Literary center brings writers to Lofty heights

For more than 30 years, The Loft Literary Center has been a fixture of the Minneapolis arts scene, helping local writers to learn, perfect and share their craft.

For many students in the Twin Cities, it has also become an essential educational tool.

“It’s very important for students at the University,” said Charles Baxter, a University professor and professional writer.

Baxter said the nationally known facility helps writers get a foothold on their professional writing.

“It’s another outlet, meeting place, for writers to gather,” he said.

For University English professor Kate Hopper, the real importance of The Loft is the support it can provide students.

“I never took writing classes as an undergraduate, so when I began taking writing seriously, I went to The Loft,” Hopper wrote in an e-mail. “The instructors there were supportive, encouraging and gave me valuable feedback.”

Launching careers

“The Loft has been instrumental in my writing career,” University English instructor Brian Malloy wrote in an e-mail.

Malloy said he worked on his manuscript “The Year of Ice” at The Loft; it was later published.

“I think of The Loft as having launched my writing career,” he wrote.

Sarah Caflisch, community relations director for the center, said The Loft remains the nation’s largest independent literary center, offering a wide variety of services for both writers and readers.

“We have a whole catalog of classes and over 3,000 students a year that range from ages 4 to 94,” Caflisch said.

She said The Loft is open to anyone interested in the art of writing and is accessible for University students.

“(For) people looking to publish or who just want to learn how to write, the goals are to foster a writing community, encourage individual writers to do the best they can and get people excited about it,” Caflisch said.

In hopes of fostering this community, Caflisch said, The Loft offers a variety of opportunities for writers, including classes, workshops, mentor programs and internships.

An advantage for University students

Malloy said The Loft also provides University writers with a venue to read and workshop their work.

“The Loft and the creative writing program at the University of Minnesota co-sponsor a free reading series that feature (master of fine arts) students reading along with leading regional and national writers,” Malloy wrote.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for (the) students to present their work and gain valuable experience in reading to live audiences.”

Baxter, along with several master of fine arts students, recently visited The Loft to read excerpts of his work.

“The fact that I read there might have helped other students read there,” Baxter said.

“University of Minnesota students have an advantage. It’s very valuable. I previously taught at the University of Michigan, and they had nothing like that.”

Rachel Moritz, an assistant for the University’s creative writing program, recommended The Loft for writing students.

“There is always a reading or something going on. There’s announcements of what’s going on each week,” Moritz said. “I encourage students to go there.”

Hopper also encouraged students to take advantage of The Loft’s resources.

“Often, students want to know where they can go to take more writing classes, especially during the summer,” she wrote.

The Loft offers four- to six-week and eight-week classes in all genres, Hopper wrote.

Malloy wrote, “The nice thing about The Loft is the opportunity to study with accomplished literary artists in the fields of fiction, poetry, spoken word, creative nonfiction and children’s literature without the pressure of grades and finals.”

– Freelance editor Steven Snyder welcomes comments at [email protected]