In 2013, Quiet Lightning teamed up with a different literary organization each month in order to bring together the many outstanding series and organizations of the Bay Area literary world, and to introduce its various audience members to programming they might like but not yet know about. For those reasons, to ensure that we continue to grow, and for the absolute fun of it, we created custom-designed shows that combined the defining features of Quiet Lightning with those of each month’s partner organization. Below are summations of each collaboration:
One of the most exciting parts about this show is we’re not changing how we do anything. The only difference is that we only accepted submissions from 6-18 year-olds. One of the reasons I wanted to start Quiet Lightning in the first place was to encourage people who don’t have books or a reputation to share their writing, because I often think of all the desks and closets in the world containing so many people’s buried treasures (aaargh!), and it’s that spirit that 826 is superb at fostering: to recognize what’s already inside of us and to nurture that, and to create an environment wherein that’s the norm rather than the exception. I hope, and believe, that’s what Quiet Lightning does too.
If you’ve never been to SOMArt’s monthly literary potluck, which pairs a lit guest and a culinary guest to a theme, you’re in for a treat. For $5-12 you get an intimate evening with mostly strangers, sharing a quality meal surrounded by art. Here’s full video from the first show I went to, with an introduction to the series and some of my reactions; you can watch another show, with more thoughts, here. Feast of Words is a perfect example of why we’re doing the TTT: it’s a gem more people should know about, with a focus on community voices and how they intersect the larger culture. With a limited capacity of only 60, this will be a great chance to get to know the other people in attendance and/or to catch up with old friends.
Usually, the literary guest gets 20 minutes, but Feast of Words is giving us 30. We’ll eat a meal, introduced by the chef herself, and then Quiet Lightning will do one full set of readings, curated by Josey and Christian Lee. Afterward, we’ll lead a group writing exercise and a handful of volunteers will get to read their results on the mic.
The Bay Area has seen an incredible number of new storytelling series emerge in the last five years. When Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte started Porch Light, ten years ago, there was almost nothing going on but open mics. Litquake was only three years old; it was basically a sleepover! (Now they’re bringing us things like this every month, it’s ridiculous). As I’ve said before (though really this is much better), Porch Light always presents to you in a handful of unexpected ways what it is to be human. We’re taking that and mashing it up with all forms of writing. Literature and storytelling on the same stage. No introductions. There will be books. There will be Lagunitas, a full bar and a lounge with sandwiches available from Bicycle Bánh Mì—doors at 7, show starts at 8. And what would Porch Light be without the piano stylings of Marc Capelle? Special musical performance by Rupa Marya, of Rupa & the April Fishes. Hosted by Sarah Griffin, Evan Karp and Arline Klatte, and co-curated by Beth Lisick, this is going to be a one of a kind evening! Advance tickets are recommended. $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Come early! Get a good seat! The Verdi Club!
May 3rd with Studio One Reading Series
Proud of this one: the Studio One Reading Series is consistently one of the best series in the Bay Area, usually presenting a trio of incomparable poets. This month, they’re featuring erica lewis and Adeena Karasick, who’s in town from New York. We took some of their work and built one of our literary mixtapes around it — a first for us. The result? Hidden Tracks! In true QL form, we’re going to do this show without introductions: one author after another for two sets. In Studio One form, the entire experience is free — no admission, with beer and snacks provided. Come to our second-ever show in Oakland! You will not regret it: this month’s curators, Nicole McFeely and Janey Smith, well… you know who they are. Add co-curator and -host Casey McAlduff and you’ve got a sterling sense of aesthetics. Come see!
June 6th w/The Contemporary Jewish Museum
For the sixth installment of our now annual Neighborhood Heroes series, for which we honor members of the Bay Area literary world who inspire us and help make possible what we do — as individuals and as a community — we’re teaming up with the Contemporary Jewish Museum to celebrate an original neighborhood hero, Allen Ginsberg, in our very first museum show. The Neighborhood Heroes shows are traditionally the only time we solicit authors every year, and this show came together impeccably. Featuring Jane Smiley, Glen David Gold, Susan Steinberg, Kevin Killian, Joseph Lease, Lisa Brackmann, Michael David Lukas, Chris Peck the Town Crier, Karen Penley, and Tom Comitta, June 6th is going to be one heroic literary mixtape! $3 drafts from Lagunitas, and only $5 to get in. Get your tickets now!
For the sixth installment of our TTT we’re rocking Beast Crawl for the second of its two years. We created a new series just for Beast Crawl last year called Random Play, which we’ve only done once since: readers were chosen from a comprehensive database of all (at the time) 306 past QL participants, then put into a new mix for this show. Featuring Liana Holmberg, Pam Benjamin, Annie Avery, Matthew DeCoster, Joe Case, Amy Glasenapp, Genine Lentine, and José Luis Gutiérrez at the incredibly beautiful Duende, this is going to be an outstanding way to start a day full of literary excellence. QL shuffle! This show is entirely FREE, come and get it.
Remember when The Rumpus threw monthly parties? So do we, and in the spirit of The Monthly Rumpus we have combined their variety show format with our signature submission-based literary mixtape, resulting in readings by Brandon Brown and Alice LaPlante (stop and exclaim!), a mix curated by QL board member Kristen Kramer and her guest of honor, D.W. Lichtenberg, comedy by Janine Brito and a musical set by Le fomo. We are going to take over Balançoire (that’s the old Blue Macaw) and we are going to parrrrtay! $10 gets you in … and a special surprise for the first 100 folks in the house. We don’t ever turn anyone away for lack of funds, so come one come all! (We also accept extra, so if you can spare it we’ll put it to good use.)
August 5th @ the Conservatory of Flowers
Quiet Lightning returns to the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers for our third annual three show summer series, The Greenhouse Effect. This is our only regular home, and we’re proud to say that of the most beautiful building in the city. Each year, we have a show on the first Monday of August, another show on the first Monday of September (Labor Day, for which we have a free picnic and live music on the lawn), and (usually) the second Monday of October, which is a featured Litquake show. For this show, we’re returning to form: a double set literary mixtape, put together by our board of directors, that features all forms of writing without banter or introductions. Lagunitas will be in the house with Andre 3000-cold $3 drafts. Admission, which will be $5-10 sliding, includes a copy of sparkle + blink for the first 100 people. You don’t want to miss these shows. Make it to at least one of them. So far — and we’ve done six shows there — it’s been magic every time. You can see videos, photos, and read the shows here.
September 2nd @ the Conservatory of Flowers
Quiet Lightning returns to the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers for our third annual three show summer series, The Greenhouse Effect. This is our only regular home, and we’re proud to say that of the most beautiful building in the city. Each year, we have a show on the first Monday of August, another show on the first Monday of September, and the second Monday of October, which is a featured Litquake show. For this month’s show, we’re hosting a free potluck picnic on the Conservatory’s front lawn, with live music and a Lagunitas beer garden! Followed by our trademark double set literary mixtape, put together by Evan Karp and Kelsey Schimmelman, that features all forms of writing without banter or introductions. Admission to the readings, which will be $5-10 sliding, includes a copy of sparkle + blink for the first 100 people. You don’t want to miss these shows. Make it to at least one of them. So far — and we’ve done seven shows there — it’s been magic every time. You can see videos, photos, and read the shows here.
September 22nd w/City Lights in Kerouac Alley
Part of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers’ 60th Anniversary celebration, Quiet Lightning did a special show in Jack Kerouac Alley: a single set mix w/signage a la Dylan and a disembodied voice.
October 14th w/Litquake at the Conservatory of Flowers
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November 13th w/Center for the ARt of Translation in The Lab
For the first time, we’ve run two rounds of submissions for the same show: in the first one, curators (Katie Wheeler-Dubin, Lauren Traetto, and Evan Karp) selected Considering They Lived, by Melissa Chandler. Click on the title to read the piece in full, and click here to submit a response by October 23rd to be considered for the November 13th show. Interpret “response” however you’d like! But that’s only half the story! The Center is accepting submissions separately – translations of the “pun-ridden, experimental story from Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s famously difficult-to-translate book Exorcismos de esti(l)o (Exorcisms of Style/Summer)”. Submissions to that half of the show are open until Oct. 28. We’ll bring our separately curated sets together for one night of literature, held at The Lab. Anyone who submits to the show and attends, regardless of whether their work is selected, will receive a copy of the excellent Two Lines Press book Passageways. The first 100 people to the show will also receive a free copy of sparkle + blink. Two of the Bay Area’s premiere literary organizations coming together for one incomparable show!
December 4th w/Pints & Prose (Fairfax)
We’re celebrating four years of Quiet Lightning on December 4th by taking Chicken John’s bus into Fairfax to team up with Pints & Prose for the thirteenth and final show in the Tour. Meghan Thornton and Ian Tuttle put together a literary mixtape through an open submission process, combined with the work of Pints & Prose’s Tuesday Night Writers. The show is at Peri’s Bar (29 Broadway, Fairfax) and begins at 7:00/7:30pm. If you want to ride from San Francisco in the bus you have to RSVP by sending an email to evan [AT] quietlightning [DOT] org. The first 35 people to RSVP get a guaranteed seat and a complimentary dinner on the way there! Important: to be sure we get to the show on time we need to leave SF at 5:30pm. We will meet on the north side of the Main Library (100 Larkin St.), in the parking lot across from United Nations Plaza; please don’t RSVP if you can’t be there before 5:30pm. We have been raising money to pay Chicken the little he’s asked for his troubles and the cost of dinner; if you can help, that would be amazing. FREE! The first 100 people there will get a copy of sparkle + blink featuring this fabulous art by Jovi Schnell! There’s a feast at her website.
More about Quiet Lightning
Perhaps the biggest reason for Quiet Lightning’s success is the format: each person follows the next without banter or introduction, and because we accept all forms of writing the audience never knows what’s going to happen next and people really pay attention. The energy, language, and themes all build off of one another to create a composite work of art, carefully put together each month by two different curators (for which we also accept applications). We like to think of them as literary mixtapes. There are never any themes other than what emerges in each month’s pile of submissions. We publish each month’s show in a book, called sparkle + blink, which we sell online and at the shows; each month, the covers of the book feature a different local artist. (You can also read every one of our books for free.)
Quiet Lightning is for the first time operating at a level where we can start doing different things with our programming, which has been consistently on the first Monday of every month for the past three years and for which we’ve averaged 80-120 people. Just this past year we received our first grant from the Zellerbach Family Foundation, and picked up Lagunitas Brewing Company as a gracious sponsor. We’ve also added a handful of committees in the past year: outreach, public relations, design, art, and volunteer, and with more people helping out we’ve been able to put more time into our direction. The Tour Through Town seemed like an obvious thing to do because there are so many incredible literary organizations in the Bay Area; already moving around to a different location every month we realized we’re in a good position to team up with some of them and see what happens.
More about the Tour Through Town
In the Tour, and as we begin our fourth year, we are forcing ourselves to re-imagine Quiet Lightning on a regular basis, to challenge what makes us who we are and to invite the Bay Area’s other people and organizations to influence our development. We hope we might inspire the people around us to reassess their own programming, to reach out to one another more often, and to embrace a larger understanding of what we are all doing and of what is possible.
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