If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
1. Birdsong Reader Chantal Johnson & Editor-in-Chief, founder, and emcee Tommy Pico. 2. Katie Naoum, whose poetry appeared in issue #15 & Julia Norton, who designed one of the two covers. They are working on a children’s book together, and both met Pico in college.
Birdsong is a multi-disciplinary collective and micropress based in Williamsburg that “share[s] commitments to social movements of feminism, anti-racism, queer positivity, class-consciousness, and DIY cultural production.” Vaudeville Park is a non-profit space in Williamsburg is dedicated to “showcas[ing] unique and affordable community arts programming.” So it made sense when Birdsong had the release party for their 15th issue at Vaudeville Park.
Thursday was disgusting and hot, and then it was disgusting and rainy. This transformed Vaudeville Park into a hot, humid white box. People repurposed the zine into fans and cooled off with iced coffee and beers (donated by Brooklyn Brewery).
1. Mickey, who likes to support his friendz, & Lauren Wilkinson, who is working on her MFA at Columbia, and is a contributor for issue #15. 2. Contributors Daniel Portland (who is also Birdsong’s Managing Editor) & Max Steele, who are both in the band b0dyh1gh. ARENT THEY CUTE???? THEY’RE CUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTE.
In true Birdsong style, the event featured readings of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; a band; prints for sale by Birdsong artists. Here’s who read + highlights.
Tommy Pico read a poem, as well as a nonfiction piece about sucking famous dick during SXSW (previously on Dish). Katie Naoum read a poem inspired by a visiting friend who really wanted to go to Top of The Rock, but who freaked out, cried, and layed down on the ground once there. Daniel Portland read a hybrid piece of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry (I think), which included the wonderful line, “Music will make you gay but not every body notices this happening.” Other readers included Max Steele, Lauren Wilkinson, and winner of Birdsong’s spring fiction contest Pedro Ponce.
1. Guest reader Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, swampin’ it up. 2. Musical performers Sweet Tooth Nelson and Paps.
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, a poet, was the guest reader of the evening. Pico introduced her by saying that as literary outsiders, we often have to make our own canons. Van Clief-Stefanon has become a part of his canon, and it was easy to see why. Her poetry was smooth and seductive, with brittle edges. She’s from the swamps of Florida, she said, an influence that fit perfectly with the hot, steamy atmosphere of Vaudeville Park.
The night concluded with a musical set by Sweet Tooth Nelson and PAPS, a couple who sings beautiful, scratchy, country-influenced songs. Despite the loveliness of their performance, my favorite part was when singer Jess Paps told us about a conversation she’d had with her mother that day; her mother first admitted that the story would be TMI. The story involved ant cream instead of lube, and later poison control. The crowd erupted in cries of disgust, laughter, and applause.
–Julia Jackson writes fiction and is a regular contributor to Electric Dish. She has an MFA from Brooklyn College.