Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Super Secret Sneak Preview

We are days away from the release of our new spring issue (9 days to be exact), and we are pumped! This new issue is going to be bigger than ever, with more pages, more stories, more artwork, and more fancy new bindings.

With submissions from 12 states and 3 different countries, we selected a powerhouse of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, photography, and artwork, including 5 artists and writers from the Seattle area. How could we not be excited? In fact, we are so excited that we just can’t keep it all a secret. We have to give you some hints. We have to give you a sneak preview of the new issue, so you’ll be as excited as we are!

From “My Father Grew Roses,” by Holly St. Jean:

I thought about how cute one ladybug was. Super cute. Okay.  But how many filled this chilly bag resting on my lap? It undulated as if a miniature ocean squall was taking place inside. With each wave, I imagined thousands of shelled bodies waking up, and climbing atop one another within the darkened confines of this (hopefully) impenetrable fabric. The material scratched and scraped against my bare legs where my fringed cut-offs ended. The entire idea began to frighten me, but, I held on. For Dad, I would be brave.

From “mother,” by Meng Yu:

i am the bowl that breaks the potter’s hands
my name no longer claims me.
i am the trickle condensation of love’s overflow
and the desolate loss of its evaporation.

i swallow oceans in my depths.
my body is not the forms that fit
not the arts and crafts of desire.
no incisions will posses my open heart.

From “Scraps,” by Mel King:

She climbed in the backseat next to me. Looking down, she saw my black high top Converse with yellow flames on the side.
             “What does that say?”
             I blushed and looked down. The product of many boring classes, I had covered all of the white rubber in pen and Sharpie. My favorite quotes in my own handwriting. A big ‘L’ and ‘R’ on the left and right toes, because I thought it would help me to put them on without thinking about it.
             She pointed to the inner rubber sidewall. “There.”
             I crossed my left foot over my right knee to see it better in the dark backseat of the car and blushed redder. ‘CAN YOU JUST BE KISSING ME NOW?’ it read. The headlights of a passing car streamed in through the window and she saw it, too. “It’s from Buffy,” I started to explain.
             “Willow and Tara,” she added. I was dumbstruck.
            It was a line from the pivotal scene where Willow and Tara reunite after a protracted, multiple episode long break-up. I had watched that scene so many times that the VHS my dad had used to tape the episode was warped.
             Without missing a beat, she grinned and started, “‘Things fall apart. They fall apart so hard. ’” I wasn’t sure if I should continue, but the words came falling out of my mouth before I could stop them.

We can’t show you anymore. We want to (trust us), but we can’t. At least, not until April 18th, when the new issue is officially released. We’re so excited about this issue that we’re throwing a reading/dance party to celebrate! (If you can’t tell by now, we love dance parties, almost as much as we love writing.)

Join us at Vermillion on the 18th, at 7:00pm, to hear selections read aloud, mingle with the awesome T(OUR) staff, and dance the night away with DJ Res! The only downside is that it will have to end at some point. But before that happens, check out all the details here, and we’ll see you on the 18th!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

APRIL in March: APRIL Festival 2013

Drawing by  Derek Erdman

This past week was the awesome APRIL (Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature) Festival, which gave us literary events every day of the week around the city. A few of our bloggers had the chance to check out some of the events (though not as many as we would have liked):

A Poet, A Playwright, a Novelist, and a Drag Queen

By Loraine Kanervisto

Four storytellers sat in the Fireside Room of the Sorrento Hotel on March 27. They competed for first place in this APRIL Festival competition, filling the room with tales of youthful indiscretion, murder, feminist resistance, and the anxiety of performance.

A panel of local literary and cultural celebrities judged the competition, aptly titled “A Poet, A Playwright, a Novelist, and a Drag Queen,” including David Schmader, associate editor of The Stranger, and Rachel Marshall of Rachel's Ginger Beer. To decide the order of the evening's ribald theme of "Going back for seconds," APRIL founder Tara Atkinson drew readers' names from a coordinator's cleavage.

The Novelist went first. Peter Mountford, author of A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism, made the audience swear that his tale would not leave the room. He looked left and right with desperation, disclosing his story, a memoir from his college years. Reminiscing on youthful sexual encounters and infidelity, Mountford's drama slipped into a description of middle age domestic life.

The Playwright was next. Neil Ferron's setup was bizarre from the very start. The lights dimmed around us, and we sank even further into the red cushy chairs of the Fireside Room. He set up an old school light projector, the kind teachers used to display diagrams with dry erase markers and transparent plastic sheets. Ferron unraveled a bizarre social experiment he had conducted after learning about a brutal, true-life slaying of a Lululemon employee by her coworker in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Poet followed up this surreal experience. Elissa Ball, a Yakima native, shook the entire room with her thunderous voice and stomping feet. I like to imagine room service carts toppling over in hallways upstairs, as her feminist poetry exploded out at audiences.

The Drag Queen sent us off into the night. Cherdonna, of the famous Seattle performance duo, The Cherdonna and Lou Show, took center stage. Cherdonna paid homage to the theme of seconds by lip-syncing to a crazy remix of Oliver Twist film quotes and techno. After cartwheeling and flailing on the floor, Cherdonna lip-synced to recorded storytelling, the audio stuttering and wavering with anxiety. A perfect pantomime of someone standing nervously in front of an audience.

The judges convened and, after all was said and done, Cherdonna was crowned the winner. With talent like this, the APRIL Festival coordinators can be sure the storytellers aren’t the only ones begging for seconds.

Verse Chapter Verse

By Catherine Smyka

Friday night at Neumos, there weren’t six inches of space to spare; the room was packed corner to corner with the city’s nerdiest audience enjoying the latest installment of “Verse Chapter Verse,” a literary music event that switches between the set of a local band (verse) to a reading by a local author followed by a Q&A (chapter) to one more round with the band (verse). This time around it was hiphop duo Fly Moon Royalty paired with hilarious award-winning writer, Sherman Alexie.

For anyone who’s seen Alexie read, they know he is not only a poignant, heartfelt author, but also a stark, no-nonsense stand-up comic of a reader. His work focuses on his life on and off an Indian Reservation, as well as a wide range of politics from gay marriage to health care to the bike laws in the city. He is charmingly frank and immediately won over Friday night’s crowd, particularly with his slight digs at Mayor McGinn, sitting front row center.

Fly Moon Royalty struck a nice chord with the audience as well. Their opening set drew the crowd to the stage with the swooning vocals of Adra Boo and the fancy keyboard skills of DJ Action Jackson. The duo’s closing songs sustained an energy throughout Neumos that lasted long after they finished.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Video Interview: Christine Beaderstadt and Indian Adornment

We chat with multimedia artist Christine Beaderstadt about the traditional adornment of Indian women as a part of her latest project, Time & Place.

You can watch the extended interview here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Theatre and Baked Goods: Live Girls! Cupcake Reading Series


By Scott Herman

Rewriting a piece of theatre is very different than rewriting prose or poetry. As something that is designed to be performed aloud, having that trusted friend read your script only goes so far. In order to take your work to the next level, it’s important to get it in front of an audience. And that’s exactly the intent behind readings, like Live Girls!’s Cupcake Reading Series, which took place last week.

Live Girls! Theater works exclusively with women playwrights and, since their inception in 1999, has been known for developing new, local work. Cupcake 2013, held at Annex Theatre (also known for new works) involved readings of new plays by Rachel Atkins, Joanna Horowitz, Gillian Jorgensen, Juliet Waller Pruzan, Kristen Palmer, Kelsey Wilk, and 2 plays from the ACT Young Playwrights program from Holly Butterfield, and Alyson Davis. And yes, there were cupcakes.

I attended on Wednesday the 13th to see Gulch, by Juliet Waller Pruzan, and No Way Out, by Gillian Jorgenson. Attending a reading is different than attending a fully produced play; you have to have your thinking hat on. We enjoyed staged readings of both pieces before sitting down with the directors (L. Nicol Cabe and Meghan Arnette, respectively) to get feedback on these works-in-progress. Talkbacks vary in format depending on the theatre and the playwright, and this one was very structured, designed to give the playwright constructive feedback without straying too far off-topic. Asking questions of the audience like “What moment stood out to you?” and allowing the playwright to ask for specific feedback guides the discussion to make it productive and positive.

Both plays had strong characters and compelling stories, and the feedback gained will hopefully allow Pruzan and Jorgenson to continue developing these pieces, getting them ready for production. It’s nice to see new work by local artists being supported in such a positive environment. And enjoy some delicious cupcakes at the same time.


WE MADE OUR FUNDRAISING GOAL! T(OUR)’s Indiegogo campaign for our upcoming Spring Issue was a huge success. We couldn’t have done it without tons of help from all of you, and we thought “What better way to thank everybody than throwing an awesome concert?”

So, join us next Tuesday, March 26, at Vermillion, to rock out with the T(OUR) staff and some great local bands, including Xolie Morra and The Strange Kind, Lucarne, Cloud Person, and The Full Stops! You can find all the info here, and best of all, it’s FREE! (There is a $10 suggested donation, if you want to be super awesome.)

We’re getting started around 7:00pm, hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Shhh... The Stranger's Silent Reading Party


By Scott Herman

The reading party started at 6:00. When I walked into the fireside room at the Sorrento Hotel, at 6:10, there wasn’t an empty seat to be found. Lucky for me, my co-editor Catherine had saved one for me. We whispered hello, then, sitting across from her, I pulled out a book and started to read. I wouldn’t say another word to her for almost three hours.

The Stranger's Silent Reading Parties have been happening, on and off, for a few years now. About once a month people descend on the Sorrento, bringing their books, magazines, Kindles, even iPhones to hang out, reading. There’s not a lot to it. There are drink specials, some people get dinner, but most just sit silently, making public something most people enjoy by themselves.

It feels kind of strange to go to a hotel, or anywhere for that matter, just to read. Other than the occasional rainy afternoon spent indulgently lounging in my favorite coffee shop, reading is not generally a destination activity. It can even induce a certain level of anxiety. Would people judge me for my reading material? What if I turn a page too loudly? But as I settled into my chair, sipping my tea, I thought “maybe I can get used to this.” Then the harpist started to play. I corrected myself: “I can definitely get used to this.”

For most of the three hours (6:00-9:00pm) the entire room was packed. Few stayed for the whole time, but readers cycled in and out constantly; popping in when they could to catch up on a few quiet pages or settling in for the long haul, no chair was empty for long. After a long day at work, it felt great to just sit and read for a while, without feeling anti-social, or even anti-productive. The ceremony of the event, the ritualistic nature of it allows you to be indulgent. Read that extra chapter. Ignore that text message. Just enjoy the words on the page in front of you.

As 9:00 neared, the room started emptying out. Even when barely a dozen readers remained, people packed up quietly and left with grace, not wanting to interrupt those that carried on. I ended up reading over 150 pages of West of Here, by local author Jonathan Evison, getting sucked into the world of Port Bonita and life on the peninsula. Catherine barely looked up from Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. As we headed out, we both commented on how nice it was, to just sit and read. Something we didn’t do nearly enough. We agreed to meet there again next month.

Arriving home, I started settling in. As I was emptying my bag, I pulled out West of Here, setting it on my dresser. I looked at it. There were only about 40 pages left. “Why not?” I thought. “I don’t do this enough, right?” I sat down on the couch, opened the book, and began to read.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Queen Anne Book Company


By Sadie Adams

The door opens with ding of a bell, and the smell of fresh wood, paint, and stacks of books invite me in. A substantial but not overwhelming crowd mills about, talking, laughing, carefully selecting treasures from the shelves. Local authors wearing name tags sit around an old-fashioned wooden dining table, smiling, joking and inviting passersby into conversation.

Welcome to the Queen Anne Book Company’s grand opening weekend.

This is the reincarnation of Queen Anne Books, and she’s come back with new management and lots of local love.  Since I can’t read times or dates (apparently), I’m there on the last day of the grand opening—not the first as anticipated—but when in the company of books, it’s difficult not to have a good time.

The space is light and airy, with natural wood shelves stocked with brand new books. The store is sufficiently windy with the right amount of dead ends—I’m a staunch believer in the crookedness and character that all bookstores and libraries should have built in to their aisles and shelves. These are the little somethings that big box chains can’t replicate, that bring us back again and again to independent bookstores: character, company, and the support of local merchants and artists.

In the middle of it all there’s a table devoted solely to flowers the Queen Anne Book Company has been sent for their grand opening. “From your friends at Random House,” reads one card, while another is a long love letter written in a delicate cursive from a dear friend of the company.

The store is small but has a bit of everything to offer, from Anna Karenina, to a guide on How to Knit a Cat, to Ender’s Game and The Hobbit, to gardening, cookbooks, and an adorable children’s section. It’s the kind of place that invites you to relax and browse.

Two local Young Adult authors say hello to me and express their relief at the reopening of the store. The sudden closure of Queen Anne Books in early fall of last year was a tough blow to the area’s book lovers and authors, but the rebirth is a beautiful thing to witness. Even to a newcomer like myself.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Next Big Thing

By Catherine R. Smyka 

There’s a literary project chain circulating the Internet, and it finally got back to me. Here’s the deal: as a writer, it’s really challenging to make your work known. So a group of writers set out to change that with “The Next Big Thing.” Literary folks with upcoming projects interview themselves (we’re no Katie Couric, but we are fancy!). Then we tag other writers to do the same, and on and on it goes.

My delightful Associate Editor, Scott Herman, tagged me. Did you know he has a blog? Did you know he has a BOOK? See, now we’re all learning new things. Apart from editing the bajeezes out of T(OUR), Scott is also a seasoned playwright. His work has been produced in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle with such wonderful organizations as PianoFight, Open Circle Theatre, Pony World Theatre, and 14/48: The World’s Quickest Theater Festival. His plays are raw and heartfelt, and ask the kinds of questions other playwrights won’t. Scott is a regular storyteller with The Moth’s Seattle StorySLAMs. Plus he has great taste in hats.

And because of him, I am now interviewing myself. I suppose there’s a first time for everything:

1) What is the working title of your project?

The Rules of Being a Lesbian

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, I’m really gay, and I grew up in a conservative town. So I discovered all the wrong moves in the dating world, in friendships and relationships and family. This book is my life in a super queer nutshell.

3) What genre does your book fall under?


4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have never thought about that before. To play me? Haven’t a clue. But to play some of my ex-girlfriends…Clea DuVall for one, and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) for another. I think it’d be a blast to have my siblings play themselves.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In this simultaneous coming-of-age and coming out tale, a young gay woman experiences the confusing, hilarious, and downright ridiculous ways the world around her works.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Represented (fingers crossed on that).

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

More than half the chapters began as performance pieces at storytelling competitions, so I wrote it (by accident) in chunks. But once I sat down to turn it into a memoir, it took about two months.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Kate Bornstein’s A Queer and Pleasant Danger. Perhaps Wendy McClure’s I’m Not the New Me.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I mentioned in Question 7, many of the chapters came from stories I had performed. It was at several of these storytelling nights that I discovered I was usually the only gay person at the mic, and that the stories seemed to affect people in a really personal way, even though I was reminiscing about my crazy Italian family and my ridiculous college love life. I realized that it was really cathartic to tell those moments to complete strangers. The memoir pretty much wrote itself from there.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Cynical grandmothers. Sneaking into football stadiums. Love letters. JCPenny. A lot of snacks. A lot of kissing. A lot of gay stuff.

If you want to read the full memoir, please tell Simon & Schuster to sign me on. But if you really want to read the full memoir, just email me.

BUT WAIT. Don’t you want to read about other writers and other projects? Of course you do.

Loraine Kanervisto is a dear friend, writer, and coworker. She jumped onto the staff for T(OUR) when it was just a baby magazine. And she’s blown me away with her work ethic, enthusiasm, and mad skillzzz. Right now, Loraine is working on a collection of short stories called No Hand on No Strings. She will tell you all about her work when she continues this “Next Big Thing” social experiment here.

Here’s to all the awesome writers!