Loren Niemi has been an innovative professional storyteller performing, directing, collecting, coaching, and teaching stories for over 40 years.
August 1, 2020 marks the release of his latest book: Point of View and the Emotional Arc of Stories: A handbook for writers and storytellers (written with Nancy Donoval).
The New Book of Plots: Constructing Engaging Narratives for Oral and Written Storytelling, completes the set of his instructional books on the craft of storytelling, both written and oral.
Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories (written with Elizabeth Ellis), is the theory behind these two companion books.
And his genuinely disturbing ghost story collection What Haunts Us is the winner of the 2020 Midwest Book Award in the ‘Fantasy / Sci-fi / Horror / Paranormal’ fiction category. It is an example of the application of the three other books.
If you know me only from my blog or have met me in passing at poetry readings, it may come as a surprise that I have a wicked sense of humor. Afterall, it is a natural antidote for pain and anger. I have decided to give up trying to be a serious literary author and play to my strengths. But more on that later.
Though I write poetry, short stories, and have several unfinished novels, by default I am a blogger. But not a very good one. Oh, the content is good but I lack focus and marketing and followers and blagh blagh blagh. My website isn’t optimized. Isn’t that what they tell us we are supposed to do? FYI: I’m not selling anything so lighten up. This is my own very public, private writing space, with some online lurkers that I know and some that I don’t.
In my memory, the carpet was orange but it may be a memory from a faded photo of that living room. Or the carpet may have degraded from brown from the years of college kids that tramped in and out of this 2-bedroom garden level apartment, with their disposable furnishings and found cats.
But the memory is of me on the floor smoking, most likely drinking a beer, and there is music. I face the armchair containing Kathi with freshly died red hair, also smoking, with Venus digging her claws into flesh, and Glenn Danzig looking on from the poster on the wall. Heavy metal posters, original artwork, and late nights of conversations that ran the gamut…
I had to think about it. My original blog was on Blogger.com in 2004: ‘Writing is a Tapeworm’. I am quite sure no one remembers it. It was pre-Face Book and during the height of My Space (they’re still around, did you know?). It served me much the same way my current social media does- random chatter but without the audience. I closed it right around the time I was looking for a new job… cmmounts.com launched in July 2014, died in January 2015, then like a phoenix rose out of the paper shredder in January 2017 with regular posts and visitors ever since. Continue reading →
It doesn’t help that the jet stream often covers our state in a deep blue-purple swath or that International Falls actually went to court for the official trademark title: “Icebox of America”. Yes, by some people’s calendar, winter lasts six months here.
By the astronomical calendar, the winter solstice will occur at 10:19pm Central Time on December 21, 2019. This means in very real planetary terms that the South Pole of the earth is tilted toward the Sun and the Sun will be at its southernmost position in our sky, the Tropic of Capricorn.
But for those of us living in Minneapolis on the 45th northern parallel, which is halfway between the North Pole and the equator, winter has already arrived. As of Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport measured 9.2 inches of snow. We got an additional 2 inches last night and they expect another 4+ inches of snow tonight. Continue reading →
It is Thursday night and I ride the #2 bus along Franklin avenue, through the heart of the Minneapolis Native American community. My destination is McNamara Alumni Center on the world-renowned University of Minnesota (UMN) campus.
In 1851, seven years before Minnesota was admitted into the Union, the territorial legislature chartered the university. That same year, the Dakota were forced to cede nearly all their land in Minnesota and eastern Dakota in the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota (though Minneapolis and St. Paul are built on land ceded in 1805).
I am headed to see Natalie Diaz, Mojave American poet and language activist, read her poetry. Continue reading →
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine
I have been so lucky as to read many, many pages of that book. And it is traveling that now disrupts the regular flow of my blog. It’s a good problem to have. Many people are not able to take time off work to visit family or for pleasure. I know how fortunate I am.
These past months, my writing career (such as it is) has been marked by an upswing in attendance of events, not performance of my own work. Open mics have been replaced with workshops, conferences, performances, and readings. And I have submitted my work for possible publication, I trend I hope to continue with more frequency.
On September 27-29, I attended the 16th annual Power of Words conference at the Casa Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference ran Friday night to Sunday afternoon and though there were accommodations, I stayed in a hotel off-site with a patio by the pool and palm trees. Continue reading →
On April 29 , 2013, I logged into Facebook and saw a photo posted by a friend. There was a tall plume of smoke rising out of the uptown area in Minneapolis. A building was clearly on fire. I thought, “Oh no, those poor people!” and said a prayer.
When I told friends that I would produce this audio blog, this podcast, a lot of people got excited. I have posted my written work on my blog for over two years, but I never recorded any of it. It seems we are in the midst of yet another generation gap. I am generalizing here so please forgive me, but my older friends prefer to read my blog while my younger friends have asked for a podcast. They say they don’t have time to read it, but they can listen on the commute.
A friend texts and asks if it’s true: Do writers write drunk and edit sober? I tell her what I know. Those are drinkers with writing problems. I can’t write drunk. All that will do for me is limit my vocabulary. But I suppose it’s a method to loosen the tongue, release the tension and anxiety that often comes part and parcel with bearing one’s soul to the page.
But it is Friday night. These are my coordinates. I am in this bar with all strangers. Continue reading →