Wordplay Schedule

Virtual Wordplay Schedule

The Loft's Virtual Wordplay, presented by St. Catherine University and Star Tribune, took place May 2-8, 2021. The recorded events are no longer available. Stay tuned for details around Wordplay 2022. 

We’re excited to present all Wordplay events free of charge. We’re grateful to our sponsors for their leadership, but your support is critical too! Help this innovative festival thrive by making a donation in any amount to support the Loft and Wordplay today. Thank you!

ARCHIVE: Sunday, May 2, 2021
Wordplay 2021 Ishiguro
Love and Illusion: Kazuo Ishiguro on Klara and the Sun

3 pm CT | A Bay Area Book Festival production

This is your chance to hear from Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro with Yaa Gyasi in a wide-ranging conversation around his vision, writing life, and his first novel since winning the Nobel. Loft tickets for this event are now sold out. The Bay Area Book Festival may still have limited tickets available.

Wordplay 2021 Koontz
Wordplay Kickoff: Dean Koontz and James Lee Burke in Conversation

7 pm CT | A RBC Wealth Management Kickoff Event

Dean Koontz and James Lee Burke together, at last! Two of the most prolific, best-selling, well-known writers in the country will be in conversation for the first time ever. Help us kick-off Wordplay with this historic event. This event will be a mix of live and pre-recorded. The Dean Koontz and James Lee Burke conversation will be pre-recorded for enhanced ticket holders on Friday, April 30.

ARCHIVE: Monday, May 3, 2021
Wordplay 2021 You Can Do It
You Can Do It!

9 am CT | A Ryan Companies Youth Event

No matter how small, or young, or weak you might feel, these inspiring tales remind you that the little things add up! You can be kind, you can be brave, you can change the world. Grab your kiddos and join Christian Trimmer, Atinuke, Megan Maynor, Kao Kalia Yang in a discussion about actions and words.

Wordplay 2021 Elisa Shua Dusapin
Intercontinental Series featuring Elisa Shua Dusapin

Noon CT | Intercontinental Series

In Winter in Sokcho, Elisa Shua Dusapin explores shared identity and divided selves through the relationship of a French Korean receptionist and a guest in a North Korean tourist town.

Wordplay 2021 Talking Back
Talking Back, Looking Forward: Native Women's Resistance & Reimagination

7 pm CT | A St. Catherine University Critical Conversation

These Native writers (Heid Erdrich, Elissa Washuta, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson) offer us stories of resistance to colonialism through reclaiming cultural inheritance, calling out their oppressors, and honoring Native worldviews.

ARCHIVE: Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Wordplay 2021 More Than Words
More Than Words

9 am CT | A Ryan Companies Youth Event

From page to page, panel to panel, graphic novels create a world for the reader in more than one way. Join Trung Le Nguyen and Ted Anderson as they discuss their latest books and the ways in which graphics can enhance a story.

Wordplay 2021 Sofia Segovia
Intercontinental Series featuring Sofía Segovia

Noon CT | Intercontinental Series

In Tears of Amber, Sofía Segovia depicts two families displaced by war and caught up in extraordinary pilgrimages towards uncertain futures.

Wordplay 2021 Mother Daughter
Mother, Daughter, Witch, Savior

7 pm CT | A St. Catherine University Critical Conversation

Women in caretaking roles are often burdened with unrealistic expectations and forced into sexist dichotomies. Carrie Fountain, Gabriela Garcia, and Kathryn Nuernberger examine the role of caretaker from new angles to expose the nuances beneath.

ARCHIVE: Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Wordplay 2021 Draw Off
Illustrator Draw-Off

9 am CT | A Ryan Companies Youth Event in partnership with the Brooklyn Book Festival

Get ready! Get set! DRAW! Join four amazing and celebrated children’s illustrators as they compete for your votes with a live-illustration draw off. Featuring Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope), Linda Bondestam (Good Night, Earth), Mike Wohnoutka (How to Apologize), and Jon Klassen (Pax: Journey Home).

Wordplay 2021 Connie Palmen
Intercontinental Series featuring Connie Palmen

Noon CT | Intercontinental Series

In Your Story, My Story: A Novel, Connie Palmen constructs the untold story of Ted Hughes, former romantic partner of poet Sylvia Plath—revealing hidden demons of both star-crossed lovers.


Wordplay 2021 Sense of Adventure
Sense of Adventure

7 pm CT | A St. Catherine University Critical Conversation in partnership with Mizna

What does it cost to be the boldest, most daring, joyfully liberated person you can be? These writers (Maggie Shipstead, Randa Jarrar, and Hoa Nguyen) explore what it means to be true to oneself in order to obtain both personal and political freedom.

ARCHIVE: Thursday, May 6, 2021
Wordplay 2021 May 6 She Persisted
She Persisted

9 am CT | A Ryan Companies Youth Event

Join beloved children's authors and heroes in their own right as they tell true stories about women who have persisted. With Meg Medina on Sonia Sotomayor, Sayantani DasGupta on Virginia Apgar, Michelle Knudsen on Nellie Bly, as well as Chelsea Clinton, these stories will help cultivate and inspire the young people in your life to persist.

Wordplay 2021 Rivers Solomon
Intercontinental Series featuring Rivers Solomon

Noon CT | Intercontinental Series

Rivers Solomon presents Sorrowland: A Novel as a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction in which family, identity, and brutality are all put to the test.

Bill Meissner Poems on Demand
Poems On Demand

1 pm CT | Poems on Demand!

Want a free personalized poem, typed on demand? Bill Meissner will spontaneously write a short, free verse, upbeat poem for anyone who requests one, and he’ll send it to you via email. You can suggest a subject for him or choose from one of his favorite topics: water/oceans/lakes, dreams, travel, writing/creating, or his favorite sport, baseball.

Wordplay 2021 Bechdel Strayed
West x Midwest present Alison Bechdel in conversation with Cheryl Strayed

4 pm CT | In partnership with Literary Arts (Portland,OR), Black Mountain Institute (Las Vegas, NV), and Wisconsin Book Festival (Madison, WI)

Alison Bechdel, iconic, award-winning graphic memoirist, has not been immune to chasing workout fads, but in her quest for superhuman strength, Bechdel’s journey leads her to another muscle: the heart. She then turns towards the ultimate flex: letting her brain guide her. Join her and fellow soul-seeker Cheryl Strayed as they discuss Bechdel’s latest graphic memoir.

Wordplay 2021 Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Fetch the Bolt Cutters

7 pm CT | A St. Catherine University Critical Conversation

Girls grow up hearing stories about what a woman “should” be. These authors (Melissa Febos, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Donika Kelly) are done hearing stories told about themselves—they’re writing their own, and questioning who’s been narrating up until now.

ARCHIVE: Friday, May 7, 2021
Wordplay2021 Animals

9 am CT | A Ryan Companies Youth Event

Kitties, ducks, and skunks oh my! This virtual zoo features all of your favorite animals tackling some of life’s most important topics: personal hygiene, meeting and welcoming new neighbors, and finding your identity. Featuring Bao Phi, Jason Tharp, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham.

Wordplay 2021 Helen Oyeyemi Final
Intercontinental Series featuring Helen Oyeyemi

Noon CT | Intercontinental Series, in partnership with Literary Arts (Portland, OR), Black Mountain Institute (Las Vegas, NV), and Wisconsin Book Festival (Madison, WI)

Helen Oyeyemi, bestselling author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, crafts a mesmerizing portrayal of two lovers forever changed by an unusual train journey in her new novel Peaces.

Wordplay 2021 Genre Benders
Happy Hour: Genre Benders: Literary Writers on Comics

4 pm CT | Happy Hour!

Three writers (Benjamin Percy, Brittney Morris, and Marjorie Liu) who have built audiences in both the novel world and the comic book world talk about how they wear different creative hats and discuss their latest projects.

Wordplay 2021 Black Performance Final
Who's Watching?: The White Gaze & the Reclamation of Black Performance

7 pm CT | A St. Catherine University Critical Conversation

With a keen eye for performances both grandiose and subtle, these authors demonstrate how inextricably Black performance is woven into the fabric of American culture. Featuring Douglas Kearney, Mateo Askaripour, and Hanif Abdurraqib.

ARCHIVE: Saturday, May 8, 2021
Wordplay 2021 Out of This World
Out of this World

9 am CT | A Ryan Companies Youth Event

Dhonielle Clayton has brought together a groundbreaking collection of fantasy short stories from 15 authors with We Need Diverse Books, Namina Forna introduces a world in which the color of blood determines fate, Joan He asks if a STEM prodigy should even bother saving the earth, and Charlie Jane Anders explores themes of identity and destiny against the backdrop of an intergalactic war. These stories twist, turn, and defy the world we know.

Wordplay 2021 Federico Falco
Intercontinental Series featuring Federico Falco and Jennifer Croft

Noon CT | Intercontinental Series

First published in Spanish in 2016, Charco Press is releasing A Perfect Cemetery—translated by Booker Prize Winning writer Jennifer Croft—for the first time in English. A collection of funny, dark, and interrogative interconnected stories set in the Córdoba mountains of Argentina.

Tending the Earth Wordplay TNC
Tending the Earth

7 pm CT | A St. Catherine University Critical Conversation in partnership with The Nature Conservancy

As the environmental crisis grows increasingly urgent, these writers remind us that the “natural world” at stake is not simply land and resources; it’s also our deeply held relationships with the places we call home. Featuring Kazim Ali, Diane Wilson, and Moheb Soliman