MACLoft , Loft Aloft, AirbnLoft at MSP Airport?

The Loft Literary Center is coming to MSP?

It’s listed right there, in this morning’s Star Tribune (Airport’s hipness set to take off). Unfortunately, the online article doesn’t actually mention the Loft, but trust me, on the first page of hard-copy Section B there’s the Hipness headline and a little box that says


Ryan Burnet (Bar La Grasa, Burch Steak and Pizza Bar) restaurant concept
Buffalo Wild Wings
Flirt Boutique
Salty Tart
Holy Land Deli
Red Cow
McNally Smith College of Music
LoLo American Kitchen
Leeann Chin
Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza
Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild

I should mention that I am in no way an insider to this information and that for all I know, it’s a misprint. You have to admit, it kind of makes you think of the Sesame Street song, Which of these things is not like the other?, although I think we could put the McNally Smith College of Music in the same category as the Loft. And maybe the Craft Brewer’s Guild, too.

It nonetheless sets a writer’s imagination spinning. (Yes, let’s definitely include the brewery.) I mean, it’s not that hard to imagine what McNally’s would do with a spot in the new Metropolitan Air Commission (MAC) line-up of “brands” (is it good or bad the Loft is a “brand”?) with an opportunity for a storefront on the concourse at either Terminal 1 or Terminal 2 of MSP. Can’t you see it? Or hear it? Jazz or vocals or piano solos (although I admit to a soft spot for the amateurs who play the baby grand in the baggage area) while you wait for your next plane. Maybe some literature about the McNally music school. Maybe some special guest performances.

Couldn’t the Loft do the same?

Oh my goodness, could we ever.

I see an intimate space. Big enough for maybe 20 seats and a podium, surrounded by bookshelves on which an airport wanderer might find the most accessible of our profession’s literary journals–the ones I’ve been published in, for example. (Mostly kidding.) We’d be sure to feature local writers in magazines and books. How about a state-wide poll for what ought to be on the shelves? I’d agree to that but then I’d demand some of my favorite How To books: one my nephew just discovered, If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland; the essential Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, and while we’re at it, everything by Ann Lamott; we’ve got to have Burning Down the House by our very own Charles Baxter; and for straight-up instruction, nothing beats Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. Poets and nonfiction writers, what are your choices?

And that’s just the start, right? Not JUST solitary-blissful-even paradisaical-reading-only space for our “brand.” Why couldn’t we lovers of words bring performance and even mini-class participation to the art-starved travel weary? What kind of blast would that be?

Sure, we could and should line up readings by writers of their own books but why not also readings like the McNally folks play music? Like you don’t have to have written it to play it? Do you think we could get Ben Percy to read Goodnight Moon to children whose parents DON’T want them to fall asleep until they get on the next plane? I could happily spend a volunteer hour or two reading my favorite Mary Oliver poems or my favorite Roxane Gay essays. What would you read?

And then with the bolder (or more desperately bored) pilgrims, why wouldn’t we try to snatch them up into a mini writing experience? Get that pen or keyboard in/under their fingertips and introduce them to–oh, Lord–SO MANY THINGS:

  • Poem forms (let’s skip the haiku, though, and go straight to Rumi)–like my first Loft teacher, Jorie Miller, offered so newbies would have a scaffold on which to write their own first poems, even when they didn’t (yet) have a clue about structure;
  • Flash fiction certainly lends itself to the model. We can get our own amazing Rebecca Kanner in to lead mini sessions on the mini story. Or how about just inspiring people to generate ideas? Isn’t an airport a perfect place for frustrated dreams? “A wants to get to B but C gets in her way.” MN Book Awards, here they come.
  • And who doesn’t like to write about themselves? All it takes is an expert cue: list 10 major events in your life; describe the smells of your grandmother’s house; biggest surprises, biggest disappointments, smallest pleasures.

(Minor?) concerns about “brand” aside, a recent graphic on my Facebook page turned out to be false but the gist of it was true: a lot of people don’t read much, and I’m betting far fewer write. Could we change that at the MAC AirbnLoft Aloft (SO many branding possibilities here)?

Wouldn’t it be fun to try? Especially if the brewery is next door?





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *