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Author events go virtual; History Theatre’s ‘Diesel Heart’ on Zoom

ALSO: Northern Clay Center’s virtual American Pottery Festival; a free screening of Justin Stephenson’s film “The Complete Works”; and more.

Out of necessity, we’re all turning more to the internet for the arts than we used to. We stream films, tour art shows and museums, and watch concerts, plays, musicals, operas and dance on our screens and devices. Some experiences are smoother than others, but for now, we’ll take what we can get.

One of the easiest transitions from in-person to virtual might be happening with author events. In real life, we sit there watching and listening, and authors sit or stand there reading and talking. Online, we miss being in a live audience, but it’s not all that different. We’re closer to the authors than we usually are, so we automatically have better seats. And if we miss the actual event, we can often catch it later on demand.

Lucky for us, we live in a place with a lot of author events. (Virtual events can be accessed from anywhere, but they have to start somewhere, and it’s good to be the source.) In mid-August, Friends of the Hennepin County Library announced its 24th season of Pen Pals, the popular author lecture series, as a hybrid of virtual and in-person events. You always have the option of a virtual event if you’re not comfortable attending an in-person event.

Club Book, a program of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), usually takes place at several public libraries across the Twin Cities. It has always been free and still is. This year, the fall series will continue to partner with libraries but will come to you as livestreams. No registration is required; just like and follow the Facebook page, where the events will be streamed in real time. Some will have guest moderators. Video recordings and podcasts will be available after. Here’s what we have to look forward to.

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Monday, Sept. 14, 6:30 p.m. with Carver County Library: Morgan Jerkins, author of the New York Times best-selling memoir “This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female and Feminist in (White) America.” She will present her just-released follow-up, “Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots.”

Nancy Pearl
Nancy Pearl
Monday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. with Anoka County Library: Nancy Pearl, “America’s Librarian.” Pearl’s latest, “The Writer’s Library,” looks at how favorite books changed the lives of 23 authors, including Louise Erdrich. Pearl pioneered the “community read” programs – like “One Book One Minnesota.” See the picks below.

Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. with the Saint Paul Public Library: Dahr Jamail. The former war correspondent and current climate advocate will take us to the “geographic front lines” in “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption.”

Laila Lalami
Laila Lalami
Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. with the Hennepin County Library: Laila Lalami. The Moroccan American novelist is the author of “The Moor’s Account,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the American Book Award; “The Other Americans”; and her new book, “Conditional Citizens,” about her own immigration story.

Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. with the Dakota County Library: David Treuer. Not to be confused with his brother Anton Treuer (both prodigiously accomplished, both working to preserve the Ojibwe language), David is a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award, a writer of fiction and nonfiction. His latest book is “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee.”

Megha Majumdar
Megha Majumdar
Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. with the Washington County Library: Megha Majumdar. Set in modern-day India, Majumdar’s book “A Burning,” is one of the most-anticipated, best-reviewed fiction debuts of the year.

Club Book’s website has been newly redesigned and expanded. Stop by and take a look. You can also access more than 100 podcasts of previous Club Book events starting with Episode 1, Amy Thielen, on Feb. 11, 2014.

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The picks

V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.

V Today (Tuesday, Sept. 1): Free screening of Justin Stephenson’s film “The Complete Works” and a Q&A with the filmmaker. Word lovers, film fans, poets, writers, artists of all kinds: Watch this trailer, and if you like what you see, go here to view the film (password: gorg) courtesy of Rain Taxi Review. Based on the work of Canadian avant-garde poet bpNichol, it’s an effusion of joy – joy in language, in words, in letters themselves and the unexpected sounds they can make when strung together in non-wordy ways and read aloud. It feels like an antidote to the draining exhaustion of our present moment. Watch before (or after) the Q&A with Stephenson, poet Derek Beaulieu and bpNichols’ publisher Alana Wilcox, hosted by Rain Taxi editor Eric Lorberer. That takes place at 7 p.m.; register here.

V Tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 1) at 7 p.m.: Chicago River Architecture Virtual Boat Tour. A Chicago River Architecture Boat Tour is one of the best, most interesting things we’ve ever done. This won’t be that, but it’s related. From the Facebook description: “Tour guide Hillary Marzec improvises this popular river tour series, starting from the point that most tourists see – the Chicago River architecture boat tour view – and then venturing beyond the boat to show you not only some amazing interiors of well-known river tour buildings, but also some street-level details that you would surely miss if you were limited to a boat tour.” It’s free, and it’s sponsored by a public library in Blue Island, Illinois. Worth a try. Go to the Facebook page, scroll down to Details and click on the Zoom link to join at the time of the event.

V Tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 1) at 7 p.m.: One Book One Minnesota Second Chapter Virtual Author Conversation. If you’ve been reading “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota” (and even if you haven’t), tune in to what will surely be a lively and insightful conversation with contributors Heid Erdrich, Shannon Gibney, David Lawrence Grant, and Bao Phi. Register here. And yes, there will be a third chapter, starting in mid-October. We’ll let you know when we know more.

A pitcher by potter Peter Jadoonath.
Courtesy of the artist
A pitcher by potter Peter Jadoonath.
V and L Wednesday, Sept. 2, through Sunday, Sept. 6: Northern Clay Center: American Pottery Festival. One of the most important pottery events of the year and NCC’s annual fundraiser, the American Pottery Festival combines a gallery tour with serious shopping, workshops and artist lectures. Featuring work by 25 invited artists from across the United States, it’s a celebration of studio pottery and its makers, from acknowledged masters to exciting newcomers. Because COVID, the 22nd annual APF will be mostly virtual. View the catalog, shop online or in the store at NCC (timed tickets, maximum 10 per time slot), join a virtual workshop, attend a free virtual evening social hour and artist lecture. Studio pottery is so physical, from its creation to its use, that a virtual version of a pottery festival is hard to wrap your mind around. But it worked for the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour in May, and it can work for NCC. FMI.

Melvin Carter Jr.
Courtesy of Melvin Carter Jr.
Melvin Carter Jr.
V Friday, Sept. 4, through Thursday, Sept. 10, on Zoom: Stages 2020: History Theatre’s Raw Stages New Works Festival: “Diesel Heart.” A new play-in-progress, based on the autobiography of Melvin Carter Jr. (father to St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter), written by Brian Grandison in collaboration with the author. Melvin Jr. grew up in the Rondo neighborhood, experienced firsthand its decimation for Interstate 94, and grew up to become a police officer. Before the streaming event, visit Spilling the HT for an inside look into the script development process. FMI and tickets ($15-50).