What follows is a day by day guide… through Monday, and a list of events we’re covering. You can download a PDF of the entire schedule, and check back here daily for videos, more previews, and the occasional thought or two. Many of the links below are videos. Hover and click! And have fun tonight! xo
Personally, I really enjoy the Off the Richter Scale series. It’s always some of the more serious programming because it’s early on the weekend and the people who are there are paying attention. There’s no distractions. Plus, the authors presenting have these odd affinities with one another. I mean: Masters of Flash is like a freak show. I don’t know Luis, Jane, or Pamela, but Thaisa Frank, Molly Giles and Frances Lefkowitz are all serious devotees of flash fiction—itself, when handled correctly, an exciting and relatively new way to fill the page. Host Meg Pokrass, a monster of the genre, will delight you with a handful of words. You might walk away from this one feeling like you live on the street and someone with far more wealth than you has graciously tossed a handful of change in your cup. Personally, that’s what I’m going for.
I should stop and say I’m going to the Variety Preview Room (582 Market St) for all four hours of tomorrow’s programming. First of all, it’s the easiest way to get the most out of your time: you don’t have to go anywhere, and you’re exposed to a wide array of writing.
The second hour is First Fiction—no telling what will happen here. I don’t know any of those authors. May we be best friends next year. At the same time, though, is an event I’m certain will be outstanding: Litquake in the Castro. Those four words alone should get you excited, but with Meg Day, Daphne Gottlieb, Brontez Purnell, Oscar Raymundo, and Rob Rosen all reading in Jane Warner Plaza, you know it’s going to be special (click on the first three for videos and you’ll see what I’m saying).
But part of the reason I’m staying at the Variety is because I want to be there for Around the World, which includes Tamim Ansary, Aimee Phan, and Julia Flynn Siler [watch]—but is also simply a chance to travel the world in an hour! We are promised Afghanistan, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Hawai’i. Let’s go. The thing about Litquake is, you might be an historical fiction buff with a hankering for wine and cheese at 2pm on a Saturday—you’re in luck. But me, I’ve got a crush on Toni Mirosevich (I know!), and she’s part of the final Richter event Saturday celebrating women writers from the Hedgebrook Writers-in-Residence program.
But maybe that’s not your thing. You’re political. Check out Rewriting America: Race and Re-imaginings in Post-9/11 America—Francisco X. Alarcón might be reason enough for many.
OK—still with me? We’re still on day 1, in the middle of the afternoon: 4pm, NaNoWriMo presents YA authors competing against one another with live prompts. Live prompts are always a good idea, people. They’re fun. It reminds you what you can do when your brain isn’t fighting itself (yeah stop that). There’s also a teen writing contest element here. Quick rounds. Check it out—that’s at Z Space.
Personally, I’m going to leave the Variety and take it easy, maybe find somewhere to recharge my camera. But at 6pm I’m going to go to the public writing session. Of course I am. I love public writing. I love being in a group of people who are doing it. It’s fun! I don’t care what I write, but I will write something. Or maybe I’ll just talk to people. Maybe we’ll write something together in 30 minutes and have it forever after! Also, it’s in a bike store, which will inspire me to hop back on my bike at about 6:30 and race back up to the Makeout Room for Barely Published Authors. In general I try not to miss this event, but this year features Graham Gremore and Siamak Vossoughi—two of the most talented emerging voices I know. Ransom Stephens is Professor Midas; he does a great job actually introducing these writers to the general public.
But Barely Published is sandwiched by two other events that are sure to be solid: at 6pm, Michael Krasny and Don Lattin interview each another about their Spiritual Memoirs for Agnostics, and at 8pm a quartet of (really) funny women converge, as part of Sketchfest, for Verbal Calisthenics.
Again I’m going to start off at the Variety, because at noon the poets will poem. The best part about this is I only know two of them: Arisa White and Indigo Moor—and that’s enough to know it will be a good hour. Plus this is what happened last year. The year before? That’s where I met Melissa Stein, and I am grateful for that morning.
1pm brings on the nonfiction. Don’t know anything about anyone but Seth Rosenfeld, who published the gargantuan The Subversives this year. Check this out. Wisely, the following hour is filled with the fantastic: science fiction galore! I only know Catherine Sharpe but, again, I really like to expose myself to new things and new authors during the festival.
Alternately, you could get hip to Philip P. Choy’s beautiful guide to Chinatown, recently published by City Lights, at the California Historical Society (678 Mission St, 1pm). This, along with another 1pm event—Constance Hale discussing her book Vex, Hex, Smash, Smoosh—begins one of Litquake’s new series: Words and Pictures: A Cultural Stroll through Yerba Buena.
That series continues with three more events all at 2:15: Comics on Comics, which features Michael Capozzola, Joe Klocek, and your friend and mine, Chris Cole, riffing on their favorite comic books over at the Cartoon Art Musem (655 Mission St), and Drawn Out Stories, with Paul Madonna, Gabrielle Bell, Noah Van Sciver, and others at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Forgers: Prophets and Purists: A Conversation on the Art World features Jonathon Keats, gallerist Richard Polsky, and curator + author Nancy Boas. That hour alone is a very hard call!
Trying to do my play by play I’ve neglected five writers who came of age in the radical 60’s—you know that will be wild at 2pm, and at Bird & Beckett it will also be homey.
At 3pm, back at the Variety, Carolyn Cooke hosts an hour of nonfiction. Watch that video. Trust Carolyn with your life… I advise that. I’d love some sort of coverage of this event, as I’ll be heading out early to catch Nobel-nominated Kenyan author and activist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o in conversation—on politics, aesthetics, writing, and more—with his son, Cornell professor Mukoma Wa Ngugi. Moderated by the fabulous author and professor Sarah Ladipo Manyika, this event is at the Museum of the African Diaspora (685 Mission St, 3:30), and I just know it’s going to be a great conversation. Right?
4:45 continues the Yerba Buena tour, with Art of the Imagination—readings from novels set in the art world, dramatized by Acting Fiction group of Brookside Repertory Theatre in the YBCA. This ought to be pretty singular (follow the link to see what they’re reading!).
That concludes… Sunday’s daytime programming. Enter the night:
6pm begins a trio of events:
- I’m hosting a tribute to Lenore Kandel [watch], with readings by Kyrsten Bean, Liz Demi Green, Sarah Maria Griffin, Brenda Knight, Joanna McClure, and Gerald Nicosia. We’ve done one other event for this book, but it did not include belly dancing; this one will! If you like poetry or SF literary history, this is the event for you.
- Lit on the Lake returns: ladies reading at Lake Chalet. I went to this one year and it was really special. Featuring Ericka Lutz, Jacqueline E. Luckett, and Gail Tsukiyama. It’s in the Gondola Room, which overlooks Lake Merritt.
- The Dirty Side of Democracy features Belva Davis, Will Durst, Geoffrey Nunberg, Beth Spotswood, and David Talbot. Yowzas! If you go, take some notes!
Sunday concludes with the 8pm tribute to Woody Guthrie, helping you make sense of Hardly Strictly + Litquake in the same weekend. This centennial celebration features Jay Farrar, Steve Earl, Guthrie biographer Ed Cray, and many special guests. Z Space will be rattling Sunday night, that’s for sure.
This is a pretty outstanding day. I’m running out of time for this preview, so let’s turn to the highlights: I wish I could go to Thar She Blows: Transforming Moby Dick into an Opera! That starts at 6pm at the SF Opera Chorus Room and is inexplicably free. This opera is about to premiere, and librettist Gene Scheer will discuss the transformation from page to stage with SFSU Professor Geoffrey Green.
If you’re feeling low-key and want a quality discussion in a beautiful setting, head to The Book Club of California (312 Sutter St) for a panel on some stories behind Bay Area bookselling. I went to an event there recently and found it fascinating.
7pm: The big event of the festival, in many ways, is the Barbary Coast Award. I think so, anyway. This year it goes to Poetry Flash—read the recent profile I wrote for The Chronicle. This is history, people.
I wouldn’t miss that for anything but Quiet Lightning, which is at 8pm at the Conservatory of Flowers—your last chance this year to see a reading there. Tough choices, people—I won’t speak about that show except to say I know you would not be disappointed there. I could say the same thing of the Verdi Club, though, where Porchlight also has an 8pm show.
Sadly, the hourglass is almost empty, so let me just list off what Litseen is covering for the rest of the week and remind you that we’re happy to run additional thoughts, photos, and videos—just send me a line. I hope to add more thoughts on the rest of the festival, but once it starts it’s really hard to keep up because I’ll be adding videos and, at the beginning of the week, preparing for my Sunday and Monday shows.
I love running into people over Litquake. I hope you are one of them, and if you read this and then run into me, say something outrageous that might confuse me. I welcome nonsense.
Events we’re covering
Saturday: noon – 3pm @ Variety Preview Room • 1pm: Litquake in the Castro • 3:30pm Rewriting America • 6pm: Public Writing Session • 7pm: Barely Published Authors
Sunday: 12-2pm: variety preview room • 3pm: Five Writers Who Came of Age in the Radical 60s • 3:30pm: Decolonizing the Mind • 6pm: Lenore Kandel • Woody Guthrie
Monday: 8pm: Poetry Flash • Quiet Lightning
Tuesday: 12:30pm: Lines & Lyrics • 6:30pm Good & Evil • 7pm Dangerous Dolls • 8pm: Eggers + Clowes
Wednesday: 6pm: Juan Rulfo @ Mexican Consulate • 7pm: Write On! • 7pm • Original Shorts • 7pm Philosophy Talk
Thursday: 6pm One City One Book w/Rebecca Solnit • 6pm Straight + Tea • 7pm: Literature of CrossBorder Reality • 8pm Handler + Greer
Friday: 8pm Literary Clown Foolery
Saturday: 1pm The Art of Long-Form Journalism • 2:30 The Art of Short Fiction • 4pm The Art of the Novel • 6pm Lit Crawl: never plan the crawl before the crawl (Evan’s reading at 8pm @ Asterisk)