A Literary Circus

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Last Friday, Bushwick got just a little more hip thanks to the H.I.P. reading series that brought together great writers, great magazines, and a great crowd for a veritable literary circus. If you haven’t heard of or been to a literary circus before, that’s because this was the world’s first (unverified, but, come on). There was a clown at the door to greet guests as they entered the Paper Box’s main stage (now circus tent) and a popcorn machine — there was also free pizza, but that disappeared before I arrived (the next time a literary circus comes to town, do not be late). Stonecutter Journal set up a tattoo booth and inked guests with literary themed portraits, Slice Magazine offered carnival games, and Gigantic Magazine sold vials of snake oil. Oh, and there were also excellent readings by authors Ayad Akhtar, Jason Porter, and Téa Obreht, who was dressed as a lion tamer.

But the show stealer was a death-defying poetry reading by aerialist Seanna Sharpe. As a shirtless man beat a steady rhythm on a drum, Sharpe, her hair in curlers, climbed up a pair of curtains and began a series of contortionist stunts 15 ft from the ground. Hanging upside down, she removed her curlers, which turned out to be poems rolled up into little scrolls, and began her reading.

Certainly a first for poetry. Certainly a first for Bushwick. And hopefully not the last amazing performance from H.I.P.
— Benjamin Samuel is the co-editor of Electric Literature. He promises that he is totally not afraid of clowns. Find him on Twitter.

Photos by David Crespo.

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