Tag Archives: Coffee House Press

Indies Reign at the Twin Cities Book Festival & Beyond

Readers relax and refresh!   Popular reviews, awards and stacks of soul-less bestsellers are no measure of a reading culture.  Turn to the indies – the publishers and the booksellers – who know a good read when they read one and who make sure the words and ideas of creative writers reach the reading public.

This weekend presents an awesome opportunity when Rain Taxi opens the doors to the Twin Cities Book Festival,  their annual reader-magnet bonanza!   It’s Saturday, October 12 (that’s actually tomorrow!) at the Progress Center on the Fairgrounds.

Check their website (http://www.raintaxi.com/bookfest/) for all the details, including a guide to a robust agenda for the children’s pavilion.  Admission and parking are free with options for ticketed events set for Friday evening.

If your faith in the power of independent presses needs more of a boost, check the reviews of a couple of Minnesota’s finest, in Jason Diamond’s piece on “25 Independent Presses That Prove This is the Golden Age of Indie Publishing.”  In an October 1 article published in Shelf Awareness Diamond writes  that “no matter what the latest doomsday prognostication about the future of big publishing happens to be, this is an exciting time to be a fan of literature.”

Among the presses Diamond lauds are Minnesota’s own:  About Graywolf he writes: “We almost feel silly saying this, but this Minnesota nonprofit press gets better with age.  Their last few years have featured a killer streak of releases from Joshua Cohen, Thomas Sayers Ellis, a stunning new translation of Dante’s Inferno, Stephen Elliott, Benjamin Percy, Fiona Maazel, and many other books that should be on your TBR pile.”

Describing Coffee House Press, the pride of Northeast Minneapolis, Diamond writes:  “Growing from a 1970’s poetry magazine into one of the most well respected indie presses is no small feat., but this nonprofit press that’s housed in Minneapolis’ historic Grain Belt Bottling House has published more than its share of award-winning writers (Stephen Dixon, Anne Waldman, Frank Chin) and continues to be one of the presses that all other indies – and even big publishers – look to for inspiration.”

One way to show your support for the work of the indies is to join forces with other avid readers who are supporting  the indie booksellers’ Indies First project set for November 30.  More on that in an earlier post or check one of the several websites that cover the events of the day, e.g. Bookweb (http://www.bookweb.org/news/sherman-alexie-spearheads-indies-first)


Minnesota well-represented on National Book Awards long-lists

The bibliophiles at the National Book Foundation like to hold their cards close to the chest, playing one card a day to the anxious literary world.   Though they have one more card to play (tomorrow, September 19) the first three days have brought some great news to members of the Minnesota community of the book.  Under new rules for 2013 the National Book Award nominations are announced in what is henceforth to be known as a “long list” of nominations in each of four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People’s Literature

Kate DiCamillo (http://www.katedicamillo.com), beloved author of delightful books for children and young adults, is a Minnesota favorite.  Her readers, their parents, librarians and booksellers are applauding her inclusion on the list of nominees in the Young People’s Literature category.   The nomination is for her most recent book Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Candlewick Press)

It’s a superhero story about Ulysses, the who never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who comes to the rescue, and what neither can imagine as Ulysses gains new power and Flora discovers her hidden persona.  The B&W full-page illustrations are by K.G. Campbell.

DiCamillo was a National Book Award finalist in 2001 for The Tiger Rising.   She is a frequent guest on public media and can often be spotted chatting with a gaggle of young readers at a Minnesota school, library, bookstore or playground.

Though focus of the National Book Awards is on the writers, the writers would go unread were it not for their publishers.  The works of two Minnesota publishers, Coffee House and Graywolf, are represented on the Poetry long-list announced earlier this week.

Minnesota publisher Graywolf (https://www.graywolfpress.org/) is the proud publisher of Incarnadine, Mary Sybist’s most recent book of poetry.  Sybist, a Philadelphia native, lives and works in Oregon.  Founded by Scott Walker in 1984 Graywolf is considered one of the region’s and the nation’s leading nonprofit literary publishers “committed to the discovery and energetic publication of contemporary American and international literature.”

Coffee House Press  (http://coffeehousepress.org) is publisher of Andrei Codrescu’s poetry work, So Recently Rent a World, New and selected poems: 1968-2012, also on the Poetry long-list.  Codrescu is a Romanian-born American poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and commentator for National Public Radio. He was Mac Curdy Distinguished Professor of English at Louisiana State University from 1984 until his retirement in 2009.  Coffee House, founded by Allan Kornblum, began as a magazine and letterpress.  Today Coffee House is one of the premier nonprofit literary publishers in the nation, known locally as the literary gem of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts community.

Tomorrow, September 19, the National Book Foundation announces the long-list in the Fiction category.  Stay tuned.  The “short list” of nominees is out October 15 an the winners will be announced on November 20.

The National Book Foundation will honor novelist E.L Doctorow and Dr. Maya Angelou with their 2013 Lifetime Achievement Awards.  Doctorow will be honored in recognition of his outstanding achievement in fiction writing; Angelou is a globally recognized author and humanitarian.



Librarian Dan Marcou Promotes Street Lit as He Serves His Patrons at Correctional Faqcility

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a senseof wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. 

 These words of Robert Frost paint a visual image familiar to students in Dan Marcou’s poetry class at Hennepin County’s Adult Corrections Facility (ACF).  Marcou, the corrections librarian from Hennepin County Library visits residents of the facility weekly, toting recreational books, responding to residents’ research requests, and teaching creative writing.

The results of his work with the temporarily incarcerated learners have now been published in a volume entitled Poems from the Inside.  Marcou coordinated the project and edited the volume of poetry.  The publication is supported with funds provided by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, Coffee House Press and the Friends of Ridgedale Library.

“Writing programs in correctional settings have produced dramatic results for those who experience them,” Marcou told professional colleagues when he spoke at the annual conference of the American Library Association meeting in Anaheim last month.

Marcou’s creative writing compilation builds on the shoulders of his predecessors.  Past publications include Creative Minds: Our Right to Write (2007), Words from Within (2008), Set Me Free (2009) and free to dream.

One of Marcou’s unique initiatives is development of the Freedom Ticket program which educates inmates on how libraries can help them transition to the life outside the facility.  The program includes job resource workshops and a website with information on programs and resources to support residents after their release.  It was the Freedom Ticket program that earned Marcou a special commendation from the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.

Summarizing the impact of his work with the ACF residents Marcou reflects that “respect carries a lot of weight inside a facility.  I give the residents the same level of customer service I would in any other library I’ve worked in.  I want them to have a positive library experience because this is the first time many of them have ever used a library, and if they enjoy it on the inside, the chances are better they will use a public library after their release.”