Thursday, March 20, 2014

InPrint Festival of First Books 2014

Today was the 9th Annual InPrint Festival of First Books, and I’m so glad I went.  The authors were, as always, absolutely charming and unfalteringly personable.  In the words of T Fleischmann, "Y'all should realize you're really lucky to have this."

Suggested reading: Extremely
Loud and Incredibly Close

Proust, Virginia Woolf
Mario Alberto Zambrano1 read a few cards from Lotería.  Hearing him read is a real treat, as he really lets the voice of Luz, his protagonist, shine through, which makes sense, as it turns out her in-universe writing process mirrors his own process: both drew cards to inspire the next chapter.  He brings out her innocence, making his words feel vulnerable and therefore honest.

"You have to spend a lot of time with this person in your mind, if they don’t respond, be patient.  You have to meet their parents, ask where they came from."

Suggested Reading: The Body,
Times Square Red, Times
Square Blue 
T Fleischmann gave a reading not from Syzygy, Beauty, but from an upcoming work.2  For having a theme of breaking ice was surprisingly warm and fluid, the narrative exploring things taken away and things left behind. Also, they are the second InPrint Nonfiction writer in a row who told Sarabande “Yeah I have a thing almost done” before rushing to finish it.3 The lesson here is to always say you have something ready.

"People will say 'How dare you change this one little thing?' and, I never think each thing is literally true.  To me, pure truth doesn't exist."

Suggested Reading: Black
Aperture, Heart's Needle
Natalie Shapero’s reading may have been my favourite however.  Her voice while reading from No Object (and some new poems!) snaps and crackles, both charming and acerbic all at once, an interesting contrast to her normally bubbly personality.  In response to an audience question she gave the great advice that a writer shouldn’t worry about filling some sort of quota of gendered characters,  an important thing for writers to remember.4 

"An bird screams out my window like an alarm I have set to inform me that a bird is there."

I want to give a lot of props to Robert Stapleton who filled in for Jodee Stanley5 on such short notice and had great advice.  An editor for Booth, my favourite of his advice was “I’m always after the right surprise.”  He doesn’t generally publish things if he knows what’s going to happen, which made sense to me, as I found that my favourite fiction piece from this year’s Broken Plate6 was “Kiss” by Terry Savoie which goes to some strange, unexpected places and it’s awesome.

"I get the sense people don’t know what a story is anymore. A story is about arriving at a place where the world is different than it was in the beginning, the old world has evaporated."

There's something invigorating about a reading, not just hearing words come to life from a book but also about being there, being surrounded by other people who love to read and write.  At a reading, you go for the words but stay for the listeners.  Both are vital in that reminding us that the written world is still alive, still growing.

Oh, and before I forget, props to Brittany Means, Kaiti Crittenden and MaloriePalmer for giving great introductions to the authors. 

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