Catch NRP at Rain Taxi this Saturday: Twin Cities Book Festival

Rain Taxi is Minnesota’s own micro-AWP conference, and I look forward to it each year. The events, the local vendors and authors, and the speakers invite us into an exciting community of books.  The 2016 Rain Taxi events take place October 14th and 15th in the Progress Center and Fine Arts Building of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. New Rivers Press will once again be hosting a table in the book fair on October 15th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Are you ready for a blind date with a book?

This year, we are hoping to make our mark on Rain Taxi in our own special way with the introduction of Blind Date with a Book. If you’ve never had the pleasure of a blind date with a book before, the idea is simple. We have wrapped some of our older titles in heavy paper and written a few descriptive words on them (type of book, main theme, author origin, etc.) and you can select which book appeals to you most. This ‘blind’ book picking really helps you not judge a book by its cover! They are only $3 each, and we have plenty to look through. Visit our booth and feel like a kid on Christmas, weighing and feeling each book to try and find out their secrets. No peeking though!


the-field-tim-nolanIn addition to that new feature, we also have all of our newest titles available for sale at the book festival. New Rivers Press is happy to announce that our three new books of poetry: Tim Nolan’s The Field, Carol Kapaun Ratchenski’s A Beautiful Hell, and Michelle Mathees’s Flucht will all be on sale, the latter two will have been released just that day.


There will also be free prize drawings throughout the day. Come visit our newest authors to get the inside scoop on their inspiration for the book, the creative process, and what all a-beautiful-hell-carol-kapaun-ratchenskiwe do for our authors at New Rivers Press. Tim, Carol and Michelle—the authors mentioned above—will all be there to sign and talk about their new books; additionally, Julie Gard, author of last year’s Home Studies, will be there as well. Not only will we have authors to chat with, but you can meet students and interns of the NRP publishing program that we offer at MSU Moorhead.


Lastly, be sure to check out our table for information on our new T-shirt contest. We are seeking any creative flucht-michelle-mattheesminds to design and pitch us an (appropriate) snarky T-shirt for events just like Rain Taxi, as well as our online store. You can submit your ideas in person at Rain Taxi, but you can also share them via our social media. Whoever has the largest number of likes, retweets, shares, repins, and the like after the window closes will win the contest, earning the grand prize of $50, a New Rivers Press tote bag, and their design featured on shirts at literary conventions and in our online store.



You can find more information about Rain Taxi and their scheduled events on their website. We hope to see you there!


Written by Anna Landsverk
Originally published October 13, 2016

South Dakota Festival of Books

South Dakota Festival of Books

As a procrastinator extraordinaire, I often have difficulty managing my time.  However, the worst time-management challenge doesn’t come from research papers–it comes from book fairs. Events like the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, Rain Taxi, and now the South Dakota Festival of Books make life difficult by scheduling multiple sessions at the same time. This means that we must choose between the panels for each time slot and miss out on countless opportunities. Never has Hermione’s time turner from the Harry Potter books seemed so appealing! But first, a little background on the upcoming Festival of Books.


The festival is split into the Young Readers Festival of Books from September 21st to 24th and the adult book festival from September 22nd to 25th. It takes place in various locations around the Sioux Falls and Brookings area, with many events centering on South Dakota State University and the Children’s Museum of South Dakota. The website offers an interactive map with the events and several parking locations clearly marked around town.


At the festival, there are a multitude of the events we expect: author talks and book signings, literary presentations, poetry readings, author receptions, educator discussions, and writing and poetry workshops. There are also more unusual offerings, such as ale tastings, film screenings, book proposal meetings, cooking demos, an open mic night, literary lunches, readings by state and national poet laureates, book lover’s brunch, literary loot, and much more!


With so much to do and see in such a short period, I am incredibly overwhelmed, as I’m sure are many of you. Hence, I decided to do the hard work for you and come up with the ultimate itinerary for the poet/writer, the educator, and the history nerd.


  1. The Writer. This is obviously a broad category, so I tried to add a little bit of everything into this itinerary to give it a well-rounded feel.


  1. The Educator. As a lover of children’s literature, this is the path I would probably choose, and it is great for any teacher, media specialist, or other educator attending the festival.


  1. The History Nerd. There are TONS of historical subjects covered in this event, both local and national in scope. Any history buff will have a blast at the SD Festival of Books – even though it means they’ll never have a moment to spare!


Day 1: Thursday, September 22nd

Event Time The Writer The Educator The History Nerd
10 – 10:45 a.m. How Process Leads to Picture Books Starry Skies: The Lakota Way of Seeing the Night How the Pioneers Tamed the Prairie
11 – 11:45 a.m. Fascinating Facts: Researching and Writing Books Creating the Monster Who Ate the State I Am A Man: Standing Bear of the Ponca
12:30 – 1:15 p.m. Starry Skies: The Lakota Way of Seeing the Night Drawing Slimy Space Slugs & Other Creatures Labor Fights, Civil Rights and the Death of Martin Luther King
1:30 – 2:15 p.m. Writing + Drawing = Stories Writing + Drawing = Stories I’m Not Kidding: Stories and Songs
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Young Readers One Book
5 – 6:30 p.m. “Women Working from Women”
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Booking Up Our Kids Making Sense of the New Arab Wars
7 – 9 p.m. Festival Fundraiser and Author Reception


Day 2: Friday, September 23rd

Event Time The Writer The Educator The History Nerd
10 – 10:45 a.m. Plotting a Page Turner– Workshop Wicked Problems in Peace Education The West in Myth, History, & Movies
11 – 11:45 a.m. Plotting a Page Turner– Workshop Magnolia says DON’T Telling the Story of a Complicated Man
12 – 1 p.m. Dakota Midday Book Club – Live SDPB Broadcast The Role of Humanities in Public Life Literary Lunch: The Science of Food and Drink
1 – 1:45 p.m. Cultivating Creativity: First We Imagine Poetry & Autism: Helping Students Create J. Edgar Hoover’s PR Men
2 – 2:45 p.m. Erasing Imaginary Lines: Using Books to Catalyze Social Change The Sketch Book & the Journal Political Marriages: Tue Love or Mutual Accomodation?
3 – 4 p.m. Film Screenings and Discussions Good Reads: A Book Critic’s Perspective Stonewall Stories
4 – 5 p.m. Film Screenings and Discussions Young Readers One Book Keynote Guided Tasting of British, Belgian, & German Ales
5 – 6:30 p.m. Film Screenings and Discussions Kitchens of the Great Midwest: The Inspiration behind the Book Guided Tasting of British, Belgian, & German Ales
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Mass Author Book Signing
7:30 – 8:30 p.m. One Book South Dakota Keynote
8:40 – 10 p.m. Open Mic hosted by the South Dakota Poetry Society


Day 3: Saturday, September 24th

Event Time The Writer The Educator The History Nerd
9 – 9:45 a.m. A Reading by Ted Kooser Perspectives on “Pioneer Girl” A New Deal for South Dakota
10 – 10:45 a.m. The Lyric vs. the Lyric: Writing Songs, Writing Poems Dear County Agent Guy: The Story of an Accidental Author Haunted by Jamestown
11 – 12 p.m. Building Readership Online & Off Seeing Through an Author’s Eyes When America Was Young
12 – 12:45 p.m. Literary Lunch: The Paperboys Beyond the Book Press Portrayals of Women Politicians
1 – 1:45 p.m. Creating through Collaboration Multicultural Poetry & Poetics: SD Poet Laureate Sioux Women in South Dakota
2 – 2:45 p.m. The Art of Procrastination Drawing Your Way to a Story Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders
3 – 3:45 p.m. Honesty & Humor in Memoir Writing Sustainable Reading & Book Collecting Tribal Justice: The Importance of Language in Law and Poetry
4 – 5:30 p.m. Happy Hour for Readers and Writers featuring Literary Loot!
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Mass Author Book Signing
7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Reflections on the Centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes

More information can be found at the South Dakota Festival of Books Homepage

Written by Anna Landsverk
Originally published September 13, 2016

De-Stress Books


The dreaded time for college students is just around the corner: final exams week. For many of us, this is a time of lost sleep, caffeine jitters, heavy amounts of stress and anxiety, last minute assignments, fractured final papers, and frantic activity of all kinds. Luckily, New Rivers Press is here to help you calm your personal whirlwind of panic. This week, I will be sharing some of my top de-stress books to get your mind off that pile of unfinished assignments and study guides. While stress may be a natural reaction to finals week, too much can leave you frustrated, burnt out, and brain-fried. So, sit back with some of these (short) reads to help you rebalance your life and relieve the pressure of finals. Here are my book picks, as well as links to other great book and poetry lists from the web.

Best De-Stress Books:

Mr. Putter and Tabby series, by Cynthia Rylant

This was one of my favorite early chapter book series growing up, and still is. Each book is only 20-some pages, with charming illustrations by Arthur Howard.Every book features the day-to-day quiet adventures of senior citizen Mr. Putter and his devoted older cat Tabby. Many of the books also feature Mr. Putter’s wild neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, and her excitable bulldog Zeke. These books are great for making us appreciate the little moments in life that make our lives so much more enjoyable, and the books themselves can bring a ray of sunshine to your day.

Skippyjon Jones series, by Judy Schachner

Skippyjon Jones is the most adventurous Siamese cat you will ever meet—especially his Chihuahua alter-ego self, El Skippito, a sword-fighter of epic proportions. This heartwarming story tells of Skippyjon Jones’s bold adventures into his closet, and his own imagination, as he battles banditos of all shapes and sizes. This series reminds us of the positive power of creativity, and that sometimes all you need is a world of your own to escape to.

Garfield cartoon series, by Jim Davis

Full of sarcasm and wit, this long-running series follows Garfield, his owner Jon, and their dog Odie. We see many moments of daily humor, from Jon’s failed dates to Odie’s overzealous affections and Garfield’s relationships with creatures of all sorts. Garfield’s pointed humor and laid-back style give us all a reminder to wind down, drink some coffee, and take a nice nap.

George’s Marvelous Medicine, by Roald Dahl

In true Roald Dahl fashion, this story features a wacky misadventure and magical occurrences. After being stuck with his cranky and intimidating grandmother, George mixes her up a new medicine using everything he can find in the house, from antifreeze to gin and paint. When he gives it to his grandma, unexpected things happen, much to the surprise of his parents when they finally return home. While a little bit darker, this story is unusual and interesting enough to grab your attention away from any impending classwork.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

This book used comics before it was cool. Sherman Alexie tells the story of Arnold Jr., a Native American living on a reservation near Spokane, WA. He is smart, but extremely dorky, and he is also a cartoon artist. He tells the story of going to a nearby white school with humor, wit, and insights into the harsh realities of being a tiny minority in white America. The hilarious illustrations, created by Ellen Forney, add layers of depth and comedy to even serious moments in Arnold’s life. This book is a quick and easy read, but the content and craft behind Alexie’s writing will have you thinking about it long after you’ve finished the book. The award-winning novel is a great combination of humor and insightful commentary on the world as Arnold views it.


National Hispanic Heritage Month Ends on NRP Publishing Date


National Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration running from September 15th through October 15th, which coincides with New Rivers Press’ fall release date. Former President Lyndon B. Johnson started the event the same year New Rivers Press opened its doors—1968—and it initially started as only a week-long celebration. In 1988 President Reagan officially expanded it into the full 30-day period it is today. Unlike most other month-long events, Hispanic Heritage Month begins in the middle of the month, but with good reason. September 15th marks the anniversary of Independence Day in no less than five Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The 30-day period also includes three more Independence Day celebrations for Mexico, Chile, and Belize (Hispanic Heritage Month). Latin Americans are defined in the U.S. as anyone who speaks Spanish as their native language or traces their origins to a Spanish-speaking country, regardless of race (Pew Hispanic). This includes a vast number of people making up roughly 16% of the U.S. population, according to the most recent census (Hispanic Heritage Month). In fact, the population has become so important that President Obama has released a proclamation every year since his inauguration in honor of National Hispanic heritage month (White House). To read this year’s full proclamation, please visit the white house page linked in the citation.

Recently, another holiday included in National Hispanic Heritage Month has come under fire. That holiday used to be known nationwide as Columbus Day, but in cities and countries across the globe this holiday is becoming far more controversial. Seattle and Minneapolis, for instance, have renamed the holiday Indigenous Peoples’ Day. As of this past Monday (Oct 12th 2015) the governor of Alaska, Bill Walker, officially renamed the holiday Indigenous People’s Day for all of Alaska to honor the 16% of the state’s population who have indigenous heritage, the highest of any state in the US (Juneau Empire). In Latin American countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, and Argentina, the holiday has been renamed Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race in honor of the native peoples Columbus encountered after discovering the “New World.” Venezuela has taken an even stronger stance against Columbus and other explorers by renaming the holiday the Day of Indigenous Resistance, recognizing the native peoples’ attempts to reclaim their homeland from invaders like Columbus. These attitudes reflect a recent shift away from praising explorers and instead recognizing the impact of European settlement in formerly colonized countries (National Public Radio).

On a brighter note, we here at New Rivers Press have compiled a brief list of some noteworthy contemporary Latin American authors living in the U.S. and elsewhere, along with their country of origin and some of the awards they have received. These include Miguel Ángel Asturias, a Guatemalan writer and winner of the 1967 Nobel Prize in Literature (Nobel Prize); Gabriel García Márquez, a Colombian author and winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature (Nobel Prize); Ricardo Güirales, an Argentinian writer most well known for his gaucho story Don Segundo Sombra (Encyclopædia Brittanica); Carlos Fuentes, a Mexican author and political figure who won the Cervantes Prize in 1987 (Encyclopædia Brittanica); Pam Muños Ryan, a writer of Mexican heritage and the two-time winner of the Pura Belpré Medal (Pam Muños Ryan); and last but not least Mergarita Engle, an author of Cuban descent who also was a two-time winner of the Pura Belpré Medal and the first Latin American author to receive a Newbery Honor (Margarita Engle).