Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Writers and Their Friends

Anyone who missed The Lit's "Writers & Their Friends: A Literary Showcase" last Saturday missed a lot. The event, which moved from the Cleveland Playhouse where it was held in previous years to the ritz and glitz of The Ohio Theatre, demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that Cleveland's literary community cleans up pretty well. Beginning at 7:00 pm with a book fair and cocktails in the lobby of the theatre, the event got off to a nice start.

From my biased perspective as a bookseller, I always look forward to Writers & Their Friends, because it brings out a crowd that that looks at our books with fresh eyes, and that's always good. So score one for drinks and poetry.

The Show portion of the event -- written with high style by Katie Daley, produced and directed in perfect harmony by Christopher Johnston, and emceed in wild reverence by Ray McNiece -- came off very well. The segment opened with a performance by Q-Nice ChiefRocka that got the house pumpin', then 10 local actors threw their talents into reading the work of the evening's honorees: Cinda Williams Chima, Shurice Gross and Paula McLain in the fiction category; Kazim Ali, Michael Dumanis, Ted Lardner and Philip Metres in the poetry category; and David Giffels, James Renner and Frank Vazzano in the nonfiction category.

The work of these fine writers was read with authority, tenderness and expression. So score one for representing their words in fine fashion. After another performance by Q-Nice, there was a book signing, more drinks and more bookselling in the theatre lobby. Score one for a brilliant night. Were you there? What did you think of the event? How did it compare to previous events? I'd like to hear your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Wish I could have made it! I'm happy I'll at least get to see Phil Metres read at the Literary Cafe this Thursday, September 11th. Kazim will also be reading Thursday, but at the Oberlin Public Library. I regret I won't be able to make it to both events.

michael salinger said...

All in all I thought the evening was swell. I really liked the ambiance of the Playhouse Square setting – it made the browse and mingle seem a bit classier.

I think, for the majority, the performances of the works were excellent with a couple exceptions – especially the young man who was reading the Dumanis piece. It was a difficult piece and I don’t think he quite grasped it – or at least he didn’t seem as comfortable with it as some of the other readers did with their presentations.

I have heard a couple folks comment on missing the photos of the honorees being projected behind the readings and others who preferred there being a narrative that held the story together. I am fine w/out the back story (some of those in the past seemed forced to me anyway) but projecting the photos would have been nice – especially with the understated staging. The work presented was strong and I agree with the idea of paring down the selections. Even so the show began to feel like it was running a little too long towards the end.

The printed program is beautiful and, as a board member I was duly impressed with the sponsorships acquired and the quality of the browse and reception. Kudos to Judith her team and the rest of the board for a fine event.

Theresa Göttl Brightman said...

Hopefully I'll be able to make it out next year. Unfortunately, circumstances intervened...

Sounds like it was an amazing event!


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau