video by LoonarCity


Quiet Lightning began as a monthly, submission-based reading series on December 14, 2009, featuring all forms of writing without introductions or author banter. The series moved around to a different venue every month, appearing in bars, art galleries, a music hall and a bookstore in our first year. Since, we’ve been to night clubs, a greenhouse, a ballroom, a theater, a mansion, a sporting goods store, a pirate store, a print shop, a museum, a hotel, and a cave. We’ve produced 116 shows, and since the 3rd have published a corresponding issue of sparkle + blink… featuring, now, 1,100+ individual readings from 800+ different authors! Our books have been read many times all over the world.

In 2013 we orchestrated a Tour Through Town—an initiative to collaborate with a different literary organization every month, creating special hybrid shows with 826 Valencia, SOMArts Cultural Center, Porchlight storytelling, Studio One Reading Series, Beast Crawl, City Lights, Litquake, the Center for the Art of Translation, and Pints and Prose.

In 2014 we launched Quiet Lightning Books via an annual chapbook contest, publishing Tupelo Hassman’s Breast Milk and Zack Haber’s if you want to be one of them playing in the streets….We also launched Quiet Lightning Films, adapting Amy Glasenapp’s story Combustion, selected through a blind submission process, into a screenplay, casted through Craigslist, shot, produced, and then debuted at The New Parkway Theater.

In 2015 we launched a collaboration with Name Drop Swamp Records and The Emerald Tablet called Chemical Wedding—bimonthly shows featuring music and literature—with a corresponding annual print magazine, vitriol. We initiated a collaboration with the California State Parks System to produce the first Poetry in Parks, held at Samuel P. Taylor State Park over Labor Day, and started a partnership with the Bay Area Video Coalition to produce weekly episodes of Quiet Lightning Television.

2016 was an important year for us. We partnered with longtime inspiration Radar Productions for a queer literary mixtape, part of their Queering the Castro series. We took on Litseen, a project created and developed by QL’s founding director Evan Karp shortly before the start of QL, now providing the resources necessary to maintain a near-comprehensive calendar of Bay Area literary events, and to post a weekly interview profile of local authors called The Write Stuff. We published our third chapbook, The Sacred Text of Rosa Who is Great, and produced and premiered our first feature-length film, the experimental documentary of San Francisco Water Under the Bridge. Thanks to a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, all of this year’s shows were free, and everyone who read or contributed art to Quiet Lightning was paid! We partnered with the Chinatown Community Development Center; revived the Call and Response series w/presentations by Kim Anno and Pamela Z; and teamed up with ArtSpan again to present the 3rd annual Art, Readings, & Reactions event. In partnership with the CA State Parks and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, we celebrated our 100th show with a day-long arts festival in the historic Cushing Memorial-Mountain Amphitheater. At the end of the year, in response to the presidential election, we helped form Bay Area Writers Resist, part of an international network of literary artists and orgs committed to using writing to encourage and inspire resistance against injustices threatening so many in this country—the kickoff event led to the formation of Artists for Sustained and United Resistance.

We decided to start 2017 with a hyperpublic reading, so we held a show outside the Montgomery BART station; visited landmark queer SoMa bar The Stud and the legendary Tenderloin bar Edinburgh Castle. We released the third issue of vitriol 3 at the Elbo Room, returned to the beloved Galeria de la Raza and Adobe Books, with an unforgettable show at the newly renovated Chinatown gem Clarion Music Center.

A bunch of other awesome stuff has happened since! We don’t feel like talking about it right now, tbh. You can put together the pieces through our Archives page (video, full text, pics, etc.). You should probably be following along, honestly. It’s the best way, and we are very gentle. xo


The primary objective of Quiet Lightning is to foster a community based on literary expression and to provide an arena for said expression.

Quiet Lightning incorporated as a nonprofit on June 1st, 2011 and received tax exemption on January 1, 2012. We remain a submission-based series with a completely blind selection process entirely open to the public. We even accept applications to curate our shows. Should you be interested (!), there are in fact many easy ways to get involved.





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