WORDS BY REBECCA BELL SORENSEN
Rain Taxi, a champion of underground and small press literature with a quarterly review and author events, is back. The nonprofit’s staff spent a year securing more than 140 publishers, literary organizations, book dealers, authors, and a sale of thousands of used books and records for the upcoming Twin Cities Book Festival, which is back to in-person literary events, as well as virtual ones. Festival Director and Rain Taxi Review of Books Editor Eric Lorberer jokes it’s been a bit like planning a wedding.
“The pandemic showed us that while books can be read and experienced and transformative in private, we need community around them,” he says. “We need to celebrate with other people what it is that books bring to our lives.”
And more than 6,000 multi-generational bibliophiles are ready to celebrate. The free, all-day event is the ultimate book fair, with hundreds of authors spread throughout the Fairgrounds’ Progress Center, which will include a children’s stage and a ticketed poetry reading by multi-genre artist Dessa in the Fine Arts Building.
This year’s presenting authors present more diverse viewpoints than ever, including many who are traveling to St. Paul for the festival. Case in point: Maya Abu Al-Hayvat—director of the Palestine Writing Workshop in Jerusalem and a poet whose latest, You Can Be the Last Leaf, a collection of her poems about living in a war zone—just secured her visa less than a month before the festival, after months of failed attempts.
Stateside, Pushcart-Prize-winning author Major Jackson, who just published selected prose under the title A Beat Beyond will travel from Nashville, where he chairs the Humanities Department at Vanderbilt University. Homegrown favorite writer and musician Dessa will debut her chapbook, Tits on the Moon, at the festival’s only ticketed event. Dessa promises to divulge behind-the-scenes secrets of “always a bridesmaid, never an astronaut” that will send the audience into outer space. For a ticket ($5), stop by the Rain Taxi booth in the Progress Center between 10 AM – 4:30 PM.
More highlights include the return of the Children’s Stage, featuring a reading of Where We Come From, a picture book by Minnesota authors John Coy, Shannon Gibney, Sun Yung Shin, and Diane Wilson, which explores Minnesota’s vast cultural history with vibrant illustrations by Indonesian artist Dion MBD. And for an up-close look at process and in-the-know book recommendations, don’t miss the Minnesota Author Mashup.
Whatever you do, don’t come to the Twin Cities Book Festival looking for celebrity book-club picks. “We bring out the books often relegated to the bottom shelf,” Lorberer says. “The ones who might not have a huge impact at this particular moment, but will move the culture forward.”
WHEN YOU GO
Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival
Saturday, October 15, 10 AM – 5 PM, FREE
Progress Center and Fine Arts Buildings
Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave N