Hamtramck SOUP Winner – October 2014
The Good Tyme Writers’ Buffet embodies the industrious, inclusive, community-driven attitude which makes Hamtramck unique. Steve Hughes, one of the masterminds behind the Hamtramck Neighborhood Arts Festival and Public Pool, is also a creator of this SOUP-supported project which takes place regularly within Public Pool’s contemporary art space.
Hughes started Good Tyme Writers’ Buffet in 2011 as a literary component to the Hamtramck Neighborhood Arts Festival. The festival, which celebrated its fifth year in 2014, is an opportunity for artists to welcome the public into their studios, and for the public to become better acquainted with the creativity happening in their community. In creating the Buffet, part of Hughes’ goal was to build a literary community in the neighborhood. In addition, Hughes wanted to create an experience which was inclusive, relaxing, and engaging. The model as it currently stands includes a potluck, and ten minute readings by six different authors (authors are asked to contribute a dish to the potluck, too), around a theme which meshes with the art installation at Public Pool.
SOUP has been significant to Good Tyme Writers’ Buffet in several ways. Community recognition of the value of a project like this is always a nod to the value of the effort. Here, that vote of confidence also translated to double the dollars which were actually contributed by SOUP attendees. Because Good Tyme Writers’ Buffet is a recipient of a two-year Knight Foundation matching grant, SOUP funds were matched dollar-for-dollar by the Knight Foundation.
The SOUP and Knight Foundation funds allow for the payment of an honorarium, and for the inclusion of writers from outside of the immediate community. This is a significant step for the Good Tyme Writers’ Buffet. The project’s first special guest author was Bonnie Jo Campbell, who read her work at the Buffet on December 6. Since the art installation at Public Pool at that time was called Beer, Bacon, and Bullets, the theme for the Buffet was Cowboys. Hughes speaks fondly of the fact that Campbell joined him in his kitchen to cook in advance of the potluck– an example of how personal the Buffet is meant to be.
While Campbell is the first author of national reach to participate in the Good Tyme Writers’ Buffet, she is unlikely to be the last. Hughes is still working to raise matching funds in order to reap the full benefit of the Knight Foundation grant. Each dollar will get the project closer to its next special guest writer.
To find out about upcoming Buffet’s visit Public Pool’s website: www.apublicpool.com
– Shannon Saksewski