Tag Archives: Rain Taxi

Twin Cities Book Festival – Where the “right words” rule

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. ~~ Mark Twain

The Great Minnesota Get-Together 2017 is history, and yet the Fairgrounds will come alive October 13-14 as bibliophiles gather from far and wide to celebrate “the right word.”  It’s the annual Twin Cities Book Festival.   (http://www.raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival/

Sponsored by Rain Taxi, the free and open tribute to the book is the call for “word people” to meet and learn from bibliophiles who write, publish, read, edit, sell, and otherwise shape and share the “right words.”  It’s a time to refresh the mind and soothe the soul of the faithful who cling to the idea that the right words not only read well but speak truth.

The agenda for TC’s Book Festival is robust, overflowing with exhibits, speakers, opportunities to meet and greet – the Festival calls for serious preparation!  If, perchance, you can’t attend, the website itself offers a great read and reminder of the many faces of the state’s book world!  The online guide to the Festival includes authors of every genre, publishers, booksellers (new and used) along with myriad options, including but not limited to food vendors — Be sure to save time to experience the Poetry Bus! (http://www.raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival-poetry-bus/)






Thinking about seeds, ideas and communities – and how they grow

This is my season for reflecting – mostly about how ideas and projects and movements evolve. The advantage of age is that we can remember when a seed was planted, we watched it grow, and now we rejoice in the harvest.

And so, while writing about the forthcoming Twin Cities Book Festival my thoughts drift back to The Minnesota Festival of the Book, the 1988 extravaganza when writers, publishers, booksellers, librarians and, most of all, readers gathered in Rice Park in downtown St. Paul!

Sponsored by The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, the Festival brought together the myriad voices of what later came to be known as Minnesota’s vibrant “community of the book.” The grand goal of the Friends was “to throw a party for books and reading that will entertain and enlighten all ages.

And so the 1988 celebration of the written word was alive with all things bookish – from author signings to Braille editions to government publications, dozens of Minnesota publishers, libraries’ special collections, Friends groups, a host of bookstores, storytellers – not to mention the Sherlock Holmes display hosted by the Norwegian Explorers Club.

One feature of the Minnesota Festival of the Book was the inauguration of the Minnesota Book Awards. Originally sponsored by the Minnesota Center for the Book the awards continue today as an elaborate event sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

As I reflect on that beautiful September day “back in the day” I remember well the words of a colleague and metro regional economist, who viewed the Rice Park energy and observed – presciently – “now that’s how economic vitality begins.”

Though there is no direct organizational link between the 1988 Festival and this fall’s festival event at the Fairgrounds it is clear to me that the seed planted over a quarter century ago continues to bear fruit in countless ways. Over the years a host of institutions and communications channels have evolved to serve as common ground for the community of the book to thrive in a time of economic, social and technological change.

If you dig deep and keep peeling the onion, artists and freelance writers are the leaders in society – the people who start to get new ideas out ~~ Allan Savory




Rain Taxi hosts 16th annual Twin Cities Book Festival

Books, the children of the brain ~~ Jonathan Swift

Been there, done that! Not if you’re talking about the Twin Cities Book Festival set for Saturday, October 15, with an Open Night Party warm-up on Friday, October 14.  Though it may be an annual autumn ritual, know in advance that you have not seen or done everything that’s on tap for the 2016 Twin Cities Book Festival. (http://www.raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival/)

The bibliophile bonanza blasts off at 5:00 Friday evening with an Opening Night Party. http://www.raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival/2016-tcbf-opening-night-party-reading/ The evening begins with dinner ($20 – reservations required) to be followed by a free and open talk by British writer Kathryn Aalto who will celebrate the 90th birthday of the classic with a presentation on The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh. (http://www.raintaxi.com/New/media/Aalto-Flyer.pdf) Friday evening events are in the Fine Arts Center on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

The free and open Book Festival blasts off Saturday morning at 10:00. Be prepared — the robust schedule can be overwhelming and the exhibits are irresistible.

One of the best features of the TC’s Book Festival is the digital accessibility of it all — Before you head for the Fairgrounds, check the possibilities that range from the day-long Book Fair (http://www.raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival/exhibitors-and-specials/) to scores of events – ranging from “From Hell to Bacchus and Back” to “PayHomage” to numerous pavilions featuring books, events and activities for children and young adults. Pay special note of the fact that many of the events are ASL accessible.

A tradition at 15, Twin Cities Book Festival set for October 17

Rain Taxi Review of Books and the Twin Cities Book Festival just keep growing and getting better, introducing readers of every age and literary persuasion, collectors, booksellers and thousands of other visitors to an expanding diversity of writers and publishers. The Fifteenth Annual Twin Cities Book Festival extravaganza will ignite the Minnesota State Fairgrounds all day Saturday, October 17 – with an opening night celebration on Friday evenin

As the programs and exhibits continue to evolve, event planners are sharing the basics, including the rosters of author events, panels, book signings, workshops, storytelling and more.

At present the following adult programming includes these local and globally renowned writers: Jabari Asim, Christian Bok, Susan Cheever, Brian Henry, Leila Lalami, Joe Meno, Nina Revoyr, Craig Thompson, Rupert Thomson and Joy Williams.

Authors scheduled for the Children’s Pavilion include John Coy, Mike Curato, Donale Lemke & Bob Lentz, Tran Thi Minh Phuoc, Stephanie Watson and Mike Wohnoutka.

Writers appearing in the Middle Grade Headquarters include Cecil Castellucci, John Flanagan, Lynne Jonell, D.J. MacHale, Carrie Ryan, Daniel Wallace and Jacqueline West.

Appearing in the Teen Tent are Rebecca Hahn, Tom Isbell, E.K. Johnston, Julie Kagawa, Derek E. Sullivan and Nicola Yoon.

Bios of each of these authors are included on the TCBF website (www.raintaxi.com)

TCBF regulars also know to look for hundreds of exhibitors and once-in-a-lifetime deals on thousands of used and rare books and records.

To stay in tune with developing plans, connect with social media including www.raintaxi.com @RainTaxiReview, and/or Facebook.com/RainTaxi.

TCBF15 is made possible by grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council supported by Legacy funds. The children’s pavilion at TCBF is supported by MELSA. Middle Grade Headquarters and Teen Tent programs are co-sponsored by Red Balloon Bookshop.



Featuring Fun Food for the Mind at the Fair

The Snelling Avenue Bridge is re-opened – a good sign that the Great Minnesota Get Together must be nigh. As always, the state’s highways and by-ways are at the ready for action – in fact, they are already teeming with vendors, exhibitors, builders, chefs, entertainers, transit drivers and others converging on the Fairgrounds to do what needs to be done to ensure that all is in readiness for Thursday, August 27, when the gates open!

Liberal arts majors and their progeny may want to take note of some Fair favorites that are long on bargain, short on deep fried edibles.

Representatives of the Minnesota Historical Society are a visible and audible presence all week. They’re performing at the Schilling Amphitheater with their popular “History-on-a-Schtick!” vaudeville show. Or orient yourself to the fairgrounds with a cell phone walking tour around the grounds. Listen to fascinating stories of Minnesota State Fair history while you learn about the buildings and the stories those walls can tell. MHS also sponsors a booth in the Education Building where visitors can learn about the organization’s resources, the statewide network and outreach activities.

Wednesday, September 2, is library day at the Fair. The first treat of “Read&Ride Day” comes at the gate when public library cardholders will get discounted admission. From 9:00-5:00 Carousel Park will be abuzz with activities for every age, including yoyo tricks, magic, hypnotism, old-time and bluegrass music. For young readers and reader wanabes there are muscle and brain-building activities, picture books, a scavenger hunt, bookmarks and more. Visitors who show their library card will get a deck of “Get Carded: Make your next stop the library” playing cards.

Rain Taxi will join the September 2 reading bonanza with a full schedule of events, starting at 9:00 with the chance to write a short “good morning poem” using impromptu exercises with poet John Colburn. At 10:30 Moorhead teacher Kevin Carollo will craft cardboard animals, while poet Paula Cisewski will write an on-the-spot poem based on the requester’s Tarot cards.

Also from Rain Taxi, from 1:00-2:00 Minnesota hip-hop writer and performer Dessa will sign copies of her Rain Taxi chapbook, A Pound of Steam. From 2:00–3:30 poet-troubadour Brian Laidlaw will lead a drop-in songwriting workshop. And from 3:30-5:00 graphic novelist and comics professor Ursula Murray Husted will create a gigantic collaborative comic – fun for all ages.

** Public Library Day is funded by the Minnesota Legacy Fund.

P.S. Just as I polished off this post the latest news from Minitex popped up – featuring a tempting smorgasbord of top ten fun things to do at the Fair. https://news.minitex.umn.edu/news/library-news/top-10-things-do-state-fair-read-ride-day.  Click and learn!


For Twin Cities Readers Book Fare Trumps the State Fair!

For some among us the iconic Minnesota State Fair should eschew the politicians, dump the Skyride, douse the corndogs and replace it all with a tasteful gathering of bibliophiles, Minnesota writers, readings, book talks, exchanges of bon mots among the literati. That’s why we have the Twin Cities Book Festival, the ultimate antidote to the State Fair.

Once again Rain Taxi will restore the natural order to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds when writers, publishers, readers, booksellers and their ilk will gather for the Twin Cities Book Festival. It’s Saturday, October 11, 10:00 AM til 5:00 PM and it’s happening in some of the Fairgrounds classiest settings, including:

  • The Progress Center where there will be an all-day exhibit of publishers, magazines, literary organizations, local authors, booksellers and more.
  • And there are readings and talks on the Reading Stages in the Fine Arts Building, just next door. Participants include Julie Schumacher, Laird Hunt, Okey Ndibe, Hoa Nguyen, Steven Pinker, and an ever growing-list of authors who write for adult readers.
  • There are sites for children’s authors and activities (Michael Dahl, Chris Monroe, Phyllis Root and Lauren Stringer, to name a few),
  • Options for middle grade readers (Margi Preus and William Alexander among others)
  • And teen favorites (Marie Lu, Pete Hautman, Carrie Mesrobian and other YA authors)
  • There’s an author hub featuring Dessa, Michael Fallon, Julie Kramer, John Rosengren, Ben Weaver and who knows who else…. (If you really must know “who else” keep checking the Rain Taxi website (http://www.raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival/ or Facebook for updates….)
  • So no one goes home bookless there’s a used book bonanza,

And it’s all free and open to the public!

The Festival is sponsored in part with funds from the Legacy Fund distributed through the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.


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)


Twin Cities Book Festival Bursts Forth Brighter and Wordier Than Ever October 15

It is not a moment too soon to lay in supplies for the impending Winter of 2011-12 – not fire logs or food but reading supplies.  The Rain Taxi: Twin Cities Book Festival on Saturday, October 15, 10:00-5:00 p.m., offers just the right opportunity to get started.  This truly sensational event is sponsored by Rain Taxi Review of Books which has created this grand gathering of the reading and books community for the past eleven years.

It’s a free and open celebration of books and reading that features an Exhibit and Book Fair showcase that represents a wide range of writers, publishers, literary organizations, booksellers and a host of bibliophiles of every stripe.  As in the past the Book Festival is at the Metropolitan Community and Technical College, 1501 Hennepin Avenue, just off Loring Park.

The Twin Cities Book Festival website expands each day as planners add authors, panels, exhibits and more.  Those confirmed to date include this broad spectrum of writers who will be speaking, reading and signing at the Festival:

Ø     Diana Abu-Jaber

Ø     Tess Gallagher

Ø     Jaime Gordon

Ø     Ben Katchor

Ø     N.M. Kelby

Ø     Steven Pinker

Ø     Kevin Sorbo

Ø     Gary Tillery

Ø     Lawrence Weschler, and

Ø     Daniel Woodress

There are also panel discussions featuring Minnesota writers in a panel discussing “Telling Our Stories: Minnesota Memories”

Ø     Martin Kihn

Ø     Paul Metsa

Ø     Nancy Paddock

Ø     Theresa Weir, and

Ø     Mary Rondeau

And five Minnesota writers and creators will discuss :This Must Be the Place: Representing Minnesota”

Ø     Kevin Cannon

Ø     Wing Young Huie

Ø     Steve Healey

Ø     Susan Niz, and

Ø     Mary Rockcastle

Never to be left in the dark, members of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter, will discuss their craft.  Explore the creative minds of these mystery writers:

Ø     Raymond Benson

Ø     Erin Hart

Ø     Sujata Massey

Ø     Julie Kramer

Ø     Michael Allan Mallory, and

Ø     Carl Brookins

Check the Twin Cities Book Festival website for excellent bios of these writers and descriptions of their works.

Don’t stop with the readings and panels either.  There are exhibits, a children’s pavilion, a used book sale and a literary  magazine fair.

Everything free and open thanks to support from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council – with the collaboration of the sponsors and a host of volunteers who make the day run like clockwork.

If you can’t wait for the Saturday blast off, try the Friday evening kick-off, an exclusive screening of the documentary Shelf Life, the story of a day in the life of Powell’s City of Books.  Screening at 7:45 p.m. with a pre-film reception.  The kick-off is at the Whitney Fine Arts Theater at MCTC.  Tickets are $20 and seating is limited.  Proceeds support Rain Taxi Review of Books.

This and infinitely more on the Twin Cities Book Festival website.