Reading series hosts local, regional literature

Reading series hosts local, regional literature

Elijah Brumback

Co-founded by Grand Valley State University visiting writing professors Christina Olson and Elena Passarello, Cherry Bomb reading series offers the greater Grand Rapids community with an alternative to the formal readings of traditonal texts.

In what can be classified as a Barnum and Bailey-esqe styled reading, authors and performers are paired with a theme and an accompanying cocktail. It all takes place in Corez Neigborhood Eatery and Bar on 919 Cherry St. tonight.

Lanthorn: Where did the name Cherry Bomb come from? Does it have anything to do with the song by the Runaways?

Olson: Elena (Passarello) and I came up with the idea last summer. While that song was stuck in our heads at the time, we wanted a name that reflected the venue and also sound dynamic and engaging. Corez is on Cherry Street, which makes sense, and what goes well with a cherry? A bomb of course.

Lanthorn: What inspired the idea to start an alternative writing series in here?

Olson: We wanted to involve ourselves in this community we are going to be a part of for a couple of years as both of us are visiting professors at Grand Valley. I live in the east part of town and (Passarello) lives in the west. In part we wanted to encourage students to hop on a bus and come down to a different part of the city.

Lanthorn: GVSU has a touted writing series held in Allendale. What is different about Cherry Bomb?

Olson: Grand Valley has a great visiting writers series with phenomenal authors and this was in no way meant to compete with that. What we’re aiming to do is let Cherry Bomb emphasize a more relaxed and informal reading series. It’s not as traditional as your average reading, and it’s not just an author standing in front of people reading either. We try to incorporate performers too. If you’re a student, it’s about showing you what literature can be, it doesn’t have to exist in a vacuum.

Lanthorn: How do select writers and performers for the series?

Olson: Generally what we try do is get an emerging writer, or just people from the community. Once we had members from the Super Happy Fun-time Burlesque Show accompany a reading with hula-hoops. We try and create interesting pairings and we also develop a cocktail to go with it, for those of legal age. Sometimes it could be a guy in wrestling mask talking about wine pairings. For this particular reading we were actually contacted by the writers who said they wanted to come and share their work. Some contacts are spread all over the country; we just try and keep our ear to the ground.

Lanthorn: Are you going to be featuring some of your own work?

Olson: Yes, I have a book coming out as well.

Lanthorn: What is it called?

Olson: Before I Came Home Naked is a book of poems. It’s weird to talk about it like succumbing to pure nepotism.

Lanthorn: The title is definitely intriguing and hopefully students see this and get interested in this experience.

Olson: A lot of the people who come to the readings are not necessarily writers, so when people come and say things like “I didn’t think that was going to be good but I like it,” those backhanded comments are still appreciated. I mean at least you can enjoy a cocktail or at least a diet soda and listen to some readings.

Featured writers, all of whom hail from Chicago, for tonight’s series included: Cris Mazza author of Trickle-Down Timeline, Zoe Zolbrod author of Currency, Davis Scheiderman author of Drain: A Novel and Gina Frangello author of Slut Lullabies.

Door open at 6:30 tonight with the readings beginning at 7.

[email protected]