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Last night a dozen authors gathered in Pilot Books to celebrate Spankstra Press, the local chapbook publisher. Spankstra really does perform a valuable service—they've been the first publishers to recognize and publish a lot of strong local talent, like Maged Zaher, Brian McGuigan, David LaTerre, and the late, great Harvey Goldner. The night, though, was a mixed bag.

The Bad: This reading was two and a half hours long. Let me repeat: Two and a half hours long! If you're throwing a literary reading, you really ought to know that anyone who sticks around past the hour-and-a-half mark is just doing so to be polite. (Much more on that subject here.)

And I'm going to make a new rule, here: If more than 33% of your poetry has to do with bars or alcohol, you should either quit drinking or quit writing poetry. Probably both. Your stories about that wild night you drank too much are not as interesting as you think they are.

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The Good: Genius Stacey Levine and Genius Shortlister Brian McGuigan are always fun. (Levine's story was about a party at an embassy. She casually throws out gems as she sets a scene: "His eyes were marbled with emotion.")

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David LaTerre (formerly of Seattle, now of New York City) is an immensely entertaining reader: He reads so quickly that it takes you a few minutes to realize how finely crafted the work is. He's also laced his work with weird one-liners, like his favorite sexual position: "Actually, I just kind of lie here and talk about socialism." Spankstra publisher Chris Dusterhoff gave LaTerre the first and only "Spankstra Geneous Award," which consists of $50 and a t-shirt.

And for those who do not yet know: Maged Zaher is the shit. If you're looking for good local poetry, you should definitely seek out his Portrait of the Artist as an Engineer. Zaher read a couple of short poems, and then closed out the night by reading a long poem by the late Harvey Goldner, the much-beloved Bard of Belltown. Zaher passed the poem around the room, and a number of the readers took a turn at a few stanzas. It was a touching impromptu tribute to a great talent, and a lovely close to the proceedings.

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