The Loft Literary Center Turns 40: Why Publishing Companies Should Consider Their Relationships With Authors

Written by Rebecca Nichloson

According to Publishers Weekly, The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, celebrated it’s 40th Anniversary this past August as it welcomed Britt Udesen, its new executive director. The Loft has made countless contributions to the publishing environment in the Twin Cities and has been a kind of guardian for writers of all genres, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Milkweed Editions Publisher Daniel Slager said of the literary organization, in an interview with PW, “The Loft is an invaluable part of the Twin Cities’ uniquely vibrant literary ecosystem.” He went on to say that, “Many excellent writers have developed and honed their craft in the Loft’s writing classes. We have published a good number of them, as have [other] publishers. They also award invaluable support to working writers and host phenomenal events, featuring many of our nation’s best writer.”

Despite monumental changes in the field of literature, and the publishing industry as a whole, the Loft continues to thrive, providing a much needed haven for writers of all experience levels while also contributing to the progression of a ‘reading culture’ in the Midwest and beyond. The Loft has consistently been an invaluable resource for writers, in that it has been a constant source of support for authors; not only teaching and employing them, but also by providing financial support. In 2015 alone, the organization paid writers a total of $400,000 for teaching, mentorship, and other services, in addition to offering grants and fellowships, collectively, in the amount of $194,000.

The continued prosperity of the Loft can, perhaps, provide a kind of template for other writing centers and literary organizations, in both small and large cities, while demonstrating the role of writing centers in helping writers refine their craft. Conversations about the state of publishing and the unique challenges faced by publishing firms, as a result of technology and other obstacles, often fail to recognize the importance of not only having publishing companies that can utilize changes in the field, but also to ensure that writers continue to receive the financial and artistic support that will enable them to produce creative work for a lifetime.

Centers like the Loft not only support writers, they promote a sense of community around literature and reading, perpetuating the idea that reading is an important component of meaningful living and contributes to society on both macro and micro levels. Also, writers themselves are, generally, active readers and, therefore, both creators and consumers of literature. Any discussion concerning the future of publishing, as an entity, must consider the relationship between publishing companies; regardless of scale, and writers— as publishing companies, in all their configurations, need writers to write qualitative material in order for them to publish qualitative content in both digital and print.

Check out National Book Award winner Mark Doty and poet/playwright Claudia Rankine giving readings at the Loft in the videos below.

Rebecca Nichloson, M.F.A Columbia University School of the Arts, M.A English Literature, Mercy College, M.S Publishing Studies (Distance), George Washington University (Candidate). B.A Liberal Arts/Business Administration. Freelance journalist, editor, and creative writer. www.rebeccanichloson.com

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Rebecca Nichloson

Rebecca Nicholson is a journalist, editor, screenwriter, playwright, fiction writer, and poet. She holds an M.F.A from Columbia University, an M.A in English Literature, and has written numerous articles about literature and the humanities. She is the recipient of two Many Voices Fellowships (The Minneapolis Playwright's Center), a Liberace Award, a Matthew's Fellowship, a Howard Stein Fellowship, and a DRA Fellowship from Columbia University School of the Arts. She received an America-In-Play Fellowship and was the 2013 winner of the Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award for her African American drama, "Hello, I'm Eve". Additionally, she was a 2015 finalist for an Atlantic Media Fellowship.

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