Astonishingly, the San Francisco literary scene continues to grow and expand. When my friends and I hear of a new series starting up, the discussion invariably revolves around the question, “Do we really need another reading series? Isn’t enough, well, enough?”
On June 28, I descended into the surreal neighborhood frequented by denizens of the California College of the Arts to locate Project One, a bar and gallery perfectly suited for the debut of Writing Without Walls, a new series hosted by Jeff Von Ward, Gina Goldblatt, and Rey-Philip G.
Some will argue that writers should focus on supporting the existing series and not run the risk of siphoning off audiences, while others will make the argument for healthy competition. Yet others will point out that it’s not kind to stomp on anyone’s dream, no matter how inappropriate it might be in our particular time and place.
In the “recovery community” (which often can be likened to a sober reading series, with “shares” instead of poems), the community wisdom asserts: “All you need to start your own meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot. Just do it.”
When it comes to reading series, change it to “a resentment and a bartender” and the wisdom holds. There is always room for one more if you’re not wholly satisfied with what’s out there.
I have often said, and now reiterate [stepping onto soap box and pointing index finger] that a quality reading series requires committed organizers with a clear vision, a professional attitude and a well-structured presentation. Readings that feature open mics with no time limits or other guidance, disoriented readers with bundles of scrap paper, late starts, endless introductions, lack of planning, general sloppiness and egos run rampant are my idea of hell. And, sad to say, hell has many rooms in San Francisco.
But—cheers and hurrah!—the team behind Writing Without Walls is on the side of the angels, and the evening went swimmingly well.
The careful planning is evidenced by a coherent, if slightly off-beat, mission statement:
- Drunken Limb Flailing Prevails.
- Show Case of 6 Bay Area Writers.
- Mobile Series Spanning San Francisco and the East Bay to address the Bay Bridge Mingling Gap.
- No Walls. Ever. Just Expansion. Collaboration. Havoc and Celebration.
Simple enough: we know how many readers we’ll have and we know to expect havoc and celebration.
And who can resist this invitation:
Why should you come to another reading series?
Because We Like to Party!
Join us in the drunken limb flailing. It will bring us closer. We promise.
Yes we are multifarious word manglers, dec-onstructors and put-her-back-together-ers, hedonists, lovers, inventors, and geniuses -in print. In speak, we are awkward thumb and hair twisters, mismatched and clumsy, full of quiet tensions, hushed obsessions-fascinations-addictions-and- squelched-desires-to take each other to the handicapped bathroom and get it on. And so, we figured what better way to quickly and efficiently disintegrate these boundaries than to combine booze and music and get a reckless abandon of limbs, smiles, and louder-than-necessary schmoozing.
The debut readers, whose videos you will see below, did not provide an endurance test, and the havoc, celebration, partying and limb flailing were delivered as promised.
Welcome, Writing Without Walls!
Karen M. Biscopink