Our Warren Stories series turns the spotlight on writers, readers, and artists within our community. Here, we’ll share their work, artistry, and personal stories in our effort to uplift every member of our community and make their voices heard. Have a story you’d like to tell? Contact us today!
Today, we’re going to hand the mic to Pedro Ramírez, a longtime fan of Dead Rabbits and a fledgling writer. Pedro was the winner of our #writerlove Twitter Contest. He won because of his tweet about the poet Jessie Knoles and how much he loved her work. Pedro is clearly a supporter of the literary community, so we had to share his story with you.
It was such a delight to participate in the #writerlove contest, especially because I kind of naturally like to share my fandom of my favorite writers and love when other writers do too. There are so many books out in the world and I’m always looking for leads to discover new favorites. The hashtag was perfect.
I’ve attended a couple of Dead Rabbits Readings in the past and love the vibe and the opportunity to hear writers whose work I’ve read online/in literary journals/or through their chapbooks. The first reading I attended was in August 2017, in which Jess Rizkallah, Ariel Francisco, Eloisa Amezcua and Jenn Baker all read. Jess had a chapbook out, which I bought and was super excited to read. Having already bought Ariel’s chapbook at a different literary event, I was so glad to be able to purchase his full-length collection at the Dead Rabbits reading a month before it actually went on sale! That was really cool. I was too shy to ask Eloisa because I only had one out of three of her chapbooks and it felt incomplete, so I decided to wait until I could buy the other two. I’m still missing them, but I did manage to buy and read her amazing full-length book.
The next reading I went to was Co-Host Devin Kelly’s book launch, which was amazing for many reasons. I got to hear Jess read again and from her then-recent, full-length debut. I forgot to get my chapbook signed from her and she had copies of her new book and she kindly obliged to sign both! I also managed to ask her if she had any poet recommendations and she recommended Hannah Rego, who was sitting right beside her. I read their poems online and made sure to show up to the Dead Rabbits reading where Hannah read.
I also heard Keegan Lester read that night, and the way he captivated the audience and moved outside the confines of the “reader’s spot” towards the unruly crowd in the back (where I also sat, by the bar) was really cool and sort of made “the unruly ones” realize that there was a reading taking place. There was an intermission and instead of the usual MadLibs that night, there were two amazing musical performances. One took place in the beginning of the reading and the other took place during intermission, but I didn’t get to listen to that one because I got into a really good conversation with Keegan when he went up to get drinks at the bar. I casually remarked how cool it was how he approached his reading and one thing led to another and we were talking about Twitter, poetry, Tyrant Books, and Scott McClanahan, a writer whose books I had been meaning to read at that time. Keegan recommended that I read Crapalachia, which, after reading it, was such a good call, and now I own two McClanahan novels, the other being, The Sarah Book (I still need to read his short fiction!). Devin’s reading capped the night and I liked how it was saved for last, how he told us all to get closer so that we could better listen, and we did, and we all felt the poems he read to heart.
Looking back at these readings, my interactions with the writers, the books that I bought, then read, and now love, I’ve noticed that most of them are poetry books. As an aspiring fiction writer, I never imagined I’d read as much poetry as I do now and become such a fan of it. I’m moved not only by these poets but also their contemporary peers as they inspire me to think differently in the way I use language and how I value each word when I work on my own prose. I’m currently working on a couple of short stories and naturally I first gravitate toward reading them as well, but lately I’ve been on a high reading poetry and I don’t plan on coming down any time soon. I feel at peace when I read poetry and I think that has to do with how I tend to read it – slowly, and a bunch of times, sometimes out loud if I have a space to myself. I don’t always get every poem, but to me that just means that I should come back to it later. I like to go to poetry readings to get a sense of the poet’s voice, their energy and personality, the way they read their poems. I try to pick up on what they emphasize, how they tell a story and then bring it back to the poems. I would reread and let myself be caught in the moment once more.
As a native New Yorker, being involved in the literary community is important to me as someone that looks to continue to grow as a writer, an editor, a reader and as a person. Branching out to poetry and essay collections has expanded my reading experience. New York City has so much to offer as an attractive place where writers come to visit and give readings and have discussions about their books. Whether it’s at a bar, a university setting, or at a bookstore, I’m glad to continue learning about the literary community and how to be a better part of it. I’m such a fan of what Dead Rabbits Reading Series does and excited to see it expand into publishing books and as a podcast as well. I’ll be listening, reading, and as always supporting!
Pedro Ramírez is a Mexican-American writer living in New York City. He is a manuscript reader at Split Lip Press and an assistant editor on hiatus at Compose: A Journal of Simply Good Writing. He has worked as an associate editor at december magazine, and as an assistant and associate editor at Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry & Prose, Fairfield University’s national literary journal.