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When Writers Connect with their Communities, Inspiration Follows

Coffee House Press

The mission of Coffee House Press is to publish exciting, vital, and enduring authors of our time; to delight and inspire readers; to contribute to the cultural life of our community; and to enrich our literary heritage. With the support of The McKnight Foundation, Coffee House Press builds on the best traditions of publishing and the book arts, producing books that celebrate imagination, innovation in the craft of writing, and the many authentic voices of the American experience.

McKnight’s goal of supporting working artists to create and contribute to vibrant communities aligns with Coffee House’s publications and community projects. One of their projects is CHP in the Stacks. Inspired by the Library as Incubator Project, this library residency program places writers in residence at public, school, and specialty libraries to create a body of work that will inspire a broader public to engage with their local libraries in new and meaningful ways, and to encourage artists and the general public to think about libraries as creative spaces.

“It reawakened me to my history — the history of LGBT culture and politics. Suddenly the novel is front and center in not just my mind, but on paper.” —Greg Hewett

Often, these residencies fuel the creative lives of writers in new and unexpected ways. When Coffee House poet Greg Hewett (darkacre, 2010) collaborated with the Quatrefoil Library (whose mission it is to collect, maintain, document, and circulate GLBTQ materials in a safe and accessible space), the collection inspired him to continue working on an unpublished novel. “It reawakened me to my history — the history of LGBT culture and politics. Suddenly the novel is front and center in not just my mind, but on paper.”

In April 2015 Coffee House author Kao Kalia Yang (The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, 2008) took residency at the St. Paul Public Library’s remodeled Sun Ray branch to create new work and design a public program to (re)engage the neighborhood with their new library. Yang addresses the immigrant experience and helps facilitate storytelling both on and off the page. During the course of her residency, she’ll use the books, space, and community at Sun Ray to further develop her craft as a writer and storyteller.

Topic: Arts

May 2015