How did the likes of Rabindrinath Tagore, Toni Morrisson, and Alice Munro function in life as they were creating masterpieces that propelled them toward Nobel Laureate awards? What were their habits? Were they normal? Coffee House Press‘s own Chris Fischbach has been asking those sorts of questions as he collaborates with independent curator Sarah Schultz for the Laureate Lounge—a project of the American Swedish Institute.
On May 6, Minneapolis online literary community Hazel & Wren completed part 1 of a 2-part interview with Fischbach and Schultz. They chatted about the details of the Laureate Lounge— “an inventive space inspired by the real and imagined habits of Nobel Laureates,” and selecting four brilliant writers (Rachel Jendrzejewski, Janaki Ranpura, Sun Yung Shin, and Andy Sturdevant) to create writing exercises for visitors to the Lounge.
In the words of Hazel & Wren, “Arts organizations are moving from traditional (and sometimes elitist) modes of art presentation to more collaborative, grass-roots, and innovative ways of engagement. One of the organizations I admire that is addressing this shift in a very successful and intriguing way is Coffee House Press.”
The interview honed in on why Fischbach (and Coffee House Press) is involved with so many community events. They’re a publisher after all, not an event sponsor. Fisbach’s intention is to show that “literature is something that can be experienced in ways other than just reading. That reading isn’t necessarily a passive experience, but that it’s always participatory—this exhibit enacts that literally.”
As Coffee House Press continues to publish incredible literature, the independent house is also intentionally creating programming that, in Fischbach’s words, “connects writers and readers. It’s about creating different kinds of spaces for both writers and readers to encounter, enact, absorb, create literature. To demystify it.” With projects like the Laureate Lounge, Coffee House Press continues to innovate the idea of what publishing means—starting a conversation around the books.
The Laureate Lounge runs through May 24.