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Eric and I started Fireside Follies in 2010 because we didn't know anyone in the literary world and as young writers, we wanted to. We had already organized events with writers in Philly and Baltimore (and separately in Detroit, L.A., Boston...), and we'd done a lot of one-off readings in NYC, so we knew a lot of writers at our level in the game that would jump at an opportunity to read with more established folks.
Plus, it seemed (still does) like most reading series pander to one crowd: fiction or poetry, this scene, that scene, etc. It's stuffy and limiting, and part of the reason poetry and literary fiction get a bad rap. We wanted to do the opposite: a big space, a fun crowd, a wide range of voices at every reading, and goddam if someone breaks a glass or slams the door in the middle of a reading who cares.
Is there something particular to Brooklyn Lit beyond geography?
We've got the biggest small-town lit scene in the country! Maybe the world.
The thing I find most interesting, though, is that the people in the Brooklyn lit scene are largely from almost anywhere else: the Midwest or Massachusetts (most everyone), the West coast, Canada, etc. There are a handful of people from Long Island who admit it, and a LOT of Jerseyites (who'll always admit it).
Who's your favorite writer we've never heard of?
There are so many people making interesting work in Brooklyn who don't have first books yet. Here are links to poems and stories I think are exceptional, written by people who are or will be exceptional writers:
Do you also write yourself?
What's your day job?
I teach English language learners from other countries in Flatiron and do freelance editorial work, or other odd jobs. The other day I watched the door of a really nice apartment building in Soho while some plumbers pulled a 19th-century, cast-iron boiler out of the basement.
What impact do you think Brooklyn Lit has had on the publishing world at large?
I have no idea.
What does the future look like for Brooklyn Lit?
In five, ten years, everyone in this feature will either be doing something completely different or will have dropped out of the game. Kids. All the old reading series will be gone, the hot neighborhoods will have turned over (goodbye, Bushwick!), the rags will have different editors (or will have folded), and the writers will be well on their way to fame or irrelevance. Movements are of the moment.