Face painting at Wordplay 2019. Credit: Anna Min

The Loft Literary Center believes in the power of stories and storytellers to change the world. The organization has long been a haven for readers and writers in the Twin Cities and beyond, bringing essential conversations, artists, readers, and learning opportunities together under one roof. The Loft hosts classes, conferences, events, grants and awards, residencies and festivals in its home at Open Book. The organization has gone through a tremendous amount of change in the past few years, from welcoming new Executive & Artistic Director, Arleta Little, and hiring a new events team, to adopting a new strategic plan that places antiracism at the heart of its work. 

This summer, the Loft’s Wordplay Festival will return to Downtown Minneapolis on Saturday, July 8, 2023! The street festival, which launched in May 2019, is one of Minnesota’s largest book events and celebrates readers, writers, and amazing contemporary literature. The inaugural festival featured Stephen King, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Marlon James, Natasha Tretheway, and many others. After years of virtual programming due to the pandemic, the Loft is excited to relaunch the event with fresh ideas and perspectives. Check out some of the changes you’ll see at this year’s fest: 

Wordplay, along with all of the Loft’s programming this year, will be specifically curated around the organization’s 2022/2023 theme: Narrative Power, inspired by the Toni Cade Bambara quote: “The job of the writer is to make the revolution irresistible.” Panels and events during the festival will explore how writers exercise narrative power to lead and influence movements for social change. Events will cover topics such as racial justice, gender equity and equality, climate change, health & wellness, LGBTQIA2S+ rights, and many other important issues and conversations in civic life. 

While the festival will provide many exciting opportunities to engage with talented authors from all over the country, the Loft is also excited to involve the local community in every aspect of the event. “It’s really important to me that this year’s Wordplay feels like a reflection of the incredible community we serve,” said Special Events Director Shahenda Helmy. “Local authors will be invited to participate in onstage events, local independent artists and vendors will be invited to show off their goods in our expo area, and we’re working closely with local contractors to make sure the festival feels safe and welcoming to every attendee.” 

One of those new contractors is local queer and POC womxn-owned security team, Sequeerity, LLC. “I was really inspired by Sequeerity’s emphasis on de-escalation and peaceful conflict resolution in their work. I’m looking forward to collaborating with them to make sure that our staff, volunteers, and attendees are all informed about the safety measures in place for the festival,” said Helmy. 

The 2023 Wordplay Festival will take place on Saturday, July 8 from 10 a.m.–7 p.m. in and around Open Book in Minneapolis. The event will feature three outdoor stages and an indoor stage (including a Children’s & Young Adult stage), as well as expo areas for exhibitors, food trucks, bookselling tents, children’s activities and so much more. The Loft will announce the official lineup for this year’s Wordplay at a launch party on April 20 at Open Book. Be sure to follow the Loft on social media or sign up for our enewsletter to catch all the updates and don’t miss Wordplay this summer!