Calling all writers, journalists, scribes and anyone who puts pen to paper and fancies themselves the literary type. Seersucker Live wants to know you.
A non–profit formed a year or so ago by Savannah writers Zach Powers and Christopher Berinato, Seersucker Live exists to fill a void.
“We started meeting a bunch of writers in town, but we realized they didn’t know each other,” Powers explains. “Our initial instinct was to have an event that would start bringing Savannah’s writing community together. And exposing that writing community to an audience.”
It began as an informal, social networking event – writers met at a local tavern, the first Thursday of each month, to talk about everything and nothing – and then morphed into a quarterly live event for the general public (although the First Thursday gab ‘n guzzle gathering remains active). Twice a year, it’s about strictly local authors, and the other times, national scribes come to town.
Powers, a Savannah native, is a television producer (among other things, he runs attorney Mark Tate’s chat show on WTOC). More to the point, he’s a published writer.
The thrust of Seersucker Live, he says, is “to make Savannah more of a literary hub than it is now.”
The next live event, Friday, Sept. 23 in the upstairs banquet room of Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub, will feature three authors reading from their work.
San Franciscan Daniel Handler, who’s sold more than 60 million copies of his Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events books, is top of the bill.
“He has a reputation for supporting events like this,” Powers says of Handler, whose resume also includes the novels Adverbs, Watch Your Mouth and The Basic Eight. “Apparently, he used to run a literary event himself. I think he appreciates things like this.”
The Sept. 23 edition will also feature Florida poet Patricia Lockwood, whose first book, Balloon Pop Outlaw Black, will be published in the spring.
Then there’s Jonathan Rabb, author of the historical fiction tomes Rosa, Shadows & Light and The Second Son.
Rabb, who’s called Savannah home since 2008, teaches writing at SCAD.
“In the time that I’ve been here, I’ve been introduced to so much of the literary scene in Savannah,” Rabb explains. “And it’s really vibrant. So anytime somebody says ‘Come and be part of the scene,’ it’s great. I love that.”
Rabb is currently hard at work on his fourth book. “As it turns out,” he says, “I got inspired by being here. This one’s set in 1947 Savannah.”
Rabb, Handler and Lockwood will read from their work for the first half of the Barry’s event. Powers says he and Berinato will “engage in tomfoolery,” and pianist Brian Dean is the evening’s ivory–tickler. They like to refer to it as “part talk show, part cocktail hour and part literary reception.”
And then there’s this: “About a month ago,” says Powers, “we sent to all the authors an illustration and asked them to write a brief response to it – something inspired by, or based on, that illustration. And for the finale of the event we have them each come on and read their interpretation.
“There are such wildly varying interpretations. At our first event, we had everything from a kind of dirty limerick to a story about a pirate. And a very beautiful poem. It’s just interesting to see how the same image can lead to so many different interpretations.”
It’s a treat for the professionals, Powers adds. “They’re not going to try to get these published, so let them loosen up some and have a little fun with it.”
As for the name of the organization, fun was on Powers’ mind, too.
“Seersucker is associated with the South,” he explains. “It’s a fabric, the Southern seersucker suit. We spent more time on coming up with a name than we did for anything else.
“'Seersucker' has a playful quality, an almost inappropriate quality, and it’s a little catchy. And we wanted to highlight the fact that there was a certain Southern element.”
Where: Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub, 117 W. River St.
When: At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 (doors open at 6:30 p.m. with live music and a cash bar)