Q: What’s the theme?
Q: What took you so long?
A: BURN. IT. DOWN.
A: Sugar, please.
Q: Wait, what is this thing, again?
A: It’s a party, with reading and fire. People read things, and then burn the pages in the fire.
Q: Should I bring anything besides something to read?
A: Your presence and your victorious enthusiasm are enough!! If you want to bring a bottle, great.
Q: Why Victory Garden?
A: At the University of California Irvine masters program in Creative Writing, for a long time they didn’t give MFA students graduate housing. So MFAs lived in a trailer park on campus. They had old AirStream Trailers with bookshelves added on. Pink plastic flamingos. Fairy lights. Chickens. People had parties and read things and burned the pages and called it the Trailer Park Poetry Readings. The university labeled the park a hazard, paved it, put in a parking lot, and told the Humanities to go suck it. The Trailer Park-shaped void in our hearts can’t be filled. No one can fill that void for you. Not even the Humanities. But, in longing and loss and pernicious nostalgia, the Victory Garden began.
Q: No, but the name, Victory Garden — why that name?
A: Because LEILA MANSOURI moved to SoCal and had a BIRTHDAY and it is JAN 20 and we need a little bit of victory.
Q: Do I have to read something?
A: No, just come and listen and hang out.
Q: Does the thing I read have to be on theme?
Q: Do I really have to burn the pages?
A: Yes. We celebrate the ephemeral. (But there are these things called computers that will save a copy for you.)
Q: Can I burn something else? Like, Coffee Mate TM?
Q: Does that count as reading?
A: No, it counts as burning.
Q: I can’t think of anything to write. But I have this memo from my boss / post-it from my roommate / poisoned love letter. Can I read that?
A: If you can sleep at night, we want to hear it.
Q: Can I show art / sing / juggle burning objects?
A: Yes! But you must be your own tech support and roadie.
Q: Can I bring my boss / roommate / lover?
A: Yes. Please RSVP if you can so we have some idea of scale, but come on down, regardless.
Q: Can I bring my kids?
A: This is a party that serves alcohol, often features R-rated spoken material, asks you to be quiet and listen sometimes and offers very little to people who can’t yet read. If you are up a creek with no babysitters, we totally understand and would prefer you come with your cracked-out-sleepy kid who will be bored until there’s something sexy sexy, rather than not come at all. In other words, it’s not a party meant for kids, but it’s hosted by people who have kids and want to help.
Q: I totally want to come but I have two other events in WeHo that are like, kind of fancier, so can I show up at 11pm?
A: Sure, and we will be happy to see you. However, you will miss the readings, and all the parents will look at you with fierce envy and then leave shortly thereafter.
Q: How often do you do this?
A: We used to aim for every six months. That was years ago. It has been a long, long time, and then Leila asked for a Victory Garden. It’s on. This is your chance.