The Big Big Mess Reading Series

The Big Big Mess Reading Series A monthly reading series hosted by Annabell's Bar & Lounge in Akron, Ohio featuring local and nation Want to be a part of THE BIG BIG MESS? You already are.

THE BIG BIG MESS READING SERIES doesn't want your giraffe to drown, and if it does, will build you a new giraffe. You can keep it in Annabell's, the superhome of our monthly literary ritual. We strive to build, sustain, and give big power-ups to Akron's writing community through the proliferation of giraffes, giraffe literature, giraffe paraphernalia, giraffe masks, giraffe fire, and Ronald Reagan. Curators: Mike Krutel & Katie Mertz

Founder/Proud Papa: Nick Sturm

Chris Drabick, very good friend of the Big Big Mess, and his family are getting through some tough, compounded circumsta...

Chris Drabick, very good friend of the Big Big Mess, and his family are getting through some tough, compounded circumstances. Both Chris and Alison are wonderful supporters of the Akron arts community and could really use the community's help. Please consider donating to help them through this time.

A catastrophic event like a major health crisis or a job loss can really throw things off balance. So what happens when both situations occur on the same day? On Thursday, March 28, Christopher Drabick, an adjunct Senior Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Akron and loving dad...


The Big Big Mess Reading Series


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The National Book Awards Longlist: Poetry - The New Yorker

What great news! Last month's Mess'r, Daniel Borzutsky, has been included on this year's National Book Award longlist in Poetry for his book, "The Performance of Becoming Human." Congratulations, Daniel!

The contenders for the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry include both repeat nominees and newcomers whose débuts were published just this year.


HEY EVERYONE! Our August is getting busy with multiple events.

FIRST (in important need-to-know fashion) our monthly reading has been moved to August 13th! Please tell your friends, your family, and even strangers who might not know. We'll have three featured readers: Mary Biddinger and Jay Robinson will be peddling their brand new tandem book THE CZAR; they will be joined by Billy Hallal. This will be our normal evening event at Annabell's Bar & Lounge. REMEMBER IT'S NOW THE 13th. Here's the event link:

FIRST (in the chronological fashion) we will be setting up shop on August 6th at the first ever EarthQuaker Day. Akron's best sound maker is throwing a fair with local vendors, artists, food trucks, music, and US! We've partnered up with our friends at Magic Helicopter Press and Big Lucks Press who have sent us books that will be for sale. We'll also have advanced copies of Mary Biddinger & Jay Robinson's THE CZAR for sale. Who knows what else we might have as give-aways! For more info, go to this link:

Keith Leonard | BOOKS

a belated THANK YOU! to everyone who came out to celebrate our BIG BIG BIRTHDAY last weekend, especially our readers alexa, nathan, sarah, and keith. if you didn't get a chance to talk with keith after the reading but are interested in his books, please visit this page on the internet and it will tell you how to buy them. much love, akron! we'll see you in july with some more big summer feelinzzzz

Hive Mind

Alexa Mal is a great poet doing great things in Akron. Most recently, she birthed a reading series, slowly nowhere, in association with Hive Mind. If you haven't yet, check out their events & support good good people!

Our mission is to provide a community space in Akron that will showcase all forms of expression and experimentation.

A Wonderful Chain of Events by Sarah Dravec | Squalorly

We are all about Sarah Dravec at BBM--this lil love monster is our first-ever three-peat reader! Check out a great poem of hers here & see her read TONIGHT!

You wake up wanting something warm. There is a leak in your mug. Unaware of this, you complete three minutes of unrelated activity and discover that your table is ruined. How terrible, how terrible, you think, because this table belonged to a maternal grandmother your biological mother never even me...


We're so lucky to be able to celebrate our birthday with four great readers tonight! Check out some of Keith Leonard's great poems here: #!poems/c21ra & see him read TONIGHT!

The Universe Is Shaped Exactly Like the Earth

"Mother moaned as the doctor cried, “Push.” Father squeezed tight to her curled fingers while the metal tongs probed inside. She pushed. Pushed. Pushed again. A weight released. A gasp of air. Silence.

“Why isn’t my baby crying?” Mother asked.

The doctor removed his mask. He stared at the couple.

“Is it a boy or a girl?” Father asked.

“It’s a carbonaceous chondrite,” said the doctor.

“A what?”

“A meteorite.”

Continue reading Nicholas Reali's story, "The Universe is Shaped Exactly Like the Earth," at the link below, and see him read THIS SATURDAY! 7 PM, Annabell's, in the basement.

By: Nicholas Reali Mother lay beside Father. He leaned against the headboard, flickering candle in hand. Flame's pale light dervishing around the room's shadowed walls. Mother gritted her teeth and...

Short, Unhappy | By Imad Rahman

"1971. You are born. It is Pakistan, and it is hot. Ceiling fans hum overhead in the small, cramped rooms and small, cramped corridors of a small, cramped hospital. There is a war on. Move, they say, we need storage space for the dead. Spend a week in the home basement while outside planes swoop and weave in the sky. Someone sings you to sleep, an androgynous croon."

Click the link below to continue reading Imad Rahman's short story, "Short, Unhappy," and see him read brand new work THIS SATURDAY at BIG BIG MESS!

1971. You are born. It is Pakistan, and it is hot. Ceiling fans hum overhead in the small, cramped rooms and small, cramped corridors of a small, cramped hospital. There is a war on. Move, they say, we need storage space for the dead. Spend a week in the home basement while outside planes swoop…

Stop Up Your Ears and Secede: An Interview with Noy Holland | The American Reader

"One thing other that writers who write stories enjoy is a wide green world of contraband effects: distortions and errors and inventions and quirks likely to be, in the long-haul of a novel, tedious and exhausting. Lucky us—who needn’t coddle, conform, mind the clock, name the baby, or turn the lights off. We can move if we wish and stay if we want and paint every last thing yellow."

Read Hilary Plum's wonderful interview with Noy Holland, who will be visiting Akron THIS SATURDAY to read from her new novel, BIRD.

In Conversation Stop Up Your Ears and Secede: An Interview with Noy Holland By Hilary Plum Tweet Like so many luminaries of contemporary American literature—Amy Hempel, Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, Joy Williams—Noy Holland came to readers through Gordon Lish’s editorship at Knopf; her first story…


Timeline Photos


Check us out in The Devil's Dozen: Arts & Culture in this week's The Devil Strip! Thanks for the mention, friends!

From friendship bracelets to chili cookoffs and comedy, here are our best bets for a damn good time “Carol” The Nightlight Jan. 8-21 (times vary) Director Todd Haynes (“Far From Heaven”) adapts Pat…

Upcoming Events

What a crazy year it's been. BIG BIG MESS made so many new friends, witnessed so many big reading moments. We're here at the end of 2015, and that's kind of sad, but we're kicking off 2016 in BIG BIG ways, and that is very exciting. Here's a preview of what's happening--which means STAY TUNED, you filthy animals:

Jan 16 / Saturday: Nin Andrews, Karen Schubert, Dan Dorman, Amber Allen **with special reading of the work of Matthew Lattanzi** Feb 13 / Saturday: Noy Holland, Imad Rahman, Nicholas Reali Mar 12 /...


So much love and thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday, especially the writers--Caroline, Benjamin, Gale, Jon, and Anne-- who shared an evening with us, made us laugh and gave us deep beauty moments. Thank you, Annabell's, for the pizza and a warm place to throw poetry around. Thank you, old friends, who drove from other cities to an old Akron home. Thank you, Akron, for being an old home to so many, and for welcoming so well, always. Meet up next month: SAT/ DEC 12/ 6-9PM, stay tuned for more of those hot plates


Can you can you can you believe Anne Cecelia Holmes & Gale Marie Thompson & Caroline Cabrera are going to be in Akron on Saturday? I've been pinching myself all week because can this be real??

If you haven't met them, meet their poems here & meet them on Saturday (links below):

Benjamin Paloff

Benjamin Paloff is another poet you will see reading in the basement this weekend--get acquainted here & buy him a beer later:

Benjamin Paloff 2UP You can have it both ways, mystical and real, like the loving kindness of a dirty cop or what your kin do when the way is not theirs. You know what I’m talking about. Whatever...

The Story of How You Went to the Museum | Boston Review

check out a great poem by this weekend's mess'r, Jon Woodward:

Jon WoodwardApril 05, 2012 Jon WoodwardIt took a long time but you were at the museum. Maybe you thought you were more or less impermeable, I don’t know, and who would blame you, you need to contain, to maintain integrity, just walking around like that. You did walk around in the museum, and the que…

The University of Akron : UA Press

The sad sad news of the UA Press has become a mainstay in our news feeds for a few weeks now, and as two Akron writers who spent time interning and supporting the press in various ways over the years, Mike & I are devastated. Not only has this press given the world excellent, excellent poetry, but it is also a necessary and important resource for Akron history, etc. It has provided a place for students to wet their feet in publishing, to work alongside great editors, great artists, like Mary Biddinger and Amy Freels.

While we don't have the power to release the press from its current (agonizing) limbo, we can sure show our support in other ways. There is a page to join called Save the University of Akron Press, where they post updates on the movement--petitions to sign, progress, rallies, etc. Many have personally sent letters to President Scarborough and the Board of Trustees. And, of course, you can buy books. Lots of books.

Follow the link below. Even if you've never heard of the press, follow the link and learn about it. And then support it other small presses. And support writers. And art. See where these things exist in your community and how you can, in any way, save them from facing the fate the UA Press is currently up against. We take for granted that great institutions like these will always exist. Make sure they know how much you love them. How vital they are to your community, your university, and to you.


The operations of University Press are being transferred to the Division of Libraries, where the director will work with the interim dean of Libraries and the Provost to assess UA Press operations and to recommend priorities going forward.

"Yearling & Armor" from Lo Kwa Mei-en's "Yearling"

I am here, at last, dressed in plain mustard and tiger,
carrying on with my heart-claw and faulty calendar,
the old fetishes-spit and spice and the sea-loaded
behind my teeth. Another year, another armor,

though I was told otherwise. Another way of speaking:
What if the body had been a spell and he broke it. Or
a city, half-woken, and he blazed it. Inside, a voice
prays for the bantam mouthing off at the anti-dawn

to silence or become other, entirely: fire
-bird feeding off ash, or a photograph of somebody
brave. What if my face had been a sign so I painted it,
time’s direction rolling back and back like a maiden’s

domesticating spine, and what the body had in store
for itself-potential seeds and starry cloves stacking the inner
shelf-was pulled into the mouth of the ocean. So on,
another city, new, almost. What if I knew I would pay

all for entrance, to be entranced, or else to almost
always be. And if I let hot ritual wrap its arms about me.
Then another, and another. And felt the body move again
like a mouthful of sea, or a yearling in the armory.

See Lo Kwa in Akron on Saturday!

Lo Kwa Mei-en reading her poem "Yearling & Armor" from her collection "Yearling," forthcoming from Alice James Books in April 2015. Read a sample poem and or...


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