by Jennifer Kircher Carr
When I invited a friend to my recent reading, she told me she had never gone to a reading before, and didn’t know what to expect.
“It’s the best!” I told her. “Story time for grown-ups.” Three excited smiley face emoji (yes, I also talk to others mainly via text).
When we’re kids, story time is a given. We all sit together on the floor, huddled around some adult with a book, listening aptly as the pages turn and the story unfolds. But as we get older, the chances of that type of experience are fewer and farther between. Yet still, hearing words aloud in the room brings us together. There is something about being there with others who are hearing the same words take shape in the air before us, the story being painted in each of our minds simultaneously, laughing or gasping at the same time. For a few precious moments, those of us in the room put the rest of the world on hold and come together in the shared experience of story.
I admit that I first thought of starting a new reading series for selfish reasons: I wanted to have a regularly-scheduled event in Rochester where I could go hear a range of work and voices. Luckily for me, another resident writer at The Yards, Geoff Graser, had a similar vision. As we met to discuss what we each wanted to see in a new series, we knew a key component was to create a series that could also help support The Yards—an amazing arts collective housed within the Public Market (with lovely studio and gallery space) that supports local artists and community members in so many ways, including an art lounge open to the public on Saturdays during Market hours. As an art collective largely created by visual artists, Geoff and I also had the goal to spread the word about The Yards to the writing community about all the goodness The Yards contains and brings. Art supports art! We’re all in this together.
But what else? We started dreaming a little…
Inexpensive yet high caliber. Diverse voices from Rochester and beyond. Easy parking. Always a mix of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Time-boxed! Wine and niblets…
… and out of the fog a specific vision emerged into what we now call Flour City Readings at The Yards. This new bi-monthly series offers audiences the chance to hear exciting work from Rochester-area writers as well as from visiting authors. The curated format features four readers at each event, chosen specifically to include diverse voices in poetry, non-fiction, and fiction, with pieces that are riveting on their own and (we hope!) mesh or juxtapose with the other pieces to create a singular experience.
Plus, the setting in the gallery at The Yards Art Collective is a great backdrop for a reading. Featured in a restored 1920s brick warehouse in the Rochester Public Market, its high ceilings, worn wood floors and exposed beams lend to a vibe I’ll call industrial-elegant. The intimate space offers nice acoustics (i.e., no steam wands screeching through a mocha latte right at the best part!). As a working gallery, often the reading takes place inside an existing visual arts exhibit—wonderful to browse during intermission and after! (And I do have a soft spot for the amazing creative space of The Yards, as my own little studio is tucked in the back…)
We decided to ask for an optional $2-3 donation at the door because we want each reading event to be accessible to everyone. But that said, any donations above and beyond are gratefully accepted, and go directly to supporting The Yards and Flour City Readings. (Niblets are free and donated by your hosts!)
If you’re a writer, we encourage you to submit work to us, as we’re always looking for new voices. There’s something that transforms in us as artists when we read our work aloud. It’s one thing to be published on paper or online, but that still creates a singular experience between writer and reader. But to read your work in front of a live audience brings it alive in a new and exciting way.
Link to submissions (scroll to bottom of page):
Our next Flour City Reading is Saturday, July 13 at 7:30 (doors open at 7 p.m.). We have an exciting line-up, including Stephen J. West, an essayist published in Brevity, Fugue, and PANK: Rachel Hall, author of an award-winning collection of linked stories; Aceyon Owens, slam poet and award-winning actor and director; and visiting poet Katherine Lazarus, who holds an MFA from Bennington College comes to us from Middlebury, Vermont.