LYRICS & DIRGES: over the top

(Charles Kruger)

Pegasus Books has been a Berkeley institution since 1969, if you count its first incarnation as Pellucidar Books. For all these years, they have regularly hosted author events and encouraged many reading series. Lyrics & Dirges, which presents readers the 3rd Wednesday of every month, has been a welcome addition, encouraging many to make the trek across the Bay Bridge into the Berzerkeley wilds as well as attracting local book nerds.

MK Chavez, Sharon Coleman and Tomas Muniz share the curating responsibilities, and they have done a consistently excellent job. Check this out, for example.

One thing I very much like about this series is that they have a clear and concise mission statement: “This series features a mix of prominent, emerging and beginning writers each month. Its aim is to highlight various forms of writing in an effort to spotlight the diverse literary community that lives in the Bay Area.”

From this, one would expect to see a variety of readers and styles, with different levels of experience. That is exactly what you get.

On June 15, the readers included heavyweight celebrities Andrew Lam and Erika Lopez, Tanya Baker, series hosts Tomas Muniz and MK Chavez, and student Heidi Cooper giving her debut public reading.

All of the readers were professional and a treat to hear, but Erika Lopez was over-the-top. I usually begin to fidget after 10 minutes of reading, but after nearly half an hour, I was disappointed to hear Ms. Lopez complete her set. In fact, when I tried to edit the video, I found I had to start from the moment she left her seat – her introductory material was too good to cut. You will hear me snapping my fingers in enthusiasm, which attracted her attention and puzzled her; I had to explain that I was showing appreciation, but couldn’t clap because one hand was tied to my camera.

But the entire evening was exceptional. The next scheduled Lyrics & Dirges is July 20th. You will likely not regret a visit to Berkeley for this event.

And here are the videos:

MK Chavez

Tomas Moniz

Tanya Baker

Andrew Lam

Heidi Cooper

Erika Lopez