Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Duluth Writers Celebrate Their Authorship

David Beard, UMD professor of rhetoric.
Last night a group of authors with UMD Department of Writing Studies affiliations met at the Zeitgeist to share the joys of achievement. After a meal together in the cafe's upstairs back room, they reconvened in the Zeitgeist Atrium for a special program that included speakers and the sharing of treasures including the publication of Remnants of the Disappeared, Sea/Words, the new issue of the Split Rock Review, Clockwork Rhetoric, and many, many more. Professor David Beard served as master of ceremonies for this informal affair.

The mood was upbeat and speakers during the brief program included Terrance Griep, Ava Francesca Battocchio on behalf of Minerva Zine, and Kate Monson of PRØOF. Griep, aka Spider-Baby in pro wrestling circles, read an article he wrote for Lavender magazine as Spider-Baby, the first openly gay pro wrestler and also a former champion. His motto from the ring is, "Boo me for what I do, don't boo me for what I am." He plays the role of a "bad guy" in his wrestling persona but in real life is quite humorous. He noted that pro wrestlers are not exactly famous for being introspective or sensitive.

Prof. Beard next introduced Ava Francesca Battocchio, a longstanding contributor to Minerva who writes under the name 'afbat' "because even my own mother got sick of taking a breath between my compound Calabrese first name and Venetian last name. Despite it being a aesthetically pleasing on paper, it takes a lot of technological training to narrowly avoid typo tragedies."

Ava, a local clothing magnate (inside joke) has been an active participant and supporter of the arts. After apologizing for how loud she speaks (megaphone-strength vocals) she shared a personal story that showed the power of the written word.

Last winter, I published an article about being a survivor of sexual assault. It was the first time that I took back control and transitioned out of that victim role. I was nervous about telling my story but only for how it would alter others' perceptions of me. Shortly after its release, I was trudging my way down that street, and a woman stopped me. We were loose acquaintances, the kind with whom you huddle together for warmth during a smoke while talking about the endless cold weather. She told me that she had read my article and because of that, she was encouraged to report her sexual assault and seek counseling. I had no idea up until then that my voice could have such an impact. It solidified my decision to be a PAVSA advocate. Minerva is about community, expression and inspiration. We're looking for more voices, meaning contributors and more megaphones, meaning sponsors to help facilitate. Thank you to the University of Minnesota Arts and Humanities Grant, David Beard, Zeitgeist, and you, for attending.

Kate Monson of Prove Collective shared about their own publication PRØOF expressing appreciation for past contributors and future. The magazine will problem remain an online production as print costs have been exorbitant for the time being.

Afterwards the writers and friends circulated, looking at one another's works, and making new acquaintances. A rewarding event for everyone involved.

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For what it's worth I, too, had a new book to celebrate. Unremembered Histories went into print this spring after three years as an eBook. Within the coming weeks I hope to see my children's book A Remarkable Tale from the Land of Podd appear in print. This link will take you to all my current books and book projects.

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And don't forget tonight's opening reception at the Tweed. Resurfaced and Reformed: Evolution in Studio Ceramics will be a highlight of the season. 6-8 p.m. Music by the Deja Vu Drifters.

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