This post has a very specific purpose: to ask those who might be interested to offer feedback on the draft vision statement that appears at the end. The statement is for a small literary reading series called First Tuesdays that I run in my neighborhood in Queens. While I am very interested in hearing people’s suggestions for and critiques of this draft, however, I am not interested in discussing whether people think such a statement is or should be necessary. I take its necessity as axiomatic, and so if you do not, I will ask that you please not comment. Thanks.
First Tuesdays is an open-mic, featured-reader series, meaning that people from the community and surrounding areas come to share some of their work for the first hour or so and then we get to listen to a featured reader, who is usually (but not always) a published author, share her or his work for the last twenty to thirty minutes. I took over hosting the series three years ago, but First Tuesdays has been located at Terraza Cafe, a wonderful bar and live music venue in Elmhurst, NY for about ten years. The series, in other words, has a long history and, as you might expect, a core group of people has, over the years, coalesced into a strong and supportive community.
Last month, in November, I read on Harriet, The Poetry Foundation’s blog, an open invitation to meeting called “Enough is Enough: A Meeting on Sexism and Accountability in NYC Poetry Communities.” They called the meeting, they said, because they were
fed up with the reality of sexual violence, intimidation, and misogyny that continues to exist in our poetry circles. We are speaking out against the dominant culture that silences and undermines voices of dissent. We are questioning harmful power dynamics within the poetry community. We are determined to forge a more respectful, alert, and conscientious community.
When I read this, I was concerned. As far as I knew, First Tuesdays was not suffer from the dynamics the Enough-is-Enough organizers were describing. Nor had I heard even a whisper about such things in the literary community in Queens, in which First Tuesdays has played a pretty central role. Of course, the fact that I did not know about it, or had not been perceptive enough to see it, did not mean it wasn’t happening. So I decided to go to the meeting and see what I could learn. Continue reading