Sunday, April 17, 2011

CityLit Festival :: April 16, 2011

Photo by Melissa Streat

Time is such a pain in the ass. There’s writing to be done, edits to be obsessed over, submissions to read, blogs to blather into, page layouts to suck the minutes out of the day – all to be done in seclusion, all to be done in the riptide of imagination, mine or someone else's. I’m not complaining. We, I, publish a magazine and write not because it’ll make us famous or get us laid, but because we love it, because... what else are we going to do. Actually, with every step deeper into the swamp that is the literary world, anyone can see the opportunities for celebrity slip further into absurdity. But we didn’t want to be famous anyway. Right? Fuck you world. I'll do what I do, and you can pay attention or not.

This, of course, is it’s own delusion. It’s own narcissism. One born of long hours in front of a screen insisting to your computer that your words are all that matter.

For me, the remedy to draw me outside myself is the magazine. There is a world outside gazing at my navel, one with people who will speak back to you when you say: Hay, here I am. A world where other writers walk the sidewalk. One where people go to literary festivals with infants strapped to their shoulders donning hand made socks to fit their impossibly tiny feet. A world with people who scowl at flyers depicting two men in a moment of homoerotic bliss. These are not people I encounter often.

Yes I know this all sounds a bit hyperbolic, and it is – I’m writing. What writing isn’t hyperbolic? Yet, it is true I rarely get to see that species of human the Republicans love to pander to: “Real Americans” (though I’m sure the people I’ve seen recently, East Coast People, aren’t actually the people they have in mind, but it’s close). Most of my social interaction takes place drunk at bars, spouting off about, say, the piteous plight King Leer shows is latent in the human condition. And sitting here sober I can see no reason to dispute this claim of Shakespeare's; I think he was right. Though there is another side to that coin. There are people who will step out of their houses, into the chaos of terra firma, to find what little publishing houses are doing, despite the fact they are confined to a wheelchair from losing a leg to a Brown Recluse bite (a terribly sad story a woman told me with a smile on her face, a smile that, to a certain extent, proves Shakespeare wrong). 

Loosing myself in imaginings about my work, and in the imaginings others have conjured with theirs, has saved me from more than one tricky situation – or saved me from admitting to more than one tricky situation. But it is nice to step outside this bubble to see that there are people out there. Though, I guess it could also be said that those people are just contained within a slightly larger bubble, one with its own territorial divisions and special hand shakes. But, be that as it may, that larger bubble is one I rarely wander into, except when the magazine pulls me to sit still in front of a public who will come and oh-my-God talk to me. I don’t regret a second of it.

I would at this point like to thank everyone who came by the Artichoke Haircut booth at the CityLit Festival and hung-out, if only for a second. And even though I am again stuck alone behind a computer screen writing, I feel a bit richer, even by those who turned their noses up at us. Thanks.   

-By Adam Shutz

For more pics from the CityLit Festival click here.

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