Open Book in Minneapolis

I am a lover of books, of words, of anything literary. I am proud to be a bibliophile, a lexicophile and a word nerd in general.  My personal library includes a shelf for my collection of old dictionaries. And as most book lovers tend to do, I try my hand at writing every now and then.

Because many readers of the Lake Region Writer’s Network blog share at least one of my passions, I want to tell you about a near perfect experience I had last week. I had occasion to visit the Open Book in Minneapolis. If you have not visited this enchanting place, do so as soon as you can. I know…it’s a long trip, the traffic is terrible once you get there, and it’s winter time, but it is worth it.

To begin with, Open Book houses three separate organizations that support the Literary Arts: The Loft Literary Center, The Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and Milkweed Press. All three are located in a series of renovated old warehouses. The minute you walk in the door, it feels like you have walked into that room we have all dreamed about having, you know the one, filled floor to ceiling with books, spiral staircase, lots of overstuffed chairs to lounge in, sunshine streaming in the windows, the smell of coffee mixed with old leather and ink.

On my visit I was fortunate to have Jocelyn Hale, executive director of The Loft, give me a tour. Our first stop was The Minnesota Center for Book Arts: http://www.mnbookarts.org .  MCBA is self proclaimed as, “The place to feed your curiosity, stretch your creativity and get your hands dirty! From the traditional crafts of papermaking, letterpress printing and bookbinding to non-traditional artmaking and self-publishing techniques employed by contemporary book artists, MCBA celebrates and supports the limitless creative evolution of the book arts.” In their gallery they had examples of the newest trends in book art. If you aren’t familiar with this art form, visit http://weburbanist.com/2011/03/07/literary-love-12-works-of-book-art-architecture/ and see the elegant, humorous, inspiring works of art made from books. MCBA provides workshops and materials for those interested in book arts. They also have a marvelous gift shop; bring your credit cards and gift lists.

If you are more interesting in writing, The Loft is the place for you:  https://www.loft.org/. Their long list of programs includes writing classes, both at The Loft and now online https://www.loft.org/online-classes. No more excuses that a class at The Loft is too far away, you can take a class at home in your pajamas if you want to. These online classes, by the way, are a direct result of feedback Jocelyn Hale heard from you at the 2010 LRWN Conference.  If you might have difficulty affording the cost of a class, I have more good news. You can apply for a $500 grant at the Lake Region Arts Council to cover the cost of the class and if applicable, related travel expenses. Give our office a call at 218-739-5780 or email us at lrac4@lracgrants.org we will give you more information.

Our last stop was at Milkweed Press,  one of the nation’s leading independent publishers, with a mission to identify, nurture and publish transformative literature, and build an engaged community around it: http://www.milkweed.org/. If you are interested in submitting work for publication or for any of their three literary/poetry prizes visit here http://www.milkweed.org/content/blogcategory/40/72/.

Again, if you are headed to the Cities this winter, treat yourself with a visit to any or all of the three Open Book organizations.  I will leave you with what Annie W. on Yelp* had to say about Open Book:

“I’ve heard a lot of great stuff about Open Book/MCBA for awhile but I was never motivated to check it out until recently. I found out that my future faculty advisor at MCAD was having his work shown there in conjunction to some other graphic design specific events and since nothing beats starting a fresh new school as the over enthused bordering on stalker student I decided to check it out…One star for parking and a bazillion more stars for how fantastic the space is. There’s a great coffee shop inside and a cute book store where you can find awesome handmade books, prints (awesome ones from Aesthetic Apparatus), and book making material. There seems to be a lot going on, definitely more than meets the eye. I think you can even rent out studio space, I’m not sure. This is the kind of place I can imagine myself holing up in during the winter cold, sucking up their wifi bandwith, and drinking endless amounts of hot coffee.”

Author’s Bio.:  Maxine Adams is the Executive Director of the Lake Region Arts Council (LRAC). She has had several poems and essays published in local reviews and enjoys reciting poetry aloud at venues such as the Evansville Arts Poetry Readings and local poetry events. She was also the originator of the LRAC 6 Word Short Story Contest.