Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 Reading Series Contest!
This contest was judged entirely on nominations!
Highest Ranked Reading Series: Lostintheletters ($350)
West Regional Winner: Bouldering Poets ($150)
South Regional Winner: SAFTA Reading Series ($150)
Here are a handful of reviews for each reading series!
Lostintheletters Reading Series
“I would like to offer my strongest recommendation for the Lostintheletters reading series organized by Scott Daughtridge. I was honored to have participated as a reader in the series in early June 2013 as the last stop in an extensive book tour—launching a new story collection and a poetry collection—that took me to a number of cities, including some well-known venues in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, and I can honestly say that the Lostintheletters reading turned out to be one of the most memorable and meaningful for me. I think Lostintheletters has everything a great reading series should have going for it: engaged host and audience, absolutely terrific venue(s), intelligent partnering of local and visiting readers, and a supportive sense of community extending beyond the reading, all of it adding to a sense that something more transcendent than a simple notch on a resume has been accomplished.
I found Scott to be an extremely intelligent, honest, and sincere host, and immediately upon meeting him for the first time—we had not met in the past, and our exchanges prior to the reading had occurred as a result of a mutual introduction by the publisher of one of my books—I liked him a lot because I was taken by his sincerity and determination; I only found myself wishing I had some of Scott’s abilities when I was as young as him. My experience only got better from that point on as I got to read at the delightfully quirky and charming Highland Ballroom (attached to the historical Highland Inn itself, where I was fortunate enough to stay); Scott has the complete and enthusiastic support of the very intelligent Chelsea Raflo, the events manager at the Inn, which tells me that Scott should have no trouble getting equally stellar venues in the future. I was also fortunate enough to meet with several attendees—and the turnout was very impressive indeed, I would say about 50 people—whom I became friends with and have consistently stayed in touch with; I got a real sense of community beyond the readings alone. I got the impression that here was a literary community—organized around this excellent series which intelligently groups writers—that was the locus of serious literary collaborations, ongoing relationships at different stages that the readings allow to flourish in many different directions. It was a true meeting place, an open-ended, democratic, stimulating encounter (topped off by the lively question and answer session with me and the other reader, moderated by Scott) that left me feeling absolutely thrilled to be there, sharing my new work with new readers, and hoping to be able to return again some day. I felt a real sense of welcome and deep interest in my work from everyone I got to meet during the course of this experience.
These were just my specific experiences as one reader at one event but I think I’ve got a fairly good sense of what Scott has been doing since then and what he is capable of, the kind of people he draws around himself and the kind of literary aspirations he has, to know that this is something very special that deserves recognition. I could not be more enthusiastic in my recommendation.”
“Over the last year and a half,Lostintheletters has grown to be a pivotal element in Atlanta’s cultural landscape by continuing smart, engaging, novel and risky curated readings. As an avid attendee to the Lostintheletters series, I’m continually inspired by the writers who often share unpublished works or works in progress; which, for me, allows deeper connection to writers and how they work. Lostintheletters has exposed me to gifted writers ranging in their careers, from frequently published like Danniel Schoonebeck to emerging local writers like Monic Ductan. Further,Lostintheletters is always presented in locations with soul and interesting aesthetics that match the feel of the presented works, it feels like magic. Further, it’s astounding to me that Lostintheletters continues to provide free admission to all their readings, giving everyone access to great contemporary writers. I highly recommend Lostintheletters to receive the LitBridge award as a way to acknowledge the impact of the reading series in Atlanta and beyond as well as to financially support the continued efforts. “
“In all sincerity, I have to say that my experience with the lostintheletters reading series – which I have had the honor of working with twice now – has been among the best of any I’ve encountered in my career. Scott Daughtridge and company have done an excellent job of procuring talents of different genres and talents under one all-encompassing umbrella and have promoted and shaped those readings better than almost any I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with before. The readers have varied from Alex Gallo-Brown to Anis Shivini and those contrasting styles have never failed to create memorable and worthy experiences for those reading and, ultimately attending.”0
“Lostintheletters is an independently run series that operates on a minimal budget. Our mission is to inspire our audience members by featuring writers in different career phases with various styles who come from a lot of different backgrounds. During our year and a half of operation, writers from all over the country have been a part of the series. All of the readings are free and open to the public. We’ve held our readings in public parks, art galleries and speakeasy style bars. We’ve received a substantial amount of positive press from local publications, but that pales in comparison from seeing the creative growth that occurs with audience members that are inspired by our readers.
“I really love what these guys are doing. They’ve got great hearts. They work hard. Do an amazing job, and don’t ask for anything in return. It’s really quite unusual. They should be supported. It’s one of only a few independent reading series in Atlanta–and they’re trying to create an independent annual fest, which would be the only one in ATL, unless you count the Decatur Book Fest. That’s how hard it is to pull this kind of thing off. Out of a city of 5 million.”
“Elyse does a great job of highlighting local featured poets and fiction writers, and managing an open mic that is very inclusive and welcoming. The series also moves around Boulder to various businesses, which introduces a large number of people to small businesses in Boulder they may have not visited before, which also strengthens the community’s connection to literature. Elyse includes a musical interlude – which features local musicians, creating a dialogue between writers and musicians in the community. Finally, I really like some of Elyse’s special events, like her “Men of Naropa” reading, which is a fun way to highlight the diversity of poetry in Boulder.”
“I am writing to nominate Bouldering Poets, a reading series in Boulder, CO, as the Best Reading Series [should I even say in the West? Or just, ever?].
I am an attendee of the series, and I was a featured performer last month. There are usually around 50-70, or more, people in attendance. The venue rotates, but usually a restaurant/bar with a big quiet back room. The most recent was at Shine, a restaurant in downtown Boulder, where BP has had readings before– and they (Elyse, who runs BP, and others involved) have such a good relationship with the staff there. Readers vary from local students (we have so many good local writing/MFA programs to choose from!), to out-of-town readers, poet laureates, published poets, new poets, dramatic performers, understated readers.
I am an MFA Writing & Poetics candidate at the Jack Kerouac School, at Naropa, though I performed my music at this particular reading. There is a featured musician at each BP reading, which makes the night really unique and a delight and something for people to look forward to all month! And, an open-mic always follows the readings. There is always a great sense of community and support in the room during both the featured readings AND the open mic portion.”
“Bouldering Poets deserves be recognized as a role model for reading series everywhere because:
1. It has fostered an incredibly strong community of writers in the Boulder county, and several less frequent reading series have sprung up since Bouldering Poet‘s inception, as well as online groups and projects, as further extensions of this community.
2. Readings occur monthly, and communication is always kept up. This is an extremely professionally-run series.
3. Readers are always new, and the material is always fresh, exciting, and somehow manages to continually be different and engaging, featuring local poets as well as National poets (i.e. local poets from places other than Colorado).
4. There is always a new musical act in between the readers to expand the listeners’ box of creative expression possibilities.
5. The open mic at the end is fast and fun and meaningful.
6. The people. Elyse and Asa are both amazingly talented and great human beings and friends, as are everyone that attends and reads – they gather great people.
7. The location rotates between several venues in the winter, and one home base in the summer, keeping the atmosphere never stagnant.”
“This series is well-organized, well-promoted, and always features a great mix of performers, including top-notch poets, musicians, and visual artists. Consistent for nearly 2 years now, the event takes place once a month like clockwork, and always draws a full, enthusiastic crowd. The founder/facilitator, Elyse Brownell, brings great enthusiasm and has it down to add an open mic piece to the venue wherein each person is heard but also observes the time constraints with integrity. All-in-all a very professionally produced event that rotates venues, remains fresh, and is clearly appreciated by the community. Three Cheers for Bouldering Poets~!”
“Bouldering Poets is a monthly performance series that showcases local artists in poetry, prose, multi-media, cross-genre, and music. Each month we have three features (usually 2 writers and a musician) and we close the evening with an open mic. We typically have 50-60 people (10-12 of which perform on the open mic) each month and we hold events at various venues throughout Boulder, including: Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place, Johnny’s Cigar Bar, Trident Booksellers & Cafe, and 303 Vodka Distillery. We bring in performers of all experience levels and from across the front range to add variety, diversity, and to showcase undiscovered talent as well as celebrate established writers. We hold an open mic at the end of the evening to allow a collaboration with the audience and the features to take place and to open the space up to all attendees. We hold the series in various bars to draw in the person who wouldn’t seek out a poetry reading and change the platform of what they think a poetry reading should be.”
SAFTA Reading Series
“I was invited to feature my music and poetry in November 2013 at the SAFTA Reading Series. I met the host Erin Elizabeth Smith for the first time. She was incredibly warm and friendly, as was everyone else who volunteered to help. It was quite a crew of poets and creative types that were helping to do the sound and record the event. I’ve never experienced every person involved being that friendly. The location is in a great area of Knoxville, and the space, a pub, was large, yet warm and hip. It was a great stage layout so performers could look great, and there was an attentive and polite audience. One of the best readings I’ve been too, and I’ve been too a lot. People from the event have kept in touch and become friends; that’s also rare for a reading series.”
“I’m crazy about all that Sundress Academy For The Arts (SAFTA) is doing. They invited me to read in December, the day before my birthday, and it was the best birthday present I’ve ever received! The venue, in Market Square, downtown Knoxville, was cozy and fun — a great venue, a great turnout. Erin Elizabeth Smith is a welcoming hostess (she even took me to dinner following the reading!). Other readings, at the Birdhouse, are fun and engaging — I’ve loved every reader that has come. SAFTA is more than deserving of this award.”
“This reading series creates a much needed venue to bring visiting poets, local poets, and audiences together in unique community spaces such as The Birdhouse, an arts-coop in Knoxville, Tennessee. SAFTA works in collaboration with other community groups to host readings and literary events in these inclusive, non-university settings, and thus is a true “community” reading series. The reading series is also an important aspect of SAFTA’s community outreach program, which also includes OUTSpoken, a workshop for GLBT youth. They also record the readings and make them available to audiences online. The organizers are wonderful hosts as well!”
“Since 2013, we have been served as a place for writers (both regional and national) to promote their work in the East Tennessee region. As part of a budding artist colony, the reading series also hosts all their writers either at their home at Firefly Farms or at the house of their Creative Director. Writers are eclectic in genre and style and always feature a woman writer in the line-up.”
Please note that due to a lack of submissions, we were unable to choose a winner for the Northeast and Midwest regions.