Tag Archives: Twin Cities Book Festival

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.

Autumn Leaves Lots to Learn!

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!  

Percy Bysshe Shelley

The harmony and luster of autumn somehow inspire us to learn, to engage, to think deep thoughts about “life, the universe and everything.” The good news is that creative colleagues offer food for thought in the form of theater, literature, film, stories and more. Once again, the in-basket is so full of intriguing programs and activities that I plucked just a few that might ignite some plans. To be sure, the list is random, incomplete, intended as a prompt not a calendar of possibilities!

* Theatre Latte Da opens the new season with production of Ragtime, the award- winning tale of life in turn-of-the-century New York, the melting pot of Jewish immigrants, a woman of privilege, and a Harlem musician. The musical, based on the book by E.L. Doctorow, opens September 21 and runs through October 23. (http://www.theaterlatteda.com)

* A reminder that the Twin Cities Zine Fest is set for Saturday September 24 – details in earlier post (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/twin-cities-zine-fest-2016/)

* Stories, Down by the Riverside are featured when storytellers Larry Johnson and Elaine Wyne share their experiences – and those of past residents, their friends and neighbors. It’s Sunday, September 25, 2:00 p.m. at the Hennepin History Museum, (http://www.hennepinhistory.org) They’ll spin tales of “The Great Richter Drug Store Robbery,” “The Day the Old Radio Dramas Vanished” and one about thousands of Minneapolis school children who, in 1896, pulled the John and Helen Stevens house from Cedar-Riverside to Minnehaha Park. Guests will be invited to share their own stories of the Cedar-Riverside community.

* The well-received Women’s Human Rights Film Series sponsored by The Advocates for Human Rights launches September 21; the series is a collaboration with the Saint Paul Public Library where the films will be shown at area public libraries during the weeks to come. “Profiled”, set for September 21, at the Hamline Midway Library, relates the stories of mothers of Black and Latin youth murdered by the NYPD, depicting how the women channel their anger into a struggle for justice. “Red Light Green Light,” set for Thursday, October 13, at the St. Anthony Park Library, explores several nations’ efforts to prevent and cope with the travesty of sex trafficking. “Don’t Tell Anyone”, showing Wednesday, November 3, depicts the life of a young woman who is undocumented, one of the generation of DREAMers “eager to end their silence and push for social change.” All films will be shown at 6:30 p.m. (http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/womens_human_rights_film_series)

* Writer and teacher Wendy Brown Baez (http://www.wendybrownbaez.com/POP-UP-Readings.html) is all about Pop Up Readings, aka Classroom in a Backpack. The first Pop Up workshop is set for Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 p.m. at Eat My Words Books (http://www.eatmywordsbooks.com)

* Nimbus Theatre will inaugurate their new home with an original production of The Kalevala set to run October 8-30. The show is written and adapted by Liz Neerland and directed by Josh Cragun. Based on the 19th century epic of the same name, the original nimbus production overflows with fantasy, giants, gods, maidens and others of their ilk set in the “fierce lands of the north” (https://www.nimbustheatre.com/discover/production/kalevala)

* A quick reminder that the Twin Cities Book Festival is set for Saturday, Octobber 115 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. More about this free event in a separate post.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there is autumn.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


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.



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)