Vermin turns 13

It’s true: the occult powers of the 13th anniversary of Vermin on the Mount blotted out the fucking sun. (Thanks to Agatha French for the write-up in the Los Angeles Times.)



Sean Carswell in LA

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

CARSWELL: On my last book tour, I did a reading in Brooklyn. A local guy who I didn’t know was invited to open up the reading. I’m always down for local readers on book tours because they tend to bring a local crowd. Not this guy. Five minutes before the reading was supposed to start, only one person he invited had shown up: his infant daughter. She was crying quite a bit, so the local guy said he’d take her outside for a minute. Twenty-five minutes later—twenty minutes after his reading was supposed to start, ten minutes after the crowd started getting restless—he comes back. She’s still crying. No other friends of his have shown up. So, rather than doing the classy thing and saying, “Look, no one is here to see me and I need to tend to my child, so I’m going to bail on this reading and tend to her,” the local guy parks the stroller in the back of the crowd and starts his reading. The baby apparently decided she’d been abandoned and started howling. The local guy asked a woman in the crowd to rock the stroller. The woman reluctantly did this. The baby decided she was being given away and howled even more. The local guy, undaunted by the most basic paternal responsibilities, bravely carried on, reading his story over the cries of his child for the next fifteen minutes.

Sean Carswell is the author of the seven books: three novels (Drinks for the Little Guy, Train Wreck Girl, and Madhouse Fog), three short story collections (Glue and Ink Rebellion, Barney’s Crew, and The Metaphysical Ukulele), and, most recently, an academic monograph (Occupy Pynchon). He co-founded the independent book publisher Gorsky Press and the music magazine Razorcake. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Flipside, Thrasher, The Southeastern Review, The Rattling Wall, and many other places. He is an associate professor of writing and literature at California State University Channel Islands.

Come see Sean read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 18 at 7:30pm.



Désirée Zamorano in LA

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

ZAMORANO: ​At Skylight Books for her novel An Untamed State Roxane Gay was about to begin when a dog started howling. The owner, a man in the audience, asked HER to wait until the dog calmed down. I was agog, too speechless to protest. She began reading.

Désirée Zamorano is a Pushcart prize nominee and award-winning short story writer and the author of the acclaimed literary novel The Amado Women. She is also a frequent contributor to the  LA Review of Books

Come see Désirée read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 18 at 7:30pm.

Kevin Maloney in LA

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

MALONEY: A few months ago I went to a reading to benefit the victims of the MAX train attack here in Portland that resulted in two deaths. At one point the host invited a special guest on stage, a poet named Micah. His reading was totally different than the others: way more personal, intimate, vulnerable. I didn’t realize until after the event that Micah was the third victim of the attack… a local slam poet, the only surviver who intervened on behalf of the Muslim women. 

KEVIN MALONEY lives, works, and writes in Portland, Oregon. His debut novel Cult of Loretta was published by Lazy Fascist Press in 2015. His fiction has appeared in Hobart, BarrelhouseVol. 1 BrooklynThe Literary Review, and a number of other literary journals and anthologies.

Come see Kevin read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 18 at 7:30pm.

Brian Jabas Smith in LA

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

SMITH: Reading half of a single story out loud and having two separate people offer to step up and put the book out on their presses. The book wasn’t even written yet. It blew my mind.

BRIAN JABAS SMITH has written for many magazines and alt-weeklies, and his fiction has appeared in a variety of literary journals. He’s an award-winning journalist, first as a staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times and then as an editor at Detroit’s Metro Times. Before writing full time, Smith was a songwriter who fronted rock ‘n’ roll bands Beat Angels and, before that, GAD. He has penned tunes with lots of folks, including Alice Cooper. At one point he overcame heady crystal meth and alcohol addictions. As a kid growing up in Tucson, Ariz., Smith was a national class bicycle racer. He now lives back in Tucson where he writes a regular column in the Tucson Weekly centered on unsung heroes, people on the fringes and the desolate beauty found in unlikely places. Spent Saints is his debut collection of short stories.

Come see Brian read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 18 at 7:30pm.

MariNaomi in LA

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

NAOMI: At a library reading a few years ago, an elderly lady started heckling me! She was really mean. When one of the audience members pointed out the irony of her having a peace symbol on her purse, the woman punched them in the hand!

MariNaomi is the author and illustrator of four graphic memoirs, with her first graphic novel coming out next spring. She’s also the creator and curator of the Cartoonists of Color and Queer Cartoonists databases.
Come see MariNaomi read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 18 at 7:30pm.

Nolan Knight in LA

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

KNIGHT: I hit up an open mic in Downtown L.A. before The Neon Lights Are Veins came out. Hadn’t read in public in some time, so I went down to get tossed back into the fire. To my surprise, it was the first night ever for this open mic, so anything was possible, long as it pertained to the written word. There was a full turnout and names were drawn from a hat. The range of material people were reading was insane, from gut-wrenching true life abuse stories to dick jokes posted on twitter. There was no telling what the next name called would bring to the table. By the end of the night, the range of emotions covered by every reader was exhilarating. This total lack of reading rules had created a one time mash-up of creativity that surged into its own piece of art. A positively strange yet beautiful evening. 

A native of Los Angeles’ South Bay, NOLAN KNIGHT’s short fiction has been featured in various publications including Thuglit, Needle, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulpand Shotgun Honey. He was a staff writer for Los Angeles’ Biggest Music Publication, the L.A. Record, from 2007 to 2010, and holds a degree in Creative Writing from Cal State University Long Beach. He currently resides in Long Beach with his wife, son and daughter. His debut novel, The Neon Lights Are Veins, was published earlier this year. 

Come see Nolan read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 18 at 7:30pm.

13 Years of Vermin in LA

Join us on Friday, August 18 at 7:30 for a special anniversary event at Book Show in Highland Park as we celebrate 13 years of Vermin on the Mount. Legion of Vermin members Sean Carswell and Kevin Maloney return from Morro Bay and Portland, Oregon. Local writers Mari Naomi, Désirée Zamorano and Nolan Knight round out the L.A. contingent and Brain Jabas Smith joins us from Tucson, Arizona. Poster art and design by Joshua Rosa. Don’t be bitten!



Meg Howrey in LA & SD

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

HOWREY: Either nothing unusual has ever happened to me at a reading, or my bar for unusual is pretty high. But a girl can dream.

Meg Howrey is the author of the novels “Blind Sight”, “The Cranes Dance”, and the newly released “The Wanderers.” Before doing any of these things, she was a professional ballet dancer.

Come see Meg read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 14 at 7:30pm and at Studio Unseen in San Diego on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm. 

Vermin Strikes LA

Vermin Returns to San Diego

Jimmy Jazz in SD

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

JAZZ: This kid came up on the street, “Hey, you’re Jimmy Jazz. I saw you naked when I was 15. I saw you read from your book 10 years ago, naked.” This delayed gratification proved better than the reading itself. We played this Avant-Garde fest at SDSU. It was fun, we spray painted FREE ART on the wall, Ted Washington came out glistening with body oil, we spit poetry and pissed on Salinger in a bucket, and some young couple started making out on stage and the whole thing ended in a cloud of dope smoke, cum, blood and broken glass. But the experience codified the next day, with a class of MFA students. This very severe adjunct with a German accent like a riding crop said, “This was not shocking.” Ha ha. And there was that time at the poetry slam, all the poets were inside competing for a high score. But I climbed up on the marquee of the condemned theater across the street and used letters I found to spell out our credo from Whitman ‘Resist Much, Obey Little.’ It’s the poem you don’t expect that wins.

Jimmy Jazz is a writer from San Diego. He is the author of several novels including The Sub & The Cadillac Tramps. His latest work is called The Book of Books.

Come see Jimmy read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm. 

Photo by Anthony Scoggins.

Natashia Deón in LA

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

DEON: The most unusual experience I had at a reading was the first time I read for Vermin. I had planned to read an essay for the reading because at that point, I hadn’t read from my manuscript for Grace in over a year. It had been rejected multiple times by publishers and I had mostly given up. But, just before I came to Vermin, I felt inspired to read from Grace. To see if she was still alive and to breathe life in her. By the end of that next week I had two offers from publishers. How a person might interpret any of this is their own thing. What’s for sure for me is that Vermin on the Mount is a place for words to come alive. Or, come alive again.

Natashia Deón is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel, Grace (Counterpoint Press), and is the recipient of a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices fellowship. Recently named one of L.A.’s “Most Fascinating People” in L.A. Weekly‘s People Issue, Deón is a lawyer, law professor, and the creator of the popular L.A.-based reading series Dirty Laundry Lit.  Her writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, Buzzfeed, The Rattling Wall, The Rumpus, The Feminist Wire, Asian American Lit Review, and other places.

Come see Natashia read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, April 14 at 7:30pm.

Michael Klam in SD

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

KLAM: Years ago we put on a show called “Poems, Paintings and Piledrivers.” Between poems, wrestlers from Tijuana smacked each other down on the museum floor at SDAI. By way of miracle, nothing broke, and poets and crudos and tecnicos and transvestite ring girls won the night.  I remember Steve Kowit’s last reading with us and how Jimmy Jazz and I merrily pointed out the sandwich stains on his sweatshirt and loved him for making absolutely zero pretense in life in general. Most of all I remember the wee hours, the champions who stayed to the bitter end, stacking chairs, mopping the floor and putting the museum back in order. Finishing the beer and embracing each other and locking up after another show… friendships, loyalty, some of the best kind of bad behavior mixed in…

Michael Klam organizes and hosts the Poetry & Art Series at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park. His freelance journalism has appeared in San Diego CityBeat, The San Diego Daily Transcript, Voice of San Diego, and La Prensa San Diego. As a teacher, Klam cocreated the Page to Canvas to Stage program, bringing poets, painters, and K-12 students together to create visual art and perform poetry. His publisher is Puna Press.

Come see Michael read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm. 

Matt E. Lewis in SD

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

LEWIS: The strangest experience at a reading for me happened when I was hosting an improv storytelling show called Long Story Short. The idea was that anyone could walk on stage and tell a 5 minute story based on a theme. A guy from the audience went up and instead of telling a story, proceeded to do the worst freestyle rap I’ve ever heard. I didn’t want to be rude and pull him off the stage, but this guy was just garbage. When his time was finally up, he wouldn’t stop. Then another guy from the audience got up and tried to take the mic away, and he was doing his own freestyle rap, and it was just as bad! So these two idiots were just yelling terrible rhymes at each other for another 5 minutes before they finally gave up and the two other people in the audience gave them a pity clap. It was this experience that made me want to pursue a career in editing.

Matt E. Lewis is an editor for Ayahuasca Publishing and The Radvocate magazine. He reviews books for Horror Talk and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Come see Matt read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm.