For more than a decade, WordSpace, a nonprofit literary arts group in Dallas, has promoted the imaginative writers who create in traditional and experimental forms. WordSpace hosts readings, workshops and concerts. And, this weekend, they’re mashing all of that together for a sort of literary pub crawl called Deep Ellum Lit Hop.
Deep Ellum Lit Hop is a free event where guests are encouraged to wander through Deep Ellum’s various bookshops, art galleries and bars to enjoy a diverse collection of literary events.
WordSpace’s Executive Director/Program Director Karen Minzer says the idea for Deep Ellum Lit Hop came from a former intern, Sebastián Páramo.
“When he was my intern, this was one of the first things he ever proposed to me,” says Minzer. And though she thought it was a great idea, Minzer worried about people drinking and driving as they moved from event to event. But this year, she decided to let him figure things out.
So, Páramo and Courtney Marie (Pegasus Reading Series) recruited folks from some of the literary groups around Dallas and Fort Worth to organize and curate events that would be entertaining AND within walking distance.
“I was able to connect and bring together so many organizations and people for this event. It finally feels natural to bring all these people together and to celebrate the diverse writers here in North Texas,” says Páramo.
Kendra Greene, the bookstore manager at Deep Vellum, says she’s happy to be part of this.
“We’re hosting two events: the Tiny Zine Make-and-Take with White Rock Zine Machine event and the Dark Moon Poetry & Arts: Lit Hop event and it’s very exciting to have so many talented poets in our store,” says Greene.
The Tiny Zine Make-and-Take with White Rock Zine Machine event will feature the first of three White Rock Zine Machines that will be up and around Dallas. The machine is an interesting take on a vending machine. You insert a quarter and out comes a thought-provoking zine with one or two poems inside. The zine poets will be at Saturday’s event coaching and working with people who are creating their own zines.
Like Greene, poet Darryl Ratcliff is thrilled about the weekend. “I think what Sebastian (Páramo) and Courtney (Marie) are really doing something interesting at a time when Dallas is really trying to solidify itself as a literary city,” say Ratcliff.
Ratcliff says that lots of people have bad memories from childhood and school years about poetry, because a lot of traditional teachings have to do with weird characters and older white men, but this event isn’t going to be that.
“Dallas has had some real standouts in spoken word poetry during the 1990s and 2000s. Now, there are some really talented people from all walks of life writing great stuff and this is a great opportunity to put that out there,” says Ratcliff.
Páramo says the Dallas literary scene has had peaks and valleys in the past, but he thinks it’s rising again.
“Right now, it seems like its growing and becoming more vibrant. Our two independent bookstores, The Wild Detectives and Deep Vellum, have really helped in being focal points for the scene and have helped cultivate that. I hope that when people come to the event on Saturday that Dallas starts to see all the exciting writers and organizations that make #literarydallas. This event is meant to make it big.”
Putting literature “out there” is exactly what WordSpace has been doing for years and Minzer believes Deep Ellum Lit Hop is really going make a statement.
“This is a defining moment in the Dallas literary scene. And, I think this does establish the emerging influence of the work that has been done over the past couple of years,” says Minzer.