Is Riot Act Reading Series going legit?

Laura Brandenburg 
Laura Brandenburg 
Sharyn Morrow

Folks familiar with the Riot Act Reading Series may have done a double take when they heard the news that the event would be hosted by the Loft this month. Is the scrappy brigade of low-brow denizens of basement bars -- who famously announce on their notices that they are "not responsible for lost or stolen items" and that "all models are 18 years of age" -- hanging up their hats and exchanging their 40s of Colt 45 for glasses of Pino Noir?

Related content:
Mark Mallman reads from his tour diaries at Riot Act Reading Series

Paul Dickinson
Paul Dickinson
Photo by Sharyn Morrow

Riot Act started in 2006, headed up by punk poet Paul Dickinson and his co-host Laura Brandenberg. Dickinson's poems are short, emotional bursts of wit and self-deprecation on subjects that range from unrequited love to snow plows. Brandenberg, meanwhile, has a sensual style to her writing. She purrs when she reads her poems full of imagery and eroticism.

For each of their shows, they assemble a gang of poets, writers, musicians, and comedians (Mark Mallman has appeared a couple of times, and Mary Mack remains a favorite regular guest). 

For the most part, Riot Act performs at the Turf Club, though in recent years they've also made appearances at other bars such as Nick and Eddie and Belmore/The New Skyway Lounge. The bar atmosphere adds to the show's ambience, making it a more relaxed experience than a regular reading (more like going to see a rock show). 
Rana May 
Rana May 
Photo by Sharyn Morrow

"I think some readings don't know how to have a good time. That's never been our problem," says Dickinson, in a text exchange interview. 

So why troop over to the distinguished literary organization the Loft? Isn't that a bit square for the Riot Act?

"Since 2006, the Riot Act Reading Series has infiltrated the literary scene of the Twin Cities. The fact that Riot Act was invited to the esteemed Loft Literary Center is further proof that its mix of pathos, humor, and irreverence is here to stay," Dickinson responds.

Perhaps the Riot Act's appearance at the Loft also indicates that the Loft isn't quite as stodgy as one might think. After all, they have been running Equilibrium, featuring fresh pieces from spoken-word performers of color, headed up by associate program director Bao Phi, for the last 10 years. 

In any case, we're glad that the high brow and low brow literary institutions are playing nice, and look forward to the show. On the docket for the evening are informative speaker Rana May (who will be using hand-drawn graphs!), Christopher Jug George, liquor store clerk filmmaker and standup comedian Beck DeRobertis, City Pages Hot Dish blogger Michelle Leon, and hosts Paul D. Dickinson and Laura Brandenburg, with David Mercer on the piano. 


Riot Act Reading Series invades the Loft
7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20
The Loft Literary Center
1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis

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The Loft Literary Center

1011 Washington Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55415


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