At a time of great unease and injustice, those of us who are parents of children have a challenge ahead of us. Most of our kids will be exposed to the happenings of the world, and well they should. At the same time, what books can we read to them that will help them understand, and provide tools they will need to survive, thrive, and engage? We reached out to several Minnesota writers with children to compile this list of suggestions. This is by no means definitive, nor complete.
This list was compiled by Kurtis Scaletta, Shannon Gibney, Lana Barkawi, Kathryn Savage, Molly Beth Griffin, Sarah Park Dahlen, Bao Phi, and Lorena Duarte Armstrong.
Toni Morrison's Jazz is about Harlem in the 1920s. There's a central incident involving love, betrayal, and violence. Joe Trace has an affair and murders his lover, Dorcas. Violet, his wife, shows up at Dorcas's funeral to cut her face. But the story spins outward from the central events and characters, encompassing the neighborhood and making secondary characters as real as primary ones. Even tertiary characters, background characters—those who often just take up space in a narrative—become real people.
So how does Morrison make the minor characters real? I'd like to look at Sweetness, a character as tertiary as they come, for some good techniques to do this.
'Tis the season to sign up for summer youth camps! If you have a child or young adult who has a love of writing and reading, the Loft is the place for them this summer.
Due to popular demand, we've moved to a new format for our summer youth offerings. With the exception of a few single Saturday offerings and an all-day, week-long camp, all summer youth offerings will be week-long, half-day offerings, with either a 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. start time. (This allows for back-to-back classes for those needing all-day options for their kids.)
Check out a sampling of classes below. There's something for every young writer!
I’ve always had a slight fascination with this intrepid Irishman who used his poetry and playwriting as a voice of dissent during Ireland’s tumultuous break from Great Britain in the early 1900s. Yeats’ poem, “Easter 1916” describes the change he sees in the Irish men and women no longer silenced as a terrible, fierce beauty during the Easter Uprising.
His relentless pursuit of painting the imagination of the not-yet-independent Ireland might be relevant for our artists in this political moment. In his critical essay “What is ‘Popular Poetry’?” Yeats writes, “...‘the imagination is the man himself,’ and that the world as imagination sees it is the durable world…”
Imagination as citizenship is how I’ve begun to think of this. Artists throughout history have been defining and redefining their roles as citizens, so I hand us over to their wisdom in exploring this idea.
“I’m the baby right now as far as reading series,” Kusunoki quickly admitted when we sat down to talk about his new reading series, Bridges. Kusunoki had hosted a National Poetry Month reading at the HarMar Mall Barnes & Noble last April, the success of which prompted the store to ask him to host a more regular reading series. Bridges officially began in September 2016, and now takes places on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.
Block out some time and circle your calendars, spring classes are here! At the Loft, we believe stories and poems are now more important than ever, and with these classes we aim to connect readers and writers to conversations, ideas, networks, and methods that can make a difference.
Whether this is your first class at the Loft, or you're a regular returning for more, it can be hard to choose from the 100+ options available each season. Don’t worry: I’ve culled the depths of our catalog to create this condensed list of offerings. There really is something for everyone!
You would be hard pressed in this literary community to find someone who wasn’t involved in several different projects, and David Bayliss is no exception. After successfully launching and managing the monthly reading series Poets & Pints, Bayliss was approached by his friends at Troubadour Wine Bar - owner Phineas Fittipaldi and former bartender Adrian Lopez-Balbontin - to start a reading series at their venue. Bayliss was interested, but he knew that he wanted to do something a little different, “I didn’t just want to repeat exactly what we had [at Poets & Pints].”
It's a busy week for many writers in our nation: the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Conference & Book Fair is this week in Washington, D.C. Writers, readers, editors, agents, book artists, and literary arts administrators all gather for three days of panel discussions, readings, and book fair browsing. I remember my first time going to AWP, when I was the editor of my college's undergraduate literary magazine. The weekend could be summed up in three words: inspiring, thought-provoking, and OVERWHELMING. Whether it's your first time going, or you're an old pro, it can be hard to navigate the multitude of options happening simultaneously. Fret not: we've got your back. Here's a round-up of articles about AWP to help you navigate the amazing, exhausting world of AWP.
Dameun Strange is a musician, composer, songwriter, non-profit leader, dapper man, and all-around cool person well known to many of us in the Twin Cities community, and I was happy he was willing to spend some of his time with me talking about the cosmos, his youth in Washington, D.C., songwriting, and other starry conversational offshoots. He fit in our chat between an already long, full day of work as the executive director of NEMAA (Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association) and an evening board meeting.
I began frequenting Poets & Pints, a local reading series hosted by David Bayliss at Sisyphus Brewing, not long after I moved to Minneapolis about a year ago. I had moved here in search of a more expansive and enriching literary community than my rural hometown could offer, and that’s exactly what I found. Now an intern with The Loft Literary Center, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my favorite Twin Cities literary whos, whats, wheres, and whens. Over the next couple of months, I’ll be profiling local reading series, journals, and other literary resources and opportunities. Hopefully you, and I, will discover something new.