Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

My writing connection to a Fargo bookstore November 9, 2012

A snippet of the many bookshelves at Zandbroz Variety. So artful and colorful and inviting.

MY PURPOSE IN CHECKING OUT a downtown Fargo, North Dakota, bookstore/gift shop recently focused on a single reason—Lake Region Review.

I wanted to see this Minnesota literary journal on the shelves of Zandbroz Variety because, well, my poetry is published in volumes one and two. Recently-released LRR 2 features 34 pieces of writing by selected authors in Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas.

Lake Region Review 2, with wood print cover art by well-known Minnesota artist Charles Beck of Fergus Falls, nestles next to the first volume of LRR. Beck’s cover art is titled “Cardinals.”

Given that 430 fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry submissions were submitted to the Battle Lake-based Lake Region Writers Network for volume two, getting into the collection is an honor and accomplishment. I’m in the company of mighty fine writers, many of them with an impressive list of writing credentials.

I also happen to live in southeastern Minnesota, far, far away from most of the writers featured in LRR and also far away from events related to the release of the second volume.

The back room of Zandbroz Variety, site of readings, book club meetings and other events and gatherings.

Visiting Zandbroz Variety offered me an opportunity to connect with the Fargo bookstore which will host a Lake Region Review Two Reading Event at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 9. I didn’t know about the event when I visited Zandbroz and introduced myself. And when I photographed the delightful back room of Zandbroz, I was unaware LLR 2 contributors will soon be reading in this cozy and inviting space.

Artwork in Zandbroz Variety’s back room with a favorite quote of mine from the book, The Help.

It was pure coincidence that, two days later, I would receive an email from Luke Anderson, president of the LRWN inviting me and other LLR 2 writers to participate in the reading at Zandbroz. I wish I could, but a 300-mile (one-way) road trip to Fargo is not in my plans as I’ve been to that North Dakota city four times already since February. (My son attends North Dakota State University.) Gas, hotel and dining expenses add up.

Likewise, I couldn’t join other LRR 2 writers who recently read their works for a program to be aired November 30 – December 2 on nine western Minnesota radio stations from Worthington in the extreme southwest to Fergus Falls on the north.

So it goes. I’m not much anyway on public appearances, preferring to write rather than perform. But I’m learning, too, the value in reading poetry aloud to an audience, having done that thrice now.

Promoting is also part of this writing gig. And that, too, can be a challenge given my Minnesota predisposition not to call attention to myself.

However, I did inform the young man staffing Zandbroz Variety that I had poems in both volumes of Lake Region Review. “Perhaps you remember the first; I mentioned cow pee,” I told him. “And in the second, I mention beer.”

He laughed, considered for a moment and replied that “cow pee” sounded familiar to him. Maybe. Maybe not. But I expect he’ll remember me now.

The lines, the books, the setting…this a scene in the back reading room. Love the ambiance.

A close-up of the chair back in the photo above. I have no idea from what book these pages were pulled. But I’d place a literary chair like this in my home any day.

Jolts of color on a door in that welcoming back room.

A rug for sale in the variety section of Zandbroz where you will find an eclectic mix of funky and retro and otherwise interesting merchandise. This made me think of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

An enchanting Christmas display near the front of the store.

Outside a front door of Zandbroz, I found this lovely tile work. I apologize for the lack of exterior store photos. But a light mist was falling at the time and I was reluctant to pull out my camera. I also limited my interior shots as Zandbroz was busy, busy and other shoppers do not always appreciate someone aiming a camera at them.

FYI: To learn more about Lake Region Writers Network, click here to reach the writers’ group website.

To see where you can find copies of Lake Region Review, published in 2011 and 2012, click here. LRR 2 includes writing by the following: Maxine Adams, Luke Anderson, Joe Baker, Frances Ann Crowley, Holly Dowds, Cindy Fox, Yahya Frederickson, Susan Gilbert, Ruby Grove, Vinnie Hansen, Audrey Kletscher Helbling, Nancy Klepetka, Karla Klinger, Elisa Korentayer, Judy R. Korn, Ryan Kutter, Julie C. Larson, Kim Larson, Linda Frances Lein, Kathleen Lindstrom, Ethan Marxhausen, Linda Back McKay, Travis Moore, Kristine Price, Candace Simar, Doris Lueth Stengel, Liz Sweder, Francine Marie Tolf, Benet Tvedten and Kevin Zepper.

Click here to see where you can listen to readings from LRR 2 airing soon on nine western Minnesota radio stations.

Finally, click here to learn more about Zandbroz Vareity, founded by brothers Jeff and Greg Danz and with stores in Fargo (420 Broadway) and in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Do you see how they came up with the clever name for their business?

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


17 Responses to “My writing connection to a Fargo bookstore”

  1. Erin Says:

    What a unique book store! Thanks for sharing. I love to plan family day trips around Amish and Indie bookstores! Keep discovering and sharing!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I promise to keep sharing. More Amish stories are in my draft and will be forthcoming soon. I just always have so much to write about here.

  2. Congratulations on your publication in the Review! I really understand that sensibility around publicizing your own work and reading aloud; familiar territory. The reading aloud part gets easier; the PR part is excruciating for me. What a great bookstore. The doormat made me think of Edgar Allen Poe. I love the photos you include with your posts.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks, Kathleen. I agree with you that the reading aloud part does get easier. I’m doing a presentation on poetry at the Faribault library on Thursday, December 6, along with another Faribault poet, Peter Allen. Thankfully Peter LOVES getting up in front of people and has been so encouraging. I really should start planning that presentation, shouldn’t I? I’ll touch on other writing topics besides poetry.

      As for that bird doormat, you are correct. Quite Edgar Allan Poe-ish.

  3. westerner54 Says:

    Good for you – for both the publishing and for having the courage to write about your work. The bookstore is just wonderful, as well. And cow pee and beer? Gotta love it.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I suppose I should explain. The cow pee relates to my poem about a barn; I spent a lot of time working in a dairy barn when I was growing up on the southwestern Minnesota prairie. The beer is in reference to the lunch (beer was the beverage) my siblings and I hauled to the field when the men were making hay on a sweltering summer day.

      I absolutely loved the atmosphere of Zandbroz. I almost missed that back room reading room. And those colorful bookshelves and that equally eye-catching tile floor. Wow. It’s just a fun and cool store.

  4. What a Beautiful Bookstore – I see your book is displayed – thanks for sharing!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Just to clarify, I have a single poem in each volume of Lake Region Review. The collection is published by the Lake Region Writers Network.

  5. I had no idea that Zandbroz is a chain! I LOVE it in Sioux Falls, though it’s been months since I’ve been in and it’s a little harsh on my checkbook! Fun. And so cool that you’re in those books! 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Perhaps not a chain, since there are only two stores. I didn’t check too many prices because I was too busy photographing.

      Yes, I’m grateful to be in Lake Region Review. You ought to submit, Gretchen.

      • There’s an idea! Yes, I suppose “chain” isn’t the correct term – it’s a neat couple of stores, that’s for sure.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Check out this website: http://lakeregionwriters.net/

      • Thanks! I checked it and am wondering about the county restrictions – is it only for people in the counties they mention?

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I can see how you might be a bit confused. Lake Region Writers Network is based in the northwestern region of Minnesota. However, the geographical area for writers published in Lake Region Review is as follows (quoted from the current volume of LRR):

        “We seek quality fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry by writers in Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas, especially from those with a personal connection to this region. The work submitted does not need to be grounded in the region, though we admit to a fondness for this region and a desire to see it represented in creative and engaging ways.”

        So you are good to submit, Gretchen. I can’t recall the submission time period, but I think either late winter or early spring. I will try to remember to email you when I become aware of the deadline. I just know, given you level of writing talent, that you stand a good chance of getting into this literary journal.

      • Sweet! Thanks for the info., Audrey – and your encouragement, as always!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        You are most welcome, Gretchen. Your talent as a writer is remarkable and I’d like to see you published. Readers, be sure to check out Gretchen’s blog.

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