The Downtown Writers Jam, Vol. 2 hosted by The Geeky Press showcased 9 authors who came from 4 states to tell stories to a crowd of 45 people at Indy Reads Books on Wednesday, November 12. We were especially happy to have our friends from Curbside Splendor Publishing, which brought 3 writers and a crew all the way from Chicago.
Before you watch the performances, you should know a thing or two about the event. The authors and audience created a long-form literary event infused with a jazz sensibility and spiced it up with the rules of a poetry slam. It was unlike any traditional reading in that The Jam required that the audience participate in the process, giving the writers immediate (and sometimes uncomfortable) feedback.
Here’s how it works:
In this iteration of the Jam, we had some amazingly polished storytellings. We had 45 audience members glued to their seats for 2 solid hours listening to stories (and many asking for MORE stories by the end).
Interlude with Anecdotes:
- Erika T. Wurth (Curbside Splendor Books)
- Trey Dowell (Simon & Schuster)
- Darolyn “Lyn” Jones
- Susan Hope Lanier (Curbside Splendor Books)
- Angela Jackson-Brown (WiDo Publishing)
- Ben Tanzer (Curbside Splendor Books)
The Jam isn’t a competition, but we do select three judges from the audience who are asked to rate each story on a scale from 1 to 10. We tally up the scores at the end, and announce winners (who receive nothing, by the way).
Amy David, a Chicago transplant and former national slam poetry winner, told a story from an essay collection she’s working on. She edged out Invictus Writers Sara Nahrwold and Aiste Manfredini, who stepped into the round for the first time.
Check out Aiste’s story…
… and Sara’s story.
Curbside Splendor author Ben Tanzer narrowly edged out Angela Jackson-Brown for the crown but upon further reflection I decided to award them co-championships. You’ll see why.
Tanzer’s piece “End of Story” was a story about his father dying, a cancer scare, and finding out his wife was pregnant with their first child. Jackson-Brown’s “Serving up Smiles” was an intense, beautifully told story about a young woman who is forced to reconcile her anger at domestic service with the realization that every time she fights back she makes life harder for the older women around her.
Check out Ben’s story…
…and Angela’s story.
A complete list of feedback from our response cards
It’s easy for me to tell you that the Jam was a rousing success, but there’s no reason for you to believe the organizer. Please keep in mind that we had 9 authors who told stories for two solid hours and nobody left early. Here’s what people told us on their feedback cards.
- Very fun. Nice to see different genres represented!
- Very well done. Lots of fun.
- This was awesome – even more entertaining than anticipated. I like the time limits for each author.
- Wow, that was rad.
- Loved it.
- Awesome. Such a great idea.
- Loved the good vibes. I hope to come back.
- This was awesome! So many genres, so little time. I can’t wait for the next one.
- Not exactly what I expected. Lots of “personal experiences” instead of fiction.
- Very good.
- Really cool event. Would have liked more stories, but maybe stick to the time limit stricter.
- Another great event. I truly enjoyed the Chicago group. I think it was an excellent opportunity for the Invictus writers to share and test their drafts. I hope they found it beneficial. Look forward to the next event.
- This was fun.
- Great performers. Maybe I’m a big baby, but a short break with intermission between newbies/professionals.
- Enjoyed it. Interesting to listen to writers tell stories and not read.
- Great event. Thanks for organizing.
- A great concentrated burst of emotion and fun.
- Very fun, lots of interesting stories and I had a great time. Looking forward to the next one.
- Very impressed with the audience participation. Would love more stories next time.
Vol. 2 Sponsors
The Geeky Press, a loosely-affiliated writers collective and organized by Brad King (me), is driving this show. If you’d like to play with us, read up on what we do and maybe think about joining us. As for the Jam, it takes a village to put on a killer show.
We’re lucky to have an organization such as Indy Reads Books, which has agreed to let us take over their establishment for a few hours. They host a plethora of amazing events, including the monthly Indy WordLab series
The space is perfect for a night of storytelling. Come prepared to experience an old-school book environment.
Vouched Books has been instrumental in getting the word out, and they’ll be on hand at the event. Whether they are reviewing work on its website, hosting a reading, or selling small press books at one of it’s guerrilla bookstores, the heart of Vouched Books is this: they love small press literature.
Our friend Barbara Shoup who is the executive director of the Indiana Writers Center, a literary hub that hosts workshops, readings, and gatherings, has thrown the support of their organization behind this. You might also want to take a look at the IWC workshops.