The New York City Reading Series Census is an ongoing project to catalogue the contemporary literary scene. Any reading series curator in the New York area can take the survey here.
Writers Read is showcase for writers and a celebration of the spoken word. Here’s the trailer and playlist from a recent sold-out show, “The First Time”.
Who founded the series, and who runs it now?
Edward McCann is the founder and editor of Writers Read, and he runs the series with his partner, Richard Kollath, with crucial support from “literary ombudsman” Steven Lewis and a seven member editorial committee of professional writers who read and evaluate all the submissions for each recorded live event.
What genres or mediums does the series include?
We’re primarily interested in the personal essay, though other forms are also welcome (650 words, maximum). View our submission guidelines and upcoming topics here.
What is the format of the series?
We’re submission-based and curated, and our live events feature twelve writers on a single theme, each limited to 650 words or five minutes. At this writing, we’ve now produced seven sold-out events at Nancy Manocherian’s the cell on West 23rd Street.
Curtain is 2pm, and after the first six readers we break for a thirty-minute intermission during which the writers and audience mingle and chat. Intermission always feels like a party that people just don’t want to end. We ring a bell at the half-hour mark, folks make their way back to their seats for our second half, and we wrap by about 4pm.
Where does the series take place?
Nancy Manocherian’s the cell at 338 West 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.
When and how often is the series performed (and is it seasonal)?
Right now we’re producing one show per quarter, but we’re ramping up to produce a new show each month, possibly at other venues and in other cities.
How long has the series been active?
We launched with our first live event on June 14—Father’s Day weekend—2014.
Where can people find information about series on the web?
Do you take submissions, solicit material, or a combination?
We do both.
Did you set out with specific goals when the series was launched and have they changed over time?
In a publishing environment with fewer opportunities to expose new work, we’ve created a platform that showcases the writer as well as the writer’s words. Our live events are great, and they’re fun, but the project was conceived with the intent to professionally record each reading in order to build an archive. The recordings will be used in podcasts and broadcasts which will continue to promote the talents of individual writers. We’re doing everything with the right karmic intentions, and that has not changed.
What distinguishes the series from others?
Our staged events are organized around a single, broad topic that invites a range of expression, and the readings are professionally produced for our video archive, for podcasts and for radio broadcasts. Our writers also have unrestricted use of the recordings for their own promotional purposes. We invest an enormous amount of time into each program in order to keep the quality high and provide our guests with a memorable theater experience. We’re proud of what we’re building, and we’re excited about the future.