Second ‘Wordplay’ festival will bring 100 authors to Minneapolis in May – Twin Cities

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A reader’s dream lineup of 100 authors will be in Minneapolis on May 9 for the second Wordplay festival. The stellar roster of Minnesota and visiting writers was announced this week by the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, festival producer.

Last year’s inaugural festival was a success, drawing more than 1,200 people over two days, more than the producers had hoped for. This year’s event is expected to be equally successful, according to founding director Steph Opitz, with festival authors representing a wide range of genres, backgrounds and perspectives, including National Book Award winners and newcomers. Many are introducing their new books. Wordplay attendees will have chances to interact with the writers and illustrators at workshops, readings and special experiences.

This largest celebration in Minnesota of readers, writers and books kicks off May 8 with a carnival-themed fundraising event at Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, home of the Loft. The outdoor public festival, held in the space between the Loft on Washington Avenue and U.S. Bank Stadium, begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by a party titled Wordplay After Dark from 7 to 10 p.m.

Here’s a look at some of the festival authors and illustrators by category.

Among children’s authors/illustrators are Minnesotans John Coy and Wing Young Huie discussing their picture book, “Dads,” and Minnesotan Cheryl Minnema, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow award for  “Johnny’s Pheasant.” Heather Fox and Jonathan Stutzman will talk about everybody’s favorite animal character in  “Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse.”

Always-popular Minnesotan Kate DiCamillo brings her novel “Beverly, Right Here,” to the middle grade reading stage, and Jacqueline West presents “The Collectors, A Storm of Wishes.” Others include Tom Angleberger, “The Sewer Rat Stink,” and Linda Sue Park, “Prairie Lotus.”

Young Adult authors include Minnesotan Junauda Petrus, Coretta Scott King Honor award winner for “The Stars and the Blackness Between Them,” as well as Randy Ribay, “Patron Saints of Nothing”; Melissa de la Cruz, “The Queen’s Assassin”; Tonya Bolden, “Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM”; Gene Luen Yang, “Dragon Hoops”; and Deborah Wiles, “Anthem.”

The big group of fiction writers includes Minnesotans Allen Eskens, “Nothing More Dangerous”; Peter Geye, “Northernmost”; Benjamin Percy, “Suicide Woods”; and “Matt Goldman, “Dead West”; as well as visitors Clare Beams, “The Illness Lesson”; Lily King, “Writers & Lovers”; John Scalzi, “The Last Emperox”; Emma Straub “All Adults Her”; and Charles Yu, “Interior Chinatown.”

Among non-fiction authors is journalist Scott Pelley, “Truth Worth Telling: A Reporter’s Search for Meaning in the Stories of Our Times,” and Samantha Irby, “Wow, No Thank You,” as well as Minnesotans Jessie Diggins, cross-country ski Olympian whose memoir is “Brave Enough,” and Kao Kalia Yang, “Somewhere in the Unknown World: A Collective Refugee Memoir.”

St. Paul native Danez Smith is certain to light up the stage reading from his much-anticipated new poetry collection, “Homie,” along with poets Natalie Diaz, “Postcolonial Love Poem”; Mark Doty, “What is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life”; and Ilya Kaminsky, whose “Deaf Republic” has drawn wide praise.

Festival presenting partners are St. Catherine University and Star Tribune. Registration will open to the general public March 19 at 10 a.m. All-inclusive wristbands will be $17 in advance and $20 at the door, with free admission to the street festival for those 17 and  younger. Paid registrations include a $5 book voucher toward the purchase of a book with the festival booksellers.  For information, go to


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