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Owen Theodore Brown, a tech-startup worker, attended three Lit Crawl events but this was his favorite of the night ( Photo by Anna Clausen).
Owen Theodore Brown, a tech-startup worker, attended three Lit Crawl events but this was his favorite of the night ( Photo by Anna Clausen).

Broken Hearts and Missing Livers 

Kate Polk evoked rolling laughter with her piece on friends who pick themselves up after bad breakups-missing organs and all.

“If one day they return to me single again, they’ll be diminished in body and spirit, feet swollen from renal failure, eyes jaundiced, a piece of their lungs and kidneys on a shelf in some man’s house,” she said in front an audience at Dijital Fix, many of whom shared her woes of relationships gone wrong.

Owen Theodore Brown, a tech-startup worker, attended three Lit Crawl events but this was his favorite of the night.

“I really dug the piece on humans dating each other’s organs,” Brown said, referencing Polk’s story. “It made me wonder what I secretly or explicitly want to control my lovers, warp them into something they’re not just for my own personal pleasure.”

He said the story made him think of an old girlfriend and he reflected on how he “basically threw an obstacle into the growth of our relationship, and I don’t know why.”

However conflicted he feels about his breakup, Brown said that he felt the evening was a success, and that art needed to move people with novelty.

“If you’re not digging really deep, you’re not covering anything you haven’t covered before,” he said.

Attendees like Gretchen Schwarz felt lucky to stop by Dijital Fix and catch the laughs surrounding broken hearts and damaged livers.

“They all think it’s worth it to be in a relationship despite the risk of permanent deformity,” Polk said humorously.

Literature starts to give way to other evening activities as last #litcrawlsf2016 sessions for the night wind down

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La Reyna Bakery – Return of the Pan Dulce Poets

The pastry shelves are nearly empty inside La Reyna Bakery on 24th Street, but the room is full and the air still smells like cinnamon. It’s the SF Flor y Canto presents Return of the Pan Dulce Poets event, and Silvia Oveido has a question.

“How many of you would be okay if I read a poem in Spanish?” she asks. Hands shoot up in agreement and the crowd applauds.

“I’m always really conscious of my accent when I read in English,” she explains.

It doesn’t show, especially not when she switches back from Spanish to read a poem she says she wrote about the election. She addresses the crowd intently.

“I don’t have the right to vote,” she says. But she urges those who can to make sure they do. “It’s your moral duty,” she says. “Not your civic duty. Your moral duty.”

She begins the poem. “What have we become?” she asks. “What have we become?”

Philz Coffee fills up for the Lit Crawl event “Brown People Don't Read?”
Philz Coffee fills up for the Lit Crawl event “Brown People Don’t Read?”

“Brown People Don’t Read”

Before performers busted the myth “Brown People Don’t Read” at Philz Coffee on 24th, Lit Crawl attendees were treated to late-night coffee and the lilting sweet tones of Kenny G.

Blanca Torres, a reporter by day and fiction writer by night, read from a rough draft of her story “Tax Break,” a commentary on pregnancy and marriage. Torres signaled to her stomach, telling the audience she is due in two weeks.

Her story described a room of “plastic model uteruses” and “Pepto Bismal colored walls” of an OBGYN’s office.

A man walking by the event dissonantly screamed mid-reading, “BLACK POWER!”

Jenny Irizary, an Oakland writer, read from a story about an adolescent girl awkwardly coming to terms with her sexuality.

“I’m not allowed to get my ears pierced until I’m 12 at a parlor that’s known for its hygiene!” said Irizary’s main character to her friends. She described a character escaping to the bathroom of a sleepover to contemplate whether the rest of girls at the sleepover realize she’s not a girl, or at least an odd one.

Lisa Gray, who writes about growing up black in “post-civil rights America,” read from her novel, a scene she’s been working on for 2-3 years. (Character is Janice)

“I melted in that pew,” she began.

@etskehrt: @MLNow overheard at @litcrawlsf2016 “oh my god he’s stiiiillll reading!”

Susanna Kwan, reading her story *Winter of Departures* from Joyland Magazine at Dijital Fix for Litquake. Photo by Sawsan Morrar.

“I pick up the phone to call the police because this morning he said he would kill me, but there is no nine on my phone anymore, he took my nine off the phone.” – Susanna Kwan, reading her story *Winter of Departures* from Joyland Magazine at Dijital Fix for Litquake.

Ransom Stephens, science and science fiction author, welcomes the crowd to Half a Dozen Brilliant Words at Haus Coffee.

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Haus Coffee

“Bill’s wife Cindy was being a pain in the ass,” Edward Porter begins. He’s reading at Haus Coffee on 24th Street at the Half a Dozen Brilliant Reasons: Why There Are Words event. The acoustics in the coffee shop are great- every sound is magnified. The barista whispers as quietly as he can to the customer ordering tea at the counter.

A woman in a black shirt sneaks in a few minutes late, and she pulls out a seat. The legs of the chair scrape against the concrete floor. The sound echoes throughout the room.

” ‘Would you just be quiet and watch a minute?’ says Bill,” Porter reads.

Kicking off the “Brown People Don’t Read?” session at #litcrawlsf2016 (added bonus: free Philz Coffee)

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Silicon Valley Romance Writers of America

There’s blood and glass everywhere. A man scrambles to assess the damage from the crash, wading through debris cluttering the cabin of the Tesla to reach his lover.

“Open those beautiful blue eyes for me,” Layla Reyne reads wistfully.

Reyne was one of a half-dozen authors at a Lit Crawl group reading Saturday night entitled, “Are you experienced? Asks the Silicon Valley Romance Writers of America.”

Run-of-the-mill whippings – “nothing naughty,” according to author Kate Allure – mixed with more sentimental encounters at the event, which drew about three dozen people to the street art-adorned Wonderland SF boutique.

Richard Amooi, a self-described author of “quirky romantic comedies from a guy’s perspective,” left listeners with a more dystopian scenario to chew on.

“Imagine not being able to text,” Amooi said in the voice of his protagonist.

“I would die,” a fictional romantic interest responds.

A Litquake relay at Fellow Barber. Photo by Sawsan Morrar
A Litquake relay at Fellow Barber. Photo by Sawsan Morrar
A Litquake relay at Fellow Barber. Photo by Sawsan Morrar
A Litquake relay at Fellow Barber. Photo by Sawsan Morrar

@litcrawlsf2016 at Adobe Books

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Fellow Barber Hosts The Coop’s Literary Relay Race, attracting dozens of Lit Crawl attendees. Participants take turns sharing one continuous story

I Heart San Francisco

Intersecting in the Bay Area far more than they would at home, Latino and queer voices stood as one in the “I Heart San Francisco,” event at The Chapel organized by KQED and Donde esta mi gente? or Where are my people? as part of the 2016 LitQuake Festival.

“I swear I came to San Francisco to eat donuts and look at cute boys all day,” said Mexican poet Baruch Hernandez Porras, in a short stand up routine that preceded his actual presentation.

With verses ranging from his past evictions (“Instead of being mad, we were just quiet,”) to the misinterpretation of what a Mexican looks, acts and thinks, Hernandez painted a loving picture of the city he likes to complain about.

Lydia Popovic, a Mexican American with Russian heritage, commented how San Franciscans seem “permanently stuck in NPR” volume, in contrast to the ebullient expression of Latin American immigrants.

“My heritage is a crazy ass mix, which makes me great at three things: drinking, yelling and fucking.”

In front of a noisy, but still San Franciscan crown, she ended the event with a huge yell, one at the top of her lungs. It was a release and the audience followed suit.

The Castro Writer’s Cooperative reading of Fahrenheit 4-1-5 @fellowbarber #litquakesf2016

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In-between #litcrawl events #litquakesf2016

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Bay Area Women Writers @missionpie #litcrawlsf2016

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The Nocturnists. Photo by Anna M. Clausen
The crowd watching the Nocturnists at the Paxton Gate. Photo by Anna M. Clausen

The Nocturnists

Surrounded by sculls, bones, taxidermy-animals, art and books, the 30 or so guests of Paxton Gate listened intently as physicians read prose and poems about their lives in medicine for the Litquake event “The Nocturnists.”

Audrey Shafer, a poet, writer and anesthesiologist was one of the authors present and read part of her children’s novel about post-traumatic stress disorder in the veteran society as well as a poem about anesthesia.

is simple,
you go to sleep,
you wake up.”

Speaking with Mission Local after her reading, Shafer said that she believes medicine and writing goes together very well, pointing to the fact that the Pegasus Physician Writers group now has over 100 members.

“There seems to be a desire to communicate and express what it is that we experience as doctors,” she said, dwelling into the many intimate moments experienced between patients, families and doctors.

“From witnessing that experience comes the need to write,” she said, “to try to describe the joy, the grief, the sorrow and the intimacy that doctoring entails.”For her, the need to write bubbles up. She describes it as “a bit of a pressure cooker” and says that at some point she has the need to get it out on paper and not be a part of her anymore.

Audrey Shafer, a poet, writer and anesthesiologist. Photo by Sawsan Morrar
Audrey Shafer, a poet, writer and anesthesiologist. Photo by Sawsan Morrar

The crowd keeps growing at Wonderland SF gallery where the Silicon Valley Writers of America are reading.

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The colorful stories of female sexuality told at #ClitQuake offered a celebration of the clitoris, and unencumbered pleasure.

San Francisco writer Danielle Truppi told of a girl’s earliest glimpses of arousal, spurring from the “smooth simplicity of Ken’s groin” — you know, Barbie’s Ken— to the quivering exhale of Ethan Hawk.

Then there was young love, and the carnal complication of teenage boys, the apprehension of sex, the fear of breaking because of it.

“I am shaking like a virgin, so I hope you all will be gentle with me,” plead Oakland writer Lauren Parker in a preface to her prose.

Both she and her clitoris felt invisible as a teenager, she said.

“If women were valuable to us, we would be digging them up like sapphires, instead of burying them,” she read.

Audra Hren spoke of how she first explored her attraction to women in her mid-20s, after years of “hunting boys at parties in college and hiding from them behind homework the next day.”

Men, she found, made her angry, made her fear drinks from strangers and unwanted advances from her boss.

Then, she met someone like her, someone soft and kind.

“With you I’m not angry, I’m not scared,” she said of her lover. “I’m not even sad.”

Louis Evans, the event’s emcee, brought down the house with his theatrical story of a 15-foot tall clitoris that rose one day from the San Francisco Bay. Men, of course, mistook it for a penis.

A fleet of 69 boats, all filled with queer women, eventually conquered the clit by setting up a slip and slide from its top to its bottom. It spasmed, and then sunk into the sea.

SF Chronicle columnists read their most damning critiques at The Chapel. KQED's “¿Donde está mi gente?” is up next.
SF Chronicle columnists read their most damning critiques at The Chapel. KQED’s “¿Donde está mi gente?” is up next.

Chronicle Critics at The Chapel

Valencia Street is empty, but The Chapel bar near 18th Street is packed. Close to 100 people are listening to a panel of critics from the *San Francisco Chronicle* read some of their most damning reviews.

Drink Up columnist Esther Mobley teams up with Lily Janiek, the theater critic, to read a review of Susan Sarandon’s ping pong-themed Spin, “where San Franciscans can rent ping pong tables for $79 an hour.”

“The place seemed like something out of HBO’s Silicon Valley: a little too on the nose to be real,” says Janiek

Mobley adds, “It would be a good place to go on a date with a 23-year-old who just sold their start up.”

Later the conversation shifts to architecture, with urban design critic John King assailing soulless buildings, highlighting the LinkedIn’s Second Street building as a sleek glass monstrosity that “feels exactly like what it is: a tower designed and built by New Yorkers.”

We’re beginning phase one of our live coverage of Lit Crawl! Stay tuned!

Lauren Parker, Oakland writer, performs prose at ClitQuake for Lit Crawl @missionlocal

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