Wordplay will return in 2023!
When Wordplay broke ground in 2019, we had a clear vision for a live, in-person festival. And it was amazing! We were able to host incredible authors—such as Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Tommy Orange—and watch our vibrant community come together in their love of books.
In 2020, we needed a new vision: an online, accessible one. We pivoted in the span of six weeks to be a free, virtual festival, and we were floored by the outpouring of support we got from authors and attendees alike. It set the stage for our second virtual festival in 2021, where we were able to bring in authors from across the country and globe.
But here's the thing: in 2021, we knew the festival would be online. When we sat down to plan Wordplay 2022, we couldn't decide: Do we plan it to be in person, knowing we may need to pivot once more? Do we host something virtual, knowing Zoom burnout is all too real? Having no clear direction ourselves meant we couldn't give clear direction to authors or attendees. On top of that, we were in the process of hiring our new executive director (meet her here!), and we knew we wanted her expertise when it came to what Wordplay 4.0 would look like.
It was a hard decision. We gathered staff and the board and talked through all of the pros and cons. It ultimately came down to this: Would we be better serving our community by putting on what might, in all honesty, turn out to be an underwhelming event? Or would we better serve folks by having the time and resources to plan a bigger and better Wordplay in 2023? The latter won out.
We can't wait to welcome you all back in May 2023, and we sincerely hope to see you in the interim.
The first three years of Wordplay were such wonderful celebrations of new work and the conversations that literature inspires. Given the uncertainty caused by the continuing pandemic, we recognized that the in-person festival we could produce this year would face many compromises—in scale, in reach, and as a result, in spirit.
With an executive leadership transition in progress; Steph Opitz, founding Wordplay director, leaving the Loft for an exciting role in the publishing field; and another related staff position yet-to-be filled, we took a moment to pause and consider the cost/benefit of going ahead with an event we knew would pale in comparison to the Wordplay festivals to date.
Rather than ask an already exhausted staff to spread themselves thinner, we decided to take a break and then focus with renewed energy to bring the community together for an exciting celebration of books, writers, and readers in Wordplay 2023.
The Loft’s Wordplay is Minnesota's largest celebration of readers, writers, and great books.
The Loft’s Wordplay launched in May 2019 as Minnesota's largest celebration of readers, writers, and great books. This effort was led by founding director Steph Opitz. More than 10,000 people showed up for the inaugural festival weekend, joining famous authors like Stephen King, Edwidge Danticat, and Amy Tan in a celebration of books. We enjoyed readings, conversations, writing workshops, kids’ activities, and one-of-a-kind happenings with outdoor stages, cooking stages, book signings, quiet reading corners, boisterous parties, food trucks, beer tents, and books, books, books.
Minnesota has one of the most celebrated literary communities in the country. We are rich with celebrated presses, locally owned bookstores, author events, writing classes, vibrant libraries, and great writers. We are perennially ranked one of the most literate communities in the country. A community like ours deserves a celebration like Wordplay.
There is something for every reader at Wordplay. Whether your book club reads literary fiction or paranormal zombie romance, whether you get your books at your library or on your e-reader, or even if the last book you read was a movie, this festival is for you. Wordplay’s mission is to celebrate the ways in which people connect to and through words and welcomes anyone who shares a belief in the connective power of story.
If you're interested in being a sponsor for Wordplay 2023, contact Kaitlyn Bohlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lesley Nneka Arimah
Sarah Park Dahlen
Matt de la Peña
Lisa Von Drasek