LITLIT: The Little Literary Fair, cohosted by Los Angeles Review of Books and Hauser & Wirth Publishers. Photo: Noé Montes

LA Literary Community Thrives at LITLIT

  • 20 July 2019

Over 5,000 people came together over the weekend of 20 – 21 July at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles to celebrate independent publishing and the LA literary scene at the first ever LITLIT, The Little Literary Fair, hosted by Los Angeles Review of Books and Hauser & Wirth Publishers.

During the course of the two-day fair, more than 30 independent presses, publishers, and bookmakers offered a range of books and printed materials, while also sharing their missions with Angelenos of all stripes. Panel discussions took place throughout the fair, focusing on a range of topics such as arts and books, activism, absurdity, and Latinx poetry. Participating vendors included: Artbook, LARB Books, LARB/USC Publishing Workshop, Los Angeles Public Library, Words Uncaged, Writing Workshops Los Angeles, and more.

The program of events started with a conversation of books as an artistic medium at the Arts and Books panel with speakers Dr. Michaela Unterdörfer, Head of Publication for Hauser & Wirth Publishers, Dagny Corcoran of Art Catalogues, artist and X Artists' Books co-founder Alexandra Grant, and LA-based artist Paul McCarthy. Dr. Unterdörfer expressed her difficulty with the categorization of books and used McCarthy’s publications as an example of how readers must challenge themselves to find new and different approaches to interact with books. Corcoran encapsulated the essence of the talk, saying that it has always been the artist that defined new chapters in the evolution and making of catalogues and artists’ books.

Accompanying the Arts and Books panel, LITLIT offered three additional panel discussions covering a range of topics: activism, absurdity, and Latinx poetry – all of which are available to view below. The panel Activism in Words, included LA-based activists Jessica M. Wilson Cárdenas of Tia Chucha, Dawn Finley of the Feminist Library On Wheels, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy of Words Uncaged, Tobias Tubbs of Words Uncaged, and Elias Wondimu of Tsehai Publishers. Tubbs gave a moving recounting of how writing his stories was the true path out of incarceration.

Many of the panelists were also displaying their work at LITLIT, enabling the audience members to delve deeper into the subject matter through the readily available literature. Writers Melissa Broder and Alissa Nutting took part in the Absurdity in Writing panel, covering how absurdity in their writing creates humor – and drama. Both panelists discussed the absurdity of normality, death, life, sex, and the freedom through humor to express pain in public. Caitlin White, in an article published on Cinnamon Mag, characterized the panel as, ‘... a refreshing instance of two women operating outside the bounds of society, reveling in their madness instead of being punished for it.’

Sunday’s panel Latinx/LA Poetics featured local Los Angeles Poets Yesika Salgado and Vickie Vértiz. They began by reading two poems each, both distinctly in their own voices and each movingly raw in their own ways. Following this was a discussion of their respective writing practices and histories. In a true display of the tightly knit literature community, Salgado’s 7th grade Poetry Club teacher surprised her for the talk, glowing with pride for his former student.