Author Archives: Kelly

The Quality of Mercy

Katayoun Medhat
Leapfrog Press ($16)

by Jackie Trytten

Crimes, cops, and communities that don’t respect each other’s cultural differences—all sound current and familiar. In Katayoun Medhat’s debut novel, The Quality of Mercy, one police officer, an outsider to the Southwest, works to solve the murder of yet another young Navajo man as feelings of distrust mount among people who live together and need to depend on each other. In this fast-paced story, some people worry that nothing will change, and that one more person will get away with murder.

As he checks backgrounds of victims, family members, and acquaintances in the usual manner, Kafka—known simply as K, a “provincial cop” as he calls himself—sounds and acts differently from his co-workers. “K was of the opinion that the disrespect of any social group or member of society compromised society at large.” That opinion is not completely shared by some of his fellow police, who think they need only to put in their time, not actually solve crimes in the nearby Navajo Reservation.

Kafka also believes the effect of murder goes beyond the loss of a life and affects other family members across generations. “Because that was what unnatural and violent deaths did—they tore into the fabric of life, ripped it to shreds, created runs that could go on forever.” The young victim’s own father had been killed as a young man with no one held responsible, and his aunt told K, “What he always says is that what happened to his dad showed him that nobody cares about you when you are an Indian.” That thought continues to go through K’s head as he works; he doesn’t want to be the one to prove the dead man right.

For readers who don’t know much about the Navajo, Medhat provides insight into their culture, past and present, through passages in the narrator’s voice and in what characters say to each other. At times these passages seem more instructional than conversational and slow down the action of the story, but like the rearview mirror on the cover reflecting a dark horizon, Medhat offers readers a chance to reflect on actions, inactions, and the lack of understanding and trust between the smaller cultural groups and the majority population.

Though the story centers around K’s efforts to find the killer, we don’t know much about his past, what motivates him, and why he came to the Southwest. That may well be intentional, however—and more books featuring this winning character would be welcome.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

The Twenty Days of Turin

Giorgio De Maria
Translated by Ramon Glazov
Liveright ($24.95)

by Rick Henry

A good horror story requires monstrosity. Giorgio De Maria's The Twenty Days of Turin features the worst of the worst—the abyss, the unnamable, the unknowable, all of which is a monstrosity as malevolent as can be. In his expression of existential-social terror, De Maria joins writers such as Lovecraft and Poe in crafting a peculiarly literary kind of horror.

The place is Turin, Italy, where, in 1966, there was “a phenomenon of collective psychosis”: twenty days of mass insomnia, which had people wandering the city, zombie-like, at all hours. In the violence of that psychosis, a number of people died or were killed. Ten years later, the narrator of De Maria’s novel—a journalist—interviews one of the deceased's sister, a woman who “seemed to prefer one word above all the others: spirituality.” He meets with an “ear-witness” to the opening violence who heard several screams as the insomniacs traversed the city. He listens to recordings of creatures that has them evolving through several stages of sophistication with language. He discovers people who saw one of the “night-walkers” lurching along, “bit by bit, his movements seemed to get more agile.” That which is unknowable begins to take shape, as though the abyss is waging a war and needs to do so in terms that humans can understand.

As the journalist investigates, he has a number of direct engagements with the abyss, many of which are the standard business of horror stories: in a first contact, the phone rings, but no one responds to his “hello.” He notices a car following him. He receives a letter from a person he doesn't know and he enters into a strange correspondence. There are knockings on his door. A murder. A warning from a nun to stop looking into things he knows nothing about.

Against the abyss, De Maria offers spirituality, but not the spirituality of organized religion (indeed, the journalist is rebuffed by the Catholic church on several occasions). The journalist wanders the streets and encounters an oddly ritualized 'happening' complete with psychedelics, flowers, and chanting reminiscent of the 1960s. One of the participants is the deceased's sister. A young man hands the journalist a pamphlet that identifies sins—among them “an 'inattentiveness' toward 'that which seems invisible around us, but is no less worth of our concern.” The pamphlet continues:

Take heed! . . . Unless you repent, unless you pay attention not only to yourself but also to what you mightn't assume to be yourself, the wrath of God, which can express itself through all things, shall newly smite you down! The 'Twenty Days of Turin' were the final warning of the LORD!” (57-58)

The journalist does not take heed. He throws the pamphlet away and returns to his apartment and, perforce, his attention to art in its various manifestations. None of De Maria's examples, however, allow for an aesthetic steeped in unifying harmony, or intranscendence, either of which might suggest an escape, even as escape suggests a kind of inattention that would still be subject to the wrath of God. Instead, there is the possibility of achieving the spiritual through art, so long as the aesthetic delights in disharmony, in dischord. In short, an aesthetic that moves toward the abyss, toward the sublime.

Once in his apartment, the journalist comforts himself with Mozart's Flute Concerto No. 1 in G Major, a concerto rife with its own dissonances. He finds his lost copy of Robert Musil's Posthumous Papers of a Living Author and lands upon a passage that talks about that which is not noticed, a passage from a writer whose vision is, to put it mildly, expansive. The journalist encounters sculptures that offer their own disturbing violations of what it is to be a sculpture: they exchange positions in a public square and they fart. In what is the most important artistic encounter, the journalist discovers a strange library, a depository of people's personal writings, anxieties, desires, and outpourings that are manifestations of psychosis. Perhaps, if the journalist can engage the library as if it were part of himself rather than something to objectify, he might avoid the wrath of God?

In the end, De Maria’s novel is worth reading not only to discover the conclusion to the drama, but to revel in the artistic response to the social upheavals in Italy as outlined in an excellent introduction to the short novel by the translator. One has to hope that art is not merely a buffer or distraction, but the grand defense against the abyss.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

Buckskin Cocaine

Erika T. Wurth
Astrophil Press ($15.95)

by Zack Kopp

Erika T. Wurth’s new collection of short stories depicts the Native film industry in the voices of several participants. With nodes in Albuquerque, Denver, and elsewhere throughout the United States, that scene is fraught by all the same vanity games and decadence as its decrepit parent, Hollywood, and seems more prettily horrible by comparison for its smallness of scale. The stories in Buckskin Cocaine are narrated by members of different tribes, including Choctaw, Cree, and Navajo. They are connected but not contiguous, affording a panoramic view of the whole verdant snakepit of it.

In the opening story, “Barry Four Voices,” readers are introduced to the eponymous narrator via a litany of reasons for his being who and what he is, from “Because I’m famous because I’m rich because I grew up poor on a reservation and that’s what no one understands even though I have been telling the same story, over and over for years, to anyone who would listen,” to “Because I know how to fake it. Because there is a way I’m not faking it. Because I do love my life my wife my children and that’s what makes me a good person. I’m happy. Because I’m very happy.” The thing about Barry Four Voices is that his continued existence is an ongoing system of checks and balances enacted by tiny men, some with knives constantly held to his throat to prevent the unthinkable:

What the littlest man doesn’t seem to remember is that he was the one in control when I was a baby, doesn’t he remember how weak we were back then? . . . that’s when the men I was born with first came out, they taught me so much but I still wonder if the littlest man will get out because sometimes I can feel him staring at something I want to love through my eyes and I think God, no, I’m very happy.

The collection proceeds with the story of director George Bull’s attendance of a bustling party with sex and drugs and making new deals on his mind—“I could see Gary was fucked up already, hovering around the bar and babbling like a newborn . . . spilling bourbon all over the dingy, grey-carpeted floor, some big-eyed billyganna broad with ten pounds of shitty turquoise around her skinny neck nodding like mad”—and the story of Lucy Bigboca, a blabbery starlet or groupie who provides a clever juxtaposition to the impressionism of Barry Four Voices and George Bull’s resourceful crudity with open-hearted streams like the following:

I’m not the only one who got pregnant with him either. And I remember I didn’t even tell him, because I was scared it would push him away. So I you know like, took care of it? . . . I need to go out and MAKE IMPORTANT CONNECTIONS and that’s expensive. That’s not MY FAULT. . . . At least I didn’t get stuck with his baby, especially after I found out he was telling lots of girls he was their boyfriend.

Lucy must reconcile abortion with her repeatedly professed adherence to TRADITIONAL Navajo verities. But how all-caps traditional is she? Maybe really a “pretend-ian”? Perhaps an amalgam of both, so scrambled has social belonging become in this joint, where we have to learn to train our eyes to see correctly again. Another character named Robert Two Stories is from Oklahoma, and he says,

George and I just get crazy when we’re together, though the whole industry is crazy really. It’s not our faults. I mean, when you’re at a party and Tom Cruise shows up and like, everyone’s doing coke and you’re surrounded by all of these thin, hot white chicks drunk as shit, I mean . . . I always feel like my head is the camera, and we’ve, like, decided on a really shallow Depth of Field and everything around me is out of focus except for what’s right in front of me.

I’ll leave some of your questions unanswered, but Buckskin Cocaine closes, thoughtfully and precisely, with a beautifully crafted sectioned narration of the relationship between its titular namesake, Native ballerina Olivia James, and her man-piece, non-Native ballerino David. The story follows their adventures around the world and back until he drops her off in Denver, where Olivia must contend with the brashly seductive Tomẚs after meeting him at a high school reunion party. He breaks down the would-be impenetrable fortress Olivia’s built in her mind against teasing and telephonic pestering, with her father asleep on the couch in the next room with blankets around his neck, blissfully unaware of any fateful injustices to come. “I walked across the parking lot, holding my insides as tightly as I could. . . . I was walking towards the sun as it set, towards the west, and as I walked, I was bathed in the dying light, and it covered me like my daddy’s old Pendleton, and I didn’t look back, in fact I didn’t even think to.”

Due to consensus bias, minority authors are liable to develop a crab-eat-crab mentality, vying for the tiny bit of spotlight afforded them by the mainstream. In a recent interview in Word Literature Today, Sherman Alexie made statements about the dearth of Native writers, perhaps protecting his own reputation as top dog. “[Alexie] is a magical writer,” Wurth wrote in a piece for Roar magazine, “and . . . with all issues intact, is more than likely far more a force for good in the world than bad. But remember that the rest of us are here too, writing away, in our own ways.” With Buckskin Cocaine and her other works, Erika T. Wurth is actively un-tokenizing Native lit and reintegrating it with the established canon, opening lush, verdant worlds with her desert-hot words.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids—and the Kids We Have

Bonnie Rochman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux ($26)

by Victoria Blanco

Four years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I discussed the pros and cons of the routine genetic screening offered to us. We settled against the tests, but three years later, when my son was diagnosed with autism, I thought back and wondered if, one day, genetic screening could detect this condition the way it recognizes Down’s Syndrome or Trisomy 18. How would knowing about my son’s autism have affected me during pregnancy, I wondered?

Bonnie Rochman, a journalist who covered parenting and pediatrics for Time magazine, underwent a genetic screening dilemma during her third pregnancy, several years before she became aware of a study that gauged parents’ eagerness to map their children’s genomes, even when there was no worrisome family history. Rochman’s first book, The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies are Changing the Way We Have Kids—and the Kids We Have, explores the advancements of genetic testing and our emotional responses to a plethora of information not only about our own genomes, but our children’s.

Examining multiple angles of her central question—“is genetic knowledge empowering or fear-inducing, or both?”—is one of Rochman’s greatest strengths as a writer. In the first chapter, “How the Jews Beat Tay Sachs: Carrier Screening,” Rochman takes readers through the story of eliminating Tay Sachs disease through carrier screening of Jews with hereditary ties to Eastern Europe. She introduces the reader to universal pre-pregnancy carrier screening, a sequencing that can identify thousands of genetic mutations in a person’s genome. Companies are offering these screenings when the medical community advises against them, for fear that patients will make ill-informed choices. “DNA is not necessarily destiny,” Rochman articulates. But try telling this to a couple who has learned of dozens of genetic variants, all of which could lead to them, or their child, developing a disease.

In an insightful chapter titled “The Other Scarlet A: Abortion,” Rochman explores a complex aspect of advances in genetic testing and reproductive choice—what to do when you learn your baby has a fetal abnormality. “While there are women who’d never opt for an abortion,” she wrote, “it’s disingenuous to ignore the fact that terminating a pregnancy is one possible outcome of earlier, more sophisticated genetic tests. The issue of how people feel about disability and, in turn, how that impacts their decisions regarding abortion is an essential aspect of any discussion about advances in prenatal testing.” This chapter is remarkable for its balanced and nuanced approach to one of the most charged debates in our country. Rochman presents personal stories from women who have chosen to terminate pregnancies once they learned of a fetal abnormality. Then, she presents the views of disability rights advocates who argue that earlier and more detailed screening is a step backward in the fight to increase awareness and inclusivity for people with disabilities. She challenges the popular conception that prenatal information ensures a healthy baby; rather, she argues, prenatal testing is a means of asserting control over what kind of baby we have. “Perhaps we take refuge in circumlocution because it feels strange to acknowledge that prenatal testing allows us to play a role in deciding what sort of child we will have,” Rochman reflects.

The Gene Machine is a timely book for expectant parents as they navigate the new prenatal testing choices offered to them during pregnancy. Rochman covers fast-changing, emotionally charged territory with intelligence and compassion.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

Kill All Normies: The Online Culture Wars from Tumblr and 4chan to the Alt-Right and Trump

Angela Nagle
Zero Books ($16.95)

by Alex Kies

The rise of President Trump and right-wing populism worldwide was preceded and normalized by a far-right social media movement. Sites such as 4chan and reddit fostered online right-wing communities that spilled out into internet journalism, Facebook and Twitter, and ultimately the White House. In her book Kill All Normies, Irish journalist Angela Nagle elucidates the circumstances that fomented this ideology.

Nagle posits that the Obama presidency’s veneer of reasoned sincerity led to the disingenuous clicktivism of the KONY 2012 movement and the social media vilification of the Cincinnati Zoo in the wake of their euthanizing Harambe the gorilla. These trends’ self-importance and intolerance of dissent led to a good deal of disillusionment of youth on the left and the right. Gamer groups, various white nationalist and Christian conservative groups, and the remnants of the pick-up artist community congealed into a loosely affiliated, predominantly male movement referred to as the Alt-Right.

The Alt-Right is anti-authoritarian, decentralized, and often anonymous, although it has many (frequently at odds) figureheads. It follows, then, that contradictory ideologies co-exist beneath the same umbrella. Richard Spencer decries homosexuality and drug use as symptoms of Western decline, whereas both are celebrated by Milo Yiannopolis. Nagle posits that the greatest uniting force is “a bursting forth of anti-PC cultural politics through the culture wars of recent years.”

The mainstreaming of Black Lives Matter, safe spaces, transgender bathroom rights, etc. saw transgression becoming the project of retrograde racial and gender politics. Whereas once Prince’s lyrics and Dead Kennedys’ album art were the matter of Congressional inquiry, it is now edgier to release a female game designer’s home address or liken Leslie Jones to a gorilla. Indeed, Nagle argues that the Alt-Right has co-opted liberalism’s transgressive rhetoric and aesthetic. The difference is that the status quo now is more socially liberal than it was in the 1950s and ’60s. The core contradiction of Alt-Right ideology is that its strategies, because they are co-opted from and practiced in an environment of social liberalism, require liberalism to exist. As Nagle puts it, “Trump, rightist 4chan and the alt-right all represent a pretty dramatic departure from the kind of churchgoing, upstanding, button-down, family values conservativism that we usually associate with the term in Anglo-American public and political life.”

While she doesn’t quite make clear how the real-world consequences of this online discourse—especially the election of Donald Trump—were precipitated by the online hate-pit, Nagle’s analysis is trenchant and timely. What makes Kill All Normies such an insightful book is the author’s insistence on the culpability of the left in creating the vacuum in which the Alt-Right expanded. As liberal college campuses and private businesses instituted policies of gender-neutral bathrooms, safe spaces, and trigger warnings, they ironically made speech and thought less free through call-out culture. Nagle’s caution that the left’s stagnant ideas, pedantry, and infighting have made it the weaker party of the two should surely lead those who want change to reflect on their methods.

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Behaving Madly: Zany, Loco, Cockeyed, Rip-Off Satire Magazines

Ger Apeldoorn & Craig Yoe
Illustrated by Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, & Jack Kirby
IDW Publishing ($35)

by Paul Buhle

Opening this wonderfully odd volume, we find ourselves plunged into the vanished pulp world of the 1950s. As the era of the historic slick magazines like Colliers waned and the low-priced paperback trade multiplied many times over, comic books notoriously went into a crash mode. The Comics Code, threatening circulation-death of any that violated new sex-and-violence standards, had a lot to do with this crash. But so, of course, did TV, reaching from the coasts to the smallest flyover towns. For illustrators, comic book artists and others, it was a crisis, as it became for theatrical (animation) artists, and for analogous reasons: the grand movie studios no longer cranked out thousands of cartoons for audiences now sitting in front of televisions, buying ever fewer pulps of any kind.

For those sufficiently skilled and connected, there would always be consolations, including advertising studios and, for television, Hanna and Barbera (Huckleberry Hound, et.al.), not to mention paperback cover art and such. And there was one amazing print-media growth industry, mostly short-lived but seemingly enormous: wacky humor.

In major college towns, campus humor magazines had provided audiences with spicy cartoons and gags since at least the 1920s, succeeding higher quality, if less sexy, humor magazines like the pre-Henry Luce Life, among others. Mad Comics, launched in 1952 on the power of Harvey Kurtzman and his gang of artists, opened up a new era. Within a few years, as the story goes, parent EC comics faced a crisis of censorship. Kurtzman proposed to his boss, William Gaines, a slick version. Thus, Mad Magazine was born in 1955, and as a toned-down and younger-demographic version of Mad Comics, it caught the wave, its readership reaching millions within decades.

No wonder copycat magazines emerged overnight, like weeds on a summer lawn. Actually, a bedrock of the massively profitable 1940s comic book industry had been the “swipe,” both of artistic gestures and of genres. If one superhero appeared in seemingly silly outfits and with seemingly silly superpowers—to take the profit-leading example—there would soon be dozens, even hundreds, many of them in smaller companies likely to crash in the near future, like Superman with Kryptonite close at hand. Publishers with sudden success also often produced their own imitations, Mad begetting Panic, for example, with most of the same artists in the early 1950s. Paper was cheap in those days, with sales in newsstands and drug stores full of customers of all ages, all looking for something fresh and different. Behaving Madly celebrates the output of these magazines. In charge of the selection and annotation: Ger Appledorn (a Dutch television and comics writer who actually edited a short-lived version of Mad in the Netherlands) and Craig Yoe, born editors mad, so to speak, for identification and annotations even among the dreckiest of dreck. Thus the Introduction is something of a marvel (if not related to Captain Marvel). We find Snafu, Bunk!, Cockeyed, Lunatickle, Thimk, Who Goofed?, Frenzy, Shook Up, Loco, Nuts, Zany. and Frantic, not to mention the name-changing Crazy, retitled Crazy, Man, Crazy and again This Magazine is Crazy, among others! I admit to missing Sick! and Cracked, which both came later and are not excerpted here, or Kurtzman’s three post-Mad productions, Trump, Humbug, and Help!, reprinted or heavily anthologized elsewhere. Everything, each item in this curious saga, is carefully listed with years and leading artists, often enough experienced artists at their peak and not quite finding a place in the diminishing pulps. The lowest of the low, in the estimation of the high class magazine artists, get their due.

And so does the satire of modern life, in the Mad style, albeit knocked off: films, television, advertising, slick magazines, popular literary classics (think Frankenstein), popular science, even sports. Many are drawn by some of the greats, like Mad’s Jack Davis, obviously looking to pick up as many jobs as possible. Some stories are ripped off directly from Mad satires, making them effectively satires on satires. The amazing thing is that the near-anonymous along with the once-notable are so carefully credited here.

What makes these pieces notable as well as fun? Comics scholars without or without PhDs will, for instance, want to see what legendary Stan Lee was doing with Snafu (1955-56). They will find that he was pushing the envelope on sex—no surprise, given that the 1930s pioneer publishers of the comic book industry had been busted on a pornography rap only a few years earlier. The suggestive stuff here seems awfully tame. Captain Billy’s Whizbang and the current college mags—some of them banished by campus authorities—were certainly more suggestive. This luke-warm Hot Stuff was, after all, just one more pulp gambit. Readers will likewise want to glance at utterly tasteless satires, like one of “falsies” (a fooler: this is mostly about denture cream), and also at the rare appearance of Will Elder, Basil Wolverton, and other notables in these super-marginal venues. These are, or were, the pulps, after all, drugstore items bought and soon forgotten, a footnote to popular culture.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

ANNE FADIMAN—POSTPONED

Due to an injury sustained by the author, this event has been POSTPONED. We hope to reschedule and will provide that information as soon as possible. Thank you!

The Wine Lover's Daughter is a standout―possibly the best memoir, and one of the best books, this reviewer has read in 2017.”
Library Journal (starred review)

Join us in welcoming beloved and best-selling author Anne Fadiman to the Twin Cities! Renowned for her two scintillating essay collections, At Large and At Small and Ex Libris, as well as for her eye-opening and utterly engaging The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award), Fadiman will present her new book, The Wine Lover’s Daughter (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). As Adam Gopnik puts it, “The ostensible object of Anne Fadiman’s wonderful new book is the wine cellar of her father, the once-omnipresent critic Clifton Fadiman. But its real subjects include the insecurities of American Jews, the glories of mid-century ‘middlebrow’ culture, and, above all, the always intricate, often exasperated, and finally deeply tender relation of father and daughter.” Refreshments will follow this not-to-be missed talk, and books will be available for purchase courtesy of Subtext Books. We hope to see you there!

PRAISE FOR THE WINE LOVER’S DAUGHTER

“If Anne Fadiman’s book about her father were a wine, it would merit a ‘100’ rating, along with all the oeno-superlatives: ‘smooth,’ ‘elegant,’ ‘brilliant,’ ‘with a dazzling, heart-warming finish.’ But as it is a book, let’s call it what it is: a stunning, original, beautifully written, clear-eyed yet tear-inducing account of a daughter’s love for her famous father; and into the bargain, the best family memoir yet to come out of the Baby Boom generation.”
—Christopher Buckley

“This book is as good and rich as one would hope, no small thing, given that it’s written by one of the best essayists of our time about her father, one of the more interesting critics of another. Uncork this book and watch one master go to work on another. I was reminded reading it of what the man himself once wrote about tasting a great vintage, that it was ‘to savor a droplet of the river of human history.’”
—John Jeremiah Sullivan

Twin Cities Book Festival Fliers

Twin Cities Book Festival, Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Friday, October 13, 2017: 6-7pm Reception; 7-8pm Opening Night Talk
Saturday, October 14, 2017: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Festival Event Fliers

Click on the event link of your choice to download
a PDF Flier. Pass it along to friends or post in your neighborhood!

General Twin Cities Book Festival Flier

ASL Interpreted Events

Local Author Morning Mingle

Opening Night Talk with John Freeman, Lawrence Joseph, and Claire Vaye Watkins

Holy Cow! Press Anniversary Celebration

Donna Seaman

Juan Felipe Herrera and Ray Gonzalez

Travel Writing & Discovery with Geraldine DeRuiter, Kenny Fries, and Doug Mack

Senator Al Franken

Daniel Handler

Alex Lemon

Cory Doctorow and Charlie Jane Anders

Yrsa Daley-Ward

Roz Chast

Children's Pavilion Programs

Young Readers Programs

Teen Events Programs

Adrian Matejka - Gymnopédies No. 3 Broadside

This broadside, featuring a new poem by Adrian Matejka, was printed by supersessionpress on the occasion of Adrian Matejka's appearance in the Rain Taxi Reading Series on September 16, 2017.

Limited edition, letter press broadside measures 11" x 13". Limited to 50 copies. Each copy is SIGNED by the author.

Richard Stephens of supersessionpress pulls another beauty from the letterpress printer.

Available with a donation of $50 to Rain Taxi, a nonprofit literary organization. Donations are deductible to the extant allowable by law.

DONATE-teal

Adrian Matejka read from his poetry at SooVac Gallery in Minneapolis.

Twin Cities Book Festival Poetry Bus

Twin Cities Book Festival, Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Friday, October 13, 2017: 6-7pm Reception; 7-8pm Opening Night Talk
Saturday, October 14, 2017: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Get on the bus! Each hour at the Book Festival, a different poetry workshop or activity will be taking place on the vehicle with various poets and you.  Drop in for just a few minutes or hang out longer—whatever you need, poetry has it.  Here’s our list of poetry happenings:

10 am - Poetry Drop

Take a minute to drop off a poem that you’ve written, to add to the collection of poetry on the bus for readers to dip into and enjoy all day.  Our featured poets in the programs below will be reading these poems and marking their favorites; we’ll be posting their top choices on our website after the Festival!

11 am - Dream Poems with Brett Elizabeth Jenkins

Drop in to write a poem based on a dream you’ve had—or a dream-like poem, if you’re the type of person who can't remember their dreams! Brett Elizabeth Jenkins has published four chapbooks, including 2017’s Over the Moon

12 pm - Protest (or Gratitude) Songwriting with Brian Laidlaw

In the mood to protest? Learn how to turn your thoughts into great lyrics with an acclaimed poet-songwriter. Not into protest?  Write a gratitude song instead, because it’s still a beautiful world. Brian Laidlaw has published the poetry chapbook/folk album Amoratorium and the full-length book The Stuntman, which also contained a companion album of original songs. 

1 pm - Poetry Mad Libs with Paula Cisewski

Drop in to add your own parts of speech to a well-known (or new-to-you) poem and watch the meanings multiply before your eyes! Paula Cisewski's fourth poetry collection, ​quitter​, won Diode Editions' Book Prize and her third, The Threatened Everything, won the Burnside Review book contest; both were released earlier this year.

2 pm - Poet Laureate Tell All with Juan Felipe Herrera & Robert Casper

Join the 21st U.S. Poet Laureate and the Head of the Poetry and Literature Center of the Library of Congress to learn what exactly the Poet Laureate does and to share your ideas about how poetry can be more visible in our country. 

3 pm - Silent Reading

Feeling overwhelmed after a day at the Festival?  Hop on the bus to read some poems to yourself and recharge your batteries. Bring books you’ve bought or dip into the bus’s own trove of books.

Return to the main Festival page