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Re: Our Contest Tweet Campaign

Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by Paper Darts.

To all our writerly Twitter friends: We’re sorry. While a number of people seemed to enjoy being cajoled into submitting to our short fiction contest, there is a very important bunch who did not. And to you we offer our most sincere apologies.

Yes, our campaign method was spammy. But it was also strategic. We tweeted to a majority of those who follow us and identify as writers in their bio (excluding those who are exclusively poets, journalists, robots, etc.). With all the jargon in our feeds these days, it’s hard to get your message out there and actually be heard by your target. We wanted to tailor a (admittedly somewhat generic) tweet to you so you'd know that whoever you are, you’re the kind of writer we want in our contest.

But that doesn’t excuse our poor diction and impersonal approach. While we would’ve liked to convince you to submit by plying you with wine at a fancy hotel restaurant, we chose the cheap way out. And you deserve better.

Despite that, though, we still believe without even seeing them that you do look great in your pants and your writing stands a chance in our contest. We believe in you like a four-year-old believes in Santa, and your writing makes us as excited as a new toy.

Next time around, we’ll be coming at you with that wine. And it won’t be the boxed kind.



AWP or Bust!

Maya Beck

Apologies. I brought no camera, took no notes, and only soaked it in the event with no documentation, naked. The Loft has a Youtube, and hopefully you’ll be able to watch or relive the event. The waiting lines wound from the room entrance to the stairs, 2 hours early. There were camera and press and two packed overflow rooms. Maybe you’d prefer watching from home.

That’s another reason to apologize: I’m a complete newb in that I don’t understand the literary world, have only heard of AWP last year, and had never read most of writers before the reading. I would call this A Cherry-Girl’s Guide to the Bust Magazine Reading, but I’m worried about how the SEO will look on that. Anywho!


Bust is a third-wave feminist magazine you can read instead of Cosmo or Elle to improve, instead of harm, your mental health. Its scrappy origins reminds me of Paper Darts and really endears me to it. They cover topics as varied as vaporizer ratings, baby showers, and the espionage work of a black Jazz-age expatriate to Paris. The result is feminist in a chill, anything-goes, inclusive way. Copies came free with the reading, and there’s an interview with Amber Tamblyn, their poetry columnist.

The Bust reading line-up was accordingly all-female and sex-positive. The range was no less eclectic: from tongue-in-cheek sexually frustrated prose to sensual responses to microaggressions sublimated into poetry.


The host and the first was the aforementioned Amber Tamblyn with poetry from Dark Sparkler. Maybe you know her as an actress, maybe you didn’t know her acting made her a better poet. The theme of the collection she read from was the lives of child actresses, a personal topic that she handled with just enough pathos, just enough space, and just enough hot damn! So you don’t have to take my word for it, here’s her opening poem and her work, Jane Doe.


The second reader was my personal unexpected favorite, Franny Choi. And judging by the thunderous reception, my favorite reading of Pussy Monster was the room’s favorite. She had reorganized the words of Lil’ Wayne into an outburst of male insecurity. Here, you have to see it to understand. While you’re on her website, you might want to check out her latest collection, Floating, Brilliant, Gone.

As a POC of a different color, I’m intrigued by the ways I’m simultaneously like and unlike Choi. The theme of catcalling from her first poem, that’s universal. But the particulars of that catcalling, that’s the stuff of poetry.


Third on the list was xTx. I’ll go full cherry girl and admit that I still don’t know what to make of her. It felt like a rare sighting of an endangered species. I should have taken a photo.

In contrast to the performances of the readers before here, xTx read quietly, subtle stories. Her story Today I am a Wife from Today I Am A Book was a expression of quiet desperation. Her collection Normally Special was the first work put out by Tiny Hardcore Press, which is good press to remember for work as good as seen here. Here’s a vid of her swapping stories, just because. As a heads up, she won’t show her face.


A friend once told me that penises are funny because they’re floppy and external while vaginas are hidden and secretive, but it’s reasoning like that that keeps women off SNL. I want vaginas to be funnier, and that’s why what I loved about Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, another performer of a poet. She began by recounting an apology to her vagina for the sobriety following her breakup. Her collection The Year of No Mistakes centered around sex and the lack of it, relationships and their endings, emotions both good and ugly, and arguments in defense of them.


Finally came Roxane Gay, the lady of the hour. She’d received props from the the readers before her for accepting and promoting and inspiring their work. Her mag is Pank, her press is Tiny Hardcore Press, and you should see ample links to both above.

You may know Roxane Gay through her bestselling novel, An Untamed State, and her essay collection, Bad Feminist, but she chose to read uncollected short stories with wildly different tones: one was about her unrequited love for the hot UPS man and included several self-deprecating tweets; the other was a romance, of sorts, about the secret trysts of two close women married to other people.


The final reader, Patricia Smith, gave the crowd another hairpin-turn shift in tone. The 2014-2015 Loft Mentor, Slam poet, and all-around awesome award-winner was last, rightly given with her intensity. She began a work from Big Towns, Big Talk, “Doin’ the Louvre,” a two-girl romping through the Louvre in unrestrained joy, maybe inspiring the Mona Lisa to break free of stuffiness.

The final piece of the show was “The Five Stages of Drowning,” inspired by the real-life murders of two young black girls by their fathers. It reminded me why I hate poetry: formats and unexpected breaks that give you vertigo, emotions that cut you deep, and the deathly stillness that follows as you try to process all that you’ve felt.


There was silence for a while.

And then there was applause like that for a rock concert. Speaking as a first-timer in many ways, I want more of this. Yep. I think I’ve been hooked.



The Strange, Feminist and Beautiful: Our AWP (Offsite) Event Roundup

Prince! Poetry! Oh my! The events at this year’s AWP are anything but the typical dry literary readings from your English major days in college. By now, you’ve probably had several lists of AWP events people are excited about thrust in your face or passively posted to your Twitter feed. The monotony is over! Here are our picks of AWP events tailored to our feminist friendsor for anyone who celebrates the weird and visionary in the world of literature.

Literary Death Match

Wednesday, April 8th at 7pm; Nomad World Pub

With a little more foresight, the new Vikings stadium would’ve been built in time to host the 1,000+ people who have RSVPd to see Roxane Gay (“and others,” the event listing says) read at the Loft Literary Center. The Loft can only accommodate a couple hundred people, so why not see Gay read to the death? She’s also participating in a reading to raise awareness of homeless youth.


Binders Happy Hour

Wednesday, April 8th from 5-7pm; Walker Art Center

Who could have anticipated that Mitt Romney would spearhead a new branch of feminism? Certainly not us. And while he might not have done exactly that, his unfortunate comment about “having binders full of women” in response to pay equity has produced a plethora of binders-related jokes, articles, and organizations. MN Artists is hosting a happy hour to commemorate #BindersFullOfWomen at AWP, a conference sure to be filled to the brim with binders, and (we are hoping) women as well.


Prince Purple Poetry Party AWP

Wednesday, April 8th from 10pm-1am; The Record Room, First Ave

We knew that some music-savvy person would capitalize on the location of AWP with an event in honor of the Purple Man himself. Prince Purple Poetry Party at First Ave promises to make it (purple) rain poetry. But don’t (doves) cry if poetry isn’t your thingDJ Shannon Blowtorch is bringing the noise and the funk with an ALL-PRINCE SETLIST (caps were completely necessary). Come dressed in your favorite shade of purple, and who knows, maybe the man of the hour will make an appearance. Stranger things have happened.


The Crooked Rib?!

Thursday, April 9th from 7:30pm-10:30pm; The Common Table

Hosted by SALLI Arts & Free Black Dirt, The Crooked Rib?! promises to be one of the AWP offsite events that you won’t want to miss. Featuring POC writers, this event creates a space for women to explore the complicated intersections of their lives and work. With the likes of Samiya Bashir, Tarfia Faizullah, Ladan Osman and Solmaz Sharif, The Crooked Rib?! features a wonderfully curated mix of local and national authors whose work speaks to many of the specific politics of Minneapolis.


Mizna & the Cedar present: Arab American Soundscapes

Thursday, April 9th at 7:30pm; Cedar Cultural Center

When you stop by our booth at the book fair (1912, by the way), you’ll be introduced to Mizna, a fantastic zine about Arab-American culture. If they’re cool enough to be our booth buddies, then their event featuring an explosive lineup of music and poetry performancesMoheb Soliman, Ismael Khalidi, Glenn Shaheen, and Hedy Habra, to name a fewis a must for your busy AWP schedule.


The 2015 VIDA Awards

Thursday, April 9th at 7:30pm; Skyway Theater

One of the greatest things about the lit world is that there’s an organization devoted to keeping publishers aware of how greatly women are underrepresented. And it’s so much better now that they’re keeping tabs on diversity in publishing too. So why wouldn’t you want to be present at the first ever awards gala celebrating the accomplishments of women in publishing?


Girl Friday

Friday, April 10th from 7-9:30pm; honey MPLS

We are loving how many literary events are literally dance parties. Girl Friday is no exception to this awesome rule. Even better? All the readers are of the lady persuasion. Our Flow is Hard, WEIRD SISTER and {dancing girl press & studio} are teaming up to throw what is sure to be a gnarly feminist dance celebration that you will not want to miss.


Quaint Issue 4 AWP

Friday, April 10th from 7:30pm-1:00am; Mxdxmx

We have long been a fan of Quaint Magazine, a publication that revels in the weirdness of genius and highlights the writing of women and non-binary contributors. Join them on Friday for the release of their fourth issuea publication that will undoubtedly feature writers who you will continue to hear about in years to come. An added bonus? You can be the cool kid who read it first.  


EQ at AWP Supershow

Friday, April 10th at 9pm; The Loft

This year during AWP, the Loft is not messing around. Featuring events with the likes of Roxane Gay, they know what the literary world wants and they are giving it to them. EQ at AWP, hosted by Equilibrium, their running series that promotes spoken word to build communities in and between communities of color, is an example of this. Featuring Patricia Smith (who is also headlining Prince Purple Poetry Party) and Regie Cabico, this is sure to be a dynamic night of spoken word, community building, and fun.



Amoratorium is ready for the world



(Photo taken by Lizzy Shramko)

Over past few months, Paper Darts has been hammering away at molten poetry, music, and lyrics in collaboration with Brian Laidlaw to forge something that was wholly greater than its parts. Emerging from the darkest days of winter, our baby is finally ready to be unveiled.


Amoratorium is ready for the world and it is beautiful.

(Photo taken by Allegra Lockstadt)

Part chapbook, part record sleeve, part lyric book, part poetry: this is Amoratorium. The hybrid format of the album is an experiment that Laidlaw has been carefully honing for over a decade. He started mixing poems with music while studying as an undergrad at Stanford University. Now he “translates” non-rhyming poetry into catchy, melodic lyrics using the same songwriting techniques he teaches students as a professor at McNally Smith College of Music.


The multimedia experiment first began about three or four five years ago, when Laidlaw was pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of Minnesota. He wrote an individual poem about Bonnie and decided that it was written by Clyde. Then he tried to move on. After repeatedly finding himself chronicling the couple’s relationship, myriad roster of crimes, and larger-than-life status as contemporary folk heroes, however, he decided to try to build the poems into a project of their own.


(Photo taken by Allegra Lockstadt)

Paper Darts was more than happy to illuminate Laidlaw's music, giving it a physical form that music and poetry lovers alike could appreciate. The chapbook is crafted in beautiful, heavy-weight paper, with stunning illustrations by Allegra Lockstadt and art direction/design by Dakota Sexton. We combed over every detail to bring you an entire experience, from the second you turn the first page, to the last note you listen to on the record.


The project is funded by the Minnesota State Arts Board and by a Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Grant.


You can stream the full album here. Photos of the live recording of the album are available here.


(Photo taken by Ali Rogers)





Join our ranks!

We are making way for more misfits of the  art + lit world to join our ranks. Together, we want to publish content that will give those traditional, highbrow gatekeepers nightmares. If you have an unabating love for short fiction, or if you have a vision for a new era of visual art, apply to be on our staff. 

We want to co-create job descriptions for each new staff member. Your role here will be built to suit your very own special snowflake skillset. However, there are some general responsibilities all staff members share. Here are things we would like you to know about the role before enlisting:


This is a minimum of a one-year commitment with opportunity to extend involvement. All positions at Paper Darts are volunteer.

General Responsibilities:

  • A commitment to work at least ten hours per week
  • Evaluate submission queries from new writers through Submittable and make recommendations to editors
  • Attend cultural and literary events to seek out new writers and readers
  • Regular scouring of the Internet, culture blogs, and other literary journals to find new writers, then presenting recommendations to all staff
  • Research strategies to increase submissions, readership, and visibility
  • Provide Paper Darts online with original content such as blogs, reviews, articles, and interviews.


Qualified Candidates Will Have:

  • Excellent written and organizational skills
  • A stupid strong love for reading
  • A militant drive to get people to read short fiction and contemplate art
  • A deep appreciation for cultural competency
  • A longing to hang around with a bunch of feminist book lovers
  • Extensive knowledge of the literary magazine landscape and familiarity with popular culture blogs and emerging writers
  • Previous experience with editorial departments and publishing
  • Laptop and easy access to Internet (80 percent of communication is through email)
  • Crush on Paper Darts’ content and tone
  • Note: Applicants do not need to reside in Minnesota


Deadline: 3/9/2015

Click here to apply




Heartbreak Week: Recommended Reading

With Valentine's Day behind us, it's time to tap into our angst and read some literature that reminds us why love is, sometimes, just the stupidest.


Fiction: David Cotrone

A how-to guide for being a jerk.

Reading time: 6 minutes, 28 seconds
Recommended for: Bad boyfriends

Fiction: Faith Gardner 

Sometimes your online date doesn't turn out like you planned. 

Reading time: 4 minutes, 36 seconds
Recommended for: Reluctant partners

Fiction: Katie Sisneros

Don't call your ex to save you from aliens. You're better than that.

Reading time: 6 minutes, 40 seconds
Recommended for: All the single ladies

Fiction: Rachael Katz 

Inviting you to their wedding? Who does your ex think they are?

Reading time: 3 minutes, 11 seconds
Recommended for: People who are over it (or want to be over it)

Fiction: Lena Bertone

Happy endings are for chumps anyway.

Reading time: 3 minutes, 1 second
Recommended for: Ruining an annoyingly perfect couple's day

Fiction: Jillian Capewell

Finally, a solution for all that stupid stuff your ex left you with.

Reading time: 17 minutes, 30 seconds
Recommend for: Anyone dumped by a guy named Art

Fiction: Elizabeth Word Gutting

Heartbreak spares no one, especially not your teenage daughter.

Reading time: 7 minutes, 6 seconds
Recommended for: Moms and daughters


Sitspo Week: Recommended Reading

Hey, look at that! It's January and it's cold outside. Love it or hate it, the cold is a perfect reason to snuggle up on your couch, squish your blanket and maybe a cat, and let this literature warm the cockles of your heart.

Fiction: Jason Heller

The daily coffee shop line gets retroactively interesting.

Reading time: 3 minutes
Recommended for: Coffee drinkers

Fiction: Christine Friedlander

A car crash victim and a dead neighbor's icy driveway: they both need your help.

Reading time: 9 minutes
Recommended for: Heroes

Fiction: Laura Shadler 

Getting over an ex might be a little like recovering from Agoraphobia. 

Reading time: 27 minutes
Recommended for: The brave

Poetry: Samiah Haque

Snow is the most romantic backdrop of them all.

Reading time: 30 seconds
Recommended for: Friends and lovers

Poetry: Kimberly Ann Southwick

Texas has frozen over.

Reading time: 48 seconds
Recommended for: Texans 

Fiction: Eric Magnuson

On top of a frozen lake is a terrible place to be when you're in love.

Reading time: 3 minutes
Recommended for: Young lovers