All posts by Jim Vermin

Kirsten Imani Kasai in San Diego

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

KASAI: Years ago at an open mic literary event, a woman read a poem all about her cats…which was written on toilet paper that she unfurled onstage…unironically.

Kirsten Imani Kasai writes very dark, very weird fiction. She publishes Body Parts Magazine: The Journal of Horror & Erotica and owns MagicWordEditingCo. which offers a full range of services to creative writers, academics and scientists. Her third novel, The House of Erzulie was published this February by Shade Mountain Press. According to Foreword Reviews, Kirsten “makes the macabre beautiful.”

Come see Kirsten read at La Bodega Gallery in San Diego on Saturday, April 28 at 7pm.

Ryan Griffith in San Diego

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

GRIFFITH: In 2005 I went to see in interesting reading at a bar in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where my friend read and then a Belorussian band took the stage and performed dressed as a group of insects.  Following the show, we all gathered at another bar where the band of insects approached my friend and began to verbally assail him in Russian, accusing him of wearing a fake beard, which evidently was a serious breach of decorum and grounds for a fight.  Soon our friends entered the mix and a huge “beard brawl” nearly ensued, but my bearded friend slipped out the door and, once the offending facial hair was out of sight, cooler heads prevailed.

Ryan Griffith served as resident storyteller for The Lounge on KPBS radio, where he read from his acclaimed series, The Midnight Pharmacy. His stories and poems have also appeared in a variety of literary journals such as elimae, Night Train, and NANO Fiction.  He teaches at Grossmont College and during the 2015-2016 school year, he took sabbatical to work on his novel while living abroad in Iceland, Russia, Turkey, and other countries. His current project is a multimedia narrative installation, “Relics of The Hypnotist War,” which is now on display at Space4Art studios in downtown San Diego.

Come see Ryan read at La Bodega Gallery in San Diego on Saturday, April 28 at 7pm.

Alix Sharp in San Diego

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

SHARP: The gnarliest thing I’ve seen at a lit reading was a dude that sobbed about me unmatching from them on Tinder after too many messages received from them when they were drunk. What made it worse was that I attended that reading with someone else I met on Tinder. The first person got kicked out, the second was a wee upset at me playing the field a bit. Moral of the story–don’t bring potential dates to your home bar.

Alix Sharp is an anthropologist with a writing problem, currently attending Southwestern College. She’s a professional translator/animal wrangler irl and in video games. She has a piece in PacificLit, and other forthcoming work. Stay tuned on Twitter @debaucherie.

Come see Alix read at La Bodega Gallery in San Diego on Saturday, April 28 at 7pm.

Mark Sarvas in LA

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a literary gathering?

SARVAS: A young lady who wandered into the reading asked if she could come to the podium and read a random section of my novel. It was so weird I had to say yes. The events coordinator said that in 20 years working there, that had never happened.

Mark Sarvas is the author of the novel Harry, Revised, which was published in more than a dozen countries around the world. His book reviews and criticism have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Threepenny Review, Bookforum, and many others. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, PEN/America, and PEN Center USA, and teaches novel writing at the UCLA Extension Writers Program. A reformed blogger, he lives in Santa Monica, California.

Come see Mark read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 13 at 7:30pm. 

Yelena Moskovich reads in LA

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a literary gathering?

MOSKOVICH: Nothing unusual to declare at the border on my behalf. We came, we read, we conquered.

Yelena Moskovich is a Ukrainian-born American and French novelist and playwright, author of The Natashas (Serpent’s Tail UK 2016, Dzanc Books US 2018) and the upcoming second novel, Virtuoso (Serpent’s Tail, 2019). Her short story, “Marlene or Number 16,” won the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize in 2016. Her plays have been produced in the US, Vancouver, Paris, and Stockholm. She’s also written for The New Statesman, The Happy Reader, 3:AM Magazine, and in French for Mixt(e) magazine. She currently lives in Paris.

Come see Yelena read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 13 at 7:30pm. 

Scott O’Connor reads in LA

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a literary gathering?

O’CONNOR: I did a reading and Q&A will Eddie Muller in San Francisco and a troubled woman in the audience stood up to ask a question. Or not so much to ask a question as to make a statement. And not a statement about my work, really, but about her life and her troubles and it made everyone in the room (including me) incredibly uncomfortable, except for Eddie, who handled it with grace and dignity, both for all of us and for her. Afterward I thanked him for this and he said, “She just wanted to be heard.” I’ve thought a lot about that night and that woman and what Eddie said, and it’s helped inform my own life going forward, as well as a short story from this current book, and the next novel.

Scott O’Connor is the author of A Perfect Universe: Ten Stories, the novels Untouchable and Half World and the novella Among Wolves. He has been awarded the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, and his stories have been shortlisted for the Sunday Times/EFG Story Prize and cited as Distinguished in Best American Short Stories. Additional work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Zyzzyva, The Rattling Wall, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He teaches creative writing at Cal State Channel Islands and for Writing Workshops LA.

Come see Scott read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 13 at 7:30p

Amy Wallen reads in LA

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a literary gathering?

WALLEN: Hosting a DimeStories anniversary in a church hall,  I had to deal with one James Lee, a human trafficker, who guzzled multiple large red plastic cups of wine, then on stage stomped his heavy steel-toed Korean army boots while ranting about killing the dirty children of our overpopulated planet while waving his manifesto, then was drug down the aisle of the church to the curb where the police arrested him. We got a restraining order to keep him from attending any more of our events, but a year later I watched on the news when he strapped a bomb to his chest, carried a gun and other ammunition into the Washington DC Discovery Channel building, kidnapped the TV show’s staff, then was shot and killed by the SWAT team. You can read his manifesto online.

Amy Wallen is associate director of the New York State Summer Writers Institute and teaches creative writing at the University of California, San Diego Extension. Her first novel was a Los Angeles Times bestseller which she read from at a Vermin on the Mount event in LA’s Chinatown in 2007. She loves cemetery walks and will do almost anything for a bag of peanut M&Ms. Not plain.

Come see Amy read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 13 at 7:30pm. 

Peter Hsu reads in LA

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a literary gathering?

HSU: At Grown Up Story Time, the MC turned around and mooned the audience. Then somebody put a microphone up to his bare ass. And then his bare ass went on and MC’d the rest of the show.

Peter Hsu is a Los Angeles based fiction writer. He was a 2017 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, as well as the 2017 Artist in Residence for PEN in the Community. Peter’s stories have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Flapperhouse, Friction Magazine, and others. He is the associate fiction editor for Angels Flight * literary west.

Come see Peter read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 13 at 7:30pm. 

Susan Henderson in LA

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a literary gathering?

HENDERSON: I was at one of Amanda Stern’s Happy Ending series, where Ben Percy bench-pressed Amanda. Then Roy Kesey went up to read. He called me from the audience to assist. And I had to shave his legs while he read. And by “shaving his legs,” he meant putting tape on them and then ripping them off.

Susan Henderson is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize. She is the author of two novels, The Flicker of Old Dreams and Up from the Blue, both published by HarperCollins. Susan lives in Kings Park, New York and blogs at the writer support group, LitPark.com.

 

Naomi Hirahara in LA

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a literary gathering?

NAOMI: Being one of the warm-up acts to Armistead Maupin in the Mission District of San Francisco (no details necessary). Also, at an event at Vroman’s a month after the election on December 7, I was interrupted at by a man declaring that the Japanese could kill a person with one finger. (I believe he was actually referring to Bruce Lee.)

Naomi Hirahara is an Edgar Award-winning mystery author and social historian. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo newspaper, she’s written nonfiction books about gardeners in Southern California, the oldest flower market in downtown Los Angeles, the lost communities of Terminal Island, and most recently, the travails of Japanese Americans after being released from Manzanar. Her seventh and final Mas Arai mystery, HIROSHIMA BOY, was released in March. She is currently helping to adapt an independent film, “The Big Bachi,” based on her first mystery.

Come see Naomi read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 13 at 7:30pm. 

Ryan Bradford in San Diego

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

BRADFORD: Vermin on the Mount host Jim Ruland trying to be funny.

Ryan Bradford is the author of the novel Horror Businessas well as the founder and editor of Black Candies, a journal of literary darkness. He is the winner of Paper Dart’s 2015 Short Fiction Contest. His writing has appeared in Vice, Monkeybicycle, Hobart, New Dead Families and [PANK]. He also writes the column “Well, That Was Awkward” for San Diego’s largest progressive weekly, San Diego CityBeat.

Come see Ryan read at La Bodega Gallery in San Diego on Saturday, January 20 at 7pm. 

Keith Morris in LA

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a show?

KEITH: One night I was partying with The Ramones at the Tropicana when they were filming Rock and Roll High School. In those days, the Tropicana was practically a clubhouse for touring bands that came to L.A. to play at the Whisky. At one point Jim Morrison had a permanent space at the Tropicana. There was a restaurant in front called Duke’s that everyone called Duke’s grease shoot because the food was horrible. You really had to hold on to not lose it.

The staff at the Tropicana was cool because they were used to all kinds of oddball behavior. It was almost expected. The Ramones played the Whisky and afterward everybody ended up at the Tropicana. A lot of people were there: Stan Lee from the Dickies, Phast Phreddie Patterson, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Joan Jett were all hanging out by the pool.

One of the things I liked about The Ramones is that they didn’t look punk. They had that Prince Valiant, Ivanhoe, Knights of the Round Table look that a lot of garage bands used to go for back in the ‘60s. Everybody else at the time was wearing short, spiked hair. I was thinking about hair for whatever reason when I noticed a pair of hedge trimmers. I grabbed them and gave myself a haircut, chopping off all of my hair. I don’t know how I managed to make it to work down at the bait shop in Hermosa Beach the next day, but my dad’s partner’s wife wanted to know what had happened to my hair.

“I cut it myself.”

“That’s pretty obvious, Keith.”

Keith Morris is the founding vocalist of Black Flag, the Circle Jerks and OFF! His memoir, My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor, was published by Da Capo Press in 2016

Come see Keith read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, January 19 at 7:30pm.