Those of us who live in any big city know that there is no end to the noise, chatter, and distraction at any given moment and on any given street, and Brooklyn is no exception to the rule. Luckily for the writers in our literary borough, there is the Brooklyn Writers Space: a respite for writers looking for a “professional, respectful, and quiet environment.” Founded in 2002 by poets Scott Adkins and Erin Courtney, the Brooklyn Writers Space has locations in Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Gowanus. We are so lucky to be welcoming writers from BWS to Lit Crawl for a discussion of the cult classic Say Anything; they will be at BookCourt at 6 pm during the Crawl. Many thanks to Scott for sitting down with us!
What do you think is the biggest benefit writers derive from the Brooklyn Writers Space?
Quietude from distractions. Those little distractions like the ringing phone, or the full refrigerator, the kid, the pet, the full sink, you name it, writers will find a way not to write even though it is essential for them to write to have a fulfilling life.
Does the vibe vary at the various Brooklyn Writers Space branches? If so, how?
Sure, the Park Slope location has exposed brick and oak wood floors. The vibe is warm. The roof deck offers writers the sense of an urban colony by getting out in the fresh air without the drumming rhythm of the city up in their face.
The Gowanus location is located in the same space with the Brooklyn Artists Gym and has a quiet room and a phone room designed for the business side of writing. There are more journalists, screenwriters, and freelance writers at this location. It’s different in the sense that you experience what the visual artists are working on plus you walk through the Brooklyn Artists Gym gallery space which always has an excellent show up. If it could be a called a vibe I would call it “alternative perspective”.
Our Carroll Gardens location is in a store front so right away the energy level is higher. It is also our newest space so I would say it is our sleekest.
How does the Brooklyn Writers Space contribute to the Brooklyn community, or the writer community, or both?
We contribute to various art organizations by donating money, through advertising and by giving away a monthly membership that can be auctioned off. For example, in the past we have supported the New York Writers Coalition, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, One Story, Ugly Duckling Press, PS321, New York Public Library, Brooklyn Arts Council (as a panelist), Bella Voce Singers, Brooklyn Artists Gym, WagMag, Epic Theater, Elevator Repair Service, Clubbed Thumb, Young Jean Lee Theater Company, The Weasel Festival – adapted plays, Freelancers Union, and more.
We also host a monthly reading series for members of the Writers Space at Book Court on Court Street as well as publish an annual book of what our readers read in the previous year’s series.
In your opinion, what is it about Brooklyn that makes it such a great place for writers?
It’s beautiful out here. I find that Brooklyn is energizing and exciting with something new happening around every corner. My friend Tom always said he was coming to the country when he would visit from Manhattan. I like that relative to Manhattan, Brooklyn doesn’t feel like the city.
I live in Brooklyn but I write everywhere, I like to write in the Catskills or out in the Texas hill country, anywhere in nature is good. I lived in Manhattan when I was in my late teens, then Queens, then Brooklyn. Brooklyn feels right, all of it, north to south, east to west, it is a diverse garden of humanity with enough elbow room to take a step back and soak it up. Brooklyn is just an awesome borough and there just happens to be a few writers that live here. I don’t think Brooklyn is the reason I write but it is why I live in New York City.
What is your favorite book (or books) and why.
Finnegan’s Wake, because it is a language prism, because it is different when read silently compared to reading it out loud, because Joyce was possibly writing the history of the human world, because story is in everything whether it is how a river starts and ends or whether it is how two people come to fall in love or in the falling rain drop on a cold street in Dublin.
If you could meet any writer, living or deceased, who would it be? What would you ask him or her?
Just one? Argh. This took me a long to time to figure, I would say James Joyce then, and I would ask him how he wrote Finnegan’s Wake then I would teleport back from that temporal meeting and go straight to Mac Wellman and report back.
Who is your favorite fictional character?
Wolverine, no. Superman, no. Mr. T, no. Hogan, no. Crap, I don’t know. Garp, he made me laugh a lot. I used to try and kiss like Garp by nibbling on the girls lips, turns out the girls I met didn’t like that so much. I like the heroes in the Louis L’Amore westerns, they always wanted to stay outta trouble, turn over a new leaf, but then there was a woman they came to like who fell into a bit of trouble and the cowboy hero would put on his guns and get shot down but survive and come back somehow and track down the really bad cowboys and do what he had to do because it had to be done. Wow, I just named all guys, typical. Characters don’t stay with me so much, they aren’t the most interesting part of the story to me, I’m more interested in the environment or the obstacles.
Do you own an e-reader? Explain.
Sure if you count the iPad. I read on it and write on it. I annotate on it and watch movies. e-Readers are great – they aren’t perfect yet, but they are close, they will help distribution in ways we have yet to comprehend. The digital book is changing who we read and why we read. That is something no one thought would or could happen.
I love books, but now I buy books that are beautiful to look at and read while other books I read on my iPad. Right now I’m reading the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft on my phone.
What’s your favorite Brooklyn haunt?
Freddy’s, the old one and the new one. The new stadium thing in Atlantic yards displaced the original Freddy’s, sadly, but now the new one is bigger and has a better performance space.