The Smart Set: Lauren Cerand’s weekly events

The Smart Set is a weekly feature, compiled by Lauren Cerand, that appears Mondays and highlights the best of the week to come. Special favor is given to New York’s independent booksellers and venues, and low-cost and free events. Please send details to by the Thursday prior to publication, with the event’s date in the subject line.

MONDAY, 2.20: Samantha Hunt reads from her exquisite debut novel, The Seas, as part of the highly regarded weekly series, “The Reader’s Room: Where Writers Take Center Stage.” At Mo Pitkin’s. Recommended. 7:00pm, no cover.

TUESDAY, 2.21: At The Mercantile Library, “The View from Africa, in honor of Black History Month, features three acclaimed new voices in African fiction: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [Purple Hibiscus], Helon Habila [Waiting For an Angel], and Binyavanga Wainaina [founding editor of Kwani, a leading new literary magazine in East Africa]. Organized by Granta, Transition, and the Virginia Quarterly Review and in partnership with the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction…” 6:30pm, free. And, The General Society presents “‘Arts and Cultural Coverage at the Times: An Evening with Sam Sifton’…Formerly the Managing Editor of the New York Press, Senior Writer at Talk Magazine, and Editor of the New York Times’ Dining section, Sam Sifton became Cultural Editor of the Times in May 2005. He has brought his enthusiasm, vision, and journalistic skills to help revitalize and expand the multifaceted cultural section of the paper. While other newspapers have had to slash their cultural reporting, the Times has increased coverage of the arts. Mr. Sifton will discuss his efforts to strengthen cultural news coverage, reflect on his first months, and outline his ideas for the future.” 6:30pm; $15, purchase tickets online in advance if you have your heart set on attending. And, from Clay McLeod Chapman, “Theater for the New City and Crystal Field, executive director, present: Great Small Works Monthly Spaghetti Dinner. Come see new works-in-progress by five different theatrical/musical artists, including excerpts from the upcoming Pumpkin Pie Show: junta high (Coming to P.S. 122 in March!). I’ll be reading suicide bomber if you haven’t heard it already [ed. I have; it’s crazy-brilliant-fabulous.] The HUNGRY MARCH BAND will be performing sections from the show, along with a regular set. You have to see these guys to believe it. Plus you get to eat as much spaghetti as you can!” At Theatre for the New City, 155 1st Ave (between 9th and 10th Street). Recommended. 7:30pm, $12. Additionally: if you “<3” dogs + a good cause, click here.

WEDNESDAY, 2.22: Elizabeth Gaffney, author of the novel Metropolis, lauded by Michael Chabon as ” a thrilling Brooklyn Bridge of a novel, at once old-fashioned and utterly modern, grand and charming, elegant and massive, imposing and delightful, carrying us in inimitable style across the rich, rank waters of New York City’s history,” reads from her work at Rocky Sullivan’s. 8:00pm, no cover. Also, Symphony Space’s “Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the Short Story,” presents an evening of “Funny and fantastic stories picked by guest curator and host Jonathan Lethem, including stories by James Thurber, Italo Calvino, and Jorge Luis Borges read by Malachy McCourt, Maria Tucci and Isaiah Sheffer.” 8:00pm, $21-$25.

THURSDAY, 2.23: The (still) “superbly of the moment” Poetry vs. Comedy Variety Show returns! Notes producer Cheryl B., “There is often a fine line between performance poetry and stand-up comedy. Both rely heavily on presentation, timing and quickly establishing a rapport with the audience. I thought it would be interesting to bring together some of my favorite artists from both of these genres for a super entertaining evening.” With “With Poets: Janice Erlbaum, Hal Sirowitz, Greg Walloch. And Comedians: Desiree Burch, Jon Friedman, Becky Yamamoto. Emcee: Carolyn Castiglia.” At Galapagos. Highly recommended. 8:00pm, no cover. Also, The Casa Readings present Tom Sleigh (Interview with a Ghost) and Patrick Phillips (Chattahoochee). At Casa Cupcake, 9th Avenue at 40th Street. 7:30pm, free. And, “Opium’s monthly reading series resumes with a series of brilliant storytellers. Readers include Thomas Beller (How to Be a Man), Samantha Hunt (The Seas), Dennis DiClaudio (The Hypochondriac’s Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have), Ryan Sloan and a hilarious short film, Zombie-American, by Nick Poppy.” At Happy Ending. 8:30pm, no cover. Additionally, “Choreographer Carrie Ahern, in collaboration with composer/soprano Kristin Norderval, presents a work of beautiful suffocation, a grand façade. Taking inspiration from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale as well as the clean lines of St. Mark’s Church, Red explores the machine of repression under the guise of supreme order and calm.” At Danspace Project through Sunday. 8:30pm, $15.

FRIDAY, 2.24: At The Studio Museum in Harlem, “Enjoy an evening of poetry and prose as Cave Canem poets C.M. Burroughs, Douglas Kearney, Shelagh Patterson and Bakar Wilson share work related to the ideas presented in our current exhibition Frequency.” Highly recommended. 7 pm, free. {many thanks to nichelle stephens for the tip!} And, continuing from Thursday evening, “The John Giorno Poetry Festival, 3rd Edition, Poets Daniel Givens, Bernadette Mayer, Eileen Myles and Anne Waldman deliver on the theme of Holy Madness.” At The Rubin Museum of Art, which, with floors dedicated to themes such as “holy madness”, “demonic divine”, and “perfected beings, pure realms,” pretty much demands a visit a.s.a.p. 7:00pm, $12.

SATURDAY, 2.25: The Hotel Chelsea Blog sent in a tip recommending playwright Kathleen Warnock’s new show at Emerging Artists Theatre: “In Rock the Line, seven hardcore fans meet in the parking lot of a club in a Rust Belt town to renew their faith in rock and roll and its patron saint, Patti Roxx. Having traveled long and hard to be at the show, their love of her music is the best thing in most of their lives. But before the doors even open, they must first face each other.” 2pm, $15.

SUNDAY, 2.26: “SongCrew Presents A Poetry CD Release Party for Larissa Shmailo’s The No-Net World…Larissa Shmailo has been published in Newsweek, Rattapallax, Lungfull!, Street News, American Translators’ Slavfile, Medicinal Purposes, and other publications…She translated the Russian Futurist opera Victory over the Sun by A. Kruchenych, performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, and exhibited in video at the Los Angeles County Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.” At The Back Fence. 3:00pm, “Free admission with 1 drink minimum.”


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