Let the Writers of Beast Crawl Do the Talking

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Spoken art performer Fly at the Black Futurism Event, Betti Ono Gallery; Photo by Jonathan Fong

A beast of a literary festival is about to be unleashed in Oakland this Saturday. The concept behind the Beast Crawl is simple: there are three legs, each an hour long, during which you can choose from between eight to ten different events to attend in small venues downtown. (There is a fourth leg, but that’s just for partying.)

In its third year, Beast Crawl is Oakland's answer to Litquake's Litcrawl, with over 100 writers participating. It’s impossible to be familiar with all of those reading at the Beast, but thankfully the participants have taken it upon themselves to provide introductory statements on Beast Crawl’s website.

That being said, below are my suggestions for Beast Crawl readings, based on how the curators/authors sell themselves and their events. But before I get into that, I have some notes on what I found on the Beast Crawl website:

  1. Word I was surprised to see twice in writers' bios: peripatetic
  2. Favorite line in the event listings: "In addition to being a freestyle MC, Frak has put out an album, Real Talk, and is working on his debut mixtape, Bagels."

Leg 1 (5-6pm)

Lee Foust reads for Naked Bulb event at the Stork Club by G. Charles.
Lee Foust reads for Naked Bulb event at the Stork Club by G. Charles. (Courtesy of Paul Corman-Thomas)

Potential for Excitement: Writing Without Walls at the Rock Paper Scissors Collective. This monthly reading series (which is making its Beast Crawl debut) centers on a theme chosen for each event -- this month's is "The Beast Within" -- and after an open call for submissions, the series' curators chose six applicants to read. According to the Writing Without Walls website, the Beast Crawl lineup consists of "multifarious word manglers, deconstructors and put-her-back-together-ers, hedonists, lovers, inventors and geniuses -in print." They promise to "combine booze and music and get a reckless abandon of limbs, smiles, and louder-than-necessary schmoozing."


Also notable: Word Performances at Ozumo is aiming to be like the literary salons of yore, with readings accompanied by stand-up bass. WRITE THIS SECOND at Kingston 11 will feature eight women of color AKA "women warriors" reading poetry and stories. And for poetry lovers, two poetry journals -- Milvia Street and Poetry Flash -- are co-hosting a reading together at Awaken Cafe that will see some well-versed poets take the stage.

Leg 2 (6:30-7:30pm)

Potential for Excitement: Release Me Now! at Telegraph. Hosted by the Los Angeles-based Punk Hostage Press, this reading features a killer lineup that includes actor/poet S.A. Griffin and T.S.O.L. frontman Jack Grisham in what I imagine as a story-swapping session held by a gang of gnarled souls over drinks in a dive bar. Expect some seriously twisted tales of punk rockers doing bad things and getting caught up in dire situations.

Also notable: An Afternoon Delight with The Gorilla Press at the alaMar Kitchen and Bar is a showcase for a group of emerging creative writers associated with the local literary zine The Gorilla Press. KUNDIMAN: Norcal at Farley's East features a lineup of emerging local Asian Pacific Islander American poets, as chosen by a Kundiman fellow.

Leg 3 (8-9pm)

The Hella Soulful Reading at ERA Art Lounge by Raheleh Zomorodinia
The Hella Soulful Reading at ERA Art Lounge by Raheleh Zomorodinia

Potential for Excitement: Tourettes Without Regrets at The Legionnaire Saloon. Hosted by noted slam poet (and great-grandson of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard) Jamie DeWolf, Tourettes Without Regrets bills itself as "the Fight Club of underground art" because of its unhinged blending of mediums. The monthly show features rappers, slam poets, burlesque dancers, comedians and miscellaneous other types of performers coming together for what could be described as a circus for the demented and possibly attention-starved. See why the Huffington Post described it as being "one of the best underground performance art shows in America."

Also notable: Quiet Lightning at Oakstop is a showcase of fiction writers associated with the self-professed literary mixtape. The first 100 attendees will receive a copy of its newest literary journal. For slam poetry aficionados, a lineup of champion slammers will be performing at the Berkeley Poetry Slam in Oakland.

PS: I should also note that each leg has an open mic reading and an event for the "beastlings" AKA budding writers. Since both of these types of events are a different sort of beast, I wasn't able to give them the attention they deserve. Nevertheless, you should support them, especially the three youth readings: Turn Down For What: Oakland Youth Amplify, Youth Radio and ENIZAGAM.