If you check out my life list, you’ll see it’s a work (life) in-progress. This year, my goal is to cross five big things off my list. #22, Start a reading/performance/conversation series, seemed like a far-off dream that would never turn into reality. Sometimes, however, the dreams are closer than you think.
I met Larry Smith this past December, at the party of a mutual friend who was passing through town. Larry is the founder of SMITH magazine, creators of the six-word memoir. Here’s a little video back story into the history of six words, SMITH, and the six-word memoir book series:
Ironically, I had attended Larry’s book party for the first SMITH publication in 2008, which we talked about at our mutual friend’s gathering. Larry was filling me in on what he had done with SMITH since then (the books, in school events, etc) and where he wanted to take it. Thinking in part about my life list, I told Larry he should start live reading series. This idea excited both of us. We got together for a meeting in January along with Jason Boog of GalleyCat and a month-and-a-half, plus one baby later (Congrats, Larry and Piper!) we found ourselves at the 92Y Tribeca hanging up six-word memoir posters, doing sound checks with Michael Hearst and Deb Kogan, and gathering our group of nine readers together for a pre-show rundown in the green room.
I knew a reading series would be a ton of work, but I never imagined it would really feel like a mini version of making a movie — so much prep leading up it, then the show happens in the blink of an eye. One part I found (surprisingly) satisfying was deciding on the lineup. There were so many aspects to take into account. What would they be like as a performer? Which story would work the best for opening the show? For closing it? I kept in mind themes or people who might be good to follow each other. It turned out to be a great flow, and I think the order hit all the right notes.
What was particularly exciting was that I finally got introduce some really talented writers I know to a group of friends and strangers. Deborah Copaken Kogan was someone I had wanted to do an event with for a long time. Most people were likely familiar with Deb’s writing, but even for those who were, this was something entirely different.
(*Thanks to Paul Kogan, who documented his wife’s performance for posterity)
Kimberly Kaye is someone I met through the 140-character world of Twitter, then via her writing at Broadway.com and her new blog, which confirmed what I already knew to be true, she is an insanely talented writer in nearly every genre. People like this should be shared with the world.
I also discovered a new writing talent via the Facebook invite page we set up for the event. Anyone who wanted to could post their six word memoir and, if chosen, was eligible to come up and tell their memoir and back story. Qraig De Groot posted the following, which I immediately hearted and knew he had to be our winner: “Heart united us. Band, not organ.” His back story was funny and touching. I loved being able to introduce him and he totally killed it on stage.
In addition to these great talents, we also had stories from Baratunde Thurston, Darin Strauss, Sara Barron, Rachel Sklar, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Molly Schulman, and Michele Carlo. To pull this off with these amazing people was an immensely satisfying accomplishment. It was the best Valentine’s Day I’ve had thus far. From the sound of the laughs and applause, it seems the 150 people who came out to celebrate with us hearted it, too. You can read more about the event on SMITH. And find more photos over here on the 92Y Tribeca’s Flickr page.
If you missed this reading, never fear! We have another one coming up in May. I’ll post on The Brow about it when we have more details. Remember, this life list item specifies “a series,” so this will be an ongoing adventure.