NYC Literary Scene: Atlas Review

A couple years ago, I ran this short-lived series about the NYC Literary Scene for Exit Strata. Basically it was a way to get me out of the house and be social instead of spending all my time at my typewriter/computer in my own little happy fiction cloud.

And well, since I quit my job in advertising and I find myself back in the freelance life again, I’m going to start this series up again and do it right this time.

Ahem, ok, let’s get to it.

The NYC Literary Scene is really just a bunch of reading series run by small literary magazines trying to build an audience and support emerging writers. Besides this scrappy bunch of true believers in prose & poetry, Barnes & Noble holds the big author readings, the Moth hosts its monthly storyteller events, NYC LITCrawl does its round-robin night of readings and merriment in September, and the New Yorker has its annual star-studded festival in October.

So Atlas Review. I first heard about Atlas Review from this shaggy-haired writer named Dolan Morgan (he’s one of their editors, he has a new book of short stories out right now called That’s When the Knives Come Down). I was attending a reading at the independent library / reading room / best place ever called Mellow Pages (temporarily closed, books in storage, the sadness remains, supposedly Matt and Jacob are on the lamb and possibly fishing some place with stars in the sky instead of trapped in this dystopian city state we call New York). Dolan mentioned Atlas at the reading. I looked them up three months later.

Anyway, Atlas Review is a literary journal that’s darkly absurd, thought-provoking, and leaning toward the experimental side of prose (more MFA experimental than classic storytelling on the fiction side… for poetry don’t ever trust what I have to say about poetry, I’m clueless. But CAConrad was in their last issue, who is like Allen Ginsberg reborn as a new-age guru of somatic transcendence).

Last week, Atlas Review hosted a reading series at Local 61 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn that featured several writers from VIDA (a non-profit literary advocacy group for critical attention to contemporary women’s writing).

Reader roll call: Amy King, Metta Sama, Lynn Melnick, Camille Rankine

The event was hosted by Natalie Eilbert, the founder of Atlas Review. The readings were all poetry with beautiful lines like “I died young and I was so pretty” from Camille (whose new book is coming out from Copper Cannon) or “There’s no such thing as fate, only the story of fate” from Lynn Melnick. But I was most captivated by Amy King because of her humor and electrifying presence.

She read with passion, joy, humor, and biting sarcasm at the political/socioeconomic clusterfuck of our society. Hell, I read anything she publishes out in the world (btw, I think her newest book is I Want to Make You Safe).

All in all, the Atlas Review reading with VIDA was great. An amazing showcase of talented female poets and a wonderful, receptive, and warm audience. I look forward to their next event.

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