Journal of Writing & Environment

Web Rove: A Literary Adventure

A Literary Adventure: Writers go to Minneapolis

By: Claire Kortyna

A few weeks ago, members from our Creative Writing and Environment Program at Iowa State University headed out to Minneapolis to visit Milkweed Press and Graywolf, both independent publishing houses. Our small writing troupe discovered that literature is happening in Minneapolis. Below are links about recently published works by both houses and up-coming events in this rich, literary scene.

The Loft Literary Center (1011 Washington Avenue South Minneapolis MN)

Open Book is the three-story building which houses the Loft Literary Center, the Target Hall event space, and Milkweed Press. When we first entered the ground floor coffee shop, JJ’s welcomed us with its hearty aromas and cozy ambiance. Writers rushed to order, crossing creaky old wood floors under high industrial ceilings. The surrounding installation artwork created a fun and textured feel. A spiralling staircase, lined with opaque panels inscribed with pale gray writing, took us up to the next floor, as if we had climbed up the spine of a book.  In the Loft Center’s beautiful meeting space, Target Hall, we listened to an overview of the independent book publisher, Milkweed Editions. This non-profit publishing house seeks to feature new voices, enhancing and engaging the surrounding community.

From the Doorway”  by Catherine Barnett (GrayWolf Press)

Another independent non-profit publisher, Graywolf Press solicits diverse voices that cannot find their niche in the traditional market.  Read Graywolf’s poem of the day, by Catherine Barnett from her second volume of poetry, The Game of Boxes published in 2012. Reviews indicated that Barnett continues to compel with her simple yet sophisticated prose, which makes everyday happenings evocative occurrences.

Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney (TriQuarterly)

Culture and community meet at Open Book in events such as free readings of upcoming authors. Nikky Finney, whose book was the winner of the the National Book Award for poetry will be speaking at the Loft Literary Center November 22, at 7pm this coming Saturday. An advocate for social justice and cultural preservation, Finney will be reading from this book as well as many of her other lauded publications such as The World is Round (Inner Light Books, 2003), awarded the Benjamin Franklin Award, and RICE (Sister Vision Press, 1995), the recipient of the PEN America-Open Book Award. Finney is just one of many reasons why a visit to Minneapolis’s Loft Literary Center is a good idea.

Stilwater: Finding Wild Mercy in the Outback by Raphael de Grenade (Milkweed Press)

Listen to author Raphael de Grenade read the breathtaking first twenty pages of her nonfiction book, published by Milkweed this year, for a deeper look at the fresh voices and literary quality of the works accepted there. “I lived on Stilwater for a dry season, melded and became part of it, until I wondered if I was half salt water too.”