The Operating System



What does your literary city look like? :

A mini research-tour of our lit-up landscape.

Meant, in turn, to uplift the spaces and people who make it thrive.

Read it again, in the imperative tense and you’ll get our goal… 


Props and access all around.

In our desire to support and create effective, resilient resources for the literary community, we find ourselves thinking about the resources we already have and how we use them.
Given how overextended the average creative person already is, we believe that the development and maintenance of central, accessible, easy to use and navigate tools and information can be a giant leap forward for literary-kind.

Calendars, search engines, and databases, oh my!

This sounds scintillating, we know! And we don’t expect you to want to build these things, or to even spend much time thinking about them. But what we DO want to know, and are eager to hear your feedback on, is what’s available / what you’re using NOW!
In our own city, we’ve found ourselves frustrated and underserved as we seek a comprehensive view of the landscape since the demise of the NYC Poetry Calendar, which Bob Holman founded back in 1977 — something we’re working to rectify with our weekly Readings Roundup, which seeks to list both ongoing and one-time literary and related events, as well as link our community up with the various resources already available, like the following (somewhat NY-centric) list below: Events Calendar
Poets and Writers (P&W) Literary Events Calendar (Filter by City, State)
Poetry Project Calendar
Belladonna* Reading Series
KGB Bar Calendar
Nuyorican Poets Cafe Calendar
Poets House Calendar
Time Out New York | Book Events


First of all, I’m curious — if or when each of you New Yorkers uses or even knows about these resources. But beyond that – what about the scene in other cities? If you were travelling, where would you turn for information? Google? I hope not.

Why not? Well, because a lot of the resources and web sites of the literary community are not exactly set up for SEO — that’s techie for “SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION” — nor does a search engine think like you. It doesn’t know what you mean by literary resources — you’ll get literature resources, literacy resources, government agencies…and you’ll go into that inefficient random hole in the internet that made the phrase “stumble upon” a household phrase.
That is to say — if you find something useful, it’s most likely going to be that you stumbled upon it, as you maybe tried a few different keyword searches and clicked the most promising results.
And the resources above? a search for this week’s events in Chicago, on the P&W site, produced only one result — a different one from any of the list of people and places to see that a random community facebook poll came up with earlier this week.

So, why don’t you just ask your friends?

Well, in this case, that’s what we did. But when we think about creating and looking at effective literary resources, we like to think not as much of what’s accessible to those of us who’ve been in or around the scene long enough to have a personal network of resource-wielding allies — rather, we think of the newbie.
What is going to be useful to someone fresh in or out of school, or simply interested in finding out more about what’s going on in the rather daunting, somehow both invisible and epically proportioned, literary landscape? What is going to be useful, ultimately, to someone without several thousand similarly connected facebook friends to ask.
Luckily, however, over the past few years we’ve met and stayed connected to many new friends all over the country – and the world — and as we travel and visit new places we decided to create a little mini lit map of our own — via the ALL LIT UP! series, which will profile the lit scene one city at a time, gathering individuals, organizations, lists, and links that provide a window in to these thriving local scenes.

The eventual goal is to join together with other organizations to create and maintain a collaboratively edited, wiki-style, open source database for community use… but let’s keep our eyes on our horses before going cart crazy, hmm? The first horse up is…CHICAGO! I’ll be in Chicago from June 20-26 with my eye on reading series, small presses, community organizations, and resources already in place.

Keep an eye out for ALL LIT UP! :: CHICAGO the first week of July, followed by ATLANTA and TORONTO later this summer. If you are in or know these cities well, please be in touch!

Lynne DeSilva-Johnson,
 Managing Editor 


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