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:
- 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.
- 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.
Here’s what I’ve had come out as of late
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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
My book, The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective officially came out on July 15. I’m really proud of how this turned out. I never thought that I would write a novel and in a way, I accidently did. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, you can go here for the available ways to get yours. (And if you’ve gotten a copy, please add it/rate it on Goodreads and/or Amazon).
This past Thursday, I was on Functionally Literate Radio, an extension of the fantastic Functionally Literate reading series run by Burrow Press. We had a really good conversation about Jesus Christ, Boy Detective and my personal literary history. You can listen to that entire conversation here.
Book Riot named Jesus Christ, Boy Detective as one of the eight books you should read in July, which is rad (and should be another reason why you should get a copy, if you haven’t).
My book release in Orlando is on July 26. Bookmark It will be selling copies of it and the show itself should be wonderful. More details about the event can be found here. Hope to see you there.
July is going to be a really busy month, so let’s get right down to it.
Artborne Magazine was kind enough to interview me about Orlando’s literary history and about The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective. You can check out the interview here.
You have until July 6 to enter a Goodreads giveaway to win a free copy of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective. Click here to enter it. You can also pre-order a copy here if you don’t get picked for a free copy or if you just want to order a copy.
On July 9, I am facilitating a webinar on what poetry has taught me about writing flash fiction through the Florida Writers Association. You can read about how I discovered flash fiction over here. If you are interested in attending the webinar, click here (It’s $15 for non-FWA members, $10 for FWA members). I’m really excited that I get to facilitate this webinar and have some fun surprises in store.
On July 12, I am hosting Clash of the Word Titans III. This is an event I invented that pits four poets against four prose writers in a head-to-head elimination slam until only one team is left standing. This has been a really great show the last two times and I don’t expect anything different this go around. More information about the event is here.
On July 15, I’m reading at Culture Pop: Untold Stories. Click here for more information about the event.
On July 26, I’m holding my release party for Jesus Christ, Boy Detective but not in the traditional way of author reads his/her/their work and hopes people buy it. I’ve curated some kick ass readers for a special event called A Religious Experience. Readers will read work regarding religion and I’m looking forward to seeing what they have come up with. You can check out more details about the event here.
I have some dates in August that I’ll share a bit later.
An excerpt of my novella-in-flash is up over at 200 CCs. Click here to check it out.
I received my author copies of my Lucky Bastard Press chapbook, No More Stories About The Moon. They are so tiny and lovely.
If you pre-ordered this, you are going to receive your copies for free. If you have not ordered this and would like a signed author copy, you can send me $10 through this link and I’ll mail a copy over to you. If you have a copy or are interested in the chapbook, please add it and/or rate it on Goodreads here. I’ll be doing a reading from it and some other flash fiction stories on June 29 at Austin’s Film & Coffee in the Winter Park, FL area. Click here to get more details.
I’m also pleased to announce that I finished my final round of proofreading edits on The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective and have sent them to the publisher. You have time to pre-order your copy here.
I got some really terrific blurbs for The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016). Check them out below.
You still have until April 22 to enter a Goodreads giveaway to win a free copy of my flash fiction chapbook, No More Stories About The Moon. You can enter it here. If you don’t want to wait to see if you might win a free copy, you can order your own copy through Lucky Bastard Press over here.
I just finished reading Jane Liddle’s Murder (421 Atlanta). It’s a collection of flash fiction that all involve murder. The flash is so tight and well constructed and the murders that occur in each one are truly unpredictable. It’s one of my favorite reads this year. Here’s one of the stories from the collection that was published in Cheap Pop. You
can should order a copy of Murder here.
And finally, DUM DUM ZINE recently shared one of my Yelp review pieces they published a while back. You can read that one over here.