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Pub or Perish! 

Our bar reading, six years strong.

PUB OR PERISH: Saturday night, 6:30 p.m., at Sticky Fingerz.
  • PUB OR PERISH: Saturday night, 6:30 p.m., at Sticky Fingerz.

Pub or Perish 2009

Saturday, April 18

6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Sticky Fingerz Chicken Shack

107 Commerce St.

For more info, contact David Koon at 375-2985 or via e-mail at david@arktimes.com

 

Right now, I'm nervous.

No, it's not about my stock portfolio, but thanks for asking. The problem — as it always is for me this time of year — is Pub or Perish.

For half a decade now, I've hosted a bar reading series called Pub or Perish for the Arkansas Times on the weekend of the Arkansas Literary Festival. I came up with PoP the first year of the Lit Fest, after noticing that the schedule of events came to a screeching halt at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Sacrilege! If there is one truism in the world, it's that writers like to drink. Some of the best times of my life have been had arguing over Poe and whiskey, Hemingway and rum, Plath and tequila or Whitman and whatever happened to be wet at the time. Hence: Pub or Perish, a reading in a bar.

Like most writers I know, I have a tendency to come up with brilliant ideas much too late to do anything about them. It was nearly the same with Pub or Perish. That first year, with the help of my friends here at the Times, we put the whole event together in the two short weeks before the Festival: found venues, lined up authors to read, created posters and advertisements and cobbled together a PA system. As if that wasn't hard enough, I had come up with the cockamamie — but epic — idea that it should be a road show: three bars in three and a half hours, with the whole drunken circus scooping up our flock and trekking through the River Market in search of joy every hour on the hour. Desperate for a lectern at the last minute, I beheaded my wife's coat rack, slapped a piece of plywood on top at an angle, and the fabled Pub or Perish Stump was born. (I'm looking at the Stump as I write this, standing in the corner of our office with the big dictionary on top — its not-so-glamorous gig the other 51 weeks of the year). We've since abandoned the idea of the pubcrawl in favor of a mono-locale approach, but Pub or Perish goes on. Lots of great writers have stood at that our wobbly lectern over the years. It occurred to me recently that I should have had all of them sign it somewhere. Again: My brilliant ideas always come late.

From that first year onward, I've always been terrified of the unknown when it comes to Pub or Perish: that it will rain, or that nobody will show up, or that nobody will have a good time. This year, however, I'm not really as nervous as I have been before. This might be the best lineup we've ever had at Pub or Perish — a mix of old friends, new writers and plain old dynamite authors. Even if I'm the only one there, it'll be great.

As always, we've got a limited number of 2-3 minute open mic slots available. The way it will work this year is that at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 17, you send an e-mail to me at david@arktimes.com with your name, genre and contact info. The first four folks to get an e-mail in after 9 a.m. get a slot.

Those Glorious Unknowns will share the bill with our special guest, Dorothy Allison. Allison is the author of the novels “Cavedweller,” “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure,” and the classic Southern roman a clef, “Bastard Out of Carolina.” Poets Scott Standridge and Randi Romo will be back for an encore this year. Also on the bill will be Arkansas Tech University poet Paul Lake, who is a featured author at the Lit Fest. I'm also excited about hearing from Cristina Henriquez, a young Latina writer whose lovely novel “The World in Half” thoroughly wowed me recently. In addition, poet Maureen McGovern of Fairfield Bay will read some of her great poems about growing older.

In short: Drink will flow and joy will reign at Sticky Fingerz. Come on out on Saturday night and join us.

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