Tag Archives: Literary reading series

Amelia Gray reads at The Foundry on 9/9

The Foundry is our literary reading and education series, bringing a host of new voices, both emerging and well acclaimed, to our fair city. Our upcoming Foundry reading, on Saturday September 9th, features Skyler McCurine, Nicholas Bredie, Jac Jemc, and today’s spotlight, Amelia Gray.

The first real literary reading I remember attending was the esteemed Vermin on the Mount, four or five years ago. Amelia Gray read, and I’d never heard of her before. To people in the literary world that’s sort of ridiculous. And to anyone who has experienced Amelia at a reading, she is a force of nature. Inspired and a little awestruck, I bucked up some new writer courage and approached her afterwards, telling her she did great. I asked her if she had any work I could find online, and she (with her three-going-on-four books at the time) smiled, so nicely, and said, “Sure, yes I do.”

Amelia’s writing is always transformative: her characters, their worlds, and their objects often turn your understanding on end. And Isadora, Amelia Gray’s brand new novel (just out this summer from FSG), while unlike anything I’ve read from her before, maintains this, gorgeously so. Isadora delves into the life of the American dancer Isadora Duncan. It’s tragic, and weird, and darkly funny. She unsettles her readers, charms and endears them, makes them laugh, and then sort of pulls the rug out a little bit.

From an NPR review of Isadora:

Gray is a gutsy, utterly original writer, and this is the finest work she’s done so far. Isadora is a masterful portrait of one of America’s greatest artists, and it’s also a beautiful reflection on what it means to be suffocated by grief, but not quite willing to give up: “In order to understand the greatest joys of life, you must do more than open yourself to its greatest sorrows. You must invite it to join you in your home and beguile it to stay.”

Read the rest of the review at NPR.

If you don’t have a copy of Isadora yet, you can read a brand new Amelia Gray short flash fiction story, “The Hostage,” published this summer at The New Yorker.

“You’re not putting a dye pack in there, are you?” he asked.

The woman turned to look at him, and he was surprised to see that his question seemed to have wounded her. “I would never,” she said. “What would make you say that?”

“I’m sorry.” He tried to think about what would make him say it; he had seen a dye pack in a movie once and knew that it could explode and make a terrible mess. There was a lot that he didn’t know about robbing banks, and every moment was another opportunity to reveal his ignorance.

Read the rest at The New Yorker.

AMELIA GRAY is the author of five books, most recently Isadora (FSG). Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, and VICE. She is winner of the NYPL Young Lion, of FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She lives in Los Angeles.


We can’t wait for you to meet Amelia Gray and hear her read at The Foundry, this Saturday September 9th at The Rose in South Park (2219 30th Street). Amelia reads alongside Jac Jemc, Nicholas Bredie, and Skyler McCurine.

Doors at 7:00 PM
Readings start at 7:30 PM!

And join us for The Foundry’s associated master class, “Fooling Ourselves (Into Writing),” taught by Jac Jemc that afternoon from 2-4 PM. There are just a few spots left!


If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month. Details here.


Julia Dixon Evans

Skyler McCurine reads at The Foundry on 9/9

The Foundry is our literary reading and education series, bringing a host of new voices, both emerging and well acclaimed, to our fair city. Our upcoming reading, on Saturday September 9th, features Amelia Gray, Jac Jemc, Emma Smith-Stevens, Nicholas Bredie, and today’s spotlight, Skyler McCurine.

Skyler’s essay, “Black. Woman.,” which debuted on our VAMP stage in 2016, is featured in the brand new issue of The Radvocate Fifteen, our literary journal. Skyler’s writing richly touches on selflessness and the ways we struggle to understand our ourselves, our families, and the (sometimes awful) people around us.

Every time we went to the Beauty Supply store, to re-up on my natural hair care products, I whined over the Just For Me Box, a relaxer designed for young girls. I thought, “if only I too could have a side pony tail, Surely Zack Morris would fall in love with me then.” My mother fought me daily, a battle of which I am grateful for. She fought to keep me black, she made me grapple with myself until I saw my features for what they are, beautiful. I learned to not shy away from environments in which I was different and come my sophomore year of high school, she found another opportunity for me to harness my TOKEN power. She became drawn to the whitest sport in the world, threading our love of water within it: rowing.

from The Radvocate Fifteen.

Skyler is one of our hardest working and inspirational coaches and producers for VAMP and our education outreach projects. We can’t wait to feature her work on a new stage, and can’t wait for you to meet her at The Rose on Saturday the 9th! Skyler will read alongside Amelia Gray, Jac Jemc, Emma Smith-Stevens, and Nicholas Bredie. The Rose is located at 2219 30th Street in South Park. Doors: 7, Show: 7:30. 21+. 


 Skyler McCurine is redefining the look of leadership as a personal stylist, public speaker, wonder woman and founder of Le Red Balloon.  Driven by the lackluster stereotypical portrayal of women in the media, she leads workshops for teenage girls and professional women around conscious media consumption, leadership, self­ acceptance, personal branding, and of course, style. Skyler’s passion for fostering leadership, audacity, selflessness, gratitude and courage in young women led her to invitation to TEDx, SD Business Journal “Emerging Generation Award” and her recent invitation to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit as Swiss Luxury watch brand’ Baume & Mercier’s guest of distinction.  She was a finalist for the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the social entrepreneurship category. She is a native San Diegan and received her BA in Communication Studies from Loyola Marymount University and MA in Organizational Management from Ashford University.  Her fervent belief in inclusion, red balloons, and champagne are her personal North Stars.

Skyler as Saint Sugar Hill by Alanna Airitam


If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month.

Nicholas Bredie reads at The Foundry on 9/9!

The Foundry is our literary reading series, featuring writers near and far, both established and emerging, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, anything. Our next reading is Saturday, September 9th at The Rose in South Park. Join us for readings by Amelia Gray, Jac Jemc, Emma Smith-Stevens, Skyler McCurine, and today’s feature, Nicholas Bredie.

Nicholas Bredie is the author of the novel Not Constantinople, from Dzanc Books, Summer 2017. With Joanna Howard, he is the translator of Frédéric Boyer’s novella Cows, published by Noemi Press. His writing has appeared in The Believer, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Fairy Tale Review, LitHub, Puerto del Sol, Electric Literature and elsewhere. After living and working in Istanbul, Turkey, he is now in Los Angeles with his wife, Nora Lange.

You can read this excerpt from his novel, Not Constantinople, up at Literary Hub.

Not Constantinople is a rich, witty book that is equally as character-driven as it is place-driven as it is plot-driven.

Virginia’s hand found the neck of the Jack Daniel’s protruding from one of the sacks. Wielding the square bottle like a mace, she demanded that the strangers remove themselves. She was like the one animatron in a wax museum, sloshing the liquor in small but sincere strokes while everyone else froze.

“Isn’t that, like, an eighty-dollar bottle?” the man said, unperturbed. “Are you sure you want to waste it on me?”

Read the rest of the excerpt here.

Here is a delightful Electric Literature interview with Nick by Maureen Moore, a friend who had briefly lived with Nick and his wife, Nora, while they lived in Turkey. The idea of an “ex-pat novel” is rife with preconceived ideas and expectations, and perhaps even derision from a reader, and Nick manages to throw these expectations out of the window. While reading Not Constantinople, this excerpt often came to mind:

MM: Something that contributed to that unsettling feeling was seeing everything about the city written in its American English equivalent. I think I found that to be rare, finding these foreign names of places and things in English. Even one of Turkey’s most famous writers is referred to as Mr. Cotton. I’d love to hear it a little bit about this choice.

NB: I think it is connected to the idea of undermining or disenchanting. Having the names in plain English takes some of the exoticism out of them. There are some linguistic jokes in there too. For example Mr. Cotton’s neighborhood, Orhan Pamuk’s neighborhood, is Nişantaşı. He takes some care explaining the origin of that name in Istanbul, his memoir. It translates as “target stone,” because that was where the Ottomans set up their targets to practice archery and shooting. But Nişantaşı is also the Turkish word for “starch,” and it’s a kind of tony neighborhood, so I translated it as ‘The Starch.’

MM: For the reader, I also felt it further marked Fred and Virginia’s foreignness, as if they didn’t want to call those places by their Turkish names. It further separated them from the expected experience of the place.

NB: When we moved abroad, my uncle who was a foreign correspondent for a number of years said that the most important thing you can do is abandon analogy. To not try and compare, and make your experience fit some preconceived notions. How the characters behave and how they diverge ultimately in the book has to do with how they deal with their expectations of life abroad. In real life it is a situation of extremes: there is no family and no old friends and little language and a host of received notions about the place.

Read the full interview here.

We hope you’ll come join Nick at The Rose wine bar in South Park on Saturday, September 9th for The Foundry reading series. Nick will read alongside Jac Jemc, Amelia Gray, Skyler McCurine, and Emma Smith-Stevens. Stay tuned to learn more about the other readers as we approach the show!


We will also host a master class that afternoon, taught by Jac Jemc, called “Fooling Ourselves (Into Writing).” Work with a fantastic writer for a super bargain price! Scholarships available! For details, or to register, visit here. Spend the entire afternoon with your Foundry readers!


If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month. Details here.

Our next Foundry reading series is September 9th!

Featuring Amelia Gray, Jac Jemc, Emma Smith-Stevens, Nicholas Bredie, and Skyler McCurine!

The Foundry is our literary reading series, featuring writers near and far, both established and emerging, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, anything. Our next reading is Saturday, September 9th at The Rose in South Park. Join us for readings by Amelia Gray, Jac Jemc, Emma Smith-Stevens, Nicholas Bredie, and Skyler McCurine.

Jac Jemc will also teach an accompanying Master Class earlier that day, “Fooling Yourself Into Writing.” Details here.

THE FOUNDRY: A READING SERIES
SATURDAY, SEPT 9th
THE ROSE
Doors: 7:00 PM
Readings: 7:30 PM
$5 suggested donation

The Rose (21+) serves beer, wine, and food. Come for dinner! https://www.therosewinebar.com/menus

Here’s a little bit about our readers:

AMELIA GRAY is the author of five books, most recently Isadora (FSG). Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, and VICE. She is winner of the NYPL Young Lion, of FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She writes for television and lives in Los Angeles.

JAC JEMC is the author of THE GRIP OF IT forthcoming from FSG Originals, MY ONLY WIFE and A DIFFERENT BED EVERY TIME. She has been the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grants, and was named as one of 25 Writers to Watch by the Guild Literary Complex and one of New City’s Lit 50 in Chicago. She teaches English and Creative Writing and currently serves as a web nonfiction editor for Hobart.

EMMA SMITH-STEVENS is the author of a novel, THE AUSTRALIAN (Dzanc Books), and a short story collection, GREYHOUNDS (Dzanc Books), forthcoming in early 2018. She currently serves as fiction editor of The Mondegreen and lives in New York.

SKYLER McCURINE is a personal stylist, public speaker, VAMP producer, writer, and founder of Le Red Balloon. She has performed with TEDx, and received an SD Business Journal “Emerging Generation Award” and a recent invitation to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit as Swiss Luxury watch brand’ Baume & Mercier’s guest of distinction. She was a finalist for the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the social entrepreneurship category. She is a native San Diegan.

NICHOLAS BREDIE is the author of the novel NOT CONSTANTINOPLE, forthcoming from Dzanc Books, Spring 2017. With Joanna Howard, he is the co-translator of Frédéric Boyer’s novella COWS, published by Noemi Press, Summer 2014. His writing has appeared in The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, The Fairy Tale Review, Opium, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. He is a doctoral fellow in the Creative Writing and Literature Program at USC.


If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a supporting member for as little as $5 per month:www.sosayweallonline.com/membership

Steph Cha reads at The Foundry on June 10th!

The Foundry is our literary reading series, and our next show is this Saturday, June 10th, at 7 PM at Public Square Coffee House in La Mesa.

The Foundry is equal parts performance and… immersive bookstore. Come hear some fantastic readings, and spruce up your summer reading list. We can’t wait to introduce you to your next favorite writer(s). Saturday’s show features Matt Young, Kali Wallace, Elizabeth Marro, Hari Alluri, and Steph Cha.

Steph Cha is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is author of the Juniper Song novels: Follow Her Home, Beware Beware, and Dead Soon Enough. She is a freelance book reviewer and food writer for the Los Angeles Times.

Dead Soon Enough is the latest installment in the Juniper Song series, and a breeze to slip into, despite not having read the first two novels. Song is a delight. She’s weird, hardworking, kind, and brilliant, but also is quite troubled and a tiny bit troubling herself. Cha’s writing is intelligent, vicious, exciting, and lovely, and redefines the idea of LA Noir.

“Come on, let’s get some tacos or something. We’re at a nightclub with a metal detector, and people are staring at us.”

We walked over to a stand called Tacos Mexico. It was five minutes away, on Broadway, by the renovated Ace Hotel. The street was littered and a homeless man shouted at us as we walked by, his face distorted by anger that had little to do with us. Broadway was gentrifying in strange, random heaves, but it wasn’t the prettiest part of downtown to walk in at night. It wasn’t the safest part either, but I’d dealt with worse demons than the poor and schizophrenic.

–from Dead Soon Enough by Steph Cha

Her books are dark page turners, but also have a strong sense of place, a chilling look at race and feminism, and some killer one-liners.

“Were there no Armenian writers left?”

“I wouldn’t say that. For one thing, tragedy begets writers. You take a whole population and put them through some shit, a few of them will find a voice. Outrage has a way of getting through, even coarsely.”

“Is that what Nora’s writing is about? Outrage?”

“Outrage, pride. Two sides of the same coin when you’ve been victimized.”

–from Dead Soon Enough by Steph Cha

And yes, there’s excitement and fights!

The shock of it almost dropped me. In my short career as a private investigator, I’d been grabbed, dragged, and held at gunpoint. I’d even been knocked out with a blow to the back of my head. But I’d never been confronted with anything as straightforward and openly violent as a hand to the face.

The pain was stunning, bright and magnificent–it filled my whole head, from the ringing in my skull to the pulse in my lip to the tear in my cheek, where one jeweled finger had made first contact. My hands shot up to my face to assess the damage. The fingers at my cheek came away wet with blood.

–from Dead Soon Enough by Steph Cha

Join Steph Cha, alongside Kali Wallace, Hari Alluri, Matt Young, and Elizabeth Marro, this Saturday, June 10th, at 7:00 PM at Public Square Coffee House in La Mesa. There’ll be lots of books for sale, coffee, beer, wine, handcrafted pizza, and cheese boards! [heart emoji] [fire emoji]


If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a supporting member for as little as $5 per month. Special discounts on shows, master classes, and advance previews! And the fiery warm glow in your heart you’ll get from sustaining us.

Elizabeth Marro reads at The Foundry on June 10th!

The Foundry is our literary reading series, featuring established and emerging writers, fiction, poetry, nonfiction, anything, from near and far. Our next event is Saturday, June 10th at 7:00 PM at Public Square Coffee House in La Mesa, featuring readings from Hari Alluri, Matt Young, Steph Cha, Kali Wallace, and Elizabeth Marro.

San Diego novelist Elizabeth Marro is a tremendous force of literary citizenship. Betsy, as we know her, is a tireless advocate for the arts in San Diego, for veteran literature, and for women writers in particular. Her debut novel, Casualties was honored as a finalist (before it was even published!) for a San Diego Book Association Unpublished Novel prize, and again this year, is nominated in the regular category as a finalist in its published state. Betsy’s writing is evocative, often lovely, sometimes witty, and sometimes devastatingly harsh.

At some point in may no longer be possible to start over. Ruth has worried about this before, but on the morning after her son’s nineteenth birthday, she feels cold with the certainty of it. There will be a time when Robbie is too old to recover lost ground, when all his mistakes have calcified into a mass so large and impenetrable that neither one of them can break through.

Not for the first time, her assistant reminds her that she may be making too much of things.

(from Casualties, by Elizabeth Marro)

Casualities was reviewed last year by San Diego Citybeat, calling it a “tremendous debut.”

Ruth’s son, Robbie, returns from Iraq a changed man. Haunted by the things he witnessed “over there,” namely the deaths of his comrades in arms, Robbie struggles to adjust to being back in the United States. He only has a few months left before his enlistment is up and he doesn’t know what to do. He enlisted in the Marines to turn his life around, but also to avoid being sucked into the trajectory that his mother was planning for him: school, work, a normal life. Now he no longer knows what any of that even means. How can he go back to “normal” when he feels anything but?

“He didn’t know who or what he was when he enlisted. He just knew what he wasn’t.”

– See more at: http://sdcitybeat.com/culture/the-floating-library/battle-waged-home-front/#sthash.JNIVvchc.dpuf

You can read the first chapter of Casualties on the Amazon “Look Inside” feature here: https://www.amazon.com/Casualties-Elizabeth-Marro/dp/0425283461

And come listen to her read at this weekend’s Foundry reading series, Saturday June 10th at 7 PM at Public Square Coffee in La Mesa, alongside Hari Alluri, Steph Cha, Kali Wallace, and Matt Young.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Marro is the author of Casualties, a novel about a single mother and defense executive who loses her son just when she thought he was home safe from his final deployment. Now she must face some difficult truths about her past, her choices, the war, and her son. A former journalist and recovering pharmaceutical executive, Betsy Marro’s work has appeared in such online and print publications as LiteraryMama.com, The San Diego Reader, and on her blog at elizabethmarro.com. Originally from the “North Country” region of New Hampshire, she now lives in San Diego where she is working on her next novel, short fiction, and essays.  Casualties, published in February 2016 by the Berkley imprint of Penguin Random House, is her first novel.


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Alex Zaragoza reads at The Foundry this Saturday!

The Foundry is our literary reading series, and we celebrate our 4th event this Saturday night, March 18th, at 7 PM, at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill. We feature both emerging and established writers, novelists, short story writers, poets, memoirists, and journalists, like today’s feature, Alex Zaragoza.

Alex Zaragoza is a freelance writer covering arts, culture, food, the border, feminism and music in San Diego and Tijuana. She is a columnist at San Diego CityBeat, and Host+Writer/Producer of music/pop culture show ‘Unherd.’ She was raised on both sides of the border and works to share stories from the other side of the fence. 

As a columnist, journalist, and television host, we love Alex’s writing about feminism, race, the border, art and music, and relationships. She writes with a delicious mix of wisdom and irreverence, and can slip between in-depth, impressive journalistic coverage and hangover barf jokes from one piece to the next.

In a column for San Diego CityBeat, Alex examines her adolescent views of immigration, refuge, and humanity.

Fear of death has always been a major driver in my life. It’s like in one of my all-time favorite movies, Moonstruck, starring Cher and Nicolas Cage. Olympia Dukakis, who plays Cher’s mom in the movie and is a goddamn queen, asks, “Why do men chase women?” and when met with some bullshit answer from an older, skirt-chasing professor (played by John Mahoney, the dad from Frasier ), she answers, “I think it’s because they fear death.”

Death, as the movie explains, is the reason people (the movie pinpoints men, but I think this goes for all people regardless of gender) relentlessly pursue love and sex. But really, doesn’t that reasoning apply to anything? Why jump out of a plane? Why eat this whole pizza? Why go on a years-long cross-country trip? Why slip your number to that cutie at the grocery store? Why quit your corporate job to follow your dream of being a performance artist that smears shit on your face? Because I’m going to die someday so I must push myself to the limits of extreme experience so I don’t feel like I missed out on anything when the bell tolls for me.

Alex’s coverage of the US-Mexico border has also been featured by NPR, including this piece on food merchants at the border crossing:

Just about any time of day, there’s no going hungry in the border line. In the morning, warm burritos and tortas beckon. Afternoons bring street foods like bacon-wrapped hot dogs and tacos, tostilocos (Tostitos Salsa Verde corn chips covered with toppings including lime juice, hot sauce, Japanese peanuts and pickled pork rinds), and fruit salads smothered in lime, the Mexican spice mix Tajin, and a savory, fruit-based chamoy sauce. For the sweet tooth, there are desserts like the handmade, sorbet-like nieve de garrafa.

Feeding people is a deeply ingrained part of Mexican culture, and many of these vendors will tell stories of how they learned to cook (usually at home with their mother) and why they love making food (because food is love).

Her writing is evocative, enriching, and notably not here to make you comfortable. At The Foundry, Alex will read a little bit from some non-fiction that will be featured in O Magazine. (OMG OPRAH). Don’t miss it! Saturday, March 18th, at 7 PM at Tiger Eye Hair. She’ll read alongside Jami Attenberg, Kiik A.K., Wendy C. Ortiz, and Karolina Waclawiak.

The Foundry #4
Saturday, March 18th, 7 PM
Tiger Eye Hair
811 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102
all ages // $5 suggested donation

Here’s Drake enjoying Alex’s company


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An Interview with The Foundry’s Kiik A.K.

The Foundry is our literary reading series, now in its second year. We love this opportunity to bring both new and established writers into your lives. Our next reading is this Saturday, March 18th, at 7 PM at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill, with readings from Jami Attenberg, Karolina Waclawiak, Wendy C. Ortiz, Alex Zaragoza, and today’s feature, Kiik A.K, a San Diego poet.

We love Kiik A.K.’s invigorating approach to poetry and art. So Say We All’s program director and Foundry host Julia Dixon Evans had a chance to ask Kiik a few questions about his work and his writing life.

JULIA DIXON EVANS: Matt Lewis (So Say We All’s Radvocate editor) described your manuscript as “a beautiful magical realism story about the Japanese internment camps.” Can you tell me a little bit about it

KIIK A.K: Almost every piece of fiction I’ve written in the last five years is somehow connected to my grandparents. I’m working on a manuscript called THE BOOK OF KANE AND MARGARET, and all its stories take place between the years of 1942-1945 in a Japanese internment camp in Gila River, Arizona. This was where my grandparents fell in love, married and had the first of their three daughters.

I’m not a historian or a scholar or a very good researcher. So I actually thought it would be an uphill battle and a disservice to my grandparents if I tried to write their stories as nonfiction or historical fiction. That is why a lot of my stories are about things like supernatural cicadas, people who sprout wings, aircraft carried by desert birds, girls who can trade human teeth for divine wishes. But there is usually some kernel of my grandparents stories embedded in that magic.

JULIA: Your poetry, to me, either feels incredibly narrative or incredibly unusual. It all seems very boundary-smashing to this here non-poet. What drives this? 

KIIK: I think it’s really an inability to write poetry. I want to think of myself as a poet. But for the amount of training I’ve had, I’m probably the most incapable poet I know. I sit down and I say, “This is going to be a sonnet.” And then some weird free-verse thing about dying naked in the woods emerges. I sit down and say, “This is going to be a love poem.” And then a thing about grandmas who rescue babies from car accidents emerges.

So now what I call poetry is this journey of trying to write a poem, failing, and then being critical about the failure. I think maybe that is where the narrative and strangeness comes from. A lot of my poems also contain apologies. A moment when I say, “Sorry for what you just read, I’ll do better next time.”

JULIA: And do you approach a piece with structure in mind first, or with narrative? Or a word or a line? 

KIIK: Almost always a scrap of language that has just been repeating in my head. Do you know the song “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj? I had this line stuck in my head for like a week, “He toss my salad like his name Romaine . . . ”

I went back and forth trying to unpack the meaning of the line. Romaine lettuce is in salad. So does the salad toss itself? But the speaker’s salad is being tossed. So is the speaker watching Romaine toss his own salad? It seems like her salad is the one being tossed though.

And then I think to myself – why is this the line I’ve chosen to think about for two weeks now? Why am I mining this particular salad in Nicki Minaj’s work?

JULIA: I anxiously await this salad poem. 

In your work, most notably in “A Pupa Wraps Its Mitten Of Fur Around The World,” published by Electric Literature, the reader is taken on something of a journey of revelation and understanding about the form, and that revelation exists separate from, or at least prior to, any revelations about this character. It reminded me of those moments when you realize the extra is the primary. I’m thinking of a commercial in the middle of SNL that’s actually a skit. Or “Too Many Cooks.” The prologue to Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Where do you see the intersection of audience awareness to form and the breaking of this literary 4th wall vs. what an individual work means? Do those things sort of work together? I’d love to hear about your process and thoughts with this.

KIIK: That question is more beautiful than my work! And I think gets at something deeper than those “about the author” pieces.

I think as an audience member I’m attracted to those moments where the speaker says, “I get that our relationship is an agreement to put you under the spell of this aesthetic form. But maybe another agreement is to break the form and work through its peculiarities together. And then we have this entirely new relationship.”

I think I like those moments because it makes me feel like an insider. I can be under a spell and floating above the spell – watching myself be under the spell simultaneously. I am both patient under the anesthesia and doctor looking at the unconscious patient. I am Snow White passed out on the ground, the Queen and the Witch.

I got a little lost. Did I even answer this question?!!

JULIA: Yes. That was so perfect. And I’m curious to know if you originally wrote those pieces when tasked with writing your actual “about the author” bio. Because I think anyone who has had to write any sort of profile can understand the need to screw with the system a little.

KIIK: I can’t remember exactly – but I think for me the pieces come out of an anxiety of failure, amateur-ness. Maybe also a lack of professionalism. I like reading writers’ “about the author” sections. It’s one of the first things I read when I buy a new book. I always think, “They sound so accomplished! So confident!” They’re also often written in the third-person, which is part of the spell of the form. “The writer was so important they didn’t even have time to write their own bio! Some servant did it for them!”

When I sit down to work on a bio, something inappropriate to the form always emerges. Alright, I know I should talk about how many books I’ve published and how many awards I’ve won. Okay I haven’t published any books. Can I talk about how many books I fantasize about publishing? Hmm, that seems wrong. Can I lie and say I’ve published books in another country that doesn’t exist? Hmm, seems unethical. What if I say I’ve published several Yelp posts rating the local cookie establishments? Well that third option sounds slightly better than the first two . . .

JULIA: So Say We All was lucky to publish some of your work in The Radvocate, and I consider those pieces the funniest poetry I’ve ever read [http://www.sosayweallonline.com/kiik-ak-poems-in-the-radvocate/]. There’s humor in your work, but also elements of insecurity and sadness. Do you tend to balance out those things on purpose? Or is it more inherent/unavoidable?

KIIK: Gosh, thank you! If the work makes you laugh a little, then it’s doing its job. I want to say the humor is part of that apology thing I mentioned earlier. A lot of my poems apologize for not getting the form right. Or for not doing poetry in a decent way. Or for having an amoral speaker. Not that there is a right or decent way to poetry or that people should look for it. I guess I just mean I feel guilty sometimes when I look at the work and I think, “Wow, you don’t look right. Poems are not supposed to have so many cannibals in them! Poems should not have a person wearing a stinging jellyfish for a hat! Jeez, I blew it.” So then I start to think – but can this failure be entertaining? How exaggerated or strange does this failure have to look to make someone laugh?

The insecurity and sadness question is another really good one. I want to say part of that must be because my writing practice is such a lonely endeavor. I think it was Toni Cade Bambara who said something like, “It is a dismally lonely business, writing.” I’m not sure if that’s how it feels to most other writers. But when I’m sitting by myself, looking at this strange poem in front of me, all the insecurities do seem to come out . . .

JULIA: What are you working on at the moment?

KIIK: I wanted to write a few pieces specifically for The Foundry event. The readers at the So Say We All shows are so fucking good – it’s a little out of my league. So I want to write a couple of new things that will just be offerings to that show.

I’m working on something about Burger King and something about The Smurfs – we’ll see if I finish in time . . .

JULIA: What is the most recent book you’ve read?

KIIK: Right now I’m reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. It’s so good! For poetry I’m reading salt. by nayyirah waheed. She’s a genius!

JULIA: Thank you so much for answering my questions and we are so excited to hear you read at The Foundry on Saturday! Thanks!

KIIK: Thank you Julia!

Kiik A.K. earned a MA from UC Davis where his poetics thesis was titled THE JOY OF HUMAN SACRIFICE and a MFA from UC San Diego where his collection of counter-internment narratives was titled EVERYDAY COLONIALISM. He is currently at work on a collection of poems titled HOGG BOOK. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Okey-Panky, iO, Washington Square, Action Yes and Alice Blue Review.


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Jami Attenberg reads at The Foundry on March 18th!

The Foundry is So Say We All’s literary reading series, bringing you both established and emerging authors from all over and from right in our backyard. Come find your new favorite writer with us. Our next reading is Saturday, March 18th at 7 PM at Tiger Eye Hair!

Today we feature novelist Jami Attenberg, who will read to you from her 6th book, All Grown Up, brand new, published this week (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). It’s an enchanting and entertaining read, often quite sad despite its humor, and challenges us to root for and fall in love with a character who doesn’t always make the best decisions. Unlikeability can be risky business, and Attenberg pulls it off. Her main character, Andrea, carries us through her transition to 40, her relationship with her mother and brother, many (many) men and women, and maybe most triumphantly, her comprehension of herself.

Here’s an excerpt from All Grown Up on Lenny, “Charlotte.”

I call my brother. “Mom gave me the chair Dad died in,” I tell him. “And you took it? She tried to give it to me, too,” he says. “Well, I didn’t know what it was,” I say. “I guess I blocked it out.” That is a thing I’ve been known to do, and my brother doesn’t argue the point. “I’ve had nightmares about it,” he says. “Just toss it.” “Like in the garbage?” I say. “Andrea, just throw it away,” he says.

But I understood why my mother held on to for it so long, and also why she felt like she had to hand it off to someone instead of putting it in the garbage. It was Dad’s chair. So I decide to sell it on Craigslist, that way I know where it’s going. I look up the value of the two pieces online. The set is worth about a thousand dollars. On a Saturday morning, I list it for two-fifty. Priced to move. Looking for a good home. P.S., my father died in it.

[Read the full excerpt here: http://www.lennyletter.com/culture/a662/charlotte/]

You can also listen to NPR’s Weekend Edition interview with Jami from this Sunday here: http://www.npr.org/2017/03/05/518364707/a-middle-aged-coming-of-age-in-all-grown-up

ATTENBERG: I mean, I don’t know who made these rules, who made this list of milestones, but somebody did it. And you know, it looks something like being married or partnered up, having a kid, owning a home, knowing what your career is and what direction you want to be going in your life, kind of really wanting to know what’s next, which is something that she says a couple of times in the book. And sometimes, those milestones aren’t of interest to people or available to people. And how do you figure out what it means to be an adult if you haven’t achieved those traditional milestones?

And here’s a longer, in-depth interview with Jami at Lit Hub: http://lithub.com/jami-attenberg-on-literary-break-ups-credit-card-debt-and-epic-book-tours/

We’re looking forward to having Jami Attenberg read at The Foundry, alongside Wendy C. Ortiz, Karolina Waclawiak, Alex Zaragoza, and Kiik A.K., on Saturday March 18th at 7 PM.

We will have books for sale, drinks for donations, and some very good stories read just for you. Tiger Eye Hair is a hair salon in a scooped-out historic Texaco station in San Diego’s beautiful Golden Hill neighborhood. $5 suggested donation at the door.


If you like what we do at So Say We All, a literary non-profit, please consider becoming a sustaining member. Details here: www.sosayweallonline.com/membership

Karolina Waclawiak reads at The Foundry on March 18th!

The Foundry is our literary reading series, bringing you the finest, the weirdest, and the best writers from across the country and across the street. The next event is Saturday, March 18th at 7 PM at Tiger Eye Hair, and features readings by Jami Attenberg, Alex Zaragoza, Kiik A.K., Wendy C. Ortiz, and today’s feature, Karolina Waclawiak.

Karolina Waclawiak’s critically acclaimed first novel, How To Get Into The Twin Palms, was published by Two Dollar Radio in 2012. Her second novel, THE INVADERS, which was published in July 2015, was recently optioned by ABC Television. AWOL, a feature she co-wrote with Deb Shoval, will premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Formerly an editor at the Believer, she is now the Deputy Culture Editor at BuzzFeed. Waclawiak received her BFA in Screenwriting from USC School of Cinematic Arts and her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. Her last name is pronounced Vahts-Slav-iak.

Karolina’s latest novel, The Invaders, is a dark look at suburban elitism. From a review in The Guardian:

David Lynch’s cinema of suburban horror would pair well with Waclawiak’s work both [in The Invaders] and in her first, LA-based novel, How to Get Into the Twin Palms. Both writer and film-maker blend traditional social criticism and with a sort of rhapsodising of the quotidian and grotesque within suburbia. Along with DJ Waldie, Bret Easton Ellis, Jeffrey Eugenides and AM Homes, Waclawiak’s The Invaders belongs to this expanding genre of “new suburban” literature.

[…]

Despite its patent cynicism, The Invaders contains hints of the same fantastical realism found in Ellis’s Lunar Park or Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides. All these books romanticise the lonely topographies, both emotional and natural, that its characters inhabit. Waclawiak’s unadorned prose puts in stark relief dark houses, vacant gardens, even the ominous churning of the sea without resorting to belaboured Freudian cant.

Here’s a brief excerpt from The Invaders, up at Lit Hub.

When our father left, our old rotary phone would ring and my sisters and I would fight like rabid dogs over who would answer it, hoping it was him, but it never was. My sisters spent less and less time at home, wanting to be away from all the sadness, the outline of missing people too grim. Boys would take them away, my mother would yell, warning them they’d end up like her, alone with a brood of ungrateful girls of their own, but they didn’t listen. Neither did I.

[read the full excerpt here]

Waclawiak’s first book, How To Get Into The Twin Palms, published by our friends at Two Dollar Radio, is a dreary, fiery (literal fire) portrayal of outsiderness and otherness in Los Angeles, devastatingly crafted. Her writing is rich, sometimes dismal, and unsettling.

And Waclawiak was announced yesterday as a National Book Awards fiction judge, alongside Dave Eggers and Alexander Chee, among others.

We are looking forward to bringing Karolina to town to read to you. Join us at The Foundry #4 on March 18th at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill! Karolina Waclawiak reads with Jami Attenberg, Kiik A.K., Alex Zaragoza, and Wendy C. Ortiz. Stay tuned as we introduce you to all of the readers!

RSVP and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/274611539626150/


If you like what we do at So Say We All, a literary non-profit, please consider becoming a sustaining member. Details here.