Paper Darts Magazine Pokes Holes in Literary Stodginess

Article excerpt

Things are getting weird in the Twin Cities literary scene, says Holly Harrison, the marketing director of Paper Darts magazine, and that's purely by design. When the magazine launched in 2009, it immediately staked its spot in the Something Different category.

The brainchild of Meghan Murphy, Jamie Millard, Holly Harrison and Courtney Algeo, a group of graphic designers and editors, the magazine is a visual feast that weighs storytelling equally between text and illustration. The most distinctive artists in town bring to life fiction and essays by a new generation of writers that aren't mourning the many changes that have befallen writing (and bookselling) as we once knew it. Instead, they are embracing the medium and mindset at hand, and rewriting the Twin Cities writing scene.

This summer, you can see what I'm talking about at the Paper Darts Pop-Up, a six-week celebration between the Twin Cities arts and literary communities. From now until July 20, the SooLOCAL storefront will host 20 readings, discussions, panels and interactive experiences by 25 different organizations, bringing together artists, writers, sculptors, actors, gamers, musicians and creative people of every stripe.

There's a new issue of Paper Darts out, too. You can take it home and read it quietly after the show -- just you and the pages, that old-school reading experience.

MinnPost: How has the local literary scene changed in the past five years?

Holly Harrison: Our literary scene is getting more weird and wonderful by the minute, and organizations are constantly trying to figure out how to one-up themselves (and one another). There's definitely been a spike in more dynamic literary events -- readings are starting to look less like readings and more like, we guess, shows, with interactive, visual, musical or humorous twists. Everyone is trying to balance community with curiosities -- asking what kind of event will draw our literary community out of their dusty dens and into the real world for a writerly reunion, how much interaction we can expect, what will freak people out in the bad way, what will freak people out in the good way, what will leave an impression.

MP: What role did Paper Darts play in making this happen?

HH: We can't give ourselves all the credit, much as we'd like to. The dominoes were all lined up; Paper Darts just leaned in and gave the first one a flick. But we are strong believers in keeping readings short and funny, keeping people boozed up so that they enjoy them that much more, and showcasing non-literary talent like local musicians and visual artists at otherwise "literary" events. Collaboration has always been a big part of the Twin Cities literary scene, but this is the most it's been happening across fields and sectors, and we dig it.

MP: Are there now two separate and competing literary scenes -- old school and new? Or is the new just naturally rising to take over?

HH: How about separate and not competing? There is definitely a place for both -- the so-called new school couldn't exist without the old school. It's because of the old school that the women of Paper Darts pursued English degrees in the first place. And without the old school, we wouldn't have had a model to follow (or, depending on your perspective, warp beyond recognition). We wouldn't have a support system. Paper Darts may shy away from black text on white pages, but that way of thinking will always hold a place on our bookshelves and in our hearts. …