14 February 2013

Oh my. I don’t even want to count how many days I have been away (4). Between attending my grandma’s funeral out of town, having to recover my car from the impound lot, and starting a new job, I’ve been busy.

“When people ask me why I moved to Minneapolis, I tell them that I wanted to experience the excitement and bright lights of the big city. As a lifelong country boy, this is true enough, but it is not the whole story. My real answer, the strength of the literary scene, seems sure to be an instant conversation stopper.

I, like so many young people before me, moved to the city for intellectual community. Though my progress has been slow, I’m trying to find my way into that community. I’ve attended a couple of events at The Loft Literary Center and served as a volunteer at Paper Darts’ Third Thursday event at the MIA. I’ve visited numerous book stores and spent some time reading in coffee shops. I’m always hunting for movers and shakers in the arts community to follow on Twitter, and I’ve amassed a representative if not exhaustive list of people I follow.

While I can hardly say that I know the Twin Cities art scene, I’m prepared to make some largely unsubstantiated claims about it. We seem to be lacking in criticism and community. I’ve no doubt that each of the arts mediums have their own solid community, but there seems to be little sense of the arts as a continuous community. More importantly (though certainly connected) is the lack of criticism.

By criticism, I mean thoughtful responses to the arts and their relation to society. A simple book review would just give a brief overview of the plot and a discussion of how successful the book was at doing what it was trying to do. A critical piece would situate the book within history. It would explore how the characters are or are not representative of their real world counterparts. It would explore how the conflicts within the novel reflect the conflicts of the society going on outside the novel.

Though the Twin Cities is recognized, and for good reason, there is little criticism about what is being written. It seems to me that what Minneapolis could use is a n+1 type of publication. n+1 says that they aspire to be the Partisan Review except not dead. n+1 publishes fiction, book reviews, journalism, and big think pieces that we might broadly refer to as cultural criticism. In every issue of the magazine, there is a column called the Intellectual Scene that surveys its namesake. The magazine is national/ international in scope, but they contribute to the intellectual culture of New York City as well by sponsoring readings, panels, and films

The Loft Literary Center seems to have answered my prayers by bringing Phong Bui from Brooklyn for a discussion on “Establishing a Twin Cities Rail”. Bui is the editor of the Brooklyn Rail. I’m not intimately familiar with this publication, but it seems to be similar to n+1 but with a more regional focus. The event is hosted by the heavy hitters in the Twin Cities art scene (McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, mnartists.org, The Loft Literary Center, and the Walker Art Center).

There is something happening in the Twin Cities. New periodicals are popping up left and right and there is a wide variety of people creating. A publication focused on artistic and intellectual community could bring people together and produce some really exciting things.”


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