Every second Thursday, Marguerite Muñoz and Jose Hector Cadena host Voz Sin Tinta, a reading series sponsored by S.F. Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguia that is held at Alley Cat Books in the Mission. I put this information first in the hopes that you will use it, as I now will after attending the most recent event.
Authors are asked to read 10-12 minutes of material, eliciting a variety of styles—though “lipstick” came up red and vivid in almost all of the work; this was likely unintentional, and perhaps a result of the beautiful moon outside, which Marguerite referenced in the show’s introduction.
Christopher Patrick Steffen, the night’s first reader, started his story with a morning ritual and “daily dental practices” (as everything maybe should start). Christopher’s story included some of the most lively and clever depictions of office life you could ask for: it was familiar and sensual, and audience members were nodding, pointing at themselves and giggling, looking at friends. I am now a proud owner of his collection of short stories: Thank You for Supporting Our Dreams.
When Stephanie Suarez got up to read she told the audience that she’d be taking a mental picture, because she hadn’t read to an audience before. “You’re my first ones!” she said. She also reminded us that “poetry’s not for wimps,” before reading visceral, conversational, and, at times, romantic poems. I’m sure everyone was stoked to be in that mental picture.
Emil DeAndreis regarded his character, Horton (from his book, Beyond Folly), as the type of guy who would, given the opportunity for a one-way ticket to any location of his choice, “probably just go to Fresno.” Emil, however, would choose Antarctica, because “let’s go there once.” (At Voz Sin Tinta, featured authors are asked one random question before they read that they must answer honestly (honor system strictly enforced!)
After Emil’s caricatures of substitute teachers, principals, and the fine idea of a substitute teachers’ convention, Toma Barylak (“Unfocused. Unpublished. Unforgiven.”) told us that he’d hoped we were all a bit morose, or depressed, that he may uplift us with his short stanzas and the removal of his blazer (which totally worked). “Dark!” someone shouted, after a poem. “Uplifting!” someone else said. “Stay focused,” Toma said.
The open mic, which writers signed up for before the readings began, followed the features. Alejandro Murguia closed the night with a poem that rounded out the evening, which had begun with morning and ended with a “strange moon,” and “a strange world they’re selling here.”
Next month, Voz Sin Tinta will be celebrating its one-year anniversary with all female authors, in honor of Women’s History Month. Take this chance to check out lovely literary ladies, as well as representatives of the latino literary community, and a fantastic book store complete with art-covered walls and Nabokov Penguin Classics reprint editions.
Sarah Carpenter is a recent SFSU graduate of the Creative Writing and Philosophy departments. She is a Humanities lover, a humanity lover, and while human herself, a lover. She has had two poems published, and can be found reciting poetry from time to time throughout the Bay Area.