The Curator is providing this plan for those who would like to hold small literature events in their communities. There are innumerable ways of holding a worthwhile event, but here is one tried-and-true way of structuring your event.

What you need

  • A room with a table that is comfortable for any size group from 5-20 people
  • A person who is willing and able to lead out (welcome people there and make sure the event stays on time). A comfortable and welcoming moderator will make for a successful event.
  • One or two people to present short talks (See the descriptions below. We recommend finding people in your area, but you can also reach out to the Curator to see if someone is able to travel to your area to present.)
  • A few friends who will come to the event (that way you know at least somebody will be there to make it worth it)

When and where to hold it

  • We typically hold ours from 5-7 on a Saturday evening.
    • People tend to be more sociable in the evenings.
    • That’s a good time for a Saturday evening snacky supper, and people tend to be more sociable when eating.
    • It begins late enough and ends early enough that people can travel a significant distance to attend.
  • It’s also possible to hold it at a bookstore or café
    • You might get passersby to join, although this hasn’t happened often for us.
    • You probably want to hold it in early or mid afternoon, since those times work best for cafés.
    • You’ll probably need to pay between $30 and $60 to reserve it, unless you can find a place that values literary events and community enough to let you hold an event free.
    • Be sure some of your attendees purchase from the café or bookstore, especially if you aren’t paying anything to be there.

Ask people to bring

  • A snack
  • A poem or (very short) prose piece to read aloud (but let them know that’s not required, just recommended)
  • A pen and writing material can be useful

How and what to advertise

  • How
    • If you know of people near your area who like to read, let them know.
    • Post on Facebook.
    • Put up an announcement at any schools or churches from which people would be likely to come.
    • If you let us know the date, location, and any instructions, we’ll include it in an email. Let us know at least a week before the event.
  • What
    • Date, time, and location (specify whether it’s at a home or somewhere else)
    • Any instructions for parking or finding the location
    • Anything people should bring if they come

Order of event

Here’s a possible way of structuring your event:

  • You’ll probably need to start late, since people often don’t arrive early. Don’t start more than fifteen minutes late.
  • Talk & Discussion (30 min or 50 min) on some subject related to reading. Here are some possible subjects:
    • An evaluation of a particular book, author, or era/genre
    • Why you should read a particular book, author, or era/genre
    • What to look for/what might be missed when reading a particular author or era/genre
    • A close reading (reading and digging into the nuts and bolts) of a poem, paragraph, or scene, using open questions to tease out a deeper understanding of the text
  • Optional second Talk & Discussion (30 min). This one can dig deeper into some subject.
    • If you hold this second talk, use the shorter times for the first talk and the reading. If you don’t include this talk, use the longer times.
    • Tips or training for writing
    • Presenting on a topic or theme in literature. For example, heroism, home, wisdom, technology, Dickens’s characterization of religion, poetic devices used in ballads, humor in Romeo and Juliet, etc.
    • Discussing some aspect of the human condition dealt with in literature, philosophy, or Scripture. For example, What is kinship? How do we live with doubt or uncertainty? How does grief shape us? How do we choose rightly? What is wisdom?
  • Reading & Discussing Literature (30 min or 50 min)
    • Open the floor for people to read short original or already published texts
  • Announcements: 5 min
    • Upcoming events (by the Curator or others)
    • Book recommendations (published by the Curator or others)
  • Fellowship (people are often interested in hanging out for a few hours)