Top 10 Bay Area Literary Events of 2012

Oh, The Squat. 851. I think I made it to five of the 12 shows in this otherwise neglected apartment, and they were all excellent for various reasons -- to start with, the space has "great energy," which has a lot to do with host Janey Smith and the people he brings together there. But I selected this one, which I believe was the fourth, because Shruti Swamy's story has stuck in my mind all year -- it was the perfect beginning to a show, and then Lindsey Bolt took the dirt stage and played so many tricks with her barrage of language she could have been the whole show. The night continued in that way: Sarah Fran Wisby followed with a story that dissipates from first to self-reflective third person and ends with advice from the moon; Andrea Kneeland, in her first reading since giving birth, continued to mix things up with a poem first and then two stories, clearly relishing the chance to share some humor (and drink from her beer), and then Thomas Patrick Levy, like some kind of magician, added the most baffling cherry to the top of the evening.

The combination of David Buuck's political performance, CA Conrad's SOMA(tic) exercises, and Eileen Myles' intimate conversation-style poems is the kind of thing only Small Press Traffic could have put together. All three readings were easily digestible and profound, and if you wanted to you could study any one of them and take more than you need from an entire year.

Many people asked me how this was, and (for once) my first answer was the best: It was like a 20-minute punch to the face. Jill Richards started the evening off with an essay titled "Some More Reflections on Violence." Then Silliman read. The sheer force, the nonstop barrage of language, the precision of his words was actually violent -- an almost otherworldly, heroic vigilantism.

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