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Literary Brooklyn's Best Venues for Emerging Writers

By Sonja Sharp | April 25, 2013 9:56pm | Updated on May 3, 2013 9:24am

BROOKLYN — If you lived here, you'd be a writer by now.

Aspiring scribes tapping away on their laptops are as much a part of the new Brooklyn cliche as waxed mustaches and wrist tattoos. But for those who dare to dream, the borough's ever-expanding roster of wordsmith salons are are the perfect antidote to literary loneliness.

"Being a part of the literary community is really important, whether it's going to readings and releases, workshopping with people, or whatever else," said Michael Lala, cofounder of Fireside Follies, a popular monthly series in Bushwick that brings together an eclectic mix of newcomers and established prose writers and poets.

"[Co-host Eric Nelson] and I love to see new faces at our readings, especially young writers we've never met or seen read who introduce themselves and say they enjoyed the evening."

Fireside Follies

Born in Bushwick, this two-year-old series vies for top honors among Brooklyn's literati, featuring writers of both poetry and prose whom the curators feel need no fancy introductions — whether you already know them or not.

"We try to keep things informal and fun. No big introductions, no hush-hush reverence," Lala said. "When you come to a reading, you're getting a diversity of voices and always hearing someone new, and probably someone you've read before or at least know of."

The series is held every third Saturday of the month at 7 p.m. at Brooklyn Fire Proof, 119 Ingraham St., in Bushwick.

Franklin Park Reading Series

With marquee names like Victor LaValle and Shalom Auslander, the Franklin Park Reading Series has grown into one of the most notable literary events in the borough since it started in 2009.

Though the series consistently features top names, curator Penina Roth always saves at least one spot for emerging talent — and a special place in her heart for Crown Heights writers.

"Whenever possible, I’m going to try to have somebody who’s never been published who’s a local," Roth told DNAinfo.com New York. "I totally give preference to Crown Heights writers who are unpublished."

The series is held every second Monday of the month at 8 p.m. at Franklin Park Bar, 618 St. Johns Place, in Crown Heights.

Renegade Reading Series

While other writers griped about the bread crumbs offered at Brooklyn's other salons, writer Caitlin Harper said let them eat cupcakes.

The bite-sized sweets were just some of the many delights of the Renegade Reading Series, a monthly event entirely devoted to emerging writers.

After a brief hiatus this winter, Renegade will return to Franklin Avenue this February, albeit with a few minor adjustments. Gone are Harper's famous cupcakes, though co-hosts Erica Anderson and Richard Moy promise there will still be snacks for the starving artists in the crowd. 

"The focus [of Renegade] is on emerging writers, absolutely, because I don't think there are a lot of places for emerging writers to read," Anderson said. "It’s really exciting to me to offer an opportunity for something that’s completely new and different."  

The series will continue every second Wednesday of the month at 8:30 p.m. at LaunchPad, 721 Franklin Ave., in Crown Heights.

Writers Reading to Writers Listening to Writers Reading to Writer

Writer Polly Bresnick admits she started Writers Reading to Writers for selfish reasons.

"I wanted writers whose work I enjoyed to read to me," Bresnick said. "It started out as a showcase for experimental fiction, and it’s expanded to include nonfiction and poetry."

The two-year-old series now showcases a mix of genres, genders and tones.

"I'm proud of how the different styles of different readers fit together," Bresnick said. "I think of it like a mix tape."

The series is held the last Friday of the month at Unnamable Books, 600 Vanderbilt Ave., in Prospect Heights.