The Poets in Pajamas Reading Series launches this week, hosted by Sam Slaughter, author of God in Neon and Spirits Editor at The Manual. Below, Sam shares some of the inspiration behind Poets in Pajamas and what you should expect from this cozy new virtual reading series.
Kristen Figgins: What was the inspiration for Poets in Pajamas?
Sam Slaughter: We wanted to create a reading series that wasn’t contingent on location, one that would—as long as you have access to the internet—allow anyone to participate. Obviously, any major city is going to have multiple reading series to go to/participate in/etc., but not everyone can live in those cities. As writers, we’re often wherever the job market dictates—from Alaska to northeast Georgia to Thailand. Depending on the type of work we do, we can be just about anywhere in the world. Because of this, we wanted something that overshadowed that. That way, you would be able to participate and not feel like you’re missing out because you can’t be in Brooklyn or LA or Chicago.
KF: How are reading series important to the literary landscape?
SS: They provide connection with other readers and writers that we as artists need, considering most of us—regardless of artistic preference—spend a good deal of time alone, staring at a screen or a notebook or a canvas. They also allow readers and writers to show off their work or try out new stuff in an environment that is ready for it. You can get some immediate feedback from friends or other people there to see if that piece you’re working on is clicking or if you need to go back to the drawing board on it. Both of these points come back to the main thing: community. A reading series helps to build a community of readers and writers pursuing similar paths in the world and gives everyone an outlet to express themselves.
KF: What is your favorite memory from a reading series (either as an author or an attendee)?
SS: A great memory I have is from the first time I attended AWP, in Minneapolis in 2014. The first night I was there was the Literary Death Match, and I got to see readers like Matt Bell, Ben Percy, and Roxanne Gay battle it out, if you will.
A second fond memory I have is of the There Will Be Words reading series, hosted by J. Bradley in Orlando. I’ve been a part of it and I’ve attended multiple others and every time it was a great, engaging event. The people are great and the words are better.
KF: One of the great things about reading series is that they create a personal connection with authors and their audience. How do you imagine retaining that personal connection while utilizing the Periscope app?
SS: Well, the easy answer is that there will be a ten-minute Q&A portion of each reading, allowing viewers to type in questions that the reader can respond to. Periscope has taken care of the interaction portion for us. Another thing is that a reading series like this can spread by word of mouth/Facebook post/tweet. Helping connect more readers and viewers can enhance the community and allow for new connections to spring up that might not have happened otherwise.
KF: If you could have a literary slumber party with any group of poets, dead or alive, who would be on the invitation list?
SS: My list wouldn’t be just poets, but regardless, I’d want to put together a slumber party that would be a hell of a good time—light on the slumbering, heav(ier) on the partying.
- TC Boyle
- Harry Crews
- Julia Child
- Anthony Bourdain
- Lorrie Moore