Lit Chat: Sagirah Shahid

Posted on Wed, Dec 6 2017 9:00 am by Sun Yung Shin

"I think I write more in the winter because I get easily distracted in the summer. That said, I think I’m more of a gatherer in the warmer months, my creative process is very fragmented, so I jot things down or immerse myself in experiences/experimentation when it’s warm. In the winter it’s ugly showerless isolation, where I play chicken with my own emotional vulnerabilities and fears to attempt getting at something that at the very least feels honest—even if it isn’t any good. I binge-read in waves and spurts."

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publish.me: Don't Forget Readers!

Posted on Fri, Nov 24 2017 10:00 am by Dawn Frederick

This is my gentle nudge that if you’re a writer, you never forget your own reader experience. That you remember any book you write just isn’t for you, it’s for your future readers. Assuming that if you write it (the book), they’ll find it (the book) is unrealistic. And when a person takes the valuable time of reading your book, the highest level of respect is given if they find a story they can connect with and hopefully want to read again. Or even better, they enjoy your writing so much, they commit to reading all the books you write into the foreseeable future.

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Lit Chat: Meet Maya Beck

Posted on Wed, Nov 22 2017 9:00 am by Sun Yung Shin

image of writer maya beck, with caption "lit chat: sun yung shin interviews local literati"

"I was fascinated with the idea of magical girls, which is this whole genre in anime/manga focused on girls with magical powers who are as feminine as superheroes are traditionally masculine. I just really needed there to be a magical girl who wore a hijab so that I could feel that my hijab could be as pretty as their tiaras."

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Poetry Out Loud: Button Poetry

Posted on Tue, Nov 21 2017 2:00 pm by Taylor Seaberg

I’m sitting with a friend of mine, all silver-dreadlocked beauty cradling a red wine martini in hand, at a bar in downtown Saint Paul. We are discussing poetry with a woman who has just flown over from Syracuse, New York to see this particular spoken word competitive bout. Nighttime has nestled in and all of the performers have dissipated. Winner announced, cameras turned off, the laugher and collected gasps in the air trickle down from the rafters. The woman passionately discusses wanting to meet Neil Hilborn. I still recall when he worked the cash register at a Tea Garden next to Macalester campus, beardless and fresh-faced, with piercing blue eyes crinkling at the edges. Never did I imagine this man going on to top 13 million views on Youtube and become an iconic element to Button Poetry.

Button Poetry is the largest digital distributor of spoken word in the world. With the assistance of the Knight Foundation, Button Poetry Live is a monthly poetry slam competition that features nationally renowned poets and local talent, as well as free writing workshops open to the public.

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Can the Loft help me find a writing group?

Posted on Mon, Nov 20 2017 9:00 am by Glenda Reed

“Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference,” writes Stephen King, in his book, On Writing. I always remember this quote wrong, such that Stephen King credits having a supportive someone as making all the difference. A supportive writing community has made all the difference in my own writing practice. And in this, at least, I’m not alone. Many craft books and books on the writing life counsel writers to find a writing community and to get feedback on our writing. A writing group can be a great way to address both of these needs. But how do you find a writing group? Friends, acquaintances, and students who know I teach writing at the Loft Literary Center, often ask: Can the Loft help me find a writing group? The answer is, Yes! Because I get this question often, I decided to compile my response into a list and share it with you here. If you’re looking for a writing group, I hope you find this helpful.

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Reading Like a Writer: WHAT WE LOSE and Unexpected Structure

Posted on Fri, Nov 17 2017 9:00 am by Allison Wyss

Zinzi Clemmons's What We Lose is about many things, but most profoundly it's about the death of the narrator's mother, examining the loss in ways that are both unusual and devastating.

The structure of the book is slightly unusual. The story follows the same character and seems to always employ the same voice, yet sections are distinct, even fragmented, and chronology is loose. Interspersed with narrative passages are philosophical musings, historical analyses, journalistic essays, and even a few graphs. They're all about the novel's themes, but they don't build in the way most of us are used to. I'd like to look at some techniques Clemmons uses to hold this book together, despite the disparate-seeming parts.

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Is freelancing only for trust fund babies?

Posted on Thu, Nov 16 2017 9:00 am by Kate Leibfried

“I write professionally,” I told her. “I’m a freelancer.”

She gave a sniff. “What, are you a trust fund baby or something?”

...

The question bothered me so much that I spent most of the next morning brooding about it, dreaming up responses I could say to her as soon as I had access to a time machine. I pictured a soapbox speech about how I achieved my dreams through hard work and elbow grease, and she could too, damn it! Anyone could...right?

Something scritch-scratched at the walls of my indignation.

Could anyone pick up freelance writing?

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Behind the Lines: Mai Neng Moua

Posted on Tue, Nov 14 2017 11:00 am by Irene Hsu

"As a young Hmong writer, I wanted to read other Hmong writers. I wanted to know if they were struggling, with their moms and cultures. I started this literary arts magazine and the only people I could convince to do free work were college kids. In not finding Hmong writers and voices in even the Asian American anthologies, and having these social scientists study us and speak for us, it was important for me and other Hmong writers to be able to tell stories in our own voices."

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Poetry Out Loud: Louder Than a Bomb

Posted on Fri, Nov 3 2017 2:00 pm by Taylor Seaberg

four students reading and listening to slam poetry

“What is the importance of poetry to youth? And what is its overall benefit to youth development?”

One of my favorite responses to that question is to describe my experience with a long-standing Chicagoan youth spoken word forum known as Young Chicago Authors (YCA).

In a darkly lit room in west end Chicago, nestled above a weathered green building with an almost comically placed “New Fish” shop sits Young Chicago Authors (YCA)—a home away from home for many youth coming from Chicago public schools that aim to refine their unabashed lyrical and literary sound. 

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publish.me: The Seasons of Books

Posted on Thu, Oct 26 2017 9:36 am by Dawn Frederick

One of my favorite parts of being an agent is seeing my authors celebrate the release of their books. It’s like Christmas, except it’s a figurative Book Christmas and it can happen almost any day of the year.

Yet what’s not often discussed is all the time it takes before those books reach readers and bookshelves. Many people and many steps lead to this happening, but also one important key in this process is the timing, specifically when publishers decide to release any book into the world.

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