H.I.P. Lit: The End of the World Edition
by Alizah Salario
HIP Lit End of the World flyer, Design by Christopher Russell
Elwin Cotman, Beth Lisick, Jennifer Percy (top, left to right)
Erin Harris, Brittney Inman, Beth Lisick, and Jennifer Percy (Left to right)
The first sign of the coming apocalypse will be a hipster Jesus handing out glow-in-the-dark halos. A Mexican food truck, decorative pineapples, and free cookies will follow the revelation. These were just some of the earthly delights at the latest installment of the H.I.P Lit Reading Series: The End of the World Edition, co-hosted by Erin Harris, Brittney Inman, & Kim Perel on Friday, May 16th at the Paper Box in Williamsburg. An artistic experience that incorporated music and film with literary readings, the event was somewhere between Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno, sputtering paper mache volcano and all.
The literal meaning of apocalypse is “an unveiling,” and the readings did just that. Oakland-based poet Elwin Cotman kicked off the night with “The Revelation of John,” a selection from his collection of lyrical fables, Hard Times Blues,about an epic flood on the Mississippi River. The rain pounding down on the Paper Box conspired beautifully with Cotman’s melancholy fable. Next, Beth Lisick, author of Yokohama Threeway and Other Small Shames and the comic memoirEverybody Into the Pool, read from a work in progress titled “Rods and Cones.” She managed to weave references to Carmela Soprano, wet farts, and throwing frozen peas at a crucifix with startling insight and eloquence. Jen Percy ended the reading with a wrenching except from Demon Camp: A Soldier’s Exorcism, her astutely-observed nonfiction book about a soldier with PTSD tormented by his demons. The most apocalyptic moment of the evening was Percy’s haunting repetition of a single word: Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. Over and over, this is what a former soldier told his sister right before putting a gun to his head.
The event wrapped up with a set from the band Among Savages, but not before a Q&A session with the readers. A moment of purgatory followed the dreaded question, “Why do you write?” The responses, however, were illuminating: “I write so I can understand what I’m thinking,” said Lisick. For Percy, “It’s like having a secret love affair with my whatever you want. It revives me. It’s like an I.V.”