The clapping of hands ringing from street to street roared through each block along Valencia Street. Bodies floated in one by one, intrigued by the event. That was San Francisco’s Lit Crawl in a nutshell. An event hosted by LitQuake, the literary event occurs annually among other literary events year-round. In their 20th year, more than 500 authors and 10,000 audience members engaged and locked in for the content of the evening.
Beginning in 2004, Lit Crawl created a lure through the ambiance of various venues and great content from talented writers. They cover topics all across the board presenting work in bookstores, galleries, bars and even laundromats.
The festival kicked off on Oct. 18 in the heart of the Mission District, where literary lovers spent the evening hopping around from one reading to the next. There was a wide selection of writers performing, from the San Francisco Writers Grotto in “A Night of Firsts,” to the Phillipine American Writers and Artists, to the College of San Mateo’s Writers’ Ruckus presenting “In The Wild.” With so many great selections, festival goers couldn’t go wrong wherever they ended up.
The College of San Mateo’s Writers’ Ruckus was a particular group showcasing three students; James Bitoy, Lori Olsen and Jessica Yousef; along with two faculty members; Jill Colin Goutzky and David Lau.
Goutzky was particularly memorable; she talked about an assignment she had given her creative writing class. She tasked them (and herself) with making a list of ten things that scare them, and from that, she crafted a collage essay of the 161 things that she and her students fear most.
Goutzky organized the essay by grouping fears that were of the same topic, like spiders, insects, as well as repeated fears like heights. It created a repetition and interesting flow to the essay. She said, “It’s really moving to hear what we have in common and what we don’t.” The fears ranged from cell phones and vast ocean to police brutality and death. There was a fear for everyone to find themselves in and connect with.
Another memorable writer of the night was Lori Olsen, who shared a few excerpts from a short story she is currently writing. The story is about a girl that experiences an odd time in her life where rabbits appear every morning in her garbage and are multiplying by the day. She attempts to give them away, but they always end up coming back. As she tries to understand why, she is struck with flashbacks of her childhood and feels they have a connection to her mother who passed away and loved rabbits.
Olsen performed with much poise and a steady pace, unrushed and fully invested in her craft. That is what makes Lit Crawl a great time for writers looking for inspiration, new tools and tips to strengthen their work.
If you missed this year’s Lit Crawl, don’t worry, there is always the next. Come check out the literary talent or even perform yourself. Lit Crawl always occurs in October, so keep an eye out for one of the biggest nights in the literary circle next fall.