Cyberpunk Apocalypse: five years of making semi-professional writing more like semi-professional wrestling.
In 2008, a kind of punk house appeared in Pittsburgh, PA based around literature instead of politics or music. Since then the Cyberpunk Apocalypse writers’ project has housed 36 writers from across the US and Canada, been the place of completion for 7 books, countless comics, zines, poems essays and articles. It has acted as home base for six reading tours and has hosted events ranging from book clubs and show-and-tells, to the Heinz funded Writers’ Showcase series: advancing reading as performance.
On July 19th, 2013 at 7 p.m. the project will celebrate its five year anniversary at Assemble with a reading performance event featuring Yona Harvey, Daniel McCloskey, Todd Faltin, and Laura A. Warman as MC.
Yona Harvey is a Cave Canem fellow and the author of Hemming the Water from Four Way Books. Her reading style have been called “fierce” and “powerful,” but in this moment Yona Harvey is most proud of surviving a grueling nine months of career and family upheavals–second only to the humbling births of her two children.
Daniel McCloskey is the founder of the Cyberpunk Apocalypse and author of A Film About Billy, a hybrid novel that alternates between comics and prose from Six Gallery Press. His reading performances are experimental and often involve multi-media and reading in persona.
Todd Faltin has read at every CpA anniversary. He was part of Mr. God’s Galloping Mountain Variety Tour, which was called one of the top five audio visual encounters in Indianapolis, in 2011. His writing weaves insecurity with absurdity, and his reading style is as affronting as it is charming.
Laura A. Warman is the author of How Much Does It Cost? forthcoming from Cars Are Real Press. Warman’s Warman Monthly is Pittsburgh’s premier subscription-based poetry experience. She has participated and hosted several performance art nights in town and runs a jitney service off of craigslist that she describes as a “traveling performance art installation offering services needed by the Pittsburgh community while challenging the idea of transit, ownership, performance, and the concept of feeling safe.”
“Every year’s been a battle,” says founder Daniel McCloskey.
In fall of 2009, the Cyberpunk Apocalypse received its first local media attention when it was raided by dozens of police at 1:20 a.m., two days before the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, PA. McCloskey produced his deed with guns pointed at his chest. When asked why the police were present one officer said the house was “on a list.”
In 2010, the project received its first national media attention in a New York Times article about artists living without heat. “When one of our visiting writers came there was a pair of jeans literally frozen to the floor of his room. He nearly left, but ultimately he had a good experience and got a lot done,” says McCloskey. “We did get the heating situation figured out eventually, but then we moved.”
Despite the challenges faced in the last five years, McCloskey says it’s important to acknowledge the successes–the productivity and the energy the house creates. “This project is unique to the world for a number of reasons. We respect all genres equally… It’s a close quarters residency in a garbage-y house. The project selects its residents based on the current occupants’ opinions, so applicants are picked on talent and on likeability,” says McCloskey. “What we end up with is a rotating cast of compatible people with overlapping interests and skills that are working near each other all the time.” This unique environment begets unique work, or as McCloskey puts it, “None of our stuff looks the same, and it sure as hell doesn’t look like anybody else’s.”[youtube http://youtu.be/QOb_ErmsL10 ] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qjLUov-MeI]