Early on as a poetry slam organizer, I was petulant, acted entitled. Because I was creating a stage for poets to perform on, I felt at that time as the most important part of the poetry slam. That thinking created a lot of friction within the local poetry slam community to the point where someone (secretly at first) started another poetry slam to give people an alternative away from my poetry slam. At the time, I was furious. Looking back now, I understand why that happened. It took a lot of work to repair relationships and rebuild the integrity of the poetry slam. In the long run, it made me better as an organizer, a host, and a human being.
For There Will Be Words, I follow these rules when it comes to running it.
- Book good writers, regardless of publication history or background.
- Book women. I don’t hear enough writing from women in Orlando. In 2014, I’ve had more women than men read at There Will Be Words so far. I want to continue that trend.
- Create a safe space for everyone (writers and attendees).
- Don’t book yourself UNLESS someone drops out last minute OR you can’t find an available writer to fill an opening. I did book myself early on here and there to help get the show started. I rarely do it.
- Maintain transparency on booking guidelines for the show. There Will Be Words accepts submissions for the show from ANYONE who can come and read. I will reject writing I don’t like and not be afraid to answer questions why I rejected it when ask. I will also solicit writers directly when I enjoy their writing at another reading in town.
Integrity is important to maintaining any literary event. I don’t trust a reading series where friends of the organizer (or the organizers themselves) are booked to read on a regular basis. If an organizer can’t find new voices for their show, they aren’t doing their job. It’s one thing for an organizer to claim they foster inclusivity. It’s another for said organizer to actually do it.
If you are an organizer of a literary event, make sure you maintain the integrity of your event at all times. Without that integrity, the event won’t last.
I responded to the celebrity nude hack on New Verse News with this poem.
Little River included one of my Yelp reviews in their first issue.