Cheryl Pallant has organized Richmond’s first ever lit crawl, a two-day literary festival scheduled this weekend, where writers will come to venues throughout the city and give public readings from their works.
But by becoming the founder of RVA Lit Crawl, Pallant must also brave one big question: Today, when the options for entertainment have a greater range than ever before, why should we care about the written word?
Planning a lit crawl is not a job for the inflexible. Pallant’s own array of published works often focus on themes like awareness and dance, and so her first move as RVA Lit Crawl founder seems fitting: She began by working in harmony with social media.
“I called it a moment of writerly insanity,” Pallant said . “At the time, I was, and still am, working on a book, and I needed a distraction…I went on Facebook and discovered a friend of mine was involved in a lit crawl in Denver.”
From there, Pallant was inspired to post her own status and find out if any Richmonders were interested in having a lit crawl of their own.
“Within a few hours, I had about sixty people say ‘yeah, let’s do it,’” said Pallant. “So maybe two months later, I gathered with two of the people who were interested in organizing it, and that’s how it all happened.”
RVA Lit Crawl’s website provides a schedule listing of over 70 writers who will be participating, as well as the times and locations of their readings. Most of the writers are from Richmond and have been published by major media
This structure, similar to a music festival’s, will allow visitors to tailor their experience to their own literary tastes.
“If you’re interested in poetry you can find the different venues that are poetry [or] if you’re interested in fantasy fiction, you can choose those venues…you can create your schedule,” said Pallant.
There will be 15 group readings featuring poetry, novels, short stories, suspense, mystery, YA, fairy tales, sci-fi and fantasy, short-shorts, and more.
Events will take place at Richmond Young Writers, Babe’s of Carytown, Chop Suey Books, Quirk Hotel, Urban Farmhouse in Scott’s Addition, Stir Crazy Cafe, Fountain Bookstore and more. See all of the locations, times and event details here.
For Pallant, there is simply no substitute for the written word. Poetry, fiction and non-fiction have the ability to not only entertain, Pallant feels, but also to act as a mutually beneficial experience for both writer and reader, allowing both to live more mindful lives.
“The creative process is a very empowering act [for the writer], and reading is what contributes to having empathy, having imagination, critical thinking,” said Pallant. “Just the ability to think beyond the small sphere of your own life, to be able to travel to other people’s minds and travel to other places, it’s just a phenomenal activity.”
Ultimately, Pallant’s goal for the lit crawl is to create engagement in a community that she feels, is ready and willing to foster it.
“My vision is to see people on the street heading into the venue, or coming out of the venue, and just talking about books, and talking about their love of the word and reading,” said Pallant. “We fit in within the list of very cool cities that also do lit crawls, like Denver and Austin and Boston, Seattle and LA, Chicago, just to name a few. [Richmond] is a very literary city, [and] it’s a great site for a lit crawl for that very reason.”
RVA Lit Crawl will take place this Friday and Saturday, April 21st-22nd, with readings running from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday, and from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. Once readings have come to a close, both readers and writers are invited to attend a cocktail party at Carytown restaurant, Can-Can Brasserie. All events are free and open to the public, and books will be available for purchase.