Intro to Read Herring
Since 2019, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting and co-coordinating a literary reading series called Read Herring. Read Herring occurs every third Wednesday of the month. We have three prior-selected authors read their work and incorporate interactive audience games in-between readings. Read Herring holds a special place in my heart because I believe it is a wonderful way of spreading literature with the community. A lot of the literary readings I’ve attended mostly include just other writers in the audience. While we encourage fellow writers to attend Read Herring, we also want non-writers to attend because we want literature to be accessible to a wide range of people. This is part of the reason why we include trivia-like games in-between readers. It keeps the event fun, light-hearted, and relaxed. We want everyone to feel welcome.
I’d like to take this blog post to speak a little more about my work with Read Herring, Read Herring’s history, and what it’s like to run a monthly literary reading series.
How I Got Here
Read Herring was founded by four writers in 2018. They felt there was something missing in the Tampa literary community, so Read Herring was formed. A year later, one of the volunteers moved, and the other had to back out. Thus, the remaining two hosts were in need of someone to join their team. This is where I came in. Until 2020, I helped Read Herring as a co-host. Then came March 2020. You can guess what happened next.
The pandemic hit. A lot of local literary communities struggled to figure out a way to sustain community virtually. At Read Herring, we tried having authors film themselves reading and post it to our social media sites, but we only had a few writers do it. Other reading series or stand-alone readings took to Zoom to do live readings. This worked well enough, but there’s nothing like experiencing these types of events in person. Meanwhile, the two writers who brought me on as a co-coordinator moved out of state. Therefore, it was just me.
Post-COVID Read Herring
Come the beginning of 2022, I wanted to bring Read Herring back to life. I recruited the help of two new volunteers to help as coordinators of the event. We picked a new venue (previously it was Mermaid Tavern) that has a vast outdoor space to be as COVID-conscious as possible. We now have the event at Corner Club in Seminole Heights. It’s a wonderful location, with a large back patio, a small stage, and excellent food and drinks. And I’m happy to say that Read Herring is thriving. We bring in 30-50 audience members every month, writers and non-writers alike. We have reached a different crowd than our pre-COVID days, and it’s wonderful to see new and returning faces.
What It’s Like Running a Literary Reading Series
Running Read Herring is not an easy task. It requires a good amount of work each month, all of which is volunteer, of course. Plus, I have a full-time job, my devoted writing time, and my other literary volunteer work. It can be tough sometimes, but when I leave each Read Herring reading, I am full of gratitude for this amazing event, and it makes it all worth it. Some of the duties include the following:
- Soliciting writers to read. As I mentioned above, we have three authors at each event, so we work hard to find writers within the Great Tampa Bay Area who are willing to read.
- Posting and promoting on our social media sites.
- Creating the games for each month’s reading.
- Hosting the actual events.
- Setting up and tearing down before and after each Read Herring night.
- Preparing and bringing materials (answer sheets, prizes) for the games.
This Month’s Special Reading!
As I mentioned above, we hold our event in Tampa (Seminole Heights). However, this month, we’re bringing Read Herring to Pinellas County! We’ll be at Rapp Brewing in Seminole, FL. If you live in Pinellas County, I would love to see you out there. Our three readers will be Miesha Brundridge, Nicole Caron, and Letisia Cruz. Here is a flyer for that event:
Check Us Out On Social Media
Here is a link to all our social media sites: http://Linktr.ee/readherring. Give us a follow!