LitLit will return to L.A. July 30-31

After a pandemic hiatus, the Little Literary Fair returns to downtown Los Angeles.

The two-day event, also known as LitLit, is a celebration of the West Coast’s independent booksellers and publishers that will be attended by dozens of authors, artists, community organizers, local press and literary arts organizations. The fair will be held at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, the arts complex in LA’s Downtown Arts District. There will also be food, music and activities for people of all ages.

The event is free and open to the public, takes place on July 30 and 31 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and is presented by the Los Angeles Review of Books in partnership with Hauser & Wirth Publishers.

LitLit was just getting started when COVID-19 put an end to in-person events; 2019 was her first year and this will be her second. Its organizers are grateful to be able to return at all. Other gatherings haven’t fared so well, leaving upstart LitLit as the standard-bearer of the LA indie press for now.

Kelly Peyton, manager of public programs and engagement at LARB, said that independent printers and bookstores are “essential in creating a diverse literary landscape, and we wanted to give them time with Angelenos, especially now that there are many fairs dedicated to print culture.” , have not returned after the pandemic.”

Among those who haven’t returned are Acid-Free and the Los Angeles Art Book Fair, although the former plans to return in person in February 2023. But it wasn’t just trade shows that have been hit during the pandemic — independent bookstores across LA and beyond have been struggling to make ends meet. Stores like Brentwood’s Diesel and Stories in Echo Park launched GoFundMes while others, like Family Books and BookMonster, were permanently closed. Last month, a co-owner of the popular Eso Won Books in Leimert Park announced that the black literature and culture center would close by the end of the year.

LitLit, meanwhile, is benefiting from renewed attention and funding. Thanks in part to a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Culture, this year’s fair will welcome more panels, press and workshops. “We’re just very grateful that we still have enough presses that have survived these very difficult years to be able to present this,” added Peyton.

People browse stalls at a book fair

The second LitLit fair will take place from July 30th to 31st.

(Noé Montes/ Hauser & Wirth)

Exhibitors include 826LA, Angel City Press, Dryland Literary Journal, Not a Cult, PEN America, Semiotext(e), Con Todo Press and Kaya Press. Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and Bookstore, Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, Los Angeles Public Library, UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and Village Well Books & Coffee will also be participating.

Michaela Unterdörfer, editor of Hauser & Wirth Publishers, said the fair was inspired “by the vibrant publishing ecosystem” of the LA area.

“The West Coast has a rich and diverse history of print culture,” she said in an email. “Our vision for LitLit is to provide a platform to encourage open discourse in this area and allow a broader global audience to recognize the innovative work being done.”

On July 30 at 11:30 a.m., publishers and other writers will discuss “Resistance, Resilience [and] healing” in poetry. Panelists include Neelanjana Banerjee, Editor-in-Chief at Kaya Press; Quentin Ring, CEO of Beyond Baroque; Bidhan Chandra Roy, founder of Words Uncaged; and Hiram Sims, executive director of the Community Literary Initiative. LA Poet Laureate Lynne Thompson will moderate.

Other activities on the day include a panel on the art of translation and a demonstration on bookbinding and book printing with the International Printing Museum. On both days, visitors will also have the opportunity to screen print their own tote bags and t-shirts at the museum’s display table.

Panel discussions on July 31 include talks on screen adaptations, print media and music criticism, as well as a demo on how to taste and brew tea properly.

The seed for the fair was planted in 2017 with the LARB Publishing Workshop, a summer training program for those interested in publishing careers. Events included a Local Independent Publishers Day where grantees were able to meet and interact with small publishers in LA.

“There’s such a vibrant literary scene in Los Angeles, but like so much about the city, it’s very diffuse,” said Irene Yoon, executive director of LARB. “And just the energy of seeing what can happen when you bring people together who are doing this really exciting work was really inspiring, so we decided to bring it to the public,” she added. “That was when LitLit was born.”

The inaugural fair in 2019 drew more than 5,000 visitors from across the city and beyond, and welcomed local luminaries including poets Vickie Vértiz and Yesika Salgado.

After more than two years of isolation, virtual events and pandemic uncertainty, Yoon looks forward to getting back together in person.

“There’s a lot of really exciting energy and really wonderful creative production,” she said, “and if our exhibitors, panellists, readers and visitors could all get a feel for that, that would be really wonderful.”

You can find more information about the Little Literature Fair at LitLit will return to L.A. July 30-31

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