Literary circles intersect with other arts and cultural endeavors during the SunLit Festival, a springtime celebration of literature March 7-15, 2015. Thirteen literary events over nine days showcase St. Petersburg’s literary heritage and today’s vibrant literary community, raising the profile of our City of the Arts.
The SunLit Festival brings together various literary organizations and arts disciplines to celebrate literature, reading, and writing. The SunLit Festival is co-produced by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance with the program partners below. For more information visit facebook.com/SunLitFestival, sunlitfestival.org, or stpeteartsalliance.org.
Participants and Schedule
SunLit Festival Kickoff! Honoring St. Petersburg’s Poet Laureate
The Friends of the Main Library will kick off the Festival and honor Peter Meinke, Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg, who will receive the first annual SunLit Festival Award for lifetime achievement in letters. Award-winning writer Sterling Watson, co-director of the Writers in Paradise conference at Eckerd College, will be keynote speaker. The Friends of the Main Library will present a collection of Mr. Meinke’s work for the Library’s collection. Mr. Meinke will read from his work.
Eight of Tampa Bay’s most daring writers will face off in live literary combat! In Lucha Libro, two authors are given a random prompt and then they have five minutes to create an original piece of written brilliance, right before your eyes! After the frenzy of spontaneous creation, our combatants will present their work and a winner will be declared! Winners move on to the next round until only one remains! Theatricality and costumes encouraged!
Karla Harris sings the Dave and Iola Brubeck Songbook
Songs and stories about the great composer Dave Brubeck, who wrote with his wife, jazz lyricist Lola Brubeck. Show will focus on her lyrics. Los Angeles pianist Ted Howe is featured with his trio.
6 pm Sunday, March 8
Side Door Café, Palladium Theater, 253 5th Avenue North
Tickets: General Admission $22; Reserved $30
Behind Baby Talk: Why Reading to Infants Really Matters
In “Behind Baby Talk,” Dr. James McHale details the real reason why reading to newborns, infants and toddlers is so crucial. The presentation helps distinguish “socio-emotional readiness” from “cognitive readiness,” explains why the latter is dependent on the former, and reflects on the attitudes and practices central to any effective undertaking seeking to support families and children’s success from the earliest moments of life. McHale is director of the USF St. Petersburg Family Study Center and Past President of the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health.
Centennial Celebration Presentation with James Schnurr
Mirror Lake Library celebrates its 100th Anniversary! Mirror Lake became an early reservoir for the small settlement in the late 1800s. Author, James Schnur has more than 100 images to share that take us back through the last century as the area around Mirror Lake transformed lower Pinellas as the first cultural and educational complex of the Sunshine City, home to the first schools of St. Petersburg and the Carnegie Library that celebrates its centennial in 2015. Schnur is the university librarian for Special Collections at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library and a member of the USF St. Petersburg faculty. He will bring some of his St. Petersburg Through Time books to sign
Local actors pair up with local writers! Writers submit short stories or excerpts from novels and the actors present a dramatic reading. Fiction Live will benefit Project Shattered Silence, a teen theater/storytelling project.
8 pm Tuesday, March 10
The Studio@620, 620 First Ave South
Tickets: $10 in advance; $12 at the door
SunLit Crawl - A Pub Crawl with Literature
Four dead writers. Seven living writers. Love. Hate. Life. Death. Hilarious laughter. Here’s where literature meets the street. It’s a moveable feast and a traveling circus complete with Rawlings, Hurston, Kerouac, Hemingway, and seven local writers sharing their pursuit of happiness, self-expression, and mad adventure at an avant garde coffee shop, an authentic Cuban restaurant, and a favorite local micro brewery. SunLit Crawl drink specials at each venue. Specific schedule TBA.
Epilogue: It all ends in a Key West bar with Beat poetry and jazz. Produced by Keep St. Pete Lit and Venue Theatre Collective and Actors Studio. Sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.
7-10 pm Wednesday, March 11
Genero Coffee Co., 1047 Central Avenue
Bodega Cuban Restaurant, 1120 Central Avenue
Green Bench Brewing Co., 1133 Baum Avenue North
Old Key West Bar & Grill, 2451 Central Avenue
Epilogue After Party begins at 9 p.m. at Butler’s Old Key West.
Info: sunlitfestival.org, facebook.com/SunLitFestival
The Books that Changed Our Lives: The Secrets of Formative Reading
Renowned writing coach Roy Peter Clark will lead “The Secrets of Formative Reading,” an event that invites students, teachers, readers of all ages to come and think about and write about the books that changed their lives. The date, March 12, is also the Kerouac birthday celebration, so don't be surprised if someone brings a copy of On the Road. Roy Peter Clark spent more than 20 years re-constituting his formative library, from nursery rhymes through novels he first read in college. He will share his experiences revisiting these classics, and lead participants in a fun and creative writing exercise designed to bring our "old friends" back to life. Bring your own precious books to the session and show them off to others.
St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival Opening Night
This is one of William Shakespeare’s most popular comedies: As You Like It as you’ve never seen it before, with original music by Los Angeles music industry veteran Mark Matthews. This is St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural season.
8 pm Thursday, March 12
University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 7th Ave South
Admission: Pay what you can
Performances: Thursday-Sunday, March 12-15 and March 19-22
The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair
The 34th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair will feature rare and unusual books as well as reading copies, antiquarian maps and prints, vintage photographs, ephemera, historical autographs, and related materials. More than 100 antiquarian book dealers from across the country gather each year for the three-day event at the Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg. This year’s theme: Modern Literature: The truth and beauty of fiction.
Info: floridabooksellers.com/Book_Fair_2.html and floridabookfair.blogspot.com
Boyd Hill Poetry Night Hike
Local poets read their works during the Boyd Hill Poetry Night Hike
6:30 pm Saturday, March 14
Boyd Hill Nature Park, 1101 Country Club Way South
Tickets: $3 adults; $1.50 children
Jack Kerouac Night at the Flamingo Bar
A celebration of this great man’s life, times and art at the bar where he had his last drink. Music and beat poetry, all in the spirit of Kerouac. The Brad Morewood beat poets are usually there and they read their work backed by a highly-skilled improvisational jazz band led by Russian symphony conductor JohnTeryl Plumeri and jazzy guitarist Kelly Green. Between the poets are some of the best musicians anywhere, including Ronny Elliott, Eric Andersen, Phil Lee, Tom Scudiero, the Florida Boys and many more. A full night of music, intimate and informal – as Jack would have enjoyed it – on the front deck of the bar, next to the large window-sized photo of the author staring out at nearby Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
7:30-11 pm Saturday, March 14
The Flamingo Bar, 1230 9th St North
Pass the Plate: The FHM Passover Cook-off
Recipes help keep our links to the past alive. Celebrate the 1st Annual FHM Passover Cook-off, Sharing Testimony Through Food, with special recipes from local Survivors. The public will have a chance to taste the dishes and vote on their favorites, and local celebrity judges will present a Judges’ Choice Award. Author Joanne Caras will help kick off the new competition, and share her experiences compiling The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook, which is filled with survivors’ recipes and stories to pass down to future generations. Stories and food tastings – what could be better?
Get Lit with Keep St. Pete Lit
It’s part game night, part night at the bar. We’ll have word-minded games, so you can feel like getting lit makes you, well, more lit!