"So whatcha doing this weekend?"
"Oh, not much, dropping by Bas Fisher Invitational to watch a couple of writers write."
That's right Miami literati, what you've been dreaming of your entire lives - just ahead of waiting in line at the DMV and sitting in rush hour traffic on the Dolphin Expressway- is finally coming to fruition. You get to watch local poet P. Scott Cunningham and New York novelist/artist/punk rocker Timothy Stanley do their thing in studio during Gene Hackman, a writer's residency housed temporarily at Bas Fisher.
Now before you die of boredom at the mere thought of this activity, know this. It promises to be highly entertaining. How's that? Simple. These writers will be reading their own stuff right after writing it (no fancy editors making to make them look smart!). What's more, they'll be critiquing each other's work, and as harshly as humanly possible. Read on to find out the details, including what the hell Gene Hackman has to do with anything.
"We knew we wanted to do some intensive writing in the same location
while also incorporating some kind of performance," explains Cunningham,
who founded the University of Wynwood and is the executive editor of
Jai-Alai Magazine (and one of our 100 Creatives). "We settled on
the idea of becoming mirror images of one another, as the writing
process itself is a kind of distorted reflection. We also wanted to read
what we were working on right away, and on a consistent basis, so every
weekday at 5 p.m. (and on Saturdays at 2 p.m.) we'll be reading to one
another (and the public)."
But if you think the residency is going to involve a bunch of shills and
the writers nodding their appreciation for what's being read like mindless drones, think
again. "The other (writer) will sit in a rocking chair opposite of the
podium and serve as critic of the work. Our goal--in contrast to how
complimentary we usually are towards one another's work--is to be as
harsh as possible with the criticism."
Cunningham admits he's not sure how it will all work out. But we figure
if you watch for yourself it's guaranteed to be a good time. Either
you'll be in the presence of good writing as it's being created, or, and
this might even be better, you can watch a train wreck with nobody
being hurt, except the writers themselves, and let's face it, they
probably could use a dose of humility.
Besides an inner look at the writing process, Cunningham says the time
in residency will also provide them with valuable time finishing up
projects. Cunningham aims to finish a book of poems he's been working on
for four years, while Stanley is trying to finish an entire novel
(40,000 words) in 2.5 weeks.
"The atmosphere is designed to be the opposite of the typical cocoon a
residency forms around the writer, with the hope that hostility will
make the work better. The goal ultimately is to produce good writing;
it's an experiment, and like all true experiments it could end in
Sounds like a good time to us.
As for why the residency is named after the star of the French
Connection, Cunningham is considerably more vague. "Gene Hackman is a
good actor, and he looks like someone who was perhaps beaten up a lot as
a child," he explains, sort of. Good enough for us.
The public is welcome to watch the writers work for free at Bas
Fisher Invitational (180 NE 39th ST, Suite 210, Miami) between 10 a.m.
and 5 p.m. on weekdays, with readings scheduled for 5 p.m. and
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Saturdays at 2 p.m. There is an opening reception Saturday, September
10, 7 - 10 p.m, during Art Walk. The residency ends September 30. For more information visit