene. Because I am.

AWP-sign

Here’s a picture of last year, so we can remember how cool that was.

I don’t know about you, but occasionally I get jealous of other U.S. cities and their fantastic conferences and authors and events. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who was more than a little sad they couldn’t attend AWP 2016 in LA this April. Or who wishes they could afford a plane ticket to Book Riot 2016 or—let’s face it—ALL the book buzz going on in New York day to day. 

Thus, I’m going to celebrate our proud Twin Cities for how awesome and comparable they are. I don’t think they get enough credit, from the inside, for how with it and buzzing and alive they are. 

I’m also all about inspiration (see: my previous blog for the lost post-undergrad). Why did I name this blog Lit Luminaries? Besides the fact that it’s an alliteration and “luminaries” is a pretty word? 

luminary

noun  lu·mi·nary  \ˈlü-mə-ˌner-ē\

    1. a celestial body, as the sun or moon.
    2. a body, object, etc., that gives light.
    3. a person who has attained eminence in his or her field or is an inspiration to others (from here)
    4.  My definition: An event, organization, literary figure, person, or circumstance that inspires others.

 

Thus, this purpose of this book is as follows: to find highlights and spotlight interesting, funny, powerful, or important things in events and circumstances pertaining to literature and books, words, writers, and the literary community of the Twin Cities and to share them with others to contribute to this community.

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Please join the discussion!