Monday, April 16, 2007

What's Doing...PEN Caberet on Saturday April 28

PEN’s third World Voices Festival of International Literature on Saturday, April 28 at the Bowery Ballroom promises to be a real knockout show. Poet, singer/songwriter, and New York icon Patti Smith will be joined on stage by playwright, author, and actor Sam Shepard. Hmm...they only performed their co-written play Cowboy Mouth one time. Will they do it again on this night, or do they have something new up their sleeves? There will also be a special show by spoken-word poet and musician Saul Williams, a performance by Nona Appleby (aka Victoria Roberts, cartoonist for The New Yorker), readings by international authors, and one or two other surprise guests. Tickets are $25 general; $20 for PEN members.

PEN is certainly a group worth supporting and joining. International PEN was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic, and racial hatreds and to promote understanding among all countries. New York's PEN American Center, founded a year later, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. You get to rub elbows with literary geniuses, get the inside scoop on over 1,500 grants, publicize your own upcoming events, and post your publications to their website. Go team! Previous memembers have included W. H. Auden, James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Thomas Mann, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck, to name a few.

Sadly, 14-year PEN board member Kurt Vonnegut is no longer with us. Spent the weekend reading "Timequake," his 1996 novel about a breakdown in the time-space continuum that forces everyone on the planet to relive the 1990s. Help. The world's just not the same without this man.

Years ago, in San Francisco, Three Rooms Press poet Kathi Georges read at one of PEN's literary events at The Marsh with a stalwart group of other writers including the fabulous Cintra Wilson (whose essay "The Glass Parking Lot, or Summer in the Swamp of Moral Relativism" in the most recent issue of Tin House (this issue's focus is Evil) is an alternately hilarious and frightening insider's account of Wilson's five-week stint on the D.C. beat). Also included is an interview with a Manson family member who left the clan just 2 months before the Tate-LaBianca murders. Definitely worth checking out. You cannot read the magazine for free online, but you can (just like in the old days!) buy a copy at many NY magazine stands and a few giant ugly chain bookstores.

Speaking of buying, keep sending those emails to to reserve your copy of Kathi Georges' Slow Dance at 120 Beat a Minute. Requests are piling up, so if you want to be sure to get a copy of the first edition, write now, and we'll reserve one for you.

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