whatshot Who Can Resist Cheap Beer and Prose?

by Lissa Richardson

Published in Issue No. 160 ~ September, 2010

At the end of September (the 30th to be exact) Richard Hugo House is hosting its year old event “Cheap Beer and Prose,” a free literary series everyone can appreciate; not only because it’s free and PBR is only $1 a can, but also because the event was designed with something for everyone. A spin off of Hugo House’s popular “Cheap Wine and Prose,” (cheapwineandpoetry.com) the House’s Marketing and Events Director, Brian McGuigan started both events to satiate his desire for a literary quelque-chose, sans hierarchy, where people, whether they were friends with the readers or just interested in books, would feel comfortable and enjoy themselves. McGuigan says the idea for “Cheap Beer” “came from the stage manager Steve Barker, who, after a night of drinking, said, ‘I don’t write much poetry anymore, and I prefer beer.’ The rest was history.”

This September, “Cheap Beer” involves four readers, Karen Finneyfrock, Wilson Diehl, Margot Case, and Paullette Gaudet, and it’s being billed as a “ladies night”/“local ladies of prose” reading.  The series is important to the writing community as a whole because it draws in more than just writers and the usual suspects who attend every reading. McGuigan explains that “even after five years [of ‘Cheap Wine’], new people are coming to each reading, and often ‘Cheap Beer’ or ‘Cheap Wine’ is the first reading they’ve attended. The series has something for everyone, and it makes me feel good knowing that we’re exposing local writers to readers for the first time.” “Cheap Beer” and “Cheap Wine” consistently draw new faces to the local literary scene, and because of the success of the series, there have been other readings and series cropping up locally using the same idea of combining booze and lit. The series are almost always standing-room only; in fact McGuigan claims the House often has to turn away would be drinkers and listeners due to the events’ popularity and the space’s capacity limitations.

According to “Cheap Wine’s” web page (cheapwineandpoetry.com), “[the series] isn’t a sit-in-your-seat-‘til-your-ass-approaches-rigamortis type of reading, and sometimes the crowd ends up as part of the show, shouting out answers to riddle poems, doing a call-and-response, or some other shenaniganry,” including fits of ass-slapping (only among the willing of course), chocolate cake eating, and other bouts of debauchery–we are talking about an evening of cheap booze after all. However, despite the rowdy good time, both “Cheap Beer” and “Cheap Wine” share a common mission that means serious business: “to provide a creative space for established and emerging writers to present their work while taking literature from the dusty shelves of libraries and dimly lit halls of universities to the stage, making it accessible to wider audiences of more than just writers and readers. The cheap wine, [beer], chocolate cake, and ass-slapping are just bonuses.” So, arrive early, and get ready for a raucous time.

Where: Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle, WA
When: September 30th, 2010, 7:00 pm.
Why: Because it’s going to be rockin’, and the PBR is only a buck.

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