Curated, recurring, thematically consistent, married to a specific location, or the result of a particular institution’s planning, marketing, and execution, the “reading series” is a staple of many a literary scene. And as the Twin Cities is home to one of the strongest literary scenes in the world, it’s no surprise that we’re home to some of the strongest reading series in the world. Some have been around as long as seventeen years, some are newborns, but all of them offer a unique look into our literary lives.
Artist and Poet Series
ArtStart combines poetry and visual art in this series, and the artists whose work is on display also discusses their art. Previous participants include Roseanne Lloyd and Emilio Degrazia. Located at 1459 St. Clair Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105
Banfill-Locke Reading Series
Every second Friday, the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts hosts this reading series. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Joyce Sutphen, Dylan Hicks, Katrina Vandenberg, Ed Bok Lee, and Mary Rockcastle. Located at 6666 East River Road, Fridley, MN 55432
Birchbark Books Reading Series
Sponsored by Birchbark Books, this reading series takes place in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and usually focuses on poetry. Previous participants include Bao Phi, Kris Bigalk, and Jim Northrup. Various locations (usually near Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis).
Carol Connolly’s Readings by Writers
Carol Connolly, poet laureate of Saint Paul, hosts this monthly gathering of writers in multiple genres. Previous participants include Sarah Fox, James Silas Rogers, Leslie Adrienne Miller, and Peter Geye. Located at the University Club of Saint Paul, 420 Summit Ave, Saint Paul MN 55102.
A project of the Metropolitan Area Libraries (MELSA) and coordinated by the Friends of the Hennepin County Library, Club Book puts a twist on the traditional book club by inviting celebrated authors to appear at various library locations around the Twin Cities. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Stewart O’Nan, Kate DiCamillo, Mark Doty, and Anne Fadiman. Various Locations.
Cracked Walnut Reading Series
What began as an attempt to conduct literary readings in unlikely places evolved into one of the more prevalent reading series in the Twin Cities. The Cracked Walnut Lit-Reading Fest was responsible for a reading per night for a month. Previous participants include John Medieros, Geoff Herbach, Erin Hart, and Thomas Maltman. Various locations.
Edina Art Center’s Author Studio Series
A few times per year, usually in the spring, the Edina Art Center welcomes authors to speak about their craft. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Jonathan Odell and Bonnie Blodgett, Located at the Edina Art Center’s Margaret Foss Gallery, 4701 W. 64th St.
English@Minnesota Writers Series
Consisting of the Edelstein-Keller Visiting Writers Series and the Esther Freier Endowed Lecture in Literature Series, the English@Minnesota Writers Series brings writers of national acclaim to the University of Minnesota to speak to students and to the public at large. Previous participants include Grace Paley, Edward P. Jones, J. M. Coetzee, Colson Whitehead, and Zadie Smith. Located (usually) at the Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Avenue SE, Minneapolis MN 55455.
Err is an artist collective that showcases emerging artists at their monthly events, inviting the community to partake in local art and rowdy applause. They have an open call for submissions–submit your art, writing, or music at email@example.com
Fall Writing Series at Augsburg College
Augsburg College’s low-residency MFA program hosts a fall reading series. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Anne Panning, Carol Gilbertson, and Wendy Call. Located at Augsburg College, 2211 Riverside, Minneapolis.
Fireside Reading Series
For seventeen years, the Hamline Midway Library has hosted authors and audiences in its fireplace room. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Peter Geye, Dobby Gibson, Louise Erdrich, and Sun Yung Shin. Located at 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave, Saint Paul MN 55104.
Good Thunder Reading Series
Minnesota State University-Mankato’s English department invites writers of national acclaim to visit their campus the fall season. Events include author talks, readings, and workshops. Previous participants include Tim O’Brien, Stuart Dybek, Jesmyn Ward, Louise Erdrich, Aimee Bender, and Robert Bly.
Plymouth Congregational Church brings nondenominational authors, poets, and journalists to the church for stimulating programs. Previous participants include Sherman Alexie, Robert Bly, John Caddy, and Jane Hirshfield. Located at 1900 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis MN 55403.
Loft Mentor Reading Series
Six times per year, artists visiting Minnesota to teach workshops at the Loft give a public reading. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Tracy K. Smith, Jack El-Hai, Jade Nutter, and Jewell Parker Rhodes. Located at the Loft Literary Center, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415.
Lowertown Reading Jam
Presented by the Saint Paul Almanac, this reading series celebrates the “rich literary history of Minnesota’s capital city.” Previous participants include Louis Alemayehu, Aimee Renaud, and J. Otis Powell‽ Located at the Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street, Saint Paul MN.
This reading series is affiliated with The Great Twin Cities Poetry Read, and occurs periodically at Maeve’s Cafe. Primarily poetry. Previous participants include Katrina Vandenberg, Todd Boss, Jim Moore, Elisabeth Workman, and Steve Healey. Located at Maeve’s Cafe, 300 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis MN.
Midstream Reading Series
A monthly reading series focusing primarily on poetry. Previous participants include Sue Reed Crouse, Danny Klecko, Sharon Chmielarz, and and Pat West. Located at the Blue Moon Building, 3820 Lake St. Minneapolis MN.
McKnight Artist Fellowship Readings
Hosted by the Loft Literary Center, this reading series is a showcase of they year’s McKnight fellows. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Heather Bouwman, John Colburn, Jessica Roeder, Ethan Rutherford, and Dominic Saucedo. Located at the Loft Literary Center, 1011 Washington Ave. S, Minneapolis MN, 55415.
NOMMO African American Authors Series
The Givens Foundation presents this reading series, with a goal to publicly define the state of African American literature and to celebrate Twin Cities African American writers. Previous participants include Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni, Ishmael Reed, and Amiri Baraka. Located at the Cowles Auditorium, Hubert H. Humphrey Center, University of Minnesota, 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis MN 55455.
Normandale Reading Series
Normandale Community College hosts this reading series. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Mary Rockcastle, Stephen Shaskan, and Matt Mauch. Located at Normandale Community College, 9700 France Avenue South, Bloomington MN.
Our Flow is Hard
A reading series celebrating the zesty and unusual, held in creative spaces. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Natasha Kessler, Jenny Zhang, Zachary Schomburg, and Aaron Apps. Various Locations.
Now in its 16th season, Pen Pals is presented by the Hennepen County Library. Tickets are required. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Salmon Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ann Patchett, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, and Michael Ondaatje. Located at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins MN.
Rain Taxi Reading Series
Rain Taxi Review of Books hosts four to six readings per year, usually poetry. Previous participants include Jaap Blonk, Bernadette Mayer, Matthea Harvey, James Tate, Brian Evenson, and Neil Gaiman. Various locations.
Riot Act Reading Series
The Riot Act Reading Series is a monthly literary event featuring cutting edge writers, usually held in a bar. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Rana May, Laura Brandenburg, and Paul D. Dickinson. Various locations.
The Loft hosts 4-6 of these readings for YA, middle grade, and children’s book authors. Previous participants include Kelly Barnhill, Anne Ursu, Will Alexander, and Sheila O’Connor. Located at the Loft Literary Center, 1011 Washington Ave. S, Minneapolis MN 55415.
Talk of the Stacks
Talk of the Stacks is free and public reading series exploring contemporary literature and culture. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Richard Ford, Michael Chabon, Deb Perelman, and Geoff Dyer. Located at the Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis MN.
The reading series of Minnesota College of Art and Design. Multiple genres. Sometimes includes and open mic portion. Previous participants include Maria Damon, AT Grant, and Sarah Fox. Located at the Minnesota College of Art and Design, 2501 Stevens Ave, Minneapolis MN 55404
Writers on Writing Series
ArtReach St. Croix hosts this educational series in which writers discuss the craft. Multiple genres. Previous participants include Julie Schumacher, Roseanne Bane, and Laurie Hertzel. Located at ArtReach St. Croix, 224 N. 4th Street, Stillwater Minnesota 55082.
If you have a reading series you’d like added to the directory, let us know about it! Send an email to LitSeen.MPLS@gmail.com with the name of your reading series, a brief description, and a website or URL where people can find out more.