Catapult has had an astounding trajectory since it launched with a event promoting its publication of Padgett Powell’s Cries for Help, Various on September 10th. Elizabeth Koch’s literary enterprise publishes the books, short stories and essays of some of the most talked-about writers at work today (e.g. Powell, Joy Williams, Alexander Chee, Brian Evenson, Scott Cheshire, Hari Kunzru, Lincoln Michel), organizes writing workshops taught by many writers it publishes, and reserves a portion of its website for the writing of its student “community.”
In a few short weeks, Catapult has set the standard for ambitious, multi-faceted literary publications, and its focus on inclusivity and the development of young talent is unparalleled.
As if all of that weren’t enough, Catapult launched an innovative monthly reading series on September 30th. Each reading will feature a number of Catapult student readers and will conclude with a reading from a more established writer. The inaugural installment of this reading series featured students that took Catapult classes with James Hannaham (Delicious Foods), Chelsea Hodson (Pity the Animal) and Sarah Gerard (Binary Star).
Josh Boardman kicked the evening off with two delicate, lyrical pieces of micro fiction. He is at work on a collection of short fiction designed to be a “terrarium” studying various facets of life in his home town of Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Yvonne Conza followed Boardman with an essay about her younger brother. Conza’s rhetorical talents, which paved the way for her performance at The Moth earlier this year, brought her emotional reflection about her troubled brother to life.
Michelle King, whose work has appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus and elsewhere, followed with an elegant essay about a past relationship. Frequent invocations of Taylor Swift served as lighthearted asides to an otherwise melancholic and resonant piece.
Stef Orzech and Mark Prins closed out the student portion of the evening. Orzech, who holds an MA in English And Comparative Literature from Columbia University, read a story about an older romance strewn with cutting sentences and vivid images, while Prins gave us his take on Cheever-esque suburban sports parenting and infidelity.
Concluding the evening was Sarah Gerrard, who’s debut novel Binary Star is told in “in swift, brutal strokes, all wound into dizzying loops of prose.” Gerard’s prose possessed a Faulknerian circularity, her words intending to confound one’s emotions rather than to play with one’s heartstrings.
The next Catapult reading is scheduled for November 11th at Sid Gold’s Request Room.