Monday, February 2, 2015

The first annual SunLit Festival, a lit lover's dream

We're excited to announce a brand new literary event in Florida, and more specifically in St. Petersburg. In the six days leading up to the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, there were be myriad activities from which to choose.

Book lovers are going to be pretty sure this is what heaven is like. The first annual SunLit Festival begins on March 7 (that's the Saturday before the book fair.) Then all week long there will be literary face offs, a library centennial celebration, dramatic readings, a participatory exploration of books we read as kids, opening night of Shakespeare's As You Like It, and on it goes. You get the idea.

One of our favorite events is the SunLit Crawl, a pub crawl with literature. Four popular local establishments will play host and actors portraying dead authors and very much alive writers create fun as they take literature to the streets. It's probably one of our favorite events because we're sponsoring it. Truth is, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to be associated with such a fun event. It happens on Wednesday before the book fair. We think the picture above is kind of appropriate to represent the SunLit Crawl. It was taken in the 1950s in front of City Lights Book Shop with Beat generation writers and poets.

Below we're posting the news release that will give you a complete rundown of what's in store. Hooe you can make it to all of these events.

Sunlit Festival Celebration of Literature, March 7-15, 2015
Literary circles intersect with other arts and cultural endeavors during the SunLit Festival, a springtime celebration of literature March 7-15.  Fourteen literary events over nine days showcase St. Petersburg’s literary heritage and today’s vibrant literary community, raising the profile of our City of the Arts.

The SunLit Festival brings together various literary organizations and arts disciplines to celebrate literature, reading, and writing. The SunLit Festival is co-produced by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance with the program partners below.  For more please visit,, or

Participants and Schedule

1.  SunLit Festival Kickoff!  Honoring St. Petersburg’s Poet Laureate
The Friends of the Main Library will kick off the Festival and honor Peter Meinke, Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg, who will receive the first annual SunLit Festival Award for lifetime achievement in letters. Award-winning writer Sterling Watson, co-director of the Writers in Paradise conference at Eckerd College, will be keynote speaker.   The Friends of the Main Library will present a collection of Mr. Meinke’s work for the Library’s collection. Mr. Meinke will read from his work.
Saturday, March 7
2 p.m.
St. Petersburg Public Library, 3745 9th Ave. North
Free Admission   

2.  Lucha Libro
Eight of Tampa Bay’s most daring writers will face off in live literary combat!  In Lucha Libro, two authors are given a random prompt and then they have five minutes to create an original piece of written brilliance, right before your eyes! After the frenzy of spontaneous creation, our combatants will present their work and a winner will be declared! Winners move on to the next round until only one remains! Theatricality and costumes encouraged!
Saturday, March 7

7 p.m.
Oleson Gallery Bloom Art Center, 910 5th Ave North
Free Admission

3.  Karla Harris sings the Dave and Iola Brubeck Songbook
Songs and stories about the great composer Dave Brubeck, who wrote with his wife, jazz lyricist Lola Brubeck.  Show will focus on her lyrics. Los Angeles pianist Ted Howe is featured with his trio.
Sunday, March 8
6 p.m.
Side Door Café, Palladium Theater, 253 5th Avenue North
Tickets: General Admission $22; Reserved $30

4.   Behind Baby Talk: Why Reading to Infants Really Matters

In “Behind Baby Talk,” James McHale details the real reason why reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers is so crucial.  The presentation helps distinguish “socio-emotional readiness” from “cognitive readiness,” explains why the latter is dependent on the former, and reflects on the attitudes and practices central to any effective undertaking seeking to support families and children’s success from the earliest moments of life. 

Dr. James P. McHale is Director of the USF St. Petersburg Family Study Center and Past President of the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health.
Monday, March 9
6 p.m.
Childs Park YMCA, 691 43rd Street South
Free Admission

5. Centennial Celebration Presentation with James Schnurr

Mirror Lake Library celebrates its 100th Anniversary!  Mirror Lake, located became an early reservoir for the small settlement in the late 1800s. Author, James Schnur has more than 100 images to share that take us back through the last century as the area around Mirror Lake transformed lower Pinellas as the first cultural and educational complex of the Sunshine City, home to the first schools of St. Petersburg and the Carnegie Library that celebrates its centennial in 2015. 

James Schnur is the university librarian for Special Collections at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library and a member of the USF St. Petersburg faculty. He will bring some of his St. Petersburg Through Time books to sign
Monday, March 9
5:30 p.m.
Mirror Lake Library, 280 5th Street North,
Free Admission

6. Fiction Live
Local actors pair up with local writers! Writers submit short stories or excerpts from novels and the actors present a dramatic reading. Fiction Live will benefit Project Shattered Silence, a teen theater/storytelling project.
Tuesday, March 10
8 p.m.
The Studio@620, 620 First Ave South
Tickets: $10 in advance; $12 at the door

7. SunLit Crawl - A Pub Crawl with Literature
Four dead writers. Seven living writers. Love. Hate. Life. Death. Hilarious laughter. Here’s where literature meets the street. It’s a moveable feast and a traveling circus complete with Rawlings, Hurston, Kerouac, Hemingway, and seven local writers sharing their pursuit of happiness, self-expression, and mad adventure at an avant garde coffee shop, an authentic Cuban restaurant, and a favorite local micro brewery.  SunLit Crawl drink specials at each venue.  Specific schedule TBA

Epilogue: It all ends in a Key West bar with Beat poetry and jazz. Produced by Keep St. Pete Lit and Venue Theatre Collective and Actors Studio. Sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.
Wednesday, March 11

7-10 p.m.
Genero Coffee Co., 1047 Central Avenue
Bodega Cuban Restaurant, 1120 Central Avenue
Green Bench Brewing Co., 1133 Baum Avenue North
Old Key West Bar & Grill, 2451 Central Avenue
Free Admission
Epilogue After Party begins at 9 p.m. at Butler’s Old Key West.

8. The Books that Changed Our Lives: The Secrets of Formative Reading
Renowned writing coach Roy Peter Clark will lead “The Secrets of Formative Reading,” an event that invites students, teachers, readers of all ages to come and think about and write about the books that changed their lives.  The date, March 12, is also the Kerouac birthday celebration, so don't be surprised if someone brings a copy of On the Road. Roy Peter Clark spent more than 20 years re-constituting his formative library, from nursery rhymes through novels he first read in college.  He will share his experiences revisiting these classics, and lead participants in a fun and creative writing exercise designed to bring our "old friends" back to life. Bring your own precious books to the session and show them off to others.
Thursday March 12
4 p.m.
The Poynter Institute, 801 Third Street South, St. Petersburg
Free Admission

9. St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival Opening Nigh
This is one of William Shakespeare’s most popular comedies: As You Like It as you’ve never seen it before, with original music by Los Angeles music industry veteran Mark Matthews. This is St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural season.
Thursday, March 12
8 p.m.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
140 7th Ave South
Admission: Pay what you can
Performances: Thursday-Sunday, March 12-15 and March 19-22

10. The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair
The 34th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair will feature rare and unusual books as well as reading copies, antiquarian maps and prints, vintage photographs, ephemera, historical autographs, and related materials. More than 100 antiquarian book dealers from across the country gather each year for the three-day event at the Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg. This year’s theme: Modern Literature: The truth and beauty of fiction.
Info: and
Friday, March 13, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, March 14, 10-5 p.m.;
Sunday March 15, 11-4 p.m.

St. Petersburg Coliseum, 535 4th Avenue North
Admission: Tickets $10 for weekend pass or $6 per day

11. Boyd Hill Poetry Night Hike
Local poets read their works during the Boyd Hill Poetry Night Hike
Saturday, March 14
6:30 p.m.
Boyd Hill Nature Park, 1101 Country Club Way South
Tickets: $3 adults; $1.50 children

12.  Jack Kerouac Night at the Flamingo Bar
A celebration of this great man’s life, times and art at the bar where he had his last drink.   Music and beat poetry, all in the spirit of Kerouac. The Brad Morewood beat poets are usually there and they read their work backed by a highly-skilled improvisational jazz band led by Russian symphony conductor JohnTeryl Plumeri and jazzy guitarist Kelly Green.  Between the poets are some of the best musicians anywhere, including Ronny Elliott, Eric Andersen, Phil Lee, Tom Scudiero, the Florida Boys and many more.  A full night of music, intimate and informal – as Jack would have enjoyed it – on the front deck of the bar, next to the large window-sized photo of the author staring out at nearby Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
Saturday, March 14
7:30 -11 p.m.
The Flamingo Bar, 1230 9th St North
Free Admission

13. Pass the Plate: The FHM Passover Cook-off
Recipes help keep our links to the past alive.  Celebrate the 1st Annual FHM Passover Cook-off, Sharing Testimony Through Food, with special recipes from local Survivors. The public will have a chance to taste the dishes and vote on their favorites, and local celebrity judges will present a Judges’ Choice Award. Author Joanne Caras will help kick off the new competition, and share her experiences compiling The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook, which is filled with survivors’ recipes and stories to pass down to future generations.   Stories and food tastings – what could be better?
Sunday, March 15
2 p.m.
Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 5th Street South
Free Admission

14. Get Lit with Keep St. Pete Lit
It’s part game night, part night at the bar – we’ll have word-minded games, so you can feel like getting lit makes you, well, more lit!
Sunday, March 15
7 p.m.
The Amsterdam, 1049 Central Ave.
Free Admission

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