Posted at 10:06 AM on April 23, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Books
Would more people read if books were free?
The people behind World Book Night believe the answer to that question is "yes."
Leif Enger's novel is one of 30 books that will be given away for free tonight across the country.
Tonight tens of thousands of people will go out into their communities and give away free books.
The event was launched last year in the United Kingdom, and this year the United States is getting involved.
Minnesota author Leif Enger is one of the people giving away books tonight, and his book "Peace Like A River" is one of the 30 books that will be offered up for free across the country.
Enger says he'll be stopping in Brainerd first to give away a carton of John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany," and he has no idea what to expect:
How will people react to a guy on the sidewalk handing out (actual) literature? Will they cross the street to get a free novel? Will they cross it to avoid one?
From there Enger will continue on to Magers & Quinn bookstore in Minneapolis, where he and author Kate DiCamillo will read from their own books and talk about the love of reading. Enger says when the World Book Night committee chose to give away his novel he was given the chance to opt out.
Who wouldn't want their work given away to thousands of readers who otherwise might never hear of it? My understanding is that this is a mammoth collaboration with everyone involved giving of their time, materials and expertise. The massive costs of printing and distributing a million books are being offset by donations of paper, ink, and shipping. Booksellers are sponsoring events, libraries coordinating volunteers, publishers forgoing profits. And authors, of course, are waiving royalties.
Enger says he finds this down-to-earth marketing campaign charming:
You have a beleaguered industry looking for a jump-start in the digital age, and there are so many other ways it could try to get attention. It could put slogans on billboards and banner ads, do something with milk bottles, hire a nine-year-old to make Youtube videos. It could shoot for offbeat, indie, clever, what have you. Instead, the book trade recognizes its best promotion is the product itself -- so they print a big bunch and they give them away. It's inspiring!
What I hope is that of the million people who go home with a book, a decent percentage will decide to give it a shot. No doubt some won't be won over, and some will like it but set it down in order to watch a little Housewives, and a few might start in only to remember that they never really liked reading and quit all over again. But hopefully, many will open those pages and get caught. Swept up. Which is good for them, and good for the Book, and good for us all.
Why is World Book Night on April 23? It happens to mark UNESCO's World Book Day, chosen due to the anniversary of Cervantes' death.
You can find out more about what's happening in Minnesota tonight by checking out Laurie Hertzel's fine article here - she's one of the volunteers giving away books tonight.
Minnesota is a hotbed for choral music, but it doesn't always get the attention it deserves.
Now Classical MPR has announced a new project to raise the profile of choral music in Minnesota.
Classical MPR's new Choral Initiative seeks to celebrate the local choral music scene while also bringing world class choirs like the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir - shown above - to Minnesota audiences.
The Choral Initiative, as it's called, can be experienced online, on air and onstage.
Online: Starting now you can enjoy listening to choral music at any time of day or night on Classical MPR's new Choral Stream. You can also select from a number of free MP3 downloads.
On air: Classical MPR will broadcast live concerts from the national convention of Chorus America in Minneapolis this summer, and from the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota (ACDA-MN) 50th anniversary in November.
On stage: Classical MPR has announced the launch of a new annual outdoor choral festival. This year "Harmony in the Park" will take place on June 7th at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, and feature One Voice Mixed Chorus, the Minnesota Boychoir and VocalEssence... and it's free.
In addition, Classical MPR will invite some of the world's finest choirs to Minnesota to perform for local audiences in the coming year, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, King's College Choir and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
You can find out all the details here.
Editor's Note: This piece by Nikki Tundel is part of a series called Minnesota Mix. Minnesota Mix is a project of Minnesota Public Radio News that examines the way youth and ethnic diversity are influencing Minnesota arts. Enjoy...
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's Tuesday night at the Kulture Klub Collaborative. All eyes are directed at Brandon Bui.
It's hard to miss his bright purple ballcap, paired with purple tennis shoes and a shirt accented with purple plaid. But more captivating than the eighteen-year-old's attire is the way he commands the room.
Brandon Bui, better known as Peoplez, raps for the group during a gathering of the Kulture Klub Collaborative in Minneapolis on April 5, 2012. Kulture Klub pairs accomplished artists with young adults, like Peoplez, 18, who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Bui's arms carve the air as his spits out lyrics.
"Homie, I'm the boss of all paper. Chuck Taylors," Bui raps. "All flavors. Get money now, we'll talk later."
Bui, or Peoplez, as he is better known, is a member of the Collaborative. The Twin Cities program develops arts programs like this hip-hop workshop for youth who are, or who have been, homeless -- like Peoplez.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Minneapolis non-profit, which helps bring art into the lives of struggling youth. For two decades, the Kulture Klub Collaborative has paired its members with accomplished artists -- painters, filmmakers, dancers. In addition to songwriting, an intensive 12-week workshop hits on stage presence and multi-track recording, as well as life skills and goal setting.
Kulture Klub gives disenfranchised youth opportunities to express their creativity. The Minneapolis non-profit group's current program focuses on hip-hop music. Here, two workshop participants try to up one another with their lyrics.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
"And it's real life redemption," raps Deaundre Dent, 19. "To see me in 3-D, you change your dimension."
Dent goes by the name Batman. He left home when he was 14.
"That's when my mom put me outta her crib and I was on my own," Dent said. "I didn't get to experience everything teenagers did because I was too busy trying to fend for my next meal or whatever."
When it comes to addressing the needs of disenfranchised youth, beatboxing may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Kulture Klub certainly doesn't take the place of agencies that provide housing assistance or job training. What Kulture Klub can do, says executive director Jeff Hnilicka, is offer young adults an opportunity to explore their artistic sides, a chance to define themselves as something other than "homeless."
"We're able to access a young person in their creative life, which is so important for young people who are trying to build their identity," Hnilicka said.
The Minneapolis rap duo Big Quarters is Kulture Klub's current artist-in-residence. On April 16, 2012, Big Quarters' Brandon Bagaason (center) meets with aspiring rappers to discuss everything from lyric writing to goal setting.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Right now, it's working with the Twin Cities hip-hop duo, Big Quarters, made up of brothers Zac and Brandon Bagaason.
"Young artists often times are imitating major artists," Brandon Bagaason said. "What we do is encourage them to take it to the next step in terms of establishing their own identity, telling their own personal experience and sharing their voice."
In other words, the kinds of things aspiring rapper Peoplez didn't have the confidence to do when he was younger.
"I would talk about stuff -- I ain't gonna lie -- like stuff I never did, like talk about guns," Bui said. "I don't hold guns. I don't shoot people. That's not the type of dude I am. You feel me?"
Bagaason addresses the class: So what does it mean to you to make it?
For Bui, it means recognition.
"People to just know me, know my name and know what I do," he said.
"How do you know they know you? How do you measure that?" Bagaason responds.
Deaundre Dent, 19, who goes by the name Batman (note his Batman earring), spent years in and out of homeless shelters. These days he's living in transitional housing and focusing all of his energy on music and the Kulture Klub hip-hop project. "I have so much passion for it," said Dent. "I wanna make music my career so bad."
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Dent says success is reaching the heights of hip-hop icons Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur.
"They didn't just have people in the hood talking, they had college professors talking about their wordplay. That is dope! That's what I wanna do, man," Dent said.
There is talk of world tours and their own clothing lines at Target. But for Dent, the bravado only goes so deep.
"Have you ever had so much passion that it, like, scared you?" Dent asks Bagaason, who responds with a laugh.
Dent explains himself, "Like, did your mom ever tell you, you were going somewhere and you couldn't sleep that whole night, like, dang.
"Anticipation: that's what scares me. The anticipation of my future. I wanna make it so bad, what if I don't?"
For a moment, the room is silent. Then Peoplez begins to rap his knuckles on the table. Lyrics instinctively follow.
Aspiring rapper Peoplez practices projecting his lyrics during a Kulture Klub hip-hop workshop on April 5, 2012. "I used to be homeless, selling drugs," says Peoplez. "Then I got tired of that. It was music that saved me. I got to go to a music school and now I'm making music. Just doing day by day."
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
"What they really know, how I flow, just the opposite of stop, so watch me go," Peoplez begins.
The class gathers around and Peoplez throws the floor to Batman.
"I'm sumpin' like different. Fit that description. Getting that dough like I'm quoting the Simpsons."
About lyrics and rapping, Dent says, "It makes me feel like the stuff I can't say in actual conversation or words, I could put it in a song and it'll carry over to the next person 'cause music is a universal dialogue.
"It's like math. Everybody speaks music. At the end of the day, all my music is just portraying who I am."
And that's everything for a teenager who worked his way out of homelessness into transitional housing and a high school degree; a young adult who worries about his future; an aspiring rapper who dreams that, one day, college co-eds will write thesis papers about his music.(1 Comments)