Last Wednesday, I ventured into the heart of Tacoma’s Stadium District to experience as much of my new hometown’s creative and literary scenes as I could in a single night.
The event was the second annual Creative Colloquy Crawl, a kind of literary and creative “pub crawl” through businesses in one of Tacoma’s coolest and most creative neighborhoods.
Not every event was at a pub, of course, and not every event was strictly “literary” in the sense of the printed word. In addition to storytelling and poetry readings, the crawl included interactive horoscopes, a teen writing workshop, music and theatre performances, graphic narrative and street art . . . even selections from banned books read by burlesque dancers!
The downside to any literary “crawl” event, of course, is that for everything you attend, you miss a handful of other amazing events. In my first outing, I’m sad to say I only made it to two events (I suffered a mild asthma attack at the end of the evening and had to miss the burlesque dancers). But those two readings were stunning displays of the talent in Tacoma!
My first event was Candlelit Stories, an hour of ghost stories and eerie tales hosted in the “library” room of the amazing Sanford and Son antique shops. (Yes, I had the theme song for the old tv show in my head the rest of the evening, which was great because I loved that show!)
The show featured readings by YA author Kimberly Derting, urban fantasy author Mark Henry, urban fantasy author Lish McBride (Necromancer), Creative Colloquy editor Elizabeth Beck (who did a very cool performance piece with her story!) and professional storyteller (and all-around badass) Sarah Comer.
The first three readers were terrific — a nice blend of spooky and humorous — but the party really got rolling with Elizabeth Beck’s performance piece, a dinner scene with unseen guests, and then Sarah Comer (who also served as emcee) killed it with two stunning and expertly delivered classic campfire ghost stories, including one set right there in Sanford and Son!
I had plenty to chose from for my next hour, but I wanted a beer, so I headed to Odd Otter Brewery for Poetry & Pints, where I enjoyed some powerful poems by Emilie Rommel Shimkus, Paul Nelson, and Peter Munro.
The Crawl had a bit of overlap with Odd Otter’s regular pub trivia night, but emcee (and host of the podcast Literally Tacoma) Christina Butcher did a fantastic job of segueing into the poetry readings. Emilie Rommel Shimkus was fierce in her reading, and she worked that noisy bar like the pro she is (she’s also an actress); and Paul Nelson had a fantastic blend of wry humor and punchy, poignant observations. But for the last performance, we realized the night was lovely and we decided to give way to the second half of the bar’s trivia contest as the lit folks drifted across the street to Fireman’s Park, where Peter Munro unleashed on us an epic narrative sea poem, all waves and rhythms and harbor pilots and commercial fishermen. It was a fabulous piece and a perfect way for me to conclude my evening, as I climbed Tacoma’s Spanish Steps and paused to look out over the nighttime Port of Tacoma, the black water nestling long, yellow-lighted cargo vessels.
Overall, I had a wonderful time, and I’ve heard this past week that others at other events had just as much fun, heard equally wonderful work. But more importantly, for me, I got a deep view inside the creative heart of Tacoma, and gang, Creative Colloquy does things right.