By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
No one's crankier about corporate America than Linda Yablonsky. "I was so miserable," says the 54-year-old former editor in chief of Edificerex.com, "I'm still getting over it."
Since her fortuitous layoff two years ago, the '80s scenesterwho wrote the popular novel The Story of Junk based on her experience as a heroin addicthas been much less miserable laying low and working on her next novel, about the heist of a famous painting and the reporter assigned to the story. Now she's ready to temporarily escape her self-imposed isolation by launching the new "Spotlight Readings" series, a three-part experiment in literary presentation, which she says is "not about selling books!"
Writers such as Richard Price, Francine Prose, Paul Auster, and Susanna Moore read their books-in-progress while video artists screen their work. The collaboration is intended to "cross-pollinate" an audience of writers, readers, and artists with similar creative processes. It's an unusual technique for a literary event, as well as a throwback to the '80s, when readings were often linked to the art scene.
Yablonsky also has a hand in the art world; she reviews shows for The New York Times. Her curating experience comes from running the "NightLight" reading series, which regularly drew literary and artistic crowds to the Drawing Center. She decided to end that seven-year gig when it became increasingly difficult to book authors whose publishers were insisting they read at more mainstream venues. "I realized publishers were booking the programs instead of me," says Yablonsky.
The "Spotlight" series aims to expose audiences to material in unfamiliar ways. This means including them in an improvisational concert of words and images, while also introducing them to unfinished works by well-known artistsan idea Yablonsky has been toying with for a couple years. When the Kitchen, which has the technology for video installation, invited her to curate a series, she decided the time and space were right.
The readings are currently scheduled for three installments, after which Yablonsky plans to return full-time to her writing. But for now, she's happy to be out of hiding. "I'm glad to make what little dent I can in our ever more antiseptic culture."
172 Allen Street, 777-6028
In addition to the weekly all-women open-mic poetry night, The New Heights Poetry Series of West Harlem is scheduled for a monthly (first Wednesday) reading, "Blue Heights," by female writers of color. Also, March 23: A song-and-poetry concert benefits Afghan women.
173 Mott Street, 941-1282
"The Segue Reading Series" hosts poets on Saturday afternoons(4-6 p.m.) in a cozy basement bar: Craig Watson and Rosmarie Waldrop (March 9), Jack Kimball and John Godfrey (April 27), and Pat Reed and Bill Bissett (May 25).
505 West 23rd Street, 462-4300
126 Crosby Street, 334-3324
85 East 4th Street, 505-3360
This commie-chic East Village bar continues to pack Sunday nights with authors ranging from highbrow to McSweeney's scribes. Spring brings Ben Marcus and Aimee Bender (March 10), David Grand (March 17), and Mary Gaitskill and Peter Cameron (May 19).
512 West 19th Street, 255-5793
The Moth invites storytellers to wax on specific themes (this spring: war & peace, baseball, coming out) and hosts open-mic story slams at venues around the city.
92ND ST. Y
1395 Lexington Avenue, 415-5500
The Y's pricey, high-profile series will fill its auditorium for John Barth and Richard Powers (April 29), Saul Bellow (May 13), and Edward Albee (May 21), as well as discussions: "Writing Funny" (David Rakoff and Leonard Lopate, May 21) and "Across Genres" (Jules Feiffer, Sue Miller, and Dava Sobel, May 12).
PETE'S CANDY STORE
709 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, 718-302-3770
Pete's bimonthly reading series pairing locals with pros lures lit-wits over the bridge and into its festive back room. Schedule TBA.
St. Mark's Church, 131 East 10th Street, 674-0910
In addition to readings by Lynn Crawford and John Yau (March 20) and Kazuko Shiraishi (April 17), there will be a benefit for Poets in Need (March 13), featuring Leslie Scalapino and Charles Bernstein.
THE RIVERDALE-YONKERS SOCIETY FOR ETHICAL CULTURE
4450 Fieldston Road, Bronx, 718-549-5192
Poet Rick Pernod curates "Exoterica," a nonprofit reading series, which will welcome Jackson MacLow (March 24) and Gray Jacobik (April 6).
2537 Broadway, 864-5400
Symphony Space celebrates its newly refurbished theater with "The Thalia Book Club"a reading followed by a conversation with the author. First up: Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (April 9).