We’ve talked before about the Tenderloin Reading Series and its passionate founder, Jonathan Hirsch, who started it to get people talking and sharing stories about this amazing neighborhood. Now the project is turning two tomorrow, with a special edition filled with goodies that he’s calling “a blowout sale“. Here’s how literati reporter Evan Karp describes the first reading event he attended:
The readings were excellent, intimate in the darklit but somehow swanky confines of KoKo’s. Quarterly, the TLRS features fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction on or about the gritty Tenderloin district, which has long been home to the homeless, the poor and broken, desperate and resigned denizens of our city. But the Tenderloin is also one of the fastest changing demographics in the city, and home to many dreams still vibrant; artists live there cheaply, and those down on their luck move in, refusing to give up on their love for San Francisco. The Tenderloin is thus a vortex of energy, and the Tenderloin Reading Series represents the wide range of experiences to be had there.
As Evan Karp points out, tomorrow’s celebration promises to be stellar, with performance poets Charlie Getter and Meg Day on the same ticket as memoirist Alan Kaufman and resident Tenderloin poet laureates Ed Bowers and Joel Landfield joining DuShane, a novelist.
In addition to the usual readings, for the occasion of the two-year anniversary of the TLRS now Jonathan has just launched a sister project named Tenderlogues. The general idea is to amass an encyclopedia of personal narratives about the Tenderloin through the eyes of its inhabitants, and those who have been impacted by it at some moment in their life. This is how Jonathan explained it in an email:
For many artists, a sense of alone-ness governs the creative process. We bear witness to the machinations of the world and use it to measure our own experience. Many of the people living in the Tenderloin have abandoned their status, their place in the world, for something else. I think many artists feel most at home in a place where people aren’t running around feeling important. Whose concerns are deeper than whether or not their latte was hot enough. In that sense there is a solidarity between all of us in the Tenderloin.
There enters the purpose of something like Tenderlogues. While this project will include many of the same people you’d see at TLRS, our dragnet for this expedition is much broader. We’re interested in telling people’s stories. What life is like down here, in more of a narrative context. A collective narrative.
Tenderlogues is a collaboration between The Tenderloin Reading Series and Tender friend Julie Michelle at I Live Here: SF, who met Jonathan when he participated in her project with a touching story a few months ago. This project speaks to both the efforts of ILHSF and TLRS in that it seeks to incite meditations on the city of San Francisco and its inhabitants. The narratives will be rolled out every 2-3 weeks, and will feature a variety of authors, artists, and residents of the Tenderloin. The project page says that each piece will expresses a moment in time, an experience, or a reflection on a particular individual’s experience in the neighborhood. And they welcome your participation as well! (If you’d like to take part, email them for more information.)
The first Tenderlogue was contributed by Tony DuShane, who will be one of the featured readers at the two-year anniversary of the TLRS this Saturday night. The title of the story is The Tenderloin gave me a girl and it starts like this: “My first night at my apartment in the Tenderloin turned into sex with a fan of my novel”. Hmmm, now you have to read it!
Also, if you’re in the Excelsior, Michelle has just installed an exhibit of portraits from I Live Here:SF at Mama Art Cafe (4754 Mission St). The reception is March 31 from 7-10pm.