What happens when a group of diverse women writers take on gun culture in America? You get The LA Word: Exploded Guns.
The LA Word is making our second appearance at this year's LitCrawl NoHo, October 22 at 9 pm. I'll be reading with four other terrific writers you should be reading. Our work this year will include memoir, fiction and conceptual poetry, all on the theme of guns.
That's right: we're putting the "verse" in "controversy."
But don't just come for us. This year's LitCrawl NoHo promises to be even bigger and better than last year's fantastic debut. More than 170 Los Angeles-area writers will be reading at 30 events across North Hollywood. The readings take place in coffee houses, bars, restaurants, art galleries, comic book store, a sex shop and more. The LA County Library's bookmobile will be on hand, as will the LA Public Library's Library Store on Wheels. The LA Word will be reading in the lobby of the Laemmle NoHo 7 movie theatre (map) at 9 pm.
LitCrawl readings begin at 7 pm and run in three rounds. I'll be reading with The LA Word in round three, beginning at 9 pm. After our reading is done, head over to a party at the Federal Bar, where GuerrillaReads (another literary project of mine) will screen video readings of many more LA authors. All LitCrawl events are free. Come hang out with LA's best and most provocative writers.
Get all the details and meet my fellow LA Word writers here.
Learn more about the LitCrawl NoHo here.
Just before the big launch party for Love Songs of the Revolution, I was interviewed by Chris Burnett on the show Indymedia On Air on KPFK radio in Los Angeles. It was a sweet to be back in the studio where I used to be one of the hosts.
If you didn't get a chance to listen in live, here's a recording of the interview, which runs about 12 minutes total. We talked about the book, my publisher (Chicago Center for Literature and Photography) and current trends in the book publishing industry, and we give a shoutout or two to awesome indie bookstore Skylight Books. I also read an excerpt from the beginning of the book.
In tall, furry black hats and long white dresses, with yelps, chirps, whistles and a pounding drumbeat, Ukraine's punk-folk musical sensation DakhaBrakha showed LA last night that we haven't seen everything yet. Here and there, audience members waved blue and yellow Ukrainian flags. When someone shouted "Slava Ukrayini!" after one song, the woman in front of us responded with "Heroyam slava!"
"Glory to Ukraine!" she turned to translate for us. "Glory to the heroes!" It's a call-and-response dating back to the early 20th century Ukrainian War of Independence that has taken on new relevance. Our neighbor in the seats handed out flyers for a fundraiser coming up at a Ukrainian church in LA, then spent the set alternating between shooting video on her phone and waving her small flag, and sometimes doing both simultaneously.
We gave DakhaBrakha a well-deserved standing ovation even before they'd finished their last song. There was an encore, then the next. We would have brought them back for another if local regulations didn't force Grand Performances to shut down promptly by 10 p.m.
Here's a video of the group in an earlier performance of their knockout opening song, "Tatar":
DakhaBrakha is Iryna Kovalenko, Marko Halanevych, Nina Garenetska and Olena Tsibulska. The story is that the group was founded by an underground theatre troupe. The three women and one man bring a mix of backgrounds in folk and classical music plus professional theatre training. They utilize a variety of musical traditions and instruments from Eastern Europe and beyond, including accordion and garmoshka, tabla and darbuka, piano, cello and big bass drums.
In their long white dresses (and those hats!), their cello and drums painted with traditional Ukrainian folk motifs, DakhaBrakha has combined theatricality and musicality in a way that sometimes sits at the edge of kitsch, but never crosses the line. One song used birdcalls and other forest sounds. Another began with an eerie wolf's howl. Yet it all is authentic and integral to the performance. You'll sometimes catch a knowing wink or nod from one of the musicians, letting you in on the joke. Only, it's not a joke at all. It's just damn good music.
A small Ukrainian flag fluttered at the edge of the stage all night. After the last song, Halanevych softly said something in Ukrainian into the mic, then said in English: "Victory or death." Kovalenko and Tsibulska pulled out a larger flag and stood center stage while Halanevych and Garenetska each held up hand lettered signs. One read "Stop Putin" and the other read "No War." The moment felt as melancholy and yet hopeful as their music.
After performing together for ten years, DakhaBrakha is "suddenly" taking the world music scene by storm. Here, just watch the video for their song "Vesna" and you'll see why:
Looking for your next book to read? I can recommend all these great indie press books.