Open Mic Friday! featuring Litcrawl writers

Happy first Friday of November, dear friends, and welcome to the Open Mic!

Today’s mic is a combination artist “roundup” and post about my Litcrawl experience. A few weeks ago, I told you I would be reading this piece at San Francisco’s Litquake festival. Now the lovely people of Kearny Street Workshop have posted their pics from the event, so I can share those with you too. View the whole set here.

Litcrawl 2011 KSW reading

L to R: Nayomi Munaweera, Bill Gong, me, Will Gutierrez, Chiwan Choi, Maria T Allocco

In short: Litcrawl was so much fun. I got to meet some lovely and talented writers, and explore several new places in SF — the “crawl” takes place over three hours, at 75 different venues, so as we walked from reading to reading I felt like I was at a big outdoor/indoor party all over the Mission. I went to some underwhelming Litquake events last year, but this was my first Crawl, and I’ll definitely be going again.

Lisa reading

Here I am reading

I feel ridiculously privileged to be among these writers — to be counted as one of them (in our reading), but also simply to be on friendship and acquaintance terms with so many of them. Their words blow me away, and even more than their words, the way they embody them: sitting alongside me, hugging, smiling, gracious. It still amazes me that I can know someone as that nice person with the brilliant smile, then hear them read and just want to sink in the floor because oh my god, that’s right, we met in a writing program… this person is a serious writer, good lord. I guess if I knew enough about technical things I’d feel the same way to know what Erik can create with software, or my dad with machines, and certainly every time I think of my parents’ and relatives’ journeys over their lifetimes, I’m thunderstruck. But yeah, it’s fun to have it happen with my friends and fellow writers. To be Facebook friends with someone for months, sharing goofy links and “likes,” and then hear them in person reciting words that grow striking images in my mind — wow. I wanted to bow down to them all.

Forest Books Litcrawl audience

Isn't it cool how many people will turn out for literary events? The Litquake staff told us 15,000 over the course of the week... not including Litcrawl.

Here are the writers whose work I most enjoyed, over the course of the Crawl. Unfortunately not all of them have a web presence, but I urge you to check out the work of those who do.

  • Maria T Allocco, an IWL friend and creator of the “What Are You?” cards
  • Chiwan Choi, who read (part?) of his incredible poem “Abduction
  • Bill Gong, who read an amazing piece about moving to SF (check out more of his writing at his blog)
  • Will Gutierrez, whose words and thoughts I just love more all the time
  • Nayomi Munaweera, another IWL friend and all-round stylish lady
  • Claire Light, who cracked me up with “Who Wants to Be an Asian American?”
  • Elwin Cotman, another IWL friend and a stunning performer
  • Praba Pilar, who has to be seen to be believed (but her alter-ego Sarlar had Will and me in hysterical tears)
  • Elissa Perry, a VONA friend and the one to whom I most wanted to bow down, and
  • Mushim Patricia Ikeda-Nash, who read an exquisite piece about her father (you can read another, equally magnificent, here).

And I want to give a shout-out to the Carl Brandon Society, at whose reading I heard Claire, Elwin, and Praba. I’m so glad it exists and I totally support their vision: “a world in which speculative fiction, about complex and diverse cultures from writers of all backgrounds, is used to understand the present and model possible futures; and where people of color are full citizens in the community of imagination and progress.”

After the readings were done, Will, Elwin, Erik and I went to the Farolito taqueria and ate burritos. I ordered a super by accident, instead of a regular. It attacked me with sour cream each time I took a bite.

Writing, performance, camaraderie, community, and food: I wrote in my journal after the event that the evening just made my entire being want to nod YES.