March 28, 2023
Mentor Series with Julie Schumacher and Sun Yung Shin, Second Story, and other Feb 2017 Events
2/3: Mentor Series Reading with Julie Schumacher
2/5: Second Story Reading Series with John Coy and Jackie Lea Sommers
2/12: More Than a Single Story: The Body
2/17: Mentor Series Reading with Sun Yung Shin
2/19: Flip the Script! 2017

Unless otherwise noted, all events have a $5–10 suggested admission, are open to the public, and take place at
The Loft Literary Center at Open Book
1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis
Friday, February 3, 7-9 p.m.
The Loft Literary Center Proudly Presents A 2016-2017 Loft Mentor Series Reading with Julie Schumacher, and winners Erin Sharkey (nonfiction) and Elizabeth Tannen (poetry).

Julie Schumacher grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated from Oberlin College and Cornell University. Her first published story, “Reunion,” written to fulfill an undergraduate writing assignment, was reprinted in The Best American Short Stories 1983. Subsequent stories and essays have been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Ms., and Prize Stories 1990 and 1996: The O.Henry Awards. Her first novel, The Body Is Water, was an ALA Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. She has also published a short story collection, An Explanation for Chaos, and five novels for younger readers, including The Book of One Hundred Truths, winner of a Minnesota Book Award. Her most recent book is the nationally best-selling Dear Committee Members, winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor. Schumacher is a professor of English and the director of the Creative Writing program at the University of Minnesota.

Erin Sharkey is a writer, producer, educator and graphic designer based in Minneapolis. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University and is the co-founder of an artist collective called Free Black Dirt. She recently served as production manager for the Heart of the Beast Theatre’s Mayday Parade and Ceremony. Erin is the co-host of Black Market Reads, a weekly podcast about literature and black cultural production and has appeared in publications such as Walker Art Center’s Untitled and Paper Darts. Erin is a 2016 VONA/Voices Travel Writing fellow, a 2015 Givens Foundation for African American Literature Emerging Writers fellow, a Givens Foundation cultural producer-in-residence as well as a Coffee House Press in the Stacks artist-in-residence at the Archie Givens Sr. Archive at the University of MN.

Elizabeth Tannen is a Brooklyn-born, Minneapolis-based writer with essays, stories and poems published or forthcoming in places like Salon, The Rumpus, Front Porch, Southern Humanities Review, BODY, and others; one of her poems was recently selected as a finalist for Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize. Elizabeth is a former producer for NPR’s All Things Considered, and holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of New Mexico. Currently, she teaches writing at Anoka Ramsey Community College, with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, and at The Loft Literary Center. She founded and curates the monthly reading series, Five Writers, Five Minutes, Five Watt (555 Reads), at Five Watt Coffee in South Minneapolis.

Sunday, February 5, 2-4 p.m.
The Loft proudly presents Second Story with John Coy and Jackie Lea Sommers. Second Story is the Loft’s reading series for young adult and middle-grade authors. Perfect for families and readers of all ages, Second Story pairs a first-time author with a more established voice in children’s literature.

John Coy’s most recent novel, Gap Life, has received praise from Kirkus Review, Publisher’s Weekly and The School Library Journal. John is also the author of the picture books Night DrivingStrong to the HoopVroomaloom ZoomTwo Old Potatoes and MeAround the World, and Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented BasketballStrong to the Hoop is also available in Spanish as Directo Al Aro and Two Old Potatoes and Me is available in Chinese. John is a member of the NBA Reading All-Star Team as part of the Read to Achieve program. Crackback, his first young adult novel, is about high school football and his second, Box Out, is about high school basketball. He is also the author of the popular 4 for 4 middle-grade series, featuring Top of the OrderEyes on the GoalLove of the Game, and Take Your Best Shot. John lives in Minneapolis and visits schools nationally and internationally.

Jackie Lea Sommers loves great books and cranky teenagers. She is a young adult author and the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Her first novel Truest was published by HarperCollins in 2015; her next novel has an expected publication date of fall 2018. Jackie blogs about creativity and mental health at

Sunday, February 12, 2-4 p.m.
Personal history and the history of our ancestors are stored in the body. Our bodies carry the memory of triumph and trauma. Though many artists live the life of the mind, we cannot access the full truth without accessing the body. Participating in this discussion: Anh-Hoa Nguyen, Rachmi Diyah Larasati, Naima Petigny, Junauda Petrus, Chris Stark and Alicia Steele.

Now, more than ever, as Adichie says, “It is vital to listen to the multiple stories of a person or a place, to truly engage and gain an objective and in-depth understanding of a subject being written about.”

Carolyn Holbrook
is a 2015 recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant and was the 2010 recipient of the MN Book Awards Kay Sexton Award. Her personal essays have been published widely, most recently in Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota (MHS Press). Her book, Ordinary People, Extraordinary Journeys: How the St. Paul Companies Leadership Initiatives in Neighborhoods Program Changed Lives and Communities was published in 2013 & 2015. She founded SASE: The Write Place in 1993 and served as its Executive/Artistic Director until 2006, when she spearheaded its merger with Intermedia Arts. In 2005, she designed the Givens Foundation for African American Literature’s writers-in-the-schools program. She is the founder of the writing group, Twin Cities Black Women Writing. She teaches at Hamline University and Minneapolis Community & Technical College.

Musical Performance by Taylor Seaberg:|
Taylor Seaberg is a nomadic musician with a passion for jazz stylings and hip hop.

Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen is a poet, community artist, activist and educator. She was born in Saigon, Vietnam and grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, California where she was awarded the Mary Merrit Henry Prize in Poetry and the Ardella Mills Literary Composition Prize in Creative Non-Fiction. She is the founder of Pomelo Press, completed a residency at Hedgebrook, a Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA) alumna, Elizabeth George Foundation Fellow, and a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant Winner.

Rachmi Diyah Larasati is a Professor of cultural theory and historiography in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, US. She currently chairs the Dance department and is also an affiliate graduate faculty in the Feminist Studies/Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies (GWSS) department, the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC), and the Asian Literatures, Cultures, and Media department. She is the author of The Dance that Makes You Vanish: Cultural Reconstruction in Post-genocide Indonesia.

Naimah Zulmadelle Petigny is an Afro-Caribbean Minneapolis based dancer, interdisciplinary artist and scholar whose work uplifts the voices of women of color and struggles for Black liberation. Naimah grew up studying West African and Afro-Caribbean Dance and filmmaking, and worked as a youth community organizer with the American Friends Service Committee and New WORLD Theater’s Project 2050. Naimah received her Bachelors of Arts degree with Honors in Women’s Studies and Sociology from Vassar College in 2014.. Naimah’s research has focused on Afro-Surinamese women’s activism in Amsterdam, Black performance in 1920’s gay Harlem, and transgenerational trauma. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in Feminist Studies.

Junauda Petrus is a creative activist, writer, playwright, and multi-dimensional performance artist who is Minneapolis-born, West-Indian descended, and African-sourced. Her work centers around Black wildness, Afro-futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, spectacle and shimmer. She has received a Givens Foundation fellowship, Jerome Travel and Study grant, Many Voices Mentorship with the Playwright’s Center, Naked Stages Residency at the Pillsbury House, and a 2016 Jerome Film grant to write and direct an experimental and poetic web series about Black teens coming of age in Minneapolis, with filmmaker Mychal Fisher. She is the co-founder with Erin Sharkey of Free Black Dirt.

Christine Stark is an award-winning writer, visual artist, national, and international speaker of Anishinaabe & Cherokee ancestry. Her first novel, Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation, was a Lambda Literary Finalist. Her essays, poems, and creative non-fiction have appeared in The University of Pennsylvania Law ReviewThe WIP; Florida ReviewThe Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prize -Winning EssaysWhen We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwest ExperienceHawk and Handsaw: The Journal of Creative Sustainability; and many others.. She is a co-editor of Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography and a co-author of Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota. She is the Project Coordinator of the Two-Spirit program at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center.

Alicia Steele is an educator, writer and seeker of expressive arts; finding joy in dance, visual art, and short-story. Mainly she claims home is vocal performance – as long as it’s live. She believes sex-positivity and sex education will save the world. In 2013 Alicia Steele and the Endeavors released a short EP The Foreplay Sessions, a mix of live and studio jazz/RnB tunes. Currently Alicia sings in multiple vocal collectives (GiveGet Sistet and Passed Presents), is a member of local dance company BLAQ, and is a contributing writer for Greenroom Magazine.

Friday, February 17, 7-9 p.m.
The Loft presents a 2016-2017 Loft Mentor Series Reading with mentor Sun Yung Shin and participants Cole Asong Nfonoyim-Hara and Stephanie Chrismon.

Sun Yung Shin is the author of poetry collections Unbearable Splendor (forthcoming), Rough, and Savage, and Skirt Full of Black (Asian American Literary Award), all from Coffee House Press. Her new anthology, A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota from Minnesota Historical Society Press was released in 2016. She is the co-editor of the anthology Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, and is also the author of Cooper’s Lesson, a bilingual Korean/English illustrated book for children. She is a 2014–15 McKnight Foundation fellow for literature and has received grants and fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and elsewhere. Shin has written for the likes of Star TribuneGazillion VoicesThe Nerds of Color, and presents her work in a wide variety of community, literary, and academic venues. She lives in Minneapolis.

Cole Asong Nfonoyim-Hara is a Rochester-based writer and anthropologist. Raised in New York City, she was born in the Dominican Republic with Cameroonian, Afro-Costa Rican, and Gujarati parentage. She earned her BA in Anthropology/Sociology from Swarthmore College, PA and holds an MSc. in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford, England. Her work grapples with issues of migration, diasporas, cities, identity, culture, and both personal and collective myth-making. She was a 2016 Fellow with the Givens Foundation for African American Literature and her first short story will be published in Joyland Magazine. After almost a decade of moving from country to country, she is settling into Minnesota life with her husband and their prolific backyard vegetable garden.

Stephanie Chrismon mostly writes urban and dystopian fantasy stories that explore issues of race, sexuality, family karma and social justice. When she’s not obsessing about point of view, she is a pop culture junkie with a somewhat healthy obsession with Legos, Marvel Superheroes and the Assassins Creed video game series. She received her MFA from Hamline University.

Sunday, February 19, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Flip the Script! is an annual writing and performance conference where poets between the ages of 13 and 19 engage with professional artists and arts organizers through workshops, panel discussions, community-building, and more. Presented by TruArtSpeaks, and co-sponsored by the Loft Literary Center, the conference’s third installment will be held on Sunday, February 19, 2017.

#FTS3 will feature leading voices in the national spoken word movement, including Danez Smith, Zhalarina Sanders, Donte Collins, Ed Bok Lee, Andrea Jenkins, Ollie Schminkey, R. Vincent Moniz Jr., Jake Virden, and Khary Jackson, as well as dozens of youth poets sharing their stories and sharpening each other’s skills. Register online at

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