Twin Cities Book Festival turns 12, attracts book lovers of all sorts
Over the past 12 years the Twin Cities Book Festival has had many highlights. Lorrie Moore and Nicholson Baker have had lines going out the door, and Kevin Sorbo drew an eccentric crowd in 2011. Among the presentations of past years, festival director Eric Lorberer recalls poets Christian Bök and Robert Creeley delivering some of the most stirring speeches, not only on their own work, but reflecting on life, art, and community in general -- Creeley's coming on the heels of an 18-hour journey through post-9/11 travel complications.
This Saturday, the festival returns with author panels, a used book sale, a children's pavilion, and more featuring any style of literature one can imagine.
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While similar events across the country take a scholarly or industry focus, Twin Cities Book Festival aims to attract readers. "It really is meant to be a gift for people who love reading," explains Lorberer, who also serves as editor of local literary review Rain Taxi, the event's sponsor. "I guarantee that anybody who likes reading of any kind will find something for them at the festival."
Not a small claim, but with a wide range of genres represented, there truly is something for everyone. Scheduled annually each fall, the festival is able to book many of literature's top names as the publishing season is well underway. Lorberer's Rain Taxi connections help as well, as the publication has made its own mark on the local community with a circulation near 18,000.
This year's featured presenters are poets Sharon Olds (Stag's Leap) and Gerald Stern (In Beauty Bright), graphic novelist Chris Ware (Building Stories), novelists Mark Z. Danielewski (The Fifty Year Sword) and Susan Isaacs (Variations), memoirist Kate Bornstein (A Queer and Pleasant Danger), prairie historian Candace Savage (A Geography of Blood), and anthology editors Jeff and Ann Vandermeer (The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories). Adding themed panels to the list -- such as world fiction, children's lit, LGBTQ writing, and author publicity -- there are over 40 authors involved with over 100 exhibitors in total.
That balance of genre and style is important to creating a universal event without a single headliner. "We get big names in different fields. So, if you really love poetry, that poet's going to be your keynote speaker. If you really like comics, that guy's going to be your keynote speaker. But each of these folks are tops in their field. Our idea is really to celebrate all the different forms, and get really amazing people in each form," says Lorberer.
Big crowds at the TC Book Festival
After outgrowing its previous home at Minneapolis Community & Technical College, the event continues to attract increasingly bigger crowds. About 1,500 people attended the first year; 2011's attendance hit 6,000. "It's changed, it's grown," Lorberer admits as the festival finds a new home at the Historic Progress Center at the State Fairgrounds, "but I don't know that the core has changed that dramatically. It's still a chance for publishers to show off what they do, for authors to show what they do, and for readers to take it all in. And that's been the core principle from the start."
That principle is evident in the cost. "I think a lot of people feel cut off [from literature]," he explains, "either educationally or because of the cost or whatever. So we feel that putting on this amazing program for free -- they just have to get there, and it's a great way for people to be exposed to all these different things."
In magazine publishing, Lorberer typically doesn't get to directly interact with his readers. "This is a chance to see people actually enjoy what we're making," he says, "and that's pretty rewarding. The irony for me is that the festival is so busy and massive that I bring all of these authors that I really like, and then I don't get to go to their presentation."
IF YOU GO:
Twin Cities Book Festival
Historic Progress Center, Minnesota State Fairgrounds
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, October 13
For a complete schedule and more info, visit website
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