Oh! Yeah! I Wanna Riot!

These days, you can’t toss a Moleskine without hitting some scrappy new literary zine or hipster youth reading event. Paper Darts. Whole Beast Rag. CLAP. Revolver. Right now in the Twin Cities, it is cooler than ever to be a writer, and if you tickle the keys of a laptop—or a typewriter!—someone, guaranteed, will put you on a stage to perform your prose. This, for the most part, is a good thing.

But it wasn’t always like this. Before there was Literary Death Match, before there was Books in Bars, before an MFA could get you action, there was one man—an ornery, balding, bespectacled man—murmuring raspy odes to loner alcoholics in dark, boozy rock venues.

Paul Dickenson

Photo by Sean Smuda

This man was punk poet Paul Dickenson. (No relation to Emily.) 

In many respects, Dickenson’s Riot Act reading series—which, for several years, happened monthly at the Turf Club—presaged the current vogue for non-stuffy lit events. But Dickenson’s vibe has always been dark and gritty. Riot Act thrived on the ominous, the damaged. Performers read about addiction, about failure, about burning every suburb to the ground. If the current crop of stylish zine launches is the New Wave, than Paul D. and his crew were No Wave.

Alas, a management change at the Turf left Riot Act homeless, and for a few years it wandered the Twin Cities as an orphan, sporadically crashing various venues and events. But starting this weekend, the series has a new home: the much buzzed-about, brand new Belmore/New Skyway Lounge.

On Sunday, Dickenson rounds up some Riot Act regulars for a new reading. Performers include the vision questing urban mystic Frank Henry Rawlings III, film producer/liquor store cashier Beck DeRobertis, and, one of our favorite writers in town, the sexy and heartbreaking Laura Brandenburg.

Riot Act Reading Series
Sunday, October 14
7 p.m., free
The Belmore/New Skyway Lounge, 25 N. 4th St., Mpls.

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