Through Scranton may not be Manhattan, Baltimore, Philly, Boston, or any of the other big cities along the East Coast, I’ve always been surprised how strong of an art community this area has. If you don’t believe me, come to downtown Scranton during First Friday when the weather is warm, and you’ll see the art galleries packed.

Furthermore, this area has a pretty rich literary scene. I first discovered it when I moved back from the Philly area to attend graduate school at Wilkes University. I kept hearing about the monthly readings at Test Pattern, a venue that used to be on Adams Avenue, near the Bog. During the first reading I attended, I was impressed by the amount of poets who read, and how receptive the audience was. Once the venue closed, the reading series moved to Anthology New and Used Books. And I’m sure the poets who were part of that scene will find somewhere else to hold readings, now that Anthology is in different hands and restructuring its purpose somewhat.

One of the artists/writers I’ve met over the last few years is Jessica Meoni, a student at Marywood Univeristy. She runs a DIY publication called Ruthless Zine, which features a mix of political/social commentary, art, photography, and sometimes poetry.  Months ago, she told me about an event she’s launching called ZineFest, which will be held in downtown Scranton on Saturday, June 11, along Center Street.

She’s managed to book some editors/writers from zines along the East Coast to showcase their work at the all-day festival. I’m stoked about this festival for several reasons. First, as a former punk rock kid, I grew up going to shows where zines were as much a part of the subculture as the music.  In addition, I wrote for WonkaVision Magazine for a number of years, a music magazine based out of Philly. It started out as a small zine, but then grew into a large publication found in several different states. Zines always served as a great way to spread music, to support the indie/punk rock subculture, and to offer alternative, progressive viewpoints on a number of social/political issues. In the age of the Internet, it’s also nice to know that there are still people out there creating DIY print publications.

So, kudos to Jess Meoni for putting this together. I hope it enriches the  literary scene in this area, and I hope it becomes an annual event.

I’ll be hosting the reading portion of this event from 4-6 pm on June 11th at Pages and Places at Anthology, 515 Center Street. When the event is closer, I’m going to share some more info about the readers. Trust me, it’s a solid, entertaining mix! The rest of the festival will feature different tables along Center Street, right in front of Pages and Places at Anthology. The tables will feature different zines, arts, and crafts.

 To learn more about ZineFest, click here, and return to my blog for more updates about the event as it gets closer to the date! The website has more info about zome of the zines that will be at the event.

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