Revolver Launch Party

The newest arts and cultural magazine to hit the Twin Cities lived up to its reputation for “rowdy reading” on Saturday, September 8, 2012. Revolver held its launch party at an unorthodox venue, Uppercut Boxing Gym in Northeast Minneapolis, with an equally unorthodox main event: boxing matches between four hip litsters.

Unorthodox, unschmorthodox. Uppercut was the right call for the evening. It would have been easy for a crowd of 300 people to seem small given the gym’s high ceilings and open space, but rumor has it the place reached capacity at 600 party-goers. From when I arrived around 10PM until I left at midnight, the party did seem perfectly plump with readers ready for a good time and a good fight. I slipped past the Polaroid booth, but caught glimpses of a bunch of the exposures and coordinating stories strung across the tables scattered throughout the space. Sadly, I only heard the tail end of the first match between the Architect of Destruction aka Chris Baker and The Polish Hammer aka Tony D’Aloia, but I was definitely there for the fight between The Killswitch aka Courtney Algeo and Bo Bo The Mutilator aka Sarah Moeding.

Now this wasn’t fake fighting or dance fighting, but train-for-it-at-Uppercut fighting. At one point, I said, “This is so weird,” and then continued to smile and cheer for @IceCrmSocialite aka The Killswitch, who did indeed kill it (without hurting anyone). It was probably the signs and shouts of the Paper Darts ladies that pushed her to glory. The reigning champ of the second half of the literary boxing match joined us later on the dance floor to bust a move to beats spun by DJ Shannon Blowtorch. It was like a middle school, high school, and college dance party all rolled into one, and there was definitely some sweating by the time the lights came up.

Bin Wine Bar kept the spirits flowing all night–we might be art hounds, but we can also be booze hounds, and Chef Shack provided the grub. I didn’t get the chance to snack at all, but people seemed pretty satisfied all around. There were also mirrors to dance in front of and ladies painted with words from the magazine’s first issue, but the best part of the evening was that more than the “usual suspects” came out to celebrate. Multiple attendees, many of whom are regulars on the TC literary circuit commented that they didn’t know most of the people there. This party accomplished what many launches, readings, panels, discussions, and shows fall just short of: literally bringing arts communities together.

Remember, Revolver is the online only (as of right now) baby of founding editors Alexander Helmke, Ben Barnhart, Esther Porter, Luke Finsaas, Marcus Anthony Downs, Ross Nervig, and Thorwal Esbensen. Read up–there’s great stuff from Alex Lemon and Laird Hunt among many others, and then check out photos from the launch on its Facebook page.


Were you There? Have something to add, or a different take on this event?  Chime in on the comments below, or send us an email at! Be sure to check the schedule to the right and the Twin Cities Literary Calendar and be at the next LitSeen attended event. See you around!

Best of Summer Stories

Every summer for the last four years, Vita.Mn has prompted local writers to submit a work of short fiction on a theme.  The top submissions are then invited to compete in a live performance for two coveted prizes: the audience choice award, consisting of $400 and admission to the Loft’s three-day Nature and Environmental Writing Conference in Sandstone, Minnesota, and the grand prize (chosen by a private panel of judges), which amounts to $750 and publication in bot Vita.Mn’s print and online editions.

So it was that the Loft Literary Center,, and Hell’s Kitchen teamed up to present the fourth annual “Best of Summer Stories” competition on Wednesday, July 25 2012.  Hell’s Kitchen—a multifaceted subterranean downtown Minneapolis venue—was a spacious, unconventional, and ultimately perfect setting for this year’s theme: the Seven Deadly Sins. With dungeon-esque candlelight and low wattage fixtures, and the looming presence of a fallen angel providing the stage’s backdrop, the classy yet macabre environment lent just the right tone for an evening of lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.

Ben Barnhart reads “Breaking Down Silos” before a rapt audience and a fallen angel.

A powder-blue-suited John Jodzio emceed the event, delivering the audience through nineteen impressive writers reading nineteen exceptional stories—seriously, whoever did the vetting either had a really easy job or did really good work with a difficult one.  Twenty writers were invited, but Betsy Rathburn couldn’t attend to read her story “Fireworks.” Too bad—she missed out on a supportive, enthusiastic audience at the ready to hoot, laugh, and squeal for their favorite short-short stories.

Ben Barnhart started things off with “Breaking Down Silos,” and the night never looked back.  Brian Beatty’s eleven-year-old narrator ranted against an unidentified antagonist in “My Wrath” (in order to help the audience imagine him as an eleven-year-old, Beatty instructed us to imagine him “shorter, fatter, and with less grey in my beard”). I would point out the highlights, but the writing on display was of such consistent quality that there simply weren’t any low points to distinguish them. What did stand out, though, was how each of these readers performed their original works with boldness and confidence, adding sass and character to each voice we heard. Jocelyn Hale of the Loft presented the audience choice award to the much deserving Brian Judd, whose epistolary historical

Audience Choice Award-winner Brian Judd reading his story, “Fox and Foxibility”

fiction yarn “Fox and Foxibility” was rendered with an actor’s commitment to craft—Judd read the whole piece in what I understood as a mock-historical affect, though this theory weakened when he graciously accepted his prize in what seemed to be a continuation of the persona…  For what it’s worth, Judd gave a stellar performance and wrote a stellar piece, but I voted for Erin Boe, who’s authentic rendering of her story “The Painter” won me over with the line, “I’ll give you some clam chowder… but it’s not vegan.”  (Maybe you had to be there.)

The fourth annual Best of Summer Stories was a thorough success on every front—entertaining, rewarding, novel, and inspiring—from start to finish. I’ll make a point to attend next year, and every year after that.  My only question is, why stop at “Best of Summer”? There are four seasons to a year, and clearly there’s more than enough talent to go around.


Were you There? Have something to add, or a different take on this event?  Chime in on the comments below, or send us an email at! Be sure to check the schedule to the right and the Twin Cities Literary Calendar and be at the next LitSeen attended event. See you around!