January 14th 2018: Pushcart Prize XLII Benefit Program
Federal Bar, North Hollywood 12pm-3pm
2018 got off to a superb start last Sunday with the year’s first WordTheatre® Brunch at the Federal Bar in North Hollywood. The usual star-studded cast of famous actors paid tribute to the 2018 Pushcart Prize Winners. Selected stories, poems and an essay were read over the course of the two-hour show. The featured selections were chosen from the highly-anticipated annual anthology: Pushcart Prize XLII: Best of the Small Presses. Known as the “most honored literary series in America,” each year the Pushcart Prizes are chosen from hundreds of nominees provided by a highly respected staff of contributing editors—just being nominated is considered a major honor for any writer.
As the packed house enjoyed a first-rate Federal Bar brunch—complete with mimosas and bloody marys—ten notable actors (Dan Lauria, Sarah Clarke, Tess Harper, Xander Berkeley, Antonique Smith, Willie Garson, Jane Zingale, Jan Munroe, Darrell Larson and Bellamy Young) gave themselves over to some of the finest writing in America.
I was there with several of my UCLA Wordcommandos (students from my twice-weekly creative writing workshop for veterans with PTSD). Wordcommandos regularly attend WT events and a few have even stepped up to become members—in other words, they’re hooked.
Host/Producer Cedering Fox brilliantly bookended the program with selections from our dear, departed friend, Brian Doyle (“Memorial Day” and “The Hawk”). Every piece was well-cast (as always). In discussing the event later in class this week, the Wordcommandos especially loved Antonique Smith’s reading of Jaquira Diaz’s “Beach City” and “Maybe Mermaids and Robots Are Lonely,” read by the inimitable Willie Garson.
George Saunders’ remembrance of the James Salter, “Taut Rhythmic Surfaces,” was my personal favorite. Saunders captured so many truths about master-sentence-maker Salter—and Darrell Larson’s reading of the piece just floored me.
But then—all of it was magnificent. As often happens, one actor (the amazing Jan Munroe) arrived directly from the airport, luggage in hand. These actors support WordTheatre for the love of literature, for the chance to inhabit a good piece of writing. And every year, many of those works can be found in the Pushcart Anthology.
The next event is Saturday, February 3rd—don’t miss it.
Robert Morgan Fisher has been a WordTheatre member for years. His fiction has appeared in The Arkansas Review, Red Wheelbarrow, The Missouri Review Soundbooth Podcast, Dime Show Review, 0-Dark-Thirty, The Huffington Post, Psychopomp, The Seattle Review, The Spry Literary Journal, 34th Parallel, The Journal of Microliterature, Spindrift, Bluerailroad and many other publications. He has a story in the 2016 Skyhorse Books definitive anthology on speculative war fiction, Deserts of Fire and in the forthcoming Winterwolf Press Howl of the Wild Anthology. He’s written for TV, radio and film. Robert holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and is currently on the teaching faculty of Antioch University Santa Barbara. Since 2016, Robert has led a twice-weekly writing workshop for veterans with PTSD in conjunction with UCLA. He often writes companion songs to his short stories. Both his music and fiction have won many awards. Robert also voices audiobooks. (www.robertmorganfisher.com)