As we journey ever deeper into the world of digital publication, audiobooks ringing in our ears and e-readers clutched to our breasts, it seems as though big publishing houses might not be long for this world. These days, you’d think that an emerging writer’s only hope to get discovered would be through a clever tweet.
But you’d be wrong. First of all, even if print is dying, publishing is not. And secondly, here in Brooklyn there’s still a loving home for the literature enthusiast (or just for anyone who prefers to write in complete sentences). If you’re eager to meet other bookworms and discover new voices, the best way to do it is through any of BK’s local reading series. Lucky you, we’ve compiled a list of said reading series, all of which feature free admission and — arguably the secret of all great writers — proximity to alcohol.
1. Franklin Electric Reading Series
650 Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights
Cost: FREE (BYOB)
The co-working space on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights is transformed once a month into the Franklin Electric Reading Series hosted by NYU Poetry MFAs. Founders describe the event as, “a community-driven reading series that fosters literary engagement across a variety of voices.” The reader-curated event features all levels and types of writers from published humorists to influential blog writers. Oh, and Allagash sponsors their event with free beer–at least for the next few events. Next event: May 26.
Submit: prose or poetry to reading[at]workheights.com
2. Franklin Park Reading Series
518 St. Johns Place, Crown Heights
Around the corner on St. John’s Place, on the second Monday of each month, the award-winning Franklin Park Reading series features poets and prose writers, like Jennifer Egan, Roxane Gay, Marlon James and a long list of others. What makes the atmosphere of Franklin Park Reading Series really exciting is this chance to witness authors that might suddenly take off into literary fame! Plus $4 drink specials. Next event: Monday, May 9.
Submit: no specific guidelines, but direct queries to franklinparkreadingseries[at]gmail.com
3. Manhattanville Reading Series
167 Rogers Avenue, Crown Heights
The success of the Franklin Park reading series fueled the partnership with the Manhattanville coffee shop on Rogers avenue, also in Crown Heights. While the event has less hullabaloo than its predecessor, it promises to showcase emerging and established talent on the last Tuesday of every month. Admission is free. Check their Facebook page or email manhattanvillereadingseries[at]gmail.com to keep in touch. Next Event: Tuesday, April 26.
Submit: 3 – 5 pages of prose or poetry to manhattanvillereadingseries[at]gmail.com
4. Pete’s Reading Series
Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg
Cost: $5 suggested
Off the Lorimer stop in Williamsburg, prose and poetry fans will be happy to discover Pete’s Reading Series. In addition to showcasing the work of up-and-coming authors without a published novel to their names, Pete’s is frequently visited by name-droppable literati: past guests have included Jonathan Ames (Bored to Death), Lan Samantha Chang (the director of Iowa Writers’ Workshop) and Colm Tólbín (author of our namesake, Brooklyn). Pete’s Candy Store offers a wide variety of other free literary events like Pete’s Big Salmon Poetry Series and the Prose Bowl.
Submit: There are no submissions for Pete’s Reading Series and for the Prose Bowl, you can simply show up with under five minutes of material. Direct poetry queries to petesbigsalmon[at]gmail.com.
5. H.I.P. Lit – Hideaway Salon
Be Electric Studios, 1298 Willoughby Avenue, Bushwick
This reading series, based in Bushwick, aims to throw parties in the name of literature. While past events have been more wild and extravagant, the group has now acquired private room in the Be Electric Studios dedicated to the Hideaway Salon. Readings feature “authors on the cutting-edge of the writing scene”, “incorporate film, visual art and music to form an immersive experience”, and are curated by guest writers. The series is not totally regular, so keeping up with them is a must. The group hopes to throw semi-annual parties while maintaining the salon vibe. Next event: Friday, May 20.
Submit: want to read, guest curate or collaborate in some other way? Send all emails to hipliterary.nyc[at]gmail.com
6. Sunday at Erv’s
2122 Beekman Pl., Prospect-Lefferts Gardens
If a shlep to Bushwick feels like a burden, and you would prefer a less industrial backdrop for your literature-listening experience, look no further than Sunday at Erv’s, hosted in Erv’s bar right outside Prospect Park on the second Sunday of every month. Each reading features a cross-genre mix of prose and poetry. Erv’s is an intimate environment to see emerging Brooklyn writers (checkout: Leland Cheuk, Keegan Lester, and Rebecca Shiff) but emphasis is on intimate, so show up early to find space to sit. Next Event: Sunday, May 8.
Submit: Send inquiries to readingsatervs[at]gmail.com
163 Court Street, Cobble Hill
BookCourt offers literary events every day of the week, and two events each day on weekends. Each night features a reading from an author’s recently published book or recurring reading series from the Eagle and the Wren, Brooklyn Writers Space, and many others. The events are free and the air has that clean smell of freshly-printed books, second only to the musty smell of books printed long ago. Stay tuned for upcoming events on their calendar.
8. Community Bookstore
143 7th Avenue, Park Slope
One of Brooklyn’s longest-standing bookstores, the Community Bookstore in Park Slope offers a charming environment for any bookworm, and their backyard garden is a haven from all the stroller-ridden sidewalks out front. They’re regularly repping small press houses and emerging BK authors on their shelves, so it’s a great place to browse. They host readings by recently published authors, usually with two to three authors similar in style sharing the evening in order to read their work. Wine and cheese is usually provided, so you can mingle among other literature enthusiasts before and afterwards. Their event calendar is updated regularly.
9. Brew: An evening of literary works
Hungry Ghost, 781 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
Since its inaugural event just six months ago, Brew has already gained a sizable following. They do their thing at Hungry Ghost, a coffee shop in Fort Greene. Head to this one for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and everything in between. The series promises to be a “casual, fun, and often spontaneous affair”, featuring many new, up-and-coming writers as well as more experienced ones.
Submit: 3-4 poems or a piece of fiction under 1500 words to stephenmlanglois[at]gmail.com.
10. Greenlight Bookstore
686 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
Just across the street from the Hungry Ghost, you can usually find something hip and worthwhile going on in the evening at Greenlight Bookstore. They host talkbacks, writers’ workshops, launch parties and panel discussions related to new works in both fiction and nonfiction. Check out the events calendar; there are about five events per week. Added perk: if you were smart and got yourself a BAM membership when we first told you to, or later on as one of the perks of the NYC ID, now’s the time to reap your rewards! A BAM membership gets you sweet discounts on books at Greenlight Bookstore so you can roll with the literary VIP.