Reading series interview: virtual fridays dire literary series
a conversation between Frances Donovan and Timothy Gager
Does your series happen on a regular schedule, such as the second Tuesday of the month? If so, what is it?
Dire Literary Series is every week, on Friday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, and will run until live events in the area can occur again.
How did this reading series come about?
It began in the year 2000 as a series and open mic that featured fiction. There were no fiction open mics at the time where developing writers could read large sections of work. There was, as I would say, a dire need for that—hence, its name. Shortly after I introduced poetry features and readers.
In the past year and a half, various people have tried to convince me to start it again, but I was happily retired from running a monthly series. However I felt, once again, there was a dire need to hear poetry, and fiction–as well as the social element of community. So that’s the Part Two of how it came about.
Did you develop it on your own, or do you collaborate with others?
This re-launch was developed on my own, but I threw ideas at people, so really, is anything developed entirely on one’s own?
Are you affiliated with any organization such as a journal, a press, a school, or a bookstore?
Not at the time of this interview, but that’s a great idea. I think I’ll reach out, and at least get the promotion for a store struggling with being closed by suggesting to order on-line from them. Maybe by the time people read this, it’ll all be happening.
What makes your reading series different from others?
I think its longevity and has a brand about it. It’s always had the ability to place a really strong open mic, where people can read fiction, alongside with national literary talent with some really big books, and writing credits.
Who comes to your series?
When Dire was re-launched it was just some friends, but now that it has features we have national writers and poets coming into Zoom, where they may have heard of the series and distance hadn’t allowed them to attend.
What upcoming featured poets are you really excited about?
To be announced. There is a Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series group on Facebook that will blast announcements, but if you follow me on most social media networks you can find out (see below). Usually I’m excited about any/all of my features because I can hand pick them.
[Editor’s Note: Since this interview the following features have been announced: 5/1 Anna David, 5/8 Kathy Fish, 5/15 Nick Flynn]
Since you’re online during the physical distancing measures due to the coronavirus pandemic, please tell me about your virtual venue and how people can access it.
What can your guests expect when they arrive? Things like a cover charge, lines, or other helpful tips.
No cover, but we’ll do a pass-the-Venmo/Paypal-hat to pay the features. They can expect to be ready to read their own work for about three minutes. They can expect, if the attendance is large, to be involved in a possible random drawing to determine who gets to read at the open. They can expect great work, and to be entertained by some real talent. They also can expect me trying to be humorous. I actually succeed in that sometimes.
Are you aiming for a particular aesthetic or vibe with your featured poets?
I expect everyone to be live on camera. I also limit screen sharing by host (me) only but I’ve become adapt at presenting book covers and other fun things during and in between readers. Also, the “spotlight” feature will be used during the features so that they will fill the screen as the featured guest.
If someone would like to be considered as a featured poet for your series, how should they go about inquiring?
Do you have a mailing list or other way people can learn about your future readings? How can people sign up?
The Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series group on Facebook is exactly that.
Frances Donovan’s chapbook Mad Quick Hand of the Seashore (Reaching Press, 2018) was named a finalist in the 31st Lambda Literary Awards. Publication credits include The Rumpus, Snapdragon, and SWWIM. She holds an MFA in poetry from Lesley University, is a certified Poet Educator with Mass Poetry, and has appeared as a featured reader at numerous venues. She once drove a bulldozer in an LGBTQ+ Pride parade while wearing a bustier. You can find her climbing hills in Boston and online at www.gardenofwords.com. Twitter: @okelle.