Wordplay’s Virtual Book Festival Begins May 2

Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the community are invited to attend this free event.
Wodplay presented by The Loft.

Courtesy of The Loft.

St. Catherine University is once again sponsoring Wordplay, the Loft Literary Center's virtual book festival featuring approximately 50 authors and 20 events. Themes Wordplay will explore this year include Native voices, sense of adventure, Black performance, fighting the patriarchy, motherhood, and literary comics.  

Wordplay will take place May 2-8, 2021, kicking off on Sunday, May 2 with conversations with Nobel Prize winning-author Kazuo Ishiguro at 4 p.m. CT, and then at 7 p.m. CT James Lee Burke and Dean Koontz.

The Wordplay virtual festival is free this year. Enhanced tickets ($35) are available for purchase for those interested in facilitated discussion hours before or after events. Register separately for each event you’d like to attend on the individual event’s page under the Wordplay schedule. 

Unable to attend the events live? Register for the event  and you’ll be emailed a recording after the event ends.

Where is St. Kate’s leading and influencing at Wordplay?

The Loft designed this event to engage the broader community in critical conversations — a value we share as a liberal arts institution and that is core to who we are at St. Kate's. As part of the events schedule, the University has a presence in two key ways: event moderation from President Becky Roloff ‘76 and Dean Tarshia L. Stanley and a selection of events noted as St. Catherine University critical conversations. 

Moderated by St. Kate’s Leadership

She Persisted, moderated by President Becky Roloff '76 | May 6 @ 9 a.m. CT

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, and Chelsea Clinton on Harriet Tubman, these stories will help cultivate and inspire the young people in your life to persist.

Rivers Solomon, moderated by Tarshia L. Stanley, PhD, Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences | May 6 @ 12 p.m. CT 

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.

Critical Conversations

There will be daily author sessions noted as "St. Catherine University Critical Conversations" that align with our mission and commitment to social justice and inclusive excellence.

May 3 @ 7 p.m. CT | Talking Back, Looking Forward: Native Women's Resistance & Reimagination

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.

May 4 @ 7 p.m. CT | Mother, Daughter, Witch, Savior

Women in caretaking roles are often burdened with unrealistic expectations and forced into sexist dichotomies. These authors examine the role of caretaker from new angles to expose the nuances beneath.

May 5 @ 7 p.m. CT | Sense of Adventure

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.

May 6 @ 7 p.m. CT | Fetch the Bolt Cutters

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.

May 7 @ 7 p.m. CT | Who's Watching?: The White Gaze & the Reclamation of Black Performance

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.

May 8 @ 7 p.m. CT | Tending the Earth

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


See the 2021 Full Lineup.

Want to get a feel for the amazing literary goodness coming up in 2021? Check out the archives for Wordplay 2020. 

You can find the full schedule here, and more information about Wordplay here.