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Seersucker is for the Birds

New episode highlights regional press/gallery collaboration

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New episode of Seersucker highlights regional press/gallery collaboration

The local reading series Seersucker Live! is pairing with Gallery Le Snoot to bring the acclaimed Raleigh N.C.-based indie press, Birds, LLC, to town this Friday night in its latest "episode," dubbed A Big Flock of Birds.

"Birds, LLC started because we noticed so many terrific manuscripts not making it through the contest system, and even when they did, they weren't getting the editorial, design or marketing attention they deserved," says Chris Tonelli, Birds co-founder and co-owner of Raleigh's So & So Books.

For Tonelli, everything — press, bookstore, and the So & So reading series he helps host — works together.

"The bookstore, for my business partner Charles Wilkes and I, is a way to participate in and contribute to the downtown Raleigh community. We feature a carefully curated selection of contemporary fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as well as young adult, children's and graphic literature. We also host First Friday events, book clubs, and readings."

As for the reading series, which started eight years ago in Boston, "that's a way to bring exciting poets from all over the country to the Raleigh community and to provide those poets with a tour stop in Raleigh."

As for the oft-predicted but as yet unrealized death of books, Tonelli has a useful analogy.

"Take food for example. There has been an explosion of independent restaurants, whose target audience isn't necessarily the same as the target audience for fast food chains. I think the same is true for poetry," he says.

"The mainstream publishers have their audience, but there is an audience for a poetry that does something a little different — I wish there were better words than experimental and avant garde — and an audience that appreciates collaborative, artistic design."

Same for bookstores, he says.

"I think the market is regulating. Borders closed, Barnes & Noble is calibrating, and that opens up a niche for smaller, independent bookstores that emphasize curation and customer service."

In all, six poets will read at this edition of Seersucker, including Tonelli and Sampson Starkweather, as well as award-winning writers Dan Magers, Sommer Browning, Ana Boievi and Emily Pettit.

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