Tag Archives: literary reading

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!


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Julia Dixon Evans

Jac Jemc reads (and teaches!) in San Diego 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, Skyler McCurine, Emma Smith-Stevens, Nicholas Bredie, and today’s spotlight, Jac Jemc.

Jac, in addition to reading, will also teach a master class for us while she is in town. To register for “Fooling Ourselves (Into Writing),” 9/9 from 2-4 PM, click here. Don’t miss it.

So Say We All was lucky enough to publish Jac Jemc in Black Candies: See Through in 2013, So Say We All’s journal of literary horror. You can read her story, “Angles,” here, which is actually an excerpt of her newest novel, The Grip of ItHer writing is gorgeous and terrifying, gets under your skin quickly, and stays there.

Maybe I find a body and it’s hard as diamonds or maybe I find the body and it’s just a pile of soft bones and teeth or maybe it’s a body whose nails have screamed themselves free of absent fingers. What will a rat eat first?

Or maybe there’s no body and I just dream that there’s an answer to the low moaning we hear, and the stains that grow and shrink on our walls and bodies, and the secrets we uncover behind secrets.

Read more of “Angles,” an excerpt from The Grip of It, here.

Her book was just released to an impressive critical response earlier this August. You can read this fantastic review of The Grip of It at Electric Literature:

Jemc is telling us the story of the putrefaction of a relationship. This relationship is not clean-cut and bookended by dramatic flares — it festers, untended, a thriving hotbed for the things that break us down, cell by cell. It doesn’t choke, but lines the airway slowly, turning a once-healthy breath into the ragged pull from a plastic straw. “Bad behavior heralds ruin,” says Julie, when she is utterly convinced that the haunting must be her fault: she is unwilling to accept that malevolence exists for its own sake, but convinced it must be part of a puritanical order of punishment.

Read the full review here.

One of the things we love about Jac is how supportive she is in the literary world. Jac publishes a fascinating list of her literary rejections, which you can read (and obsess over) here.  Lifting the veil on the dark side of publishing makes us all feel a little less alone.

Here she is in conversation with Amber Sparks for The Fanzine.

I don’t usually know my characters before I write a book. I do the old “put-them-in-situations-and-see-how-they-react” test of their mettle. I might even venture to say I know them even less at the end of the book because of what you mention about how I’m sort of always living in that gap of what we think we know about another person but don’t. But that’s probably what makes a character seem more real and human, right? To have them do surprising, unexpected things that surprise both the other characters and the reader.

Read the full conversation here.

We hope you’ll come meet Jac, and take her class, when she’s in town! Jac Jemc reads alongside Amelia Gray, Emma Smith-Stevens, Nicholas Bredie, and Skyler McCurine at The Foundry Reading Series on Saturday, September 9th at 7 PM at The Rose in South Park.

Jac Jemc is the author of The Grip of It (FSG Originals). Her first novel, My Only Wife (Dzanc Books) was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award, and her collection of stories, A Different Bed Every Time (Dzanc Books) was named one of Amazon’s best story collections of 2014. She edits nonfiction for Hobart.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, a literary nonprofit and small press dedicated to helping people tell their stories, please consider becoming a sustaining member.

Kali Wallace reads at The Foundry this Saturday!

The Foundry is our literary reading series, and this Saturday’s show features readings from Kali Wallace, Hari Alluri, Elizabeth Marro, Steph Cha, and Matt Young. We jam pack these readings (just for you!) with our favorite established and emerging writers from near and far, with a nice spread of genre and form.

Kali Wallace is the author of the YA novel Shallow Graves and the forthcoming book The Memory Tree. Her writing is stunningly gorgeous, weird, cool, and exciting. She flips the idea of genre or age-level on end. Sometimes Shallow Grave felt like reading a powerful, scientific lyrical essay on grief, cults, and the stars… plus undead teens and exciting mystery and gore!

Kali has a PhD in geophysics, and that wonder and fascination with the natural world is as strong in her writing as her ability to weave the unnatural world, too.

I didn’t know I was waking up until it had already happened.

The birds started dying after midnight. The first people to notice were the early morning birders out before dawn, armed with their notebooks and binoculars, wrapped in scarves and puffy down coats against the surprise cold. They saw their blue jays and orioles and herons all struck dead on their migration north.

[…] The frost melted away before noon, and the birds kept dying. On the news a scientist insisted the freak cold snap had nothing to do with it, never mind that it was the middle of June and Illinois was ready for summer.

The last birds died just before midnight, and I came back.

–from Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Kali’s work is powerful and gorgeous, but that’s not to say her writing isn’t also cutting and funny. Is this a San Diego subtweet? Possible.

I was expecting somebody like Mr. Willow, with his have-you-accepted-Jesus-as-your-savior hair and warm smile, but the man in the doorway looked like he had reached the age of thirty without realizing he wasn’t a frat boy anymore. No Steelers jersey, but he had blond hair in gelled spikes, a T-shirt advertising a craft beer, baggy cargo shorts, and a tattoo of a sunburst on his right calf.

–from Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Join Kali on Saturday at 7 PM at Public Square Coffee House, who’ll read from her forthcoming book, The Memory Trees, “about a mysterious family legacy, the bonds of sisterhood, and the strange and powerful ways we are shaped by the places we call home.” It’s an evocative story of the inheritance of women, place, and grief.


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Hari Alluri reads at The Foundry on June 10th: Two Poems

The Foundry is our literary reading series, bringing you the work of established and emerging writers, from near and far. Our next reading, on Saturday, June 10th at Public Square Coffee House in La Mesa, features Matt Young, Kali Wallace, Steph Cha, Elizabeth Marro, and San Diego poet Hari Alluri. Today we are super proud to introduce you to Hari and publish two of his poems here, below.

Hari Alluri, author of the brand new book of poetry, The Flayed City (Kaya Press, 2017), is a dynamic and genuine writer whose work defines a world so specific in its detail, but somehow almost viscerally relatable. His performances are stunning: fun, heartfelt, and powerful. We love Hari: he’s an incredible mentor, supporter, and visionary in the arts, literary, and poetry scenes in San Diego.

Hari Alluri is the author of The Flayed City (Kaya Press, 2017) and the chapbook The Promise of Rust(Mouthfeel Press, 2016). An award-winning poet, educator, and teaching artist, his work appears widely in anthologies, journals and online venues, including poemeleon, Split This Rock, Sundog Lit, and The Margins. He is a founding editor at Locked Horn Press, where he has co-edited two anthologies, Gendered & Written: Forums on Poetics and Read America(s): An Anthology. He holds an MFA from San Diego State University and has received VONA/Voices and Las Dos Brujas fellowships and a National Film Board of Canada grant. Hari immigrated to Vancouver, Coast Salish territories at age twelve and currently serves as editor of pacific Review in San Diego, Kumeyaay land.

To get to know Hari a little better, here’s an interview from KPBS’s Midday Edition earlier this year: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2017/mar/28/san-diego-poet-explores-immigration-flayed-city/

And, finally, we are honored to print two of Hari’s poems here, both of which appear in The Flayed City: “A Declaration, Love,” and “[At the edge of drought…]”


A Declaration, Love

It is nothing
to be surrounded by fallen prayers—this is city.
I ash on shimmers. They no more implicate my day than dogs
who sniff for the piss of other dogs.

Perhaps that’s what prayers do. Regardless
of the city, their barks at muted streets
halfway up a fence, shifting
like migrants. Is the lie, “Here’s a person?”

Is the part to believe, “We love?” Like a cut
jungle burns to city, we ash
on shimmers. Prayers
swallow the revelation of you. You, a refugee, pray

to stay. Mumble toward your final words
in a detainment center slash library. I and thousands
check out books, exit casual
past your wall. You noose your sheets rather than be sent. Sniffing

at me for the dog piss of this city, as if it sniffs
your final words, a dog. I describe
to make things easier. My prayer is the dog I shoo
on broom-filled nights. It feels good,

old shoe, it feels: these nights under
the safety of a visa, a good that never held
your name. I do not sing: singing changes out my eyes.
You’re dead, so it’s nothing

if I slit your throat—prayer.
Cowl my face
in your blood. My silence halfway
up the nose of a sniffing dog. That jealous dog,
it bares its teeth in every passing prayer.


[At the edge of drought…]

At the edge of drought, a turtle learns silence from the hands who built this city, the ones whose names weren’t given to streets.

What comes after this will be gentle, with churning, with trolleys. It’s easy to overlook the seaside debris as you dismantle a crab.

We cannot shut out the dust moving across our shared vision. If you notice constant there are fossils in every breath.


Acknowledgments:

The poems are excerpted from The Flayed City (Kaya Press, 2017). Reprinted by permission.

An earlier version of “A Declaration, Love” first appears in TAYO.


Don’t miss Hari Alluri, alongside Matt Young, Steph Cha, Elizabeth Marro, and Kali Wallace, on Saturday, June 10th at Public Square Coffee House in La Mesa (8278 La Mesa Blvd).


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

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.


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

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/


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Wendy C. Ortiz reads at The Foundry on March 18th!

The Foundry is our literary reading series! We want to introduce you to your next favorite writer. Each reading features established authors and emerging writers, both from San Diego and across the country. We’re going to do a little web series so you can get to know each of the readers for The Foundry #4, coming up on Saturday, March 18th at 7 PM  at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill.

The Foundry #4 will feature readings from Jami Attenberg, Karolina Waclawiak, Kiik A.K., Alex Zaragoza, and today’s feature: Wendy C. Ortiz.

Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A Memoir, Hollywood Notebook, and the dreamoir Bruja. Her work has been profiled or featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the National Book Critics Circle Small Press Spotlight blog. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Hazlitt, The Lifted Brow, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, StoryQuarterly, and a year-long series appeared at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Wendy lives in Los Angeles. Visit her public notebook: wendycortiz.tumblr.com.

Wendy’s writing is powerful, thick with imagery, and beautifully sparse. The things left out from her work carry nearly as much weight as the words included. From a recent interview at The Rumpus, here’s Wendy on how perfecting the art of omission works with her self-coined genre “dreamoir” used in her new book, Bruja, published in 2016 by Civil Coping Mechanisms.

Rumpus: You’ve said in the past about your writing, “What can I omit to make it a sharper piece?”

I’m fascinated by the way Bruja forces the reader to piece together the story through symbols and narrative threads as opposed to a linear story arc. As a reader the dream format compelled me to think more deeply about the journey of the narrator—to engage in the process of discovery in a much more visceral way than I might with a traditional memoir. In a way, the omission, made the narrative more engaging. Was this something you had to think through?

Ortiz: In the original writing of it online, I never thought this through—the website was a receptacle for dreams. In editing it, I had to think through which dreams had the most to “tell,” which forced me into omitting dreams that didn’t have much of a thread (or threads that might be too obscure to follow). I also omitted dreams that felt like they told too much. It felt like a very careful removal of organs from a body, to see if the body might still function without one dream thread or another.

And her work, both in Bruja and in her earlier memoir texts, Hollywood Notebook and Excavation, is intensely personal, revelatory, and groundbreaking. She plays with genre in the same way that she plays with language and structure, pushing the boundaries of what is non-fiction, what is memoir, what is truth, and the boundaries of what a page or a story might look like: prose, poetry, truth, dream, magic.

Here’s Wendy on magical realism and magic in writing:

Rumpus: […]I felt keenly that Bruja, had an intentional spell-like—almost a magical realism—quality. Certainly, the gorgeous cover art by the artist Wendy Ortiz, and the title itself is evocative of a female archetype—a woman with magical powers. Were you thinking about this when you composed Bruja?

Ortiz: I was thinking of it the same way I think of brujería everyday without calling it that, necessarily. To me, magic is everywhere. Synchronicities fall under the “magic” heading to me. I pay attention as much as I can. I try to surround myself with other women with magical powers and a lot falls under the heading “magical powers.” To me, a bruja is able to live on and in different planes at different times and sometimes simultaneously—this is what I thought of most as I edited the text of the book—that this was my life on another plane while living on the one most people call “reality.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

I love this stunning, boundary-squashing and structure-squashing piece of her writing you can read online at the literary magazine Poor Claudia, “Celestial Body Language.” Here’s a brief clip:

Pluto Conjunct Midheaven

“personal power is mobilized”

Pluto at the top of the chart, Mars at the bottom.
“You’re here to destroy,” she said.
I stepped out of the salon clutching the cassette tape. In the attic I reset its spools.
She gave no definition for “destroy.”
Months wandered by like clouds. I counted. After five had passed I forgot I was counting.
The sixth cloud hung heavy.
Midway I sprung out of the cloud, soaking wet, then engorged with flames. Destroying came naturally, as it turned out.
I hit the ground. When the ground opened, kept running.

We are honored to have Wendy come read to you at the Foundry, and teach her (SOLD OUT!) masterclass, “Public Notebook to Book,” earlier that afternoon. Come join Wendy, Jami Attenberg, Karolina Waclawiak, Kiik A.K., and Alex Zaragoza on Saturday, March 18th at Tiger Eye Hair!


If you appreciate what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member. Details here: http://www.sosayweallonline.com/membership/

 

Justin Maurer reads at The Foundry on 1/14

The Foundry #3 is coming up on Saturday 1/14, 8 PM at Public Square Coffee in La Mesa. As we approach the show, we are introducing you to the readers! The reading features Meredith Alling, Leah Thomas, Cali Linfor, Henry Hoke, and today’s profile, Justin Maurer.

Justin Maurer‘s first language was American Sign Language as his mom is Deaf. He grew up on the west coast and as a young man traveled the world with his punk band Clorox Girls. He continues to play in bands like Maniac and Suspect Parts. Maurer was recently in a comedy bit on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He has written 3 chapbooks and has been published in The Rumpus, Vice Spain, L.A. Record, Volume One Brooklyn, Faster Times, Yay L.A. Magazine, Razorcake, and more. His day job is selling digital X-ray devices to dentists. See more of his music and writing here: www.justin-maurer.com

I recently read Justin’s chapbook of stories, Seventeen Television, published in 2013 by Vol. 1 Brooklyn. His non-fiction writing is a visceral, unflinching portrayal of punk rock, of love, of a distressed family, and of figuring out what it is we’re doing in the world. His narratives are gritty and revealing, and in many ways, weirdly endearing.

From “Mexico City,” which appeared in Seventeen Television.

In my mouth went pork, bacon, carne asada, roasted peppers, bread, avocado, and some other things. I chewed and chewed. When I couldn’t chew anymore, I just swallowed. It was the last unholy bite–I was determined.

Salut Blue Demon,” I said. I placed the last fistful of torta into my mouth and swallowed. It felt like it was going to come back up, but I held it down. I took a gulp of my chelita and said, “Gracias, señor.”

The place erupted. I was congratulated ferociously. Bottles of tequila and mescal were placed on the table and uncorked. […] Blue Demon gave us a card with his name and address inviting us for drinks. We had found the Wizard of Oz.

Much of the next day was spent on the toilet. In Mexico City, toilet paper can’t be flushed, so the bathroom wastebaskets are full of recently used toilet tissue. Along with the altitude, this makes a prodigious hangover even more monumental.

–Justin Maurer, from Seventeen Television.

Join Justin as he swings through San Diego to read to you (yes you). He’ll read alongside Meredith Alling, Leah Thomas, Cali Linfor, and Henry Hoke at the Foundry #3, Saturday January 14th at 8 PM at Public Square Coffee House.

THE FOUNDRY #3
Saturday, January 14th at 8 PM
Public Square Coffee House
8275 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa CA 91942
$5 suggested donation.

–Julia Dixon Evans


If you like what we do at So Say We All, a literary arts non-profit and small press, please consider becoming a sustaining member (for as little as $5 per month). We love you and we can’t do this without you.