Summertime Lit Fest brings together Austin literary community

Christopher Jordan

Small, old buildings, acoustic guitars and freshly printed journals filled with the work of Austin’s young poets, dramatists and storytellers — this is the landscape of Austin’s literary renaissance.

This Saturday, the Foxing Quarterly will host the inaugural Summertime Lit Fest, an event aimed at providing the Austin literary community with a chance to socialize, interact, listen to music and most importantly, experience the poetry of the Austin Renaissance. Many of the major publishing houses in Austin will be performing readings, selling journals and discussing their work with guests.

Daniel Mejia founded one of Austin’s newest literary journals, the Foxing Quarterly, in November of last year. Now, he and his team are gearing up for the release of their third issue. Of course, production of a print-only literary journal is no easy task — the Foxing Quarterly team struggled financially in the early days, and exposure remains low.

In the literature incubator of Austin, however, the Foxing Quarterly soon found kindred spirits. Publishing houses such as Write Bloody, Unstuck Books and A Strange Object are all focused on placing the written word on the same pedestal as music and film — and it’s working.

“It’s great to know these people, most of them very young, who are working towards the same thing,” Mejia said. “It only made sense to try and get everyone together for one event.”

The Summertime Lit Fest will be held at the historic Scoot Inn, rumored to be the oldest continually operating beer joint in Central Texas — a fitting venue for the old souls of Austin poetry. One of them, acclaimed slam poet and headlining reader Cristin Aptowicz, is looking forward to getting everyone together.

“The Foxing Quarterly Summertime Lit Fest is a perfect example of what makes the Austin literary scene so amazing: live music and live poetry from a diverse line-up of artists from all across Austin,” Aptowicz says. “It’s a perfectly sampling of the great stuff happening here.”

Aptowicz’s sixth book of poetry, “The Year of No Mistakes,” is due to be published this fall. Additionally, her work will be featured in the Foxing Quarterly’s third issue, out next month.

“My most recent work has been about exploring the new world I feel like I’ve been thrust into after the thankfully amicable break up for a decade-long relationship. Some of it is gloomy, some of it is hopeful, some of it is straight-up horny,” Aptowicz said. “But in all of it I am trying to do my best to be honest: the good and the bad, the darkness and the light.”

Mejia is hopeful the Summertime Lit Fest will keep excitement high and encourage more people to get involved in the Austin literary scene, which is becoming more and more accessible.

“There are lit-focused events happening all the time now. I encourage people to attend these readings and shows. You’ll meet some really amazing people,” Mejia said.

Mejia is excited for the readings, which include pieces from all of Austin’s upcoming literary journals, as well as the musical performances by local Austin bands Shivery Shakes, Hello Wheels and Lucas Oswald.

As for her performance, Aptowicz hopes to leave a mark.

“Write Bloody founder Derrick Brown and I have a couple of fun surprises in store,” Aptowicz said.

In the effort to revive a dying art form, the Foxing Quarterly, its battles fought in dim beer halls, accompanied by the introspective strumming of a folk band, is at the head of the pack. The Summertime Lit Fest will prove to be a defining event for the fledgling Austin lit scene, as well as for the Foxing Quarterly, barely out of the nest.

For Aptowicz, though, their goals are too important to ignore.

“Maybe that is why one of my most recent pieces has been picked up by the Foxing Quarterly," Aptowicz said. "Because I feel like [we’re doing the same thing]: shining a spotlight on what life is like now, hard and soft, as long as it’s true.”

The Summertime Lit Fest will begin at 6 p.m. at the Scoot Inn on June 29 and is $5 at the door.