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Aftershocks From 2015’s Litquake In San Francisco
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Aftershocks From 2015’s Litquake In San Francisco

Picture of Jesse Burns
Updated: 29 November 2016
In case anyone barhopped throughout Mission and wandered into a tavern full of poets and writers giving voice to their literary talents, chances are it was part of a week-long extravaganza known as Litquake. It began on the October 9th and ended on the 17th a crawl spanning a mind boggling 82 readings of all genres.
Art of Fiction Panel l © Jesse Burns
Art of Fiction Panel l | © Jesse Burns

The event left a resounding mark; the Culture Trip encourages future attendees to plan for next year’s big shindig. For example, someone who might have career aspirations centered on writing fiction would be mindful to perform some basic research to attend the best readings that suit those particular needs. The Art of the Novel, at 3PM on the last day, would have been a fantastic choice, with its emphasis advice from the available panel. Hosting such writers as New York Times bestselling author Tiffany Baker, this moderated panel offered great insights.

The panel ended at 4:30PM, and the official crawl start time was still an hour and a half away, leaving plenty of time to reach Valencia – the street where most of the readings were located. But because so many of the readings overlapped with other readings, utilizing Litquake’s fantastic website map and the available brochure became crucial – especially when researching the most captivating events. With each leg of the journey broken down into hour-long phases, it was important to look at the map and try to visualize the lineup. The first phase was located towards Market; the second on Valencia itself; and the final was clustered around the 24th Street BART station.

With the warm San Francisco sun setting, a general tranquility fell around the area. A broken line of attendees grabbing a beer spilled onto the sidewalk. Asked about this popular event, someone replied with a smile that this was the main headquarters of the Litquake event. An army of volunteers was about to drop on the unsuspecting.

Litquake l © Jesse Burns
Litquake l | © Jesse Burns

At Market, about ten minutes before the first phase began, Culture Trip correspondents decided that Narrative Magazine Presents: The Seven Deadly Sins would be the reading of choice. It was at an art gallery that already had chairs and free Litquake memorabilia available. Unlike the previous event, this one was eye level to the audience, with a microphone standing in an empty circle. The room filled beyond capacity. Tom Barbash kicked off the reading, and it seemed as if the ‘sins’ based on biblical scripture would be loosely defined. What followed were readings on sin as marriage, tales of lust and unwed mothers, and bouts of spoken poetry. It went 15 minutes over the allotted time, so it was already dark once it was over. Time to make the crawl over to Valencia, to other readings that became more cloudy and disjointed with every drink.

Phase One  l © Jesse Burns
Phase One l | © Jesse Burns

Litquake is so diverse and unique in what it offers, it’s recommended even to non-readers. It’s a great excuse to drop that smartphone and actually talk with a human being, offering something San Francisco used to have: the love of the human spirit. At a well-kept art gallery, a local coffee shop, even a dive bar, the shocks from the literary quake will reverberate through the city until version 2016 rocks through.