It’s been a quandary for some time. New York City chose to deal with it by charging you $25. Here in St. Paul and Minneapolis, you’re going to get punched instead.

The quandary is that our local publishers and booksellers would like more people to attend author readings and they’re hoping that an added incentive will do the trick: attend a literary event (they’re free) and receive a punch on your literary card. Actually buy the author’s book, get a second punch. When the card is full, receive a $15 bookstore gift certificate.

The Literary Punch Card Launch was held Wednesday night at Club Jäger in Minneapolis and it’s where I picked up my card. Plus I got my first punch just for showing up.

But you can pick up your free punch card at independent bookstores around town. For more information and for a calendar of author events, see

My sincerest thanks to the folks who sponsor this card: Coffee House Press, Common Good Books, Graywolf, The Loft, Metro Magazine, Magers and Quinn, Micawber’s, Milkweed Editions, Rain Taxi, and the U of MN bookstore.

So the Loft, the publishers, and the booksellers are doing their part for our literary community. What can you and I do to keep this community alive and kicking?

● Bring non-writer friends to reading events. Bring your co-workers, drag Grandma and Grandpa out of the casino, grab a neighbor, anyone! Seriously. Bring them with you. Never underestimate the power of numbers and your presence in an audience.

● Talk about reading, writing, and books daily. We all put up with sports and weather, so talk literature. Marinate in the stuff. Read and eat so much poetry that you got it all over your chin and it’s running down your shirt. Leave chunks of it on the floor for the janitor to find.

● Be a champion for writers. Offer to help your recently published friends hold readings at bookstores, coffee shops, and libraries. Write book reviews. Get on Facebook and let everyone know about a wonderful piece you read online, or a great new book by an emerging writer. Email writers whose work you admire and tell them.

● And of course, buy books and literary magazines. For yourself. For others.

We all have something to offer our literary community. Get involved and you’ll appreciate it when it’s your turn at the microphone.


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