Literature and poetry readings can be a bore. Too many are sullied by bad wine, stale crackers, and an abundance of feelings—-a nasty combination that could scare off even the most ardent lit lovers. But members of D.C.’s literary community want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way. Readings—-and the people who sponsor and attend them—-can be fun! To prove it, local lit journals Barrelhouse, Big Lucks, and Lines + Stars, along with Flying Guillotine Press and writing nonprofit 826DC, are hosting a celebration of the D.C. literary community called “D.C. Lit: Come Get Some” at U Street Music Hall Monday night.
Part of the impetus behind “Come Get Some” is the eventual launch of DC-lit.org, a website built by Big Lucks Editor Mark Cugini, Barrelhouse Poetry Editor Dan Brady, and Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review Editor-in-Chief Rae Bryant that aspires to serve as a one-stop-shop for local readers and writers. Eventually, DC-lit.org will feature a calendar of local readings, publishing guidelines, and information about literary prizes. The idea for the website took shape in the summer of 2012, when Cugini and Brady realized that while a lot of events related to literature were taking place in and around D.C., information about them was scattered. After assessing the volume of lit resources available in town, Brady says, “it seem[ed] like we [could] do some things together that would make an impact and get some more attention for writers in D.C.”
In the meantime, the organizers of Monday’s event are trying to build excitement and grow the lit community that already exists. Monday’s get-together essentially takes what was previously a private gathering of editors and transforms it into a more open community event. But while it aims to connect newcomers to local magazines and lit organizations, “Come Get Some” is also an excuse for the founders to connect with each other and celebrate the work they’re doing.
“The independent art-world functions a bit under the radar, I think,” writes Lines + Stars founder Rachel Adams in an email. But “it’s been in existence longer than it’s often given credit for. There are a ton of wonderful literary journals and zines, poetry readings taking place in parks and churches, weird little spaces where music is being performed,” and more, she writes.
But please, people: Don’t show up in your tweed jacket with a Proust novel tucked under your arm. “This isn’t a pretentious crowd in any way,” says Barrelhouse fiction editor Joe Killiany. “These are all really good people who just really like literature.”
Festivities kick off at 7 p.m. with readings by writers Sean Carmen, Amelia Cohen-Levy, Carrie Murphy, and Michael Sheehan, followed by music from DJ Patrick Kigongo. And in true celebratory style, there will also be prizes: Attendees can win copies of the latest issues of Barrelhouse and Big Lucks, a copy of Zeitoun signed by author and 826 co-founder Dave Eggers, and, for one lucky winner, a coupon for a round of shots with Cugini. Prizes? Shots? Nah, this doesn’t sound like a stodgy wine and cheese party.
“DC Lit: Come Get Some” takes place April 29 at 7 p.m. at U Street Music Hall. Free. More information is on Facebook.