Author, editor, reading series curator and Oakland resident Lauren Becker likes her chosen city. A lot. “I love it here. I’m never leaving. Seriously,” she says.
The East Bay’s literary community is a big part
of her Oakland amour. She sees something special in the fact that literary gatherings here are a bit
less frequent and less infused with a hipster vibe.
“I feel like there’s more writing and less scene,” Becker says.
Her own quarterly reading series, East Bay on the Brain (www.eastbayonthebrain.wordpress.com), was a bit of an accident. “A writer friend was coming into town [a few years ago] and talked me into setting up an event. I rounded up some writers I know … had a great time, packed up and moved on,” says Becker. It was only meant to be a one-off, but other people had a better idea. “I started hearing EBOB was a reading series. I resisted, but there are so many great writers based in the East Bay who either never read or go into San Francisco to read or attend readings. There are other wonderful reading series in the East Bay that I’ve since learned of and love — including The Naked Bulb, which takes place in my friend’s backyard, on her homemade stage.”
Each East Bay on the Brain event attracts between 30–70 people at Oakland’s Layover bar. Becker’s friend Paul Corman-Roberts helps out and any given session might find Oaklanders like April Sinclair and Joe Loya, along with writers from farther afield. Check out the website for the next reading.
Before she was an East Bay literary maven, Becker was a lawyer. Now she works for the government during the day and writes at night. “My fiction has appeared in print and online publications, including The Los Angeles Review, Opium, PANK and some other places I admire a lot. Unlike many, I prefer online publishing for the accessibility factor,”
But that doesn’t mean she totally avoids print. Her first book, an anthology of five women writers called Shut Up/Look Pretty (Tiny Hardcore Press), will be published in late 2011.
Becker also founded and edits the online journal Corium Magazine (www.coriummagazine.com). Corium is another word for dermis, the layer below the epidermis: “where blood and nerves and deeper scars sit,” says Becker. Its tagline is “beneath the skin.” “I look for work that leaves a mark. I love narrative, but I especially love evocative writing.”
Corium publishes poetry, short fiction, very short fiction (what some people call “flash fiction”), and art from the likes of Stephen Elliott and Amelia Gray. “We’ve published writers who have books with major publishers, stories in the New Yorker and Paris Review, as well as some who are new to being published,” says Becker. And you can be sure a fair number of them live in the East Bay.