If you live in the Twin Cities and love books, allow me to extend a little Peepshow invitation to one of the best arts events of the year — Milkweed Editions’ “Booklovers Ball.” Milkweed is a fabulous little non-profit press that year after year somehow manages to crank out some of the finest literary work in the world. Some of the most important local, national and international writers of the last 30 years, including Bill Holm, Faith Sullivan, Seth Kantner, Lu Chi, Larry Watson and so many others, have entrusted their work to Milkweed, and have been rewarded with world-class editing, dogged marketing and the general literary care and feeding that only a mission-driven, non-profit publisher like Milkweed can offer.
The real benefit from the association between great writers and publishers like Milkweed, however, goes to readers, like me, who get lost in great storytelling, are provoked by diverse worldviews and are inspired by lovely prose. But that stuff ain’t cheap, leaving non-profit presses like Milkweed on a constant hunt for donors large and small to make up the often significant difference between what it costs to publish great literature, and how relatively little of it actually sells. Hence the Booklovers Ball.
Tickets just went on sale for the October 17th event. The highlight this year will be a discussion about writing and life with David Rhodes, whose “Driftless” set the literary world on fire this year. My friend and booklover among booklovers, Bruce Benidt, wrote a lovely review of Rhodes’ work here. I heard Rhodes speak several months ago and was transfixed. He had the literary world by the tail in the ’70s before a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed and feeling he had little left to contribute as a writer. Rhodes stopped publishing, and thirty years would pass before Ben Barnhart, an editor at Milkweed, tracked him down at his home in rural Wisconsin and found a man now at peace and still writing as well as ever. The result of that encounter was “Driftless,” one of the best-received books of 2009.
Another highlight will be poet Jim Lenfesty’s readings of previously unpublished poems by Bill Holm, who died earlier this year. Holm was a giant in so many ways, and Jim’s reading of these recently published poems will be moving and memorable. To order tickets or learn more about the Booklovers Ball, click here. If you can’t make it, but support Milkweed’s mission, please consider making a donation here.