by Chiwan Choi
This weekend marked the first event that Writ Large Press sort of officially worked on together with Kaya Press. It was for the publication reading and party for Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut’s debut poetry collection, Magnetic Refrain. And I’m happy to report that it was a huge success.
Peter and I helped with both securing a date and time for the event, in this case The Last Bookstore on Saturday afternoon, and in promoting it. There were things we tried to accomodate and experiment with, such as piggybacking on somebody else’s liquor license to try and get some wine and beer into the event, but due to some logistics (and legality issues), that one didn’t pan out. No worries though! We moved the drinking to the after party at the Onyx lounge just across the street from the bookstore.
It’s never easy to draw a crowd to a poetry book release, unless you’re already pretty famous, so it was exciting for all of us to see how many people actually turned out for the event. We had people drive up from places like Riverside for it, including our new friend, poet and designer Kenji Liu. Even the lanes closed right outside due to the filming of a Taco Bell commercial wasn’t enough to deter the engaged and generous audience.
From the looks of it, lots of books were sold, not just Nicky’s, but also the two books from Lee Herrick, the other featured reader of the day that I had the honor of introducing.
After the event, we drank and laughed and talked about all the things we wanted to do with publishing in Los Angeles, thinking about the upcoming Grand Park Downtown BookFest and books we had coming up. It’s fun talking shop, planning for the future, dreaming of how things can and will be for us as writers and publishers.
Today, in the middle of another hectic week, Judeth and I sat at the coffee shop around the corner to go over the mission statement she’d drafted up for LA Writ Large. Once we have it polished and ready for other eyes, we’ll be presenting it to whoever can be helpful in securing a location for us in downtown somewhere—landlords, BIDs, city offices, etc. It is also the document we will need as we go forward in establishing LA Writ Large as a non-profit.
But perhaps most importantly, working on this document is helping us to be clear about what it really is we want to accomplish.
We went over each word of each sentence, trying to figure out if thrust is a good word (in this context), if promote is too passive a word, if commerce, industry, and economy are all interchangeable.
And somewhere halfway through our coffee refills, we wrote the phrase “literary capital of the world.”
“Should we really say that,” Judeth asked, “of the world?”
“Hm,” I said. “Do you think it should say of the universe?”
We laughed, but only for a little while. Because deep down, we understood the truth—that there is nothing ridiculous in thinking that a group of broke asses running a small press in this city that people love to shit on will actually make an impact on the world.