Friday, November 9, 2012

Defining Literature

Last night, my roommate and I went to Org: Literati. Orgs are a regular event put together by Singer Mali, a Boston-based singer/dancer/woman of all trades. They are a pastiche of performing arts showcasing Boston talent, and based on a specific theme. Last year, I went to Org: Insanity. I haven't made it to any between now and then, but since we moved to an apartment literally four blocks from the Oberon, which often hosts them, and we're literature nerds, I couldn't miss this one.

The audience at these things always fascinates me. The Oberon is tied to the American Reparatory Theater, so most of their shows get a handful of ART subscribers, who are often a world apart from the glittered, corseted Org attendees--and yet, this is Boston, so all appreciate the English professor MC teaching us about the ties between sex and synecdoche, and the Victorian-styled band singing about Humpty-Dumpty.

Once the lights go down, I adore Orgs, because they always inspire me. Little things, like the shadow of a performer on the video screen behind her, or the way the bassist sways with his instrument, to the big things like an animated film based on a Bukowski poem. A trapeze artist performing to a haunting melody. The way the MC laughs when members from three band sing along with her musical interpretation of Sailing to Byzantium. It all makes the wheels in my brain click.

But I think what I most loved about this Org was how all-encompassing it was. Something titled "literati" suggest pretension. And, yes, like every art event there was a certain amount of "let me now explain MY SOUL unto you all." But mostly it was "let's all have fun with the words that inspire us." Let us translate literature, a solitary, two-dimensional art we all love, into something tangible.

The best moment of the night for me came during Karin Webb's performance piece. She had her friends send her their favorite quotes, taped them to her body and had audience members choose a quote and read it off. Many quotes came from the authors you'd expect. Hemingway. Kafka. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Soem made me wonder if they were the person's favorite, or if they wanted to sound educated. There was a Gaiman quote. Not unexpected from a social circle that--to some degree of separation--includes his wife. But there were also quotes from Marcus Zuzak, and best of all Gayle Forman and Stephanie Perkins.

This made me happy for many reasons. First of all, because I loved seeing my beloved YA authors appreciated for what they are--writers of literature who have important things to say. Also, because it reminded me that the people I associate with can appreciate art of all types. They do not limit themselves to books that would be "impressive" or "pretentious". They read books that are wonderful, thoughtful, and enlightening, no matter who they are published for.

I don't know who submitted those quotes. I don't know everyone who performed last night. But I do know I've picked the right group of artistic people to interact with. I can't wait for the next show, for the next opportunity to feel that I'm part of such an intelligent inspirational community.

Luckily for me, it'll probably come soon. I'm going to two Amanda Palmer concerts next week.


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