After some initial confusion, the Talking Volumes lineup for 2020 has been finalized. When the series was first announced at the end of August, it began on Sept. 17 with Ghanaian-born author Yaa Gyasi (“Homecoming,” “Transcendent Kingdom”). But Gyasi was also scheduled to appear with Pen Pals, the Friends of the Hennepin County Library’s signature series, in February. According to the Star Tribune, “an exclusivity clause in her Pen Pals contract forced her publicist to withdraw Gyasi from Talking Volumes.”
For a brief time, Talking Volumes had three writers. Now it’s back to four – down from the usual five, but who’s counting?
Talking Volumes is a 20-year partnership between the Star Tribune and MPR. Author profiles are published in advance in the Star Tribune. The event is normally an in-person interview at the Fitzgerald Theater with MPR’s Kerry Miller. Not this year. Because COVID, all the interviews with Miller and the authors are being prerecorded to stream online. You’ll buy a ticket, watch the stream, then stick around for a live discussion led by the Star Tribune. For the first time, tickets are pay-what-you-can, from free to $20. All events will start at 7 p.m.
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, MacArthur Fellow and Graywolf author Claudia Rankine will talk with Miller about her new book, “Just Us: An American Conversation,” an exploration of race and diversity. On Wednesday, Sept. 30, nature writer Helen Macdonald, the New York Times bestselling author of the much-loved “H Is for Hawk,” will discuss her new collection of essays, “Vesper Flights.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Miller and Sarah Broom will explore Broom’s National Book Award-winning debut memoir “The Yellow House,” a story of place, class, race and inequality set in a shotgun house in New Orleans. New to the lineup, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson (“The Warmth of Other Suns”), will discuss her latest, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” a book the New York Times has called “an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century so far.”
Four powerful and important women writers. Tickets are on sale now.
V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.
V Tonight (Thursday, Sept. 10) on Zoom: Mixed Blood Theatre: Zealous Hellions: Kenny Leon and Jamil Jude. Leon, a Tony- and Obie-winning and Emmy-nominated Broadway and TV director and co-founder of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, will engage in a lively virtual conversation with Jamil Jude, his successor at True Colors and former Mixed Blood producer-in-residence. 7 p.m. Learn more about both and register here.
V Tonight (Thursday, Sept. 10) online: MinnAnimate 9. With even big arts organizations struggling to survive, you’d think that a small, homegrown, once-a-year festival of animated shorts by students, youth, and independents would crumble in the face of COVID-19. But MinnAnimate is back and bouncy as ever, if their flashing logo is any sign. In the past, creator John Akre has partnered with MSP Film Society to show the shorts at the St. Anthony Main Theatre. This year’s screening has moved online. The program will premiere tonight at 7 p.m. and remain live through Sunday. See the films and watch interviews with the animators. Here’s the lineup, with descriptions and stills.
V Friday, Sept. 11, on Crowdcast: Walker West Music Academy: We Are King. Minneapolis-born, L.A.-based twins Paris and Amber Strother earned a Grammy nod in 2016 for their self-produced debut album “We Are King.” They’re working on their second full-length release and have taken time off to get the Rondo Community Music Series off to a good start. Future installments of the series will feature DeCarlo Jackson on Sept. 25, Babatunde Lea on Oct. 10, Kevin Washington on Oct. 24, De’Sean Jones on Nov 7 and Ashley DuBose on Dec. 5. FMI. “Reserve your spot” for the Strother sisters here.
V Friday, Sept. 11, on Zoom: New Dawn Theatre’s “A Breath for George.” If you missed the free outdoor screenings in June and July, here’s your chance to catch this important film. Created by New Dawn Theatre and Minnesota artists “as a platform to honor Mr. Floyd’s life; speak to this moment and moments past openly and honestly; and to share avenues which promote hope and positive changes for the future,” it features Aimee Bryant, Thomasina Petrus, T. Mychael Rambo, Regina Marie Williams, Jevetta Steele, Melvin Carter Jr., James Craven and Talvin Wilks, to name a few. Friday’s screening, part of Northrop’s Amplifying Solidarity series, will include a talkback with Austene Van, New Dawn’s artistic director and founder. 8 p.m. Register here to receive a link.
L Opens Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Walker: “Designs for Different Futures.” Has the future ever seemed so hazy? Can designers help us to make more sense of it, prepare for it or adjust to it? Can designers shape the future? We’re willing to consider anything at this stage. Settling in for a six-month stay at the Walker, organized by the Walker, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, this major exhibition brings together some 80 works by an international array of designers from all fields. It includes textiles made of seaweed, a typeface that thwarts algorithmic surveillance (let’s have that right away, please), and a series of books that will only be available 100 years from now. Divided into 11 thematic sections – Labors, Cities, Bodies, Foods, Informations, and so on – it’s full of ideas that may spark your own imagination and creativity. Closes April 11, 2021. The Walker is open Thursdays-Sundays. Timed tickets are required.
V Saturday, Sept. 12, online: 2020 Selby Ave. Jazz Fest, Virtual Edition. What traditionally has been a one-day, all-day jazz festival at the intersection of Selby and Milton in St. Paul is now four Saturday nights of streaming music. This Saturday will feature the sounds of the Solomon Parham Quintet, with Parham on trumpet, Kevin Washington on drums, Jeff Bailey on bass, Ernest Bison on violin and Jordan Anderson on piano. Next Saturday (Sept. 19): the PJP Trio with Grammy winner Patricia Lacy. And the Saturday after that (Sept. 26): Latin Jazz piano maestro Nachito Herrera. All performances at 7 p.m. Stream here. Free.
V and L Saturday, Sept. 12, through Saturday, Sept. 19, from the Anderson Center in Red Wing: 21st Annual Minnesota Children’s Book Festival. Executive and Artistic Director Stephanie Rogers, formerly of Heart of the Beast, Wing Young Huie’s gallery and Thomas Barry Fine Arts, describes this year’s Book Festival as “narratives of overcoming fear and trauma to develop resilience.” She says, “The books … provide something for both children and their parents to work through feelings and difficult experiences together and come out the other side.” The authors and illustrators are Daniel Bernstrom, V.T. Bidania, H.J. Bouwman, Cori Doerrfeld, Bao Phi, Caren Stelson, Lauren Stringer and Kao Kalia Yang. Starting Saturday, Sept. 12, a new multi-camera video, filmed on-site at Tower View and featuring one of the authors or illustrators, will stream each day at the Book Festival’s web page and the Anderson Center’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. On Saturday, Sept. 19, the center will host a day of socially distanced family activities on its 17-acre grounds. FMI.
V Tuesday, Sept. 15: Theatre Unbound: “Behind the March”: A Live Play Reading. Tuesday marks the anniversary of the March on Washington in 1963. Directed by Shanae Taylor, Tina Burnside’s play tells the story of Anne Arnold Hedgeman, the only woman included on the planning committee. The reading will stream live on Facebook starting at 7:30 and won’t be available elsewhere. Free, with a $10-20 donation suggested.
L Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Icehouse: Liz Draper, Charlie Parr and Chris Gray: Portal III: Double Vinyl Limited Edition Release Party. Yesterday’s Draper and Parr concert at Icehouse sold out quickly, so here’s advance notice of another. Which won’t be at all the same. This time, bassist Draper and singer/songwriter/guitarist/icon Parr will join Gray on drums for an evening of “deep listening” instrumental pieces. The album was recorded at Real Phonic Studio in Cleveland, MN, with Erik Koskinen. 7 p.m. on Icehouse’s socially distanced courtyard. FMI and tickets ($12 cover).