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Tuesday, July 9, 2002     

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July 01, 2002

Filling a Dire need

Take a poetry slam, throw out the rhymes, toss in some prose, wine and beer, and you�ve got the makings of a night at the Dire Reader. It�s founder Tim Gager�s alternative night out for the literary set. The event may have started slowly at the Cantab in Cambridge, but 18 months later, now at its new home in the Out of the Blue Gallery, in Cambridge, it�s starting to get a following. On a good night, 30 or 40 people will show up.

Many are coming to see " featured readers " (published authors) like Laura Zigman, who will read from her new book " Her, " on July 12. (The Dire normally convenes on the first Friday of every month, but Independence Day changed the schedule this month.) But others are coming to the Dire to read: For the first hour or so of the night, writers read from their own manuscripts in an " open mike " format that may remind some of an open mike night at a coffeehouse or a comedy club. Writers come early to sign up, and they�re given 15 minutes to entertain.

Gager, who lives in Wellesley, admits that he was initially afraid that some of the open mike writers would be real stinkers, " but actually they�ve really blown me away, " he says. " There have been a few people who, in the middle of it, you go, �Oh my God�� But that�s been few and far between. "

Gager says that on a good night, it�s a social event, a bringing-together of a writing community that doesn�t often connect, because of the solitary nature of the craft.

" What really makes or breaks the night is if people make a night out of it, " he says. " If people get into the spirit of it, and buy drinks and socialize. That�s really how I want it to go. It�s a reading event, but it�s also kind of a club... And it�s a really great date night. "

The Dire Reader normally runs the first Friday of every month, but this month�s event, with featured readers Laura Zigman and Arthur Dimond, is July 12 at 8 p.m. Readings take place at the Out of the Blue Gallery, 168 Brookline, in Cambridge.

� Alexander Stevens

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