I set a goal for myself some months ago to start acting like a writer. I consider myself one so I should act like it, yes? Doing so means going to events, readings, and workshops other than my yearly conference. Instead of mumbling my mantra of ‘next year’ after spying the Lit Crawl announcement in my inbox, I decided to be proactive and make it a priority to attend. I’m so glad I did because, MY GOD! did I have a good time!
My friend Michelle and I went the last Saturday of the crawl and we both agreed that even though we had a fabulous time we both felt productive and accomplished. I have been chasing those feelings-albeit slowly and out of breath-since I got my undergrad two years ago which only confirmed the fact that doing things like Lit Crawl and communing with other writers is what I need to be doing with my life.
4:30pm BART Caravan reading featuring Nancy Davis Kho, A’Driane Nieves, Matt Stewart and Minna Dubin. The BART reading was my most anticipated event. I was so excited and extremely curious as to how they were going to pull it off. I had no idea what to expect; for all I knew it could’ve been fantastic or incredibly lame. Luckily for Michelle and I it was AMAZING!
The caravan took off from Downtown Berkeley, traveling to 16th & Mission; we met up with a Litquake volunteer on the platform and after a few brief introductions we were on our way. The host gave a brief rundown of what was happening and surprisingly the majority of the commuters were completely down for the reading.
Nancy kicked off the reading with a hilarious short story about society’s obsession with pumpkin everything during fall season-something needed to be said about the bombardment of pumpkin latte’s come mid-September! I was a little enamored with A’Driane, maybe because she reminded me of my mom when I was in grade school-that alternative hippy mom. She read a short reflection on her uncharacteristic membership with the PTA and general mama life.
Matt Stewart hopped on at MacArthur and regaled us with a quippy short story and then all hell broke loose. No I’m kidding, but it did get a little scary for about 30 seconds. In the middle of his second story the natives got a little restless, a rider at the back of the car began to complain about ‘tryin to sleep and I commute, I just want some peace’ er something. His friend tried to quiet him but then out of nowhere he barrels down the aisle-with a quickness we were not prepared for-and rips Matt’s pages out of his hands, tossing them to the ground all the while screaming in his face to shut up and some other stuff I won’t say. Luckily one of the riders and angry dude’s friend intervened but my god, it was looking like Matt was gonna get old school beat! Angry dude was obviously quite high and irritated so we decided to take a little break; however, with calls of support and encouragement, all of the riders unanimously urged Matt to continue. It was truly faith building.
I felt a bit of a rush after the BART caravan, there was an incredible communal vibe going like the universe was telling us ‘art is alive and appreciated!’ I was also glad to know my fight or flight response is on point because when angry dude made his debut I immediately flattened myself against the wall of the train and stayed the hell out of it. Normally I am the first one to speak up-even when it may seem foolish-but when I saw his red eyes flash under the florescents, I was like ‘mmm MMH! Not today!’
Immediately after we arrived Michelle and I grabbed a burrito with a fellow crawler we met during the caravan. On our way to the second event it started raining like crazy and of course we were unprepared without umbrellas. My roots were a little tighter at that time, so those with dreads know that my poor scalp felt every single cold drop. My hair promptly frizzed up but still managed quite impressively to plaster to the sides of my face. How does that happen? Frizzy and flat?
6:00pm Clitquake (yes, you read that right) at The Armory Club was up next; an hour of stories featuring the clitoris-an exploration of feminine sexuality. Clitquake was one of my favorite readings, incredibly fun and entertaining which is how I believe all clitoris talk should be. Quite a few authors were invited but my favorites were Lauren Parker and Danielle Truppi.
The club was super swanky, I’ll definitely be coming back however the downstairs room they had us in may as well have been the 7th circle of hell. It was obvious the facilitators underestimated the popularity of the event; the space looked like it held about 30 and there was about 60-70 people that came out. No AC or air ventilation of any kind, suffice it to say Michelle and I made it through about 30 minutes and then we were out
On our way to the next reading we found this amazing little vintage shop called Schauplatz. I love thrift/vintage clothing, especially handbags, vintage handbags are my kryptonite and boy was I was tested that night. We found a bunch of amazing pieces including a beautiful silky, red floral dress and an awesome leather jacket that gave me a Michael Jackson thriller vibe but y’know feminine? I was like ‘oh my god, I have to have that. It will be done!’ and of course it was about $150 so that didn’t happen.
We also stopped at a shop that appeared to be some kind of quirky party store. We didn’t catch the name and I really have no idea what type of shop it was other than the fact that it must have been awesome because on our way to the next reading we were abruptly stopped by the front display.
DONALD TRUMP PINATAS!
7:15pm The Beat Within at Scholar Match was next; this reading was one of the initial reasons I wanted to attend this year’s crawl. I interned with the art and literary journal in college. I was so proud to be apart of something so positively influential; the journal exclusively publishes content by recently incarcerated or rehabilitating youth. The Beat allows these kids to spread their message and voice in a world that would otherwise overlook them. They do this by hosting workshops in juvenile detention centers and continuation high schools. I was lucky enough to co-lead some of the workshops and edit the submissions.
This reading was by far the most rewarding. During my internship I worked primarily with kids who were recently released which didn’t allow me to see any success stories of those who had gone through the program. The readings featured writers and artists who made it through the program and were living not only stable lives but successful, inspiring lives.
7:30ish We rushed over to the Cave Canem reading at Incline Gallery; I was really excited about this event. The focus was writers of color-a conversation about people of color in modern literature I believe. However, we arrived quite late and could barely hear anything. I will say that the journey there was more interesting than the reading itself. The entrance to the gallery may as well have been a creepy rabbit hole( long dark alley with a lit doorway at the end). The gallery was beautiful, we were greeted by a lovely installment at the end of a long hallway that led to an indoor mini Shakespeare like arena.
8:15 A Totally 80s Reading Party at Coffee Mission was our last reading which we of course got completely turned around trying to find. The cafe was this tiny little storefront at the end of a block but once inside I was completely blown away by the amazing Rich Ferguson.
We were stuck on the stairs but I was able to hear enough to open the channel and coax my little poet out; I couldn’t wait to go home and write after hearing his reading. He did this almost spoke word recitation of a short story. Honestly, I’m not sure what it was but it was magnificent.
After my second fan girl moment we headed back down Mission to the after party. Of course we ran into another anti trump display, yet this time it came in the form of a public screaming booth. This couple had set up a cutout of Pyscho’s Janet Leigh on the corner of 23rd for people to stick their neck in and scream in fear of a possible Trump presidency. Never one to pass up an opportunity to scream in public, I let out all of my anxiety and frustration, having a blast doing so.
9:30 The after party was held at the beautiful, super swanky Chapel. Michelle and I hoped to meet up with the friend we made on the caravan but unfortunately did not. We planned to stay for a bit but that bit turned into over an hour. Like a good little aspiring poet I got my mingle on but most importantly I got my dance on like I hadn’t in a while. The party was the perfect way to end the night.
Doing something productive and proactive with my weekend rather than Netflix binging made me realize how much I get in my own way. When I saw the festival announcement in my inbox I begrudgingly promised myself I would go; I would have never guessed that night would be the best of my month. My future as a writer is much brighter when I feel I am making progress and when I’m feeling inspired. Enjoying life while advancing yourself is truly living spherically. My first Lit Crawl gave me a taste of both.