ReadOut 2020 Lesbian Literary Event Explores “Why Our Stories Matter”

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If you missed the first two ReadOuts, another chance to attend this unique festival of lesbian literature comes again Friday, January 31st – Sunday, February 2nd, at the Gulfport Public Library, in Gulfport. This year, ReadOut is bigger than ever, with 23 featured authors scheduled to read from their works and engage with an audience of readers and writers.

The festivities kick off Friday, Jan. 31st, at 3 PM, with Romance authors reading from their works until 5 PM. From 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM, Greer and other Featured Authors and readers will mingle at a Wine and Cheese Meet and Greet, along with Nia & Ness, who will offer a brief preview of their work. Books will be sold from 10 AM – 5 PM, Saturday, in the Author Vendor Room. Greer’s keynote goes from 10:30 AM – 11:15 AM, Saturday. Authors will read from their works and answer questions from the audience, from 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM and then again from 1:30 PM-4 PM. Lunch for attendees will be provided at the library, in between. Greer’s workshop, “You Are the Protagonist: Using Your Experiences to Create Compelling Fiction and Non-Fiction” takes place Sunday, from 9 AM – Noon.

To see the full schedule of ReadOut 2020 events, go to gulfportreadout2020.bpt.me. All events are free, except for the performance by Nia & Ness.

Tampa Author Sheree L. Greer to Keynote and Lead Writer’s Workshop

Acclaimed author, and Tampa resident, Sheree L. Greer will deliver the keynote “Why Our Stories Matter.” Among her many achievements, Greer, who teaches writing at St. Petersburg College, is the author of two novels, Let the Lover Be (a Rainbow Award Finalist) and A Return to Arms. She also penned a short story collection, Once and Future Lovers. Greer’s work has been featured in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies, and her most recent work, “Bars,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Greer is a Yaddo and Ragdale Rubin Fellow and an Astraea Lesbian Foundation grantee.

When asked about her hopes and goals for the weekend, Greer shared, “My biggest hope is that we see a really diverse collection of writers and readers come out. I’m hoping to see a really inclusive weekend where we create space and hold space for each other’s stories.”

Addressing the subject of “Why Our Stories Matter,” Greer offered, “If I could put it in a tag line, I’d say ‘Queer people do more than Pride parades.’ You know, we get coverage that one day of the year when we fill the street, but we also do a lot of important things that contribute to the community. We are every facet of the community. We are in every industry, working alongside you, everyday, and we do more than just fill up the streets in parades. This is a chance to see another side of our talents and our strengths that we bring to the community.”

A Chance for Beginner and Experienced Writers to Learn from a Gifted Teacher

Where can you attend a three-hour writing workshop led by a Pushcart-nominated author and not have to blow an entire paycheck? Thanks to the generosity of Florida Humanities/NEA, grant money awarded to ReadOut 2020 enables the organization to offer their Sunday morning writing workshop, led by acclaimed novelist Sheree L. Greer, without asking a dime! This is an extraordinary opportunity for anyone interested in learning from a Pushcart Prize-nominated author, and gifted teacher. This ReadOut event takes place at the Gulfport Public Library, Sunday, February 2nd, from 9 AM – Noon. A light breakfast will be provided, starting at 8:30 AM. Greer will lead a writer’s workshop titled, “You are the Protagonist: Using Your Experiences to Create Compelling Fiction and Non-Fiction.”

Through her non-profit organization, Kitchen Table Literary Arts, Greer has found a way to deliver her powerful formula for inspiring and supporting women writers of color, but Greer’s wisdom, experience and enthusiasm for turning even the most hesitant of scribblers into passionate writers has proven effective for participants from all backgrounds.

Adrien Julious, who has attended other Kitchen Table workshops offered this recommendation: “The workshops at Kitchen Table have changed my life. I used to think that I had to find time and money to go back to school for an MFA. With the workshops I’ve learned writing skills to further my writing career on my own time at a very affordable price. I highly recommend them to every writer I know.”

Greer describes “You are the Protagonist” as a program that asks writers to “deeply consider the power of their own personal challenges and triumphs in crafting compelling fiction and nonfiction. The interactive workshop features exercises in memory-mining, exploratory free- writing and reflection-based revision. Writers will also have an opportunity to share their work.”Greer adds, “I’m just really looking forward to pushing writers to look inward for story, rather than following trends or re-hashing age-old tropes. My vision for the workshop is getting people to love themselves and appreciate their own journeys as inspiration for storytelling.”

Participants are asked to bring writing materials and an adventurous, positive attitude.

Special Performance by Black, Lesbian, Dancer-Poet Performance Art Duo, Nia & Ness

To round out your weekend plans, snap up tickets to see the popular dancer-poet performance art duo, Nia & Ness, by clicking here, or get them, in-person, at Beach Bazaar, in Gulfport. Nia & Ness are also a part of ReadOut 2020, and will perform their newest evening-length piece, “home.” 8 PM Saturday, February 1st, at the Catherine Hickman Theater, in Gulfport. The suggested donation for Nia & Ness, who wowed crowds at MichFest, is $20 for early access, choice seating. General admission seating, for the suggested donation of $15, starts at 7:30 pm.

If you’re unfamiliar with Nia & Ness, this description of them by Lilli Hime, in The Austin Chronicle, encapsulates the raw dynamic of their work: “While Ness’ spoken word, grounded in a voice that swells with power, narrates the majority of the show with unapologetic and knowingly brave statements, Nia’s dance pulls the invisible strings that visual work so often does, invoking a wordless language to create such strong feelings of anguish, agitation, and finally at the end, a hard-fought-for joy.” Audience members Edie Daly and Jackie Mirkin, of Gulfport, also described the Nia & Ness experience as one of sheer power: “We were blown away by their frankness and their ability to hold the audience spellbound.”

Reflecting on their work, Ness explained the audience is invited “to be a fly on the wall and listen to our very intimate and deep conversations, which have to do with our being an out, black lesbian couple. All the things that we experience, the good the bad and everything in between.”

Nia & Ness have performed at multiple venues, including many college campuses, nationwide, and have been welcomed abroad, in just three short years of performing. The duo was featured in a 2017 BRIC TV (Brooklyn Information and Culture TV) segment, a documentary for The Advocate, as well as in the Windy City Times and Dance Writer Australia. They are recipients of funding from the 2018 Virginia Giordano Memorial Fund and were the winners of the 2017 National Women’s Music Festival Emerging Artist Contest.

Funding for ReadOut 2020 was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed on OutCoast.com do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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