I’ve moved around enough that I don’t feel like I have a city, and *that* saps my will to live like a giant lamprey because as much as I think being a giant lamprey would be fun, it seems an almost impossible goal to reach without the support of a local scene.
The writing scene in Nora Ephron’s brilliant play “Lucky Guy” is wonderful, thanks to her terrific script and the amazing performance by Tom Hanks as Daily News columnist Mike McAlary racing to meet a deadline. If you come to my city, see this great show’s writing scene — and all the others — at the Broadhurst Theatre. Its run has recently been extended. Watch the Tony Awards and see what it will win!
Love the people in the community here in the city I’m not naming for coy purposes of ambiguity and being obnoxious. Even though I’m more reclusive than I would like, I’m glad there are those who are not and do a good job of getting people excited about stories and poems and all.
Ack! Adam, you and your semantics. I tend to agree with the substance of your point, though. There are many. I know you know a lot of people in many of them. I wish I knew more in many of them. I’m glad I know some in some of the bigger, more identifiable groups. The poetry slam people I know somewhat. 826 seems like its own discrete group but I know some people there, too. Then all the different creative writing programs, which I only have tangential association with. I know there are more that I just don’t know.
Yes, me and my semantics :)
But that’s exactly my point. I’ve tried to go to every reading series in the city I’ve ever heard of. And that just gets one to lit scenes that have reading series. There are lotsa things people hain’t heard of. Just like with the culture at large, no one knows how big it all is, and where it all goes.
There are also a lot of people who “belong” to the scene in some way, but who aren’t visible. I work regularly with my pal Elf in Philadelphia, and Jeremy M. Davies in Urbana-Champaign, as well as another anonymous friend of mine in Scranton (who’s been a big influence on my writing as of late). Those three people are probably more my scene than anything here in Chicago (save UIC these days).
No one in chicago can lay claim to their being only one scene and it being theirs. But I imagine that’s true of most places. “Scene” becomes a label like all those “ism” words that seek to contain. Still, though, I’m glad to have met so many people so far, through all the avenues the city and the internet, too, really, afford.
I wrote a bit about this here—”Why Do We Have Readings? (A Polemic)“—back when I was trying to wrap my head around how much was going on in Chicago. The panel described in that post was one attempt to physically demonstrate how there were several different lit scenes in Chicago, broadly organized around (now) traditional MFA / slam / performance poetry lines. Since then I’ve realized that there is also arguably a fourth category, of popular/commercial writing. And there are of course lots of different scenes within those four categories—e.g., MFA poetry might be split roughly along Language/lyric/conceptual lines—and there are other splits along generational lines, and class lines, etc. And then there are all those weird hybrid cases. Some stand-up comedy looks like poetry, and vice versa (just look at Mason’s work).
I’ve tended to gravitate, myself, toward series that straddle a few different scenes—places that would let me get away with crap like this. But me, I like straddling.