Twin Cities Book Festival Fun for Everyone

Especially for me as a volunteer. Last month I blogged about the Literary Punch Card and how MN book publishers, The Loft, and booksellers were doing their part to keep our literary community thriving, and I also mentioned the importance of everyone contributing as best we can, in any way we can.

I volunteered to work at the Information Desk at the 11th annual Book Festival hosted by Rain Taxi Review of Books, which took place at the Minneapolis Community & Technical College this past Saturday. Other than the occasional yo-yo hailing down on my head from the kids’ section upstairs, it was a lot of fun. I mean, what’s not to like about a place full of books and book lovers:

The all-day, free-admission book fair featured authors, booksellers, magazines, publishers, librarians, prizes,  author panels, readings, presentations, writer opportunities, and of course, books, books, and more books.

Eric Lorberer,  the festival director and Scott Parker, the volunteer coordinator worked with nonstop enthusiasm and were so busy all day they were nothing but blurs, otherwise I would have taken their pictures, too.

Hi ya, David!

At the Information Desk all I had to do was answer people’s questions and point them in the direction they wanted to go. I enjoyed meeting readers and writers, authors, and seeing friends. It was fun being a part of something so vibrant, so important. I loved every minute of it. I hope others will consider volunteering their time at the book festival next year. It’s easy to sign up. Just go to the Rain Taxi website and under the Twin Cities Book Festival section, click on the word volunteer.

To thank me for my time, I got a wonderful gift bag filled with books, magazines, coupons, a museum pass, and stationery. Many thanks to the other volunteers for making the day great, and especially to Mr. Parker and Mr. Lorberer for all that you do.

Asides:

to the gentleman who left his writing journal by me after rearranging his backpack: I did not look in or read any part of your journal. I swear.

to the guy who lost half his bike light: no, it was never turned in. Hope you made it safely home in the dark.

to Paul Metsa: the answer is, sometimes.

to the woman looking for the diabetes expo: hope you found it

and to the security guard whose knees I took out with the flatbed book cart during cleanup: again, so sorry! those things were really hard to steer.

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GETTING PUNCHED—LITERARY STYLE

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 http://www.litpunch.com/

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.