Artika Tyner's new book looks at lawyering for change

Teaching English led Artika Tyner to become a lawyer. “When I began student teaching,” she writes, “I witnessed firsthand the disparities in the school system influenced by factors such as race and poverty. This was a formative moment in my personal and professional development…. I became committed to shaping public policy and standing up for children. At this point, I also recognized that the law is a language of power and I wanted to learn this language in order to empower others in my community.”

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No matter the heat, think twice before banning books

MERCUTIO: ...I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes,
By her high forehead and her scarlet lip,
By her fine foot, straight leg and quivering thigh
And the demesnes that there adjacent lie,
That in thy likeness thou appear to us!

That’s Mercutio summoning Romeo in Act II, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and deploying one of the less intense pieces of sexual innuendo scattered throughout the play. That one of the most commonly taught pieces of literature, from one of the most celebrated writers in the history of the English language, contains such themes and passages is worth keeping in mind as we observe Banned Books Week this year. Schools, naturally enough, are one of the centers of these controversies.

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What a difference

This time last year, there'd been Something I Said (Papyrus Publishing), Dues (Playscripts, Inc.), Shelter (Kindle/Amazon.com) and that's about it aside from Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and Twin Cities Daily Planet. Not that things hadn't gone reasonably well. Something I Said, a collection of controversial commentary, swiftly sold out in stores and at Amazon.com. Shelter, which was a hit - complete with fantastic reviews all over the place - depicting harsh life in a homeless shelter is available on Kindle. So is the short play, Dues, about paying a professional price for being politically incorrect. Between the three of them, am looking forward to a respectable royalty check from Amazon.com.

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New beginnings: RAWI's 5th national gathering with Mizna

September 18th through 20th brought the 5th National RAWI (Radius of Arab Writers, Inc.) Conference to Minneapolis. RAWI partnered with local nonprofit Mizna, an organization that promotes contemporary expressions of Arab American culture through the publication of Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America and the production of the Twin Cities Arab Film Festival. The conference included panels often hosted by academic scholars of Arab American literature, and theater, writing workshops, and performances.

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Daybreak Bookstore brightens St. Paul's Grand Avenue

A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.

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For Twin Cities readers, book fair trumps the state fair!

For some among us the iconic Minnesota State Fair should eschew the politicians, dump the Skyride, douse the corndogs and replace it all with a tasteful gathering of bibliophiles, Minnesota writers, readings, book talks, exchanges of bon mots among the literati. That’s why we have the Twin Cities Book Festival, the ultimate antidote to the State Fair.

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Two Dinkytown mainstays blend beans and books to bring in extra money

(Photo by Cora Nelson) First-year student Allie Gooley pages through a book Aug. 30, 2014, at Espresso Royale in Dinkytown. "Book and Brew" is the new collaboration between the Book House and Espresso Royale, which now offers books for sale in the coffee shop.

Thousands of books from the Book House in Dinkytown now line the walls of Espresso Royale as the result of a new partnership between the two businesses.

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From crocodiles to refugee camps, Habibo Haji's incredible journey

(Images courtesy of Habibo Haji)

The Twin Cities is well known for its strong Somali community, but soon it may be known for their authors as well.

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A snapshot of tribal libraries: 40-89 percent do not have broadband access!

The first 6 months of the year I spent time every month on the Fond du Lac reservation – specifically at the tribal center in Cloquet. There’s a library in the tribal center – with computers and good broadband. And once I month I was in the building providing some kind of Internet/computer training. Turns out FdL is top of the class when compared to other tribal libraries.

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Library card art? Check it out at St. Paul Public Library!

Some folks want to see their name in lights. For others, it’s the yen to see their name in print. And then there are the few, the chosen, whose creative apex is to see their art carried with pride in the handbag, wallet or pocket of every resident of St Paul.

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