I’ve been to three events in the past two days, and while they’ve left me a little short on cash for the rest of the week, they’ve given me a lot to think about. Sunday night met me with Sierra DeMulder’s book launch at Honey, followed by the Riot Act Reading Series at Nick and Eddie, and Monday night riled me up with some doodling and comic trivia at the Bad Waitress. Each room—packed with fans, freaks, and friends—had such different vibes and contained such different worlds that it’s hard to believe that I didn’t travel any further than three miles among them.
Earlyish on Sunday evening at Honey, a crowd of people—including ambassadors from Hazel and Wren, Mill City Bibliophile, MCBA, and The Loft—crammed in to the back room at Honey to celebrate Sierra DeMulder’s new book New Shoes on a Dead Horse (Write Bloody Publishing). A slam poet by nature (a two-time National Poetry Slam Champion), DeMulder is also a talented page poet (and though I feel like it is excessively beside the point to mention, especially in light of her fully-voiced feminist leanings, she is also one of the most beautiful women I have seen in person, making watching her perform an experience I can only assume is typically reserved for heaven). Leading up to her reading was a string of musical and literary performances by Bad Bad Hats (Kerry Alexander sounds like Judy Garland when she speaks and Thao Nguyen when she sings, kind of, even when she’s doing an Eddie Money cover), John Jodzio (whose I Recently Passed a Kidney Stone That Looks Like a Shark’s Tooth slays the crowd every time), and A Loud Heart, an acoustic hip-hop group comprising Guante and Claire Taubenhaus (the lyrics were really solid).
I’m going to be honest. I try not to cry in public—I mean, who does? But, real talk, after a few drinks (or even realer talk, even without a few drinks) a powerful poet like DeMulder reading a poem about pro-anorexia called Dear Ana would squeeze even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson like a sponge. There are tons of videos of DeMulder reading her work on YouTube, I would encourage you to go see her perform in person.
Following DeMulder’s reading, I rushed over to Nick and Eddie to see the second half of Minneapolis’s Best Punk Rock Literary Series, the Riot Act Reading Series. The series, started in 2006 by Paul D. Dickinson, who also hosts in tandem with Lauren Brandenburg, has had a few location changes over the years, most recently leaving the Turf Club in St. Paul and heading over to Scott Seekins’ neck of the woods. The Riot Act Reading Series is a once-a-month event that features up-and-coming and came-and-went writers—both groups teetering on the cutting edge of Minneapolis’ super amazing literary scene—giving them around 15 minutes of stage time to try something new, relive something old, but generally just be their plucky selves. Last Sunday featured 15 minutes each of near-fame for Rena May, Laurie Lindeen, Regan Smith (co-founder of Paper Darts, where I serve as managing editor), and Christopher George.
Heading home after my packed Sunday night got me thinking about why Minnesota gets to be so lucky—luring such amazing talent here, or breeding incredible artists by the litter. There’s such an identifiable literary culture here that I’m worried it’ll be hard to live anywhere else. Oh well, that’s a mystery for another day, or another lifetime wherein I look back on my time here and say “Oh shit, I see it now.”
Monday night was a winner, too (literally, because my husband and I won the trivia contest). The Bad Waitress—owned and operated by the same people who run both Spyhouse coffeeshops—had it’s first ever event night: The Bad Cartoonist night, hosted by local cartoonist Danno Klonowski. Aside from 24-hour comic book day, the now-defunct Minneapolis Indie Xpo, the International Cartoonist Conspiracy monthly jam comic sessions, and Spring/Fall Con, it seems that there aren’t a ton of events in Minneapolis that celebrate the almighty comic (a literary form!). The Bad Cartoonist Night, which will henceforth happen the last Monday of the month, every month until it doesn’t happen anymore, starts with happy hour specials and tabletop doodling, and ends with an epic five-round comic book trivia game (there was one round devoted to comics-turned movies, and one devoted to the Civil War, so everyone…I guess…has a chance). While there were plenty of talented cartoonists, and plenty of nerds, I was really happy to see Kevin Cannon (one half of Big Time Attic) in attendance, lending local super clout to the evening.
Anyway, kudos to Minnesota, where in less than 24 hours (on a Sunday into a Monday no less) one can delve waist deep into three distinctive literary cultures, all contained within a larger culture, all residing in a larger culture, and all part of our general cultural makeup. Whitman, we’ve got your multitudes right here, buddy.
Photo: Paul D. Dickinson