Sunday, October 15, 2006

Twin Cities Book Festival

I went to the Twin Cities Book Festival on Saturday to promote my quarterly zine, MOQ (Minneapolis Observer Quarterly), and take in the literary ambience. It's a showcase of dozens of local publishers and authors and book-related artists, as well, including the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. I shared table space with another small-time publisher, La Mano, and a nice young fellow named Ed who is an intern with them. La Mano publishes graphic books, that is, stories told mostly with illustrations, comic-book style. They're newest book, Wait, You're Not a Centaur! by Nathaniel Drake Denver is a collection of 50 50-word stories and illustrations. I enjoyed looking through it and reading some of the stories (sometimes, more like story fragments, leaving you with something to ponder). You can read a couple of sample pages and order it from their Web site, which is linked above.

Besides my own publication, I also had some brochures and bumper stickers about the Twin Cities Daily Planet, which is a great new nonprofit Web-based news outlet to which nearly all of our local community newspapers contribute content. It's a wonderful form of cooperative community journalism online and I was glad to help get the word out about them (and not only because my husband works for them!)

Last year, my husband and I both went to the book festival and so I was able to get out from behind our table a lot and mill about and persuade several folks to give me free review copies of books, but this year he was busy and couldn't come and so I only scored one review copy, and that's really one for him to review (it's political). I did buy a copy of Dislocate, an annual literary journal published by graduate students from the University of Minnesota's English department; and a slim volume of haiku by Gerald Vizenor, published by Nodin Press (I didn't even know that Vizenor wrote haiku, they're quite lovely); and the latest issue of Conduit, a semiannual journal of poetry and interviews. Actually, I renewed my subscription and picked up the current issue in the process. So I guess I have plenty of reading material!

Late in the day, some little kids came through grabbing everything in site and stuffing it into their bags. To be fair, they did ask, "Is this free?" before snatching things. Several tables had bowls of candy and it was apparent that the kids had plenty of that! One little girl asked if my business cards were free, and when I said I didn't want her to take one because I was almost out, she took one anyway. I and the others around me were getting a little chagrined at these unruly, grabby kids, when the dad finally came along. He said nothing to discourage the kids' greediness, but when he saw the Daily Planet brochures, he said, "The Daily Planet, where all the paid bloggers hang out." It's true that a couple of the regular contributors to the Daily Planet recently got grants to maintain a blog, but his comment seemed quite unfair and condescending to me. I know that dozens of people contribute to the page for nothing, and those who got the blogging grants are having to work a lot to fulfill their commitments.

Right after he made that comment, the little girl reached for a Daily Planet bumper sticker, briefly asking, "Is this free?" Of course I said yes.

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