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I started the Fireside Follies series with poet Mike Lala because we had already been booking group readings in Brooklyn and in a few other cities on the East Coast. I had just come off doing my own book tour and found that a lot of the series I had seen could be pretty homogenous in terms of programming. We wanted to do something with multiple genres that would have a wider appeal and not be as dry.
Is there something particular to Brooklyn Lit beyond geography?
Well, it depends on what you’re talking about. A lot of the poets stick together, because poetry as a genre makes much less money than fiction, so there’s a greater sense of community because you have to help each other out. And that’s a double-edged sword, because it can also breed back-slapping and a lack of real honesty when it comes to quality of work. People love to talk about Brooklyn as a brand when it comes to marketing, but artists moving to cheaper neighborhoods in major cities has always been happening. Just like the No Wave folks of downtown Manhattan 30 years ago, Brooklyn is currently in the limelight. In a few years you could be reading about the Los Angeles literary scene all over the blogosphere. These things can be cyclical.
Who's your favorite writer we've never heard of?
Right now that would be Donald Goines, or really anybody that was published by Holloway House back in the 1970’s. While I'm sure you know them both, Laurie Weeks and the text in Raymond Pettibon's work are two of my current favorites and both of them have been more than kind and supportive. For contemporary poetry, Matthew Zingg is one of the most accessible out there and has some strong imagery that sticks to your ribs.
Do you also write yourself?
Yes, I write short fiction and am currently editing a novel. I had a book of short stories published in 2010 called The Silk City Series that originally came from a series of zines. I also recently started contributing to blogs and write a weekly column for the website Bushwick Nation.
What's your day job?
I work in data management and web editing for a large non-profit organizations’ fundraising department.
What impact do you think Brooklyn Lit has had on the publishing world at large?
In my opinion, there seems to be a collective ego amongst Brooklyn writers. With that said though, I can't deny the borough has had a long history of being home for some important writers. I think it’ll continue to be so, but it’ll be interesting to watch what happens if there’s a backswing from the migration of young people into the cities if violent crime were to increase drastically like it did in the 1960’s.
What does the future look like for Brooklyn Lit?
It’s difficult to say. With so many creative young people still moving to Brooklyn and media exposure, particularly about the “hipster” culture and some of the alt lit that’s come out, there could be a backlash. It’s up to people to challenge themselves and not become too smug with their abilities because they made it out of their flyover state to NYU and got published.