Empire Moon: A Review

On December 12, 2012 by Evan Senn

Empire Moon is an annual literary event put on by PEN Center USA, an literary organization that hosts events like this, and has over 600 writer-members. PEN Center USA strives to protect the rights of writers around the world and stimulates interest in the written word. PEN Center USA fosters a vital literary community with diverse writers across the Western United States. Empire Moon is a long standing networking event for the California writers, and an exceptional creative writers and poets reading as well.

The line-up of writers who read at Empire Moon 2012 included Tod Goldberg and Maggie Downs from University of California, Riverside (Palm Desert); Greg Bills and Rachel Reynolds from the University of Redlands; Chad Sweeney and André V. Katkov from Cal State University, San Bernardino; and Mariah K. Young and Susan Straight from University of California, Riverside.  Normally every nerd I know would be at this event if it were in L.A., but being in beautiful and peaceful Palm Springs made the turn out intimate and full of friendly academics and fun geeks to get to know. I felt honored to be mingling with such great writers, and whole-heartedly entertained by the readings, which is SO rare. Ruth Nolan, a fellow Artbound writer turned me onto this amazing event, and even got our Editor, Drew Tewksbury to make a weekend of it and leave his cushy little KCET cubicle in Burbank for Empire Moon.

A gorgeously renovated desert-chic hip new hotel, Ace Hotel is a 180-room hotel, spa and resort located in Palm Springs, CA. It’s on the grounds of a renovated mid-century modern motel, within walking distance of downtown and within driving distance of Joshua Tree and the Salton Sea. The hotel has dozens of earth-friendly and eco-trendy elements including raw teak tabletops, rusted and Date Farmers-art-covered trailers-turned-bars, recycled materials, vintage taxidermy, western desert color schemes, rustic-chic design, low VOC paints, and vintage furniture.

Empire Moon made me dream of exactly THAT event, with exactly THOSE people, and I felt inspired by them; motivated and awe-struck. I listened to poets read their souls in front of 200+ strangers. I listened to writers read pieces of whole books they have made. I listened to their words and felt their humanity and spirit flow between consonants and vowels… Steaming with gold and purple auras all around me, I felt desire inside myself, and a yearning for their courage and their talent, and I felt compelled to be up there with them.

Luckily, Empire Moon also had a vast array of resources for visitors. A “table alley” on either side of the large outdoor room full of local literary nonprofits, writing collectives and journals that aimed to find more writers like those on stage, reading their hearts out. An absolutely perfect night of literary love and nerding out.

For more information about EMPIRE MOON, please visit www.penusa.org

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