A storefront for storytelling

Papers Darts hosting pop-up space for writers, artists for six weeks of festivities

Paper Darts editor-in-chief Meghan Murphy Credit: Photo by Sarah McKenzie

LYNDALE — For the next six weeks, the SOOLocal storefront space at 35th & Nicollet will be transformed into a makeshift home for more than 25 different independent literary and arts organizations.

The Paper Darts Pop-Up is the brainchild of the women behind Paper Darts, a literary magazine that launched in 2009.

The idea is to go beyond the traditional author readings and gallery openings that can get a little boring. The SOOLocal space next to Pat’s Tap is an experimental project of the Soo Visual Arts Center (SooVAC). It opened last year in the spot formerly home to Yeti Records.

“We’re really trying to push this live story telling element to the next level,” said Meghan Murphy, editor-in-chief of Paper Darts. “It’s kind of a big experiment. We want to use this as a space to give people resources that don’t have them already, and see what will happen.”

A launch party is set for June 14, which will celebrate the opening of the pop-up space and the fifth print volume of the literary magazine. The space will be home to 28 different events the next several weeks.

Courtney Algeo, editorial director of Paper Darts, said writers featured in the fifth magazine, explore “how weird it is to be human.” 

“Don’t you sometimes just sit and think, ‘what the hell are we?’ Yeah, so do we, and so do our authors, and Volume Five might not help us understand, but it’s going to make us not feel so alone in our weirdness,” Algeo said.

Paper Darts’ collaborators on the pop-up project include emerging writers, sculptors, publishers, video game experts, comic artists, GIF artists and other creative types.

“When it comes to the words and images we publish, we just want to be hosts to strong storytelling,” Murphy said. “This intimate space will burst with art and literature from every corner. We want our community to fuse into one hot mess of collaboration, inspiration and perspiration.”

“Reframed: Graphics and GIFS” is one of the featured exhibits at the space. The digital gif art will be displayed on old computer models. Work by Minneapolis graphic artist Jasio Stefanski and many others will be on display.

“We really wanted to provide a physical space for this web-based art,” Murphy said.

Minneapolis painter Jennifer Davis will also have an exhibit called “Story Prompt.” People will be invited to write 500 words inspired by one of her whimsical paintings on display in the pop-up space. The winning essay will be published in Paper Darts.

A book-lined wall inspired by the Mellow Pages Library in Brooklyn is another unique element in the storefront. Small publishing houses all over the country donated books for the first-ever Minneapolis Mellow Pages Library.

Mellow Pages is an independent library and reading room with a collection of more than 1,200 fiction, poetry books and zines. Inspired by the concept, Murphy asked the organizers of the library if she could replicate the idea for the Paper Darts Pop-up.

Paper Darts is partnering with thirty two magazine, a quarterly ideas and culture magazine, on a Moveable Feast dinner June 30. The dinner will be paired with poetry, short story readings and a napkin haiku tournament.

Murphy launched Paper Darts with co-founders Jamie Millard and Regan Smith. They worked together on the Ivory Tower, the student-run literary arts magazine at the University of Minnesota.

Paper Darts has since grown to include a publishing press and a creative agency available for freelance projects.

In addition to five literary magazines, Paper Darts has published a book, “Get In If You Want To Live” — a collection of “fiction short-shorts” from local writer John Jodzio. New work is published on an almost-daily basis on Paper Darts website, too.

The mission for Paper Darts has always been to create a space for new writers to experiment and find an outlet to connect with new readers. When it launched, there were few places locally for emerging writers to find a home for their work.

Now the literary scene is “kind of exploding,” Murphy said. At least 20 other publications have launched since Paper Darts rolled out. Some have since withered, but many are gaining momentum.

“For our community to rival the east and west coasts, we must invest in the growing underbelly of our writers and artists,” Millard said. 

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If you go … 

Paper Darts Pop-Up

When: Thru July 20

Where: SooLocal storefront, 3506 Nicollet Ave. S.

Website: paperdartspopup.org

What: A six-week extravaganza featuring 28 events celebrating the local independent literary and arts scene in Minneapolis.

Grand opening party: June 14, performance reading, 7–8:30 p.m.; open house, 8:30–11 p.m. The event will feature readings by local authors, Technicolor GIF art, live music by Black Diet and a celebration of the fifth volume of the Paper Darts literary magazine.