J. Bradley

J. Bradley Writer

Writer/Performer/Producer

On Re-Evaluation

At the beginning of There Will Be Words (May 2011), there wasn’t anything like it. There were prose readings happening either on local college campuses that weren’t well advertised or occurring amongst insular writing groups but prose didn’t really have a public perception in Orlando. Prior to this, I ran a poetry slam from January 2001 to April 2011. In 2001, there was an open mic or two that was dedicated to poetry/spoken word, or events that happened on local college campuses, but most of the open mics were dedicated to music of the singer/songwriter variety. Over the ten years of running a slam, spoken word/poetry emerged and there was a spoken word/poetry show almost every night of the week in Orlando. Towards the end of the poetry slam, less people became interested in it, and I felt there were two factors behind it:

  1. Frequency: the slam was weekly and that’s a high demand from your audience to keep coming week in and week out. Some slams are able to do this based on their location and fanbase. There were some weeks that we had a very lean turnout and other weeks that we had a good turnout. I was stubborn and thought that the show needed to happen every week, too, not knowing any better.
  2. Saturation: the slam started out being something special early on, something new, and it attracted attention. We hit our initial peak when we sent our first team to the National Poetry Slam and then people lost interest because the team didn’t do well. We worked our way back up to getting a dedicated base that stuck around for awhile. As the years went on, more spoken word/poetry shows emerged, and they provided an alternative venue for performers who didn’t want to compete in slam, who felt more comfortable in the safety of an open mic, and they didn’t need the slam. We also hit our second peak from 2009-2010 when the 2009 team went to the semifinals for the first time at the National Poetry Slam. When the 2010 team didn’t match the previous team’s progress, people lost interest again. I tried switching the show from weekly to monthly and it struggled with attendance. I should have known when hardly anyone came to the tenth anniversary show that the slam was officially dead. Two months later, when no one came to the monthly slam (partially because it took place on St. Patrick’s Day), I decided it was time to end it and move on.

I embraced these lessons learned when I started There Will Be Words, doing a monthly show, curating the readings, making it something special. But even with the monthly frequency, saturation came back. More reading series and pop-up literary events have happened over the last six years and There Will Be Words has been struggling with attendance for awhile. It’s a great problem that Orlando has evolved from a literary perspective where we have a wide array of literary events that are actually known by the general public.

I’ve been revitalized as of late running the occasional poetry slam, partially because of the audience-as-judges element, partially because I’m not sending teams or individuals to national competitions. I’ve made it fun by introducing a title belt component and taking a three-ring circus approach. I’m moving There Will Be Words towards a direction that integrates the poetry and the prose into it, and where I do it three or four times a year, rather than doing this show monthly. I need to make this event special again so I can get people to come out, to support it.

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Here’s what I’ve had come out as of late

Fiction

Poetry

Reviews

Podcasts

 

Litlando 2017

I’m going to be running my Performing Your Work workshop at this Saturday’s Litlando, an awesome one day writing conference. I enjoyed doing this last year and this year is no different.

How it works is you have two minutes to read your work and me and my panel provide feedback about your performance. From my experience in writing programs, performance isn’t something that’s taught or considered important and this workshop is a way to kick that aspect of writing off for you.

Tickets are $25 ($15 if you’re a student). All proceeds will go to Page 15. To get your tickets (and maybe be a part of the performance your work workshop), click here.

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Here are some places that I’ve had work published recently:

I Fought The Site Admins (And The Site Admins Won)

I need to stop using the word “never” whenever I say that I won’t ever do a project again. I’ve done this with running a poetry slam (which I started doing on and off again in 2015), writing new Jesus Christ, Boy Detective stories (I’ve written a one-act and a three-act play) and my Yelp review project.

Some background: from September 2013 until early 2015, I wrote prose poems disguised as Yelp reviews and posted them on Yelp. I also submitted them to literary journals. As literary journals published them, I took them down. Yelp started catching on and took them down as well for violating their Terms of Service (ToS). Once they took down over 40 of them in a great purge around late 2014, I knew it was time for me to stop. I said then I wouldn’t ever do them again. Then a couple of things happened.

First, I got into Art in Odd Places – Orlando last year because of my Yelp review project and I started writing Yelp reviews reviewing each project. There were over 40 projects to review but I only got to about half of them. Overall, they were well received.

Second, we elected someone not qualified to be president and I started writing Yelp reviews reviewing the various properties that our president (still) owns, and then moved onto government buildings that his (incompetent) cabinet members would inhabit. After the site admins took down more of my Yelp reviews, they emailed me this.

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After that, I posted two more reviews, one on Yelp’s HQ building and the other on Melbourne International Airport. Those were the last straw for the site admins.

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I have no regrets doing what I did. I only wish the site admins had a better sense of humor about it, a sense of artistry. There are a lot of shitty Yelp reviews out there that, while they may confirm to the ToS, don’t necessarily have anything to do about the place that they reviewed.

I have a favor to ask: if you enjoyed this iteration of the Yelp review project, please pick up a copy of my book, Pick How You Will Revise A Memory, which contains some of the Yelp reviews from 2013-2015. Also, reviews about it for Goodreads would be helpful (which you can add over here.)

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Refer below to some recently published work that I have either been too lazy or too depressed about the current state of affairs to properly promote.

This Hobbit Takes Manhattan

I refer to myself as a hobbit from time to time because a) I like to walk long distances and b) my feet tend to be dried and cracked probably because of a) but also because I don’t moisturize my skin enough. Next week, I am indeed going on a journey, a long one, but not walking because it would take me weeks to get to where I’m going.

I’ll be doing two readings from my novel, The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective at the following places in Brooklyn next week (links to the Facebook event pages).

  • January 24 – Cool as F*** Reading Series: I’m excited that I’ll get to meet Bud Smith (finally) and get to read with this amazing line up of writers.
  • January 25 – J. Bradley Reading: There’s a ton of people who I have not heard read before at this one that I finally get to. (I promise I’ll read something different at each show if you come to both).

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I’ve hit the post-MFA emotional rut that seems to happen after getting conferred with your MFA. I was driven by imposed deadlines (and maintaining a 4.0 GPA) and, while it was stressful at times, I appreciated the structure and the discipline needed to manage all of that. I’m working on some new things but it still feels a little directionless at times. This emotional lull seems to always happen at the end of something big. I have to constantly remind myself to let the next big project come find me, not the other way around.

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And now for some recent publication news:

  • I have a poem as part of Indolent Books’s Transitions: Poems in the Aftermath. Please check that out over here. I would also encourage you to check out the rest of the poems in the series, as well.
  • I have new flash fiction in Stoneslide Corrective’s Aftermath issue, which you can read over here. Again, I would also encourage you to check out the rest of the pieces in this series, as well.
  • I have new flash fiction over in the inaugural issue of (b)OINK, which you can read over here. Yes, I am going to again encourage you to check out the rest of the content in this issue, as well.

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I’ve been posting Yelp reviews again, partially to promote my Yelp review collection, Pick How You Will Revise A Memory. You can follow me on Yelp over here. If you like these reviews, please consider getting a copy of my Yelp review collection over here.

Lastly, please also add the following to your Goodreads. They both need more love and attention.

It’s Finished

I’ve been quiet here lately. I was on the homestretch towards finishing my MFA program and as of Monday, I’m officially graduating with a 4.0 GPA. This is a huge personal accomplishment as the highest GPA I ever maintained was back in elementary school (mostly Bs).

My MFA experience was good. I found a program that was online only, which didn’t require any travel on my part. I was able to take workshops and classes outside of my comfort zone or expertise, such as narrative journalism, magical realism, the literature of war and the apocalypse, and playwriting. I had professors who encouraged my weirdness throughout the experience. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

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I have a new piece of flash fiction over in Microfiction Monday, which you can read here.

I have a new Yelp review poem over at New Verse News, which you can read here.

My Yelp review prose poem collection could use some love over on Goodreads. You can go here to add it to your shelf. You can also buy a copy over here.

Art is Hard

I’m currently recovering from my first Art in Odd Places as an artist. This was the first time I crossed over into public art and I learned a couple of things:

  1. Don’t have a project that relies on power. I didn’t realize the limitations that power requirements would cause in terms of where I could have my digital frame showing my Yelp reviews. I also didn’t realize the role the sun played in terms of people being able to see said project.
  2. Set a performance schedule. It’s challenging to be with your project for the duration of the festival. I underestimated the endurance that it required (and overestimated my own endurance, which is a personal issue I have to deal with). It would have been easier on me physically if I set times that I would be there.

Would I do this again? Absolutely. It allowed me to engage people who typically don’t read poetry or literature in general. I have an idea on what I would do for next year if the curators are willing to have me back again.

Click here to watch the project.I also wrote new Yelp reviews reviewing projects at Art in Odd Places (there were 41 and I could only write 21). You can check out the ones posted on AiOP Orlando’s Instagram feed here.

My Yelp review collection, Pick How You Will Revise a Memory, is still available for pre-order. Go here to pre-order a copy. You should be able to use the code NEWTITLESFALL2016 to get $3.00 off until Friday, November 18.

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A ton has happened as well on the flash fiction front/Jesus Christ, Boy Detective front.

First, I talked about the musical DNA of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective over at Largehearted Boy. You can read about it (and listen to the playlist) over here.

I have new flash fiction over in the following places:

I also interviewed John Jodizo for Maudlin House, which you can read here.

Also, I recommend heading on over to this article to see what organizations you can donate to. They will need all the help they can get to fight against the incoming sexist, racist, xenophobic Trump administration.

It’s Raining Flash

October’s been a pretty good month for me on the flash fiction end. Here’s what’s up:

  • I have a new piece over in The Airgonaut, which you can check out over here.
  • My first contribution to The RS 500 – Telling Stories in Stereo is up. I wrote a new piece of flash prompted by The Cars album “The Cars”. You can read it here.
  • I have a piece in the horror issue of Yellow Chair Review, which you can read here.

I’ll be reading this Friday, October 28 at Culture Pop. More details about the event are here.

Yes, You Too Can Choose Your Own Adventure

A little over a week ago, I performed my first Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) Florida Man story live at Loose Lips. I got the idea from B.J. Best based on his interactive fiction class (great academic label for CYOA stories) after he mentioned the tool that his class is using called Twine, an open-source tool for telling non-linear interactive stories.

When I write fiction, I don’t plan at all. I chase a core idea and see what happens as I write. This is the anthesis of how I approach my day job as an instructional designer/technical writer. I plan. I outline or storyboard. Only after I storyboard do I build what I want to build in the applicable tool. I realized that before I could start using Twine, I needed to have a loose idea where I wanted to begin.

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CYOA beginning outline while heading to Ft. Lauderdale on a Megabus.

After I had my initial outline, I was able to sit down and write the story in Twine. The interface takes a little bit getting used (including how to insert links). Once you figure it out, it gets easier.

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B.J. also mentioned a free hosting resource that his class is using to host their interactive fiction called Neocities. Twine exports your story as an html file. All you have to do is drag and drop the html to a hosting site. It’s really easy.

I wanted to perform this live but I knew of the technical limitations. I didn’t want the audience to stare at a screen as I read the words to them as they appear on the screen (that’s a presentation no-no). I didn’t figure it out until the night before the reading: choices and responses printed on double sided paper.

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What would you choose?

I picked someone from the audience to be the chooser and the performance went off very well.

If you want to check out the web version of my CYOA story, head on over to here to Due Process.

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I have some new flash fiction up in the following places:

  • Central American Literary Review published my story “Cerulean” in English and translated it into Spanish. This is the second work of mine to be translated into another language (my e-chapbook A Patchwork of Rooms Furnished by Mistakes was the first). You can read the story here.
  • I have a 100-word story over in Short Tale, which you can read over here.
  • Maudlin House published my flash fiction story “Shadowboxer”. You can read that over here.

 

New Work in Cheap Pop & Upcoming Readings

I have some new flash fiction over at CHEAP POP that you should check out over here.

I read earlier in August as part of There Will Be Fan Fiction 2: The Revenge. You can check out the entire reading here.

Here’s are my upcoming readings for September.

  • I’m reading with Lenore Myka at the Sunday Salon South Florida reading series on Sunday, September 4. This will be the first time that I’ve read in Ft. Lauderdale since going down there to support my first collection of poetry. More details about the event are here.
  • On Tuesday, September 6, I’m reading at Loose Lips, one of my favorite local reading series. You can check out more details here.
  • I’m doing two shows through my reading series, There Will Be Words. One is my regular reading series on September 13. The other show is my audience applause judged poetry slam There Will Be Verse on September 15. Check out the details below:

And Now For An Update

I had a great conversation with John King at The Drunken Odyssey about Jesus Christ, Boy Detective. You can check that out in full over here.

Cahoodaloodaling included my e-chapbook Neil in their latest issue that reviews e-chapbooks that have come out over the last year or so. Check out all of these excellent free reads and reviews over here.

Here’s my upcoming appearances for August:

  • August 4 – I’m hosting Spilled Milk Literary Open Mic. More details can be found over here.
  • August 9 – I’m one of the readers at There Will Be Fan Fiction II: The Revenge. More details can be found over here.
  • August 16 – I’m the featured reader at Wordier Than Thou Storytelling & Prose Open Mic at Studio@620 in St. Pete. Fun fact: my St. Pete book release for my first collection of poetry was also held at Studio@620. It’s a lovely space to read at and I’m excited to be reading from Jesus Christ, Boy Detective. More details about this show can be found here.
  • August 18 – I’m one of the readers at the First Draft Reading Series in Tampa. The event page hasn’t been posted for this reading yet, but you can like their page on Facebook over here.
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