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Oakland artists stage the East Bay’s first literary pub crawl

on July 6, 2012

This Saturday, a group of Oakland based-artists will stage the East Bay’s first literary pub crawl, a beast-themed, multiple-venue festival featuring performances, recitals and readings by at least 166 authors, poets and musical groups across 25 locations in Oakland.

Dubbed the “Beast Crawl”—a reference to “East Bay” in Pig Latin and to the large number of artists and performers who will hop from one venue to another within a space of four hours—the event is expected to begin with poetry recitals at Noble Cafe and end with an after-party at ParaDiso Lounge, located on Telegraph and West Grand in downtown Oakland.

“We felt that it is important to give Oakland its own literary identity,” said Hollie Hardie, one of the Beast Crawl’s core organizers. “Oakland has a burgeoning art scene with so many amazing, different literary groups, small press distributors and alternative readings.”

Hardy said the Beast Crawl, though inclusive of artists from across the Bay Area, would give priority to artists based in the East Bay, where artists have been operating in several different “factions” rather than as one collective group.  “We have a huge artistic community, and the Beast Crawl is a literary underground that is taking the scene for the first time,” Hardy said. “Watching it burgeon from nothing to this huge, beautiful event will be a great experience.”

The pub crawl will be divided into four legs, and the first kicks off at Noble Cafe with “Lyrics and Dirges,” a series of poetry recitals by some of the Bay Area’s finest poets and curated by Cassandra Dallet, a Bay Area native. “The Lyrics and Dirges series a great series whose goal is to represent the diversity of Bay Area writers,” Dallet said. “Those of us who live in Oakland are especially excited and proud of our city. For a long time, Oaklanders have had to cross the bridge to San Francisco for literary events, this time we have our own.”

“Supporting local artists and businesses is hugely important to me and this event makes me feel supported by them as well,” Dallet added. “The Beast Crawl should be right up there with the Occupy movement in putting Oakland on the map and showing us as a multicultural progressive city wrestling with crime and foreclosure, with our art and voices as our weapons.”

The second leg begins with a Saturday Night Special and The Grinder, a showcase of literary work at The Telegraph Beer Garden 6:30 to 7:30. Things seem set to get more intense as the Beast Crawl goes into the night, with leg three featuring shows “Retard,” a series of plays curated by award-winning artist Karen Penley and the recital “Poetry from the Heart of Mystery”  at Xolo. Leg two and the first segment of the leg three events will be at The Layover, located at 1517 Franklin Street.

Mariama Lockington, one of the featured poets, said the event would be an invaluable opportunity for artists to share their work, “I always say that Oakland is home to some of the best and often underground artist I know, but that we’re not always highlighted,” Lockington said. “I am excited to have this opportunity to share my poems, but even more excited to hear the voices of so many other amazingly talented people.”

“East Bay on the Brain,” a series of readings of literary works curated by Corium Magazine editor Lauren Becker, will begin the third section of the pub crawl, featuring authors like UC Berkeley and University of San Francisco professor Ryan Sloan, who just published his first novel, The Plagiarists.

Leg four, which will include dancing at the ParaDiso Lounge, comes after many of the artists and pub-crawlers have patronized at least 25 venues and watched 27 events. Organizers suggest that after spending four hours listening to some of the best literary work in the East Bay for free, revelers should go and “dance your ass off with the beast.”

Hardy said the event cost less than $500 to put together, with several volunteers taking part in the planning as organizers, readers and curators. Like San Francisco’s LitQuake Crawl, Oakland’s Beast Crawl will become an annual event, most likely to be held on the first Saturday of July.

More information about the event can be found here.

Image: Oakland Beast Crawl organizers. Photo Courtesy of Hollie Hardy/Beast Crawl

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