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
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
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
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
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. …