Featured class: Queer Poetics with Juliet Patterson starts February 15. 

It's Lit: Free Black Dirt

Posted on Wed, Mar 22 2017 9:00 am by Sara Krassin

In an It’s Lit first, we’re doubling up and speaking with TWO artists in this week’s post. I first met Erin Sharkey several years ago through the Creative Writing Program at Hamline University, where we were both pursuing graduate degrees, and a couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting her artistic partner, Junauda Petrus. Together, the two form Free Black Dirt, a Minneapolis-based artist collective bridging the cultural and the magical.

Committed to creating original theatre and performance, hosting innovative events, organizing local artists, and promoting and supporting the emerging artists’ community in the Twin Cities, Free Black Dirt seeks to spark and engage in critical conversations. “Our primary focus is to create really high-quality, unique narratives around blackness, and particularly what it is to be black in Minneapolis,” Sharkey explained. She continued, “I think literature is at the heart of how we connect with our mission and with community. I think it’s about telling new stories, about celebrating stories, about being bold and irreverent to the rules about what stories are valuable.”

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Reading Like a Writer: A Tale for the Time Being and a Ghost Image

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

I'm interested in what can happen when characters are allowed to use their imaginations. We learn so much about them. Their fantasies can also resonate as ghosted images throughout the rest of the book.

In Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being, a writer in British Columbia finds the washed-up diary of a high school girl in Japan and becomes entranced by her story. Eventually the two lives even influence each other.

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It's Lit: Beard Poetry

Posted on Thu, Mar 9 2017 9:00 am by Sara Krassin

As if producing a performance series, running a gallery space, and hosting Blingo weren’t enough to keep one man busy, the prolific Lewis Mundt also lends his talents to the local publishing scene by way of his press, Beard Poetry. “It’s primarily a poetry press, but we also do large format art books. We’ve done fiction. We’ve done anthologies.”

Beard Poetry began in 2010 as an umbrella name for the chapbooks Mundt was producing of his own work. “At that point I was doing radio in college as DJ Beard, which tells you most of what you need to know about my college life.” He soon started helping friends design their own chapbooks, and they in turn let Mundt put “Beard Poetry” on the back cover. Before too long, a press was born. Today, Beard Poetry considers itself “a small Minnesota press dedicated to producing affordable, high-quality publications for readers and writers.”

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An Interview with Melissa Febos

Posted on Wed, Mar 8 2017 9:00 am by Ryan Berg

I first became aware of Melissa Febos while listening to her Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross in 2010. The next day I picked up her memoir, Whip Smart, and was blown away. Febos is an extremely gifted writer with deep empathy and a boundless drive for personal truth. The writing in Whip Smart is razor-sharp, corporeal, and self-scrutinizing. I studied her prose, how deftly she crafted the narrative.

In her new work, Abandon Me, Febos delves deeper into self-examination, focusing in on love, loss and attachment. The book is a fiercely intelligent and intensely intimate essay collection. With Abandon Me Febos has received rightful comparisons to Maggie Nelson and Leslie Jamison. Here is a work poetic and narrative, compassionate, raw and original. She’s one of my favorite writers and I’m so excited the Loft is hosting her in Minneapolis during her book tour this Thursday (event info here).

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Happy Hour Classes

Posted on Tue, Mar 7 2017 9:00 am by Sara Krassin

Grab a drink and crack open your notebook, it’s happy hour at the Loft! Our new Happy Hour Classes take place on Friday afternoons with a concurrent happy hour at the cafe downstairs from 3-6 p.m. Students can purchase a half-price beverage and bring it to the classroom. Start your Friday nights off right by mixing, mingling, and learning at the Loft!

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High School Students and Poetry Out Loud

Posted on Mon, Mar 6 2017 9:00 am by Amanda Fredrickson

During my first year of teaching, I was so ready to be that teacher from an inspirational movie who changes students’ lives drastically with one lesson (disclaimer to all my non-teacher friends: this doesn’t happen in real life). Enter: slam poetry. While the twelve-year olds in every corner of my class wiggled out of their seats, physically unable to contain their excitement, there was still one less-than-enthused desk-drooler. Little did she know that I was ready to change her mind… and her life.

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Memories in the Classroom

Posted on Fri, Mar 3 2017 9:12 am by Jorie Miller

I was three weeks into teaching Writing for Absolute Beginners at the Loft in late September 2001. The front room with it’s long rectangular windows, faced Washington Avenue. I couldn’t see the Mississippi River or the Stone Arch Bridge, but had a good view of the Liquor Depot across the street, parking lots, tree tops, and sky. Inside the room, tables sat in a rectangle donut with seventeen students in chairs around the edges. I remember they, as students in these classes often were, were people in transition; mothers, students, retirees, people starting new careers, or new to Minnesota. We had written together and shared some of that writing.  Students were beginning to know me and to know each other, but this was the day the classroom became a community.

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It's Lit: New Sh!t Show Minneapolis

Posted on Thu, Mar 2 2017 9:00 am by Sara Krassin

Contrary to what you may have heard on the streets, the New Sh!t Show Minneapolis is NOT just a poetry show. “No,” producer and host Lewis Mundt quickly clarified, “it’s weird. It’s a weird thing.” Started in San Francisco by poets Sam Sax and Nic Alea, the New Sh!t Show is now a chain of performance series across the United States in which performers and audience members are treated to something they've never seen before: the new shit.

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publish.me: How to approach “closed to submissions”

Posted on Mon, Feb 27 2017 9:00 am by Dawn Frederick

In November 2016, our agency decided to close to submissions for two months, as all of us at the agency had a large number of partial and full manuscripts to read.  This was due to the many queries received (where we requested each book), as well as the conferences we had attended in the second half of 2016. 

Thankfully our agency is not alone. This is a normal practice in publishing, which will be done by some publishing houses, as well as literary agencies.  The reality is that more people than ever are writing (who doesn’t love that?), but there are only so many hours in a day one is able to read submissions.  The other responsibilities we have in our respective publishing houses and agencies generally will take precedence over the submissions pile.

As a writer, how does this impact your individual goal of getting published? 

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It's Lit: Black Table Arts

Posted on Fri, Feb 24 2017 9:00 am by Sara Krassin

Black Table Arts first began as the Free Black Table Open Mic in January 2015. Free Black Table is a free­-of-­charge, all-ages open mic dedicated to the writings of black artists and people of color. The success of this initial open mic led founder Keno Evol to not only plan more, but to consider other ways he could expand the conversation. “Could we have a blog that goes beyond poetics and pays tribute to prose and politics? Could we have dialogue? Could we teach?” The answers were yes, and Black Table Arts was born.

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