To the Glory That Is Litquake!




Entertainment choices were painful last Friday for San Francisco Goths: The Bowie Ball at the Great American Music Hall? Or a Litquake sponsored celebration of Edgar Allan Poe at the Goth Hop?

Not only that, lit lovers were torn, too, as they tarried between the Litquake event at the Verdi Club and the sorta nearby Elbo Room for the latest installment of Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match.

Oh, decisions. Such dark, difficult decisions. Nevermore!

But just wait! Even more choices abound when Litquake celebrates its 10th anniversary in October (9-17) with nine-full days of readings, events, some 500 authors (including Dave Eggers, James Ellroy, Sarah Vowell, Berkeley BreathedArmistead Maupin and The Byrds' Roger McGuinn) from which to choose, the Barbary Coast Tribute/Roast to Amy Tan (Oct. 14) as well as the famous/infamous Litquake Crawl that features books and booze. A veritable bacchanalia for bookworms!

In support of such an endeavor, Litquake Festival Coordinator Gravity Goldberg dreamed up the Goth Hop to help raise funds for the fest’s production costs.

“Edgar Allan Poe is sort of the ‘Godfather of Goth’ and we wanted this event to be a little edgy, so it seemed a great fit,” said Goldberg, dressed appropriately in black dress and black eyeliner. “We also wanted a theme that was interactive and something you could dress up for.”

Litquake Festival Cooridinator Gravity Goldberg

That theme also included black balloons, a signature glowing green cocktail cooked up by Le Tourment Vert Absinthe and original mash-up readings by authors who penned pieces in homage to Twilight, the cult vampire-romance novel sweeping (parts of) the nation.

Slouch Magazine founder Joshua Citrak kicked-off the 8-minute-only readings with his interpretation of what Dr. Seuss might have written for the newly-emergent zombie audience: “Oh, the people you’ll eat!”

Author Andrew Dugas' work channeled the spirit of Dylan Thomas: “Rage! Rage against another book like Twilight!”

And hip-hop artist Carlos Aguirre added a signature touch by creating the (first and only, we presume) beat-box version of Poe’s iconic poem, The Tell-Tale Heart.

Welcoming the crowd: Litquake founders and artistic directors author Jane Ganahl (former columnist at both the old SF Examiner and The Chronicle) and author Jack Boulware (former editor of the late, and still lamented, The Nose magazine).

“At this year’s Litquake, we’ve got 9 days, 80 venues and 500 authors,” said Boulware. “And I get really tired just thinking about all of it!”

When this dynamic duo first dreamed up Litquake (at the bar of the Edinburgh Castle, as legend has it), they presented their modest festival featuring a handful of authors in one afternoon at the Bandshell in Golden Gate Park.

“About 400 people showed. At the end of the afternoon, I stood onstage and asked if we should do this again,” explained Boulware, who received an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the crowd. “All of the sudden, I envisioned banners all over town and a Skky Vodka sponsorship!”

It may have taken 10 years but at the successful rate that Litquake has grown, Boulware’s visions are not too far off the mark. Besides, they got absinthe at the Goth Hop. Who needs vodka?

Boulware estimated that Litquake is now in the six-figure range to produce. Versus that first, dulcet year when they received a donation from the Hearst Corporation (where Ganahl was then a reporter) to produce the event which cost them roughly $400.

“I think we may have spent whatever was left over from that donation on beer,” said Ganahl, laughing at the memory.

“If we had realized then what we’re getting ourselves into now,” continued Ganahl, “We would’ve run in the opposite direction!”

Literature lovers, here and afar, raise a glass (and a book) they’ve stayed the course.

Stay tuned ... this Litquake chapter has only just begun.

Check out more photos below

Maggie Stern with Write-Alike authors Michelle Richmond, Bucky Sinister and Joshua Mohr



Amanda Johnson and Litquake Executive Committee member Nina Lesowitz

SF Goths members Lyn Harton and Charlie Irons



Le Tourment Vert Absinthe was the preferred Poe-sin of the night



Author Joshua Citrak and hip-hop artist Carlos Aguirre



Author Tony DuShane and Lia Garcia


Author and NY Times Religion reporter Neela Banerjee and her fiance, Tabla musician-composer Robin Sukhadia


Liqtquake Executive Committee member Christie Ward and Opium Magazine founder and Literary Death Match Director Todd Zuniga


Litquake 10: Rockin' the Bay








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