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.
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.
I have a story called “This Is Not My Beautiful Life” over at HYPERTEXT. I wrote this after a conversation I had with a couple of folks I know. I have always believed that the best story ideas are the ones you stumble on to.
Ben Tanzer said some really nice things about Sam Slaughter‘s When You Cross That Line, a chapbook that I published through my reading series There Will Be Words. You can still order what copies we have left here.
Also, the e-book versions of The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective are now available for pre-sale. You can pick which version to pre-order by going here.
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.