Wednesday (Sept. 18) is the first day of nearly a month of readings, at coffee shops, bookstores and cafes across St. Paul. If you can't make one, surely you can make another.
It's the St. Paul Almanac Literary Festival, a joint venture of the smart folks at the St. Paul Almanac, and the equally smart folks at Cracked Walnut. Cracked Walnut did something similar in the spring, hosting a reading a day for 21 days. Now, with the help of the Almanac, they're going themselves four days better.
Writers who contributed to the 2014 Almanac (on sale now, because, of course, it's almost 2014) include Joyce Sutphen, Carol Connolly, Ethna McKiernan, John Jodzio, Margot Fortunato Galt, and Jim Moore (though there are many, many others).
You can catch them at readings at J&S Bean Factory (6:30 p.m. Wednesday), Subtext: A Bookstore (7 p.m. Sept. 21), Khyber Pass Cafe (7:30 p.m. Sept. 26), and places in between. Check out the full schedule at the Cracked Walnut page.
It can get raucous, what with the book-throwing and all. But if you keep to your time limit, you should come out unscathed, and maybe with a bunch of new fans.
"Words at WAM," the literary open mic program hosted by Hazel & Wren and WAM Collective, will be back at the Weisman Art Museum on Sept. 18. Sign-up starts at 6 p.m., with readings beginning at 7 p.m. It's first come, first reads, and the whole thing ends at 8:30, so getting there early is probably a good idea.
You can read whatever you like -- your latest love poem, your diary entries, a short story, a few pages of that biography of Ayn Rand you've been working on for the last 15 years -- but you only get four minutes. Four minutes and 30 seconds, with the grace period. After that, prepare to get pelted off the stage by a sea of hurled paperbacks.
Featured readers for the night will be Katie Sisneros and poet Dobby Gibson. And, if you're lucky, you.
Over the last 13 years, the Twin Cities Book Festival has become an energy-filled autumn tradition for many. Billed as Minnesota's largest book event, it attracts thousands of attendees (and hundreds of hopeful vendors, from publishers to publicists to authors) and moved last year to the State Fairgrounds, where there is plenty of room to grow.
And grow it has, from one building in 2012 to two this year. Can the cowbarns and horse pavilion be far behind?
The festival itself is free and will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, in the Progress Center and the Fine Arts Center, but there will also be a ticketed event on Friday night, where you can hang out with writers and others. (If you're lucky, editors!)
Here's the lineup of the more notable speakers for Oct. 12:
Nicholson Baker, fiction writer and essayist, back for a repeat performance (he was at the festival in 2009, as well).
Mircea Cartarescu, not a household name in the United States, perhaps, but a very notable name in his native Romania, where he has won the Romanian Writers' Prize and the Romanian Academy's Prize.
Rae Armantrout, winner of both a National Book Critics Circle award and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
David Wojahn, poet and essayist, originally from St. Paul, winner of a Guggenheim fellowship and a Natinoal Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
Howard Mohr, busily talking Minnesotan.
Ytasha L. Womack, filmmaker and author, director and producer, writer and editor.
David Wiesner, three-time Caldecott-winning illustrator (and writer) for "Tuesday," "The Three Pigs," and "Flotsam."
In addition to all of these notable national figures, there will be panel discussions, workshops, local and regional writers, various signings, and a children's play area.
For more information on this, as well as on how to get tickets to Friday's soiree, head over to www.raintaxi.com/bookfest.
Seriously. I am telling you. Do not go shaking any sticks around in these parts, because you're sure to hit a writer, and we do not want to hit any writers.
But here comes another list, another writers' series, this time the English@Minnesota series at the University of Minnesota, which runs in October and November:
First up, the tall and fascinating Bonnie Jo Campbell, who will read at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at the University Bookstore in Coffman Union. Campbell, who lives in Michigan, is the author of "American Salvage," a finalist for a National Book Award, and "Once Upon a River." (She was here a couple of years ago, reading at the Loft, and here's how it went.)
Poet David Wojahn will read at the Rain Taxi Review Twin Cities Book Festival on Oct. 12, held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Wojahn grew up in St. Paul and won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize last year from the Academy of American Poets.
On Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m., Katherine Boo will discuss her highly acclaimed book of narrative journalism, "Behind the Beautiful Forevers," winner of a National Book Award. This event will be in the Coffman Union Theater.
Oct. 29 will be the sixth annual Hunger Relief Benefit, hosted by Charles Baxter. This year, novelist Robert Boswell (whose latest book, "Tumbledown," was just published by Graywolf Press) will join poet Peter Campion to read and raise money for Second Harvest Heartland. This will be at 7 p.m. University Hall in McNamara Alumni Center. Bring a monetary donation for the food shelf.
Daisy Fried and Josh Weiner will read at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Weisman Art Museum on campus. Fried is a poet and critic, and Weiner is a poet and the editor of "At the Barriers: On the Poetry of Thom Gunn."
Thomas Mallon will round out the season with a reading at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Weisman. Mallon is a novelist, essayist and critic and the author of "Henry and Clara," and "Watergate," among other books.
A week or two ago, I posted here a long list of prominent writers who are coming to town to speak at various reading series—Talking Volumes, Pen Pals, and the others. But that, of course, was only part of the list of writers you can go listen to around the Twin Cities area.
So here’s a second list—not comprehensive, by any means, but a list of some of the more notable writers who will be speaking at 10 Twin Cities bookstores this autumn. It’s an impressive list—Sue Grafton, Alice McDermott, Jhumpa Lahiri and Louise Erdrich, Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Harding, local favorite Garrison Keillor, Jamie Ford and Jesse Ventura….
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