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1. Rebecca Dinerstein, who is going to NYU for their fiction MFA program, & Alexandra Kleeman, who is getting her fiction MFA at Columbia. 2. The crowd gathered at Cake Shop for Monkeybicycle’s Lightning Round.
I like readings at Cake Shop — it’s difficult to feel stuffy and pretentious when you’re in a dark basement and the stage is a splintery little thing shrouded in egg crate foam and Christmas lights. And last night, on the occasion of Monkeybicycle’s Lighting Round, was no exception. At 7:30 pm, a half hour after the reading was scheduled to start, the door to the downstairs portion was still shut. They were looking for a bartender, a Cake Shop employee explained to me. Upstairs, lit-types grew anxious, smoking cigarettes outside and getting confused about the bathroom line. But the crowd didn’t mind — the atmosphere was friendly, the drinks were cheap, and the reading we were waiting for sounded awesome.
It was Monkeybicycle’s third Lightning Round reading — Lightning Round because it consisted of sixteen readers who would read for three minutes apiece. Each reader introduced the next reader to save time from shuffling papers and bullshit formalities. Also, this Lightning Round was special: to combat the mindset mentioned or maintained in articles like this, this, and this, the theme of the night was LADY’S NIGHT, and all of the participants (presumably) had vaginas.
The readers were chosen, as co-editor and host Shya Scanlon said, by their talent, however, and not because they had voiced any feelings about being underrepresented and/or repressed by The Big Dick.
The night’s readers were numerous, their subjects wide-ranging. Sara Faye Lieber read an excerpt from an essay called “Poser,” which was about the female-friendly topic of nude modeling (for art, not for sexytime reasons). Claire Donato read a poem called “Hatching and Brooding,” which was “obsessive compulsive” in that each line began in alphabetic order, and included the line “Oh, vent your spleen.”
Shelley Jackson, who read a story about the different types of snow, coined the phrase “winternet;” and Lauren Spohrer read a piece about child pornography, Traci Lords, someone with a screenname of fullmetalalchemist8, and included the line “I helped him drown a puppy in the toilet.” Deb Olin Unferth, who read a story called “Likeable,” which noted that things that a twenty-year-old might do are much more likeable than the same actions done by a forty-year-old. Catherine Lacey, who read an excerpt about hitchhiking in which the main character was reprimanded by an Argentinean mother for the dangerousness of her acts. “Stay away from those blokes, those bloody blokes,” she said. (The character ignored her.)
1. Shya Scanlon, the host for the evening, as well as the co-editor of Monkeybicycle. 2. The journal’s other co-editor, Steven Seighman, along with some beautiful Monkeybicycle books.
Other readers included: Seja Shah, Dawn Raffel, Hannah Lillith Assadi, Kate Hill Cantrill, Lauren Waterman, Ann DeWitt, Claire Donato, Aya Karpinska, Laura Carney, Katie Wudel, and Anya C. Yurchyshyn.
One more thing in terms of women and writing/publishing: I’d just like to say that if you are a lady writer reading this: let’s try to buck this trend! So, magazines like Electric Literature will do our part and try to publish and thus represent you, but it is up to you to submit your work. So finish that story, and send it the fuck out so it can get published. It’s your duty as a woman!
TL;DR — GOOD FOR: Short attention spans, those that own a uterus. BAD FOR: Claustrophobics, misogynists.
1. Reader Hannah Assadi, who is an MFA student at Columbia; Elena Megalos, a fiction writer; & Andy Spano, who writes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.
— Julia Jackson writes fiction and is a regular contributor to Electric Dish. She has an MFA from Brooklyn College.