The Litquake Literary Festival is famous for holding author readings in unusual venues. This photo shows one such reading in 2011, at the Muddy Waters Coffee House in San Francisco. The Berkeley Ramble on Oct. 13 will be at The Magnes, The Marsh, The David Brower Center, Pegasus Books, and Bec’s Bistro. Photo: Litquake

Berkeley’s literary arts scene is about to get a huge injection of energy in the next nine days, as the Litquake Literary Festival – the largest in the West – stages two events in Berkeley.

It starts on Tuesday Oct. 9 with actors reading stories out loud on the Ashby Stage and continues on Saturday Oct. 13 with The Berkeley Ramble, a word play on Litquake’s famous Lit Crawl, the Saturday event in the Mission District that has dozens of readings by dozens of authors in bars, art galleries, Laundromats, and other unusual spaces.  It’s where “literature hits the streets.” The Berkeley version – The Ramble – will bring authors over an afternoon to five venues: The Magnes, the David Brower Center, the Marsh Arts Center, Pegasus Books on Shattuck, and Bec’s Bar & Bistro, also on Shattuck.

“A bunch of the folks on the Litquake committee live in the East Bay and we were interested in doing some programming close to home,” said Elise Proulx, a Berkeley resident and Litquake’s director of marketing and development.

“Each year for the past three years, we’ve done at least one event in Oakland and two years ago, we did our staged short story event at the Berkeley Rep. But this year, we found a great home for Stories on Stage at the Shotgun Players’ Ashby Stage – the right size, the right vibe – and also had a bunch of venues in downtown Berkeley approach us.”

“A lot of our programming starts with “Let’s put on a show” and then suddenly, we’re doing a six-event “Ramble” in downtown Berkeley,” said Proulx. “The East Bay also has such awesome indie bookstores – we’re working with Diesel, Books Inc., Afikomen Judaica, and Pegasus on our East Bay events – and Cal has top notch English and Journalism departments. So we’re hoping it will all come together this year and for years to come!”

The New York Times called Litquake “the warmly raucous festival that celebrates this city’s formidable book-loving scene.”

Berkeleyside is proud to be a sponsor of The Berkeley Ramble and Stories on Stage.

Stories on Stage: Fiction of the Fantastic will feature five actors reading short fiction by authors Adam Johnson, Lysley Tenorio, Judy Budnitz, and Daniel Orozco. But it won’t be a staid, conventional reading but more like short performances. Tickets are $15.

The Berkeley Ramble will feature a panel on our obsession with food, a discussion of Jews’ relationship to Christmas, pints, poetry and prose at a bar, and a special edition of Lyrics & Dirges, which showcases published and emerging writers. There will also be an after party at Bec’s Bistro.

In another Berkeley connection, Litquake is giving its annual Barbary Coast Award to Poetry Flash, the Berkeley-based poetry magazine. Started in 1972 as a mimeographed listing of poetry reading, Poetry Flash has evolved into a widely respected publication of poetry and criticism. (It went entirely online in 2011). The magazine, which has been edited since 1978 by Joyce Jenkins, also hosts weekly poetry readings, the Northern California Book Awards and the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival. (which happened in Civic Center Park last week.) Litquake will present the Barbary Coast Award to Poetry Flash on Monday Oct. 8 in San Francisco.

Here is a complete list of the Berkeley Litquake events:

Stories on Stage: Fiction of The Fantastic
October 9, 2012 – 7:00 PM
Shotgun Players Ashby Stage
1901 Ashby Avenue
$15 advance / $17 at door
Buy Tickets Online

Co-presented by Berkeleyside

Litquake’s version of the staged story, directed by Campo Santo’s Sean San José and performed by Catherine Castellanos, Donald E Lacy, Jr., Melissa Locsin, Delia MacDougall, and Sean San José.

Actors channel the surprising, unconventional, and sometimes surreal characters in short fiction by celebrated authors Adam Johnson, Lysley Tenorio, Judy Budnitz, and Daniel Orozco. In Johnson’s “OJ Simpson Was a Friend of Mine,” famed akito Kato feels deeply for OJ’s torment; in Tenorio’s “Monstress,” a Manila horror film starlet finds a second chance in L.A.; in Budnitz’s “Miracle,” a woman learns to love her unusual baby; and Orozco’s “Officers Weep” is a surprising story of love between cops. Book sales and signings follow.

A Kosher Christmas
October 13, 2012
1 pm
The Magnes
2121 Allston Way
Co-presented by j. the Jewish news weekly.

Christmas is not everybody’s favorite holiday. Historically, Jews in America have devised a multitude of unique strategies to respond to the holiday season — do we participate, try to ignore the holiday entirely, or create our own traditions and make the season an enjoyable time? Joshua Eli Plaut’s new book A Kosher Christmas “offers a quirky, provocative, yet solid study of contemporary Jewish behavior and emerging new forms of popular culture” – Publishers Weekly. Author in conversation with j. editor Sue Fishkoff.

Black Against Empire
October 13, 2012
2:00 PM
David Brower Center, Goldman Theater
2150 Allston Way

Co-presented by UC Press

Join Litquake as we celebrate the launch of the upcoming book Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, the Party’s first comprehensive overview and analysis today. The authors analyze key political questions, such as why so many young black people across the country risked their lives for the revolution, why the Party grew most rapidly during the height of repression, and why allies abandoned the Party at its peak of influence. With co-author Waldo E. Martin, Jr., and featuring rare images and archival footage from Mike Gray’s classic 1971 documentary film The Murder of Fred Hampton. Book sales and signing to follow.

Chew on This: A Fresh Take on Our Obsession with Food
October 13, 2012
3:00 PM
The Marsh Arts Center
2121 Allston Way

In the 1980s, the decade that invented the word “foodie,” eating became a serious cultural pursuit. But the past decade saw food transition from an absorbing pastime to become the central act that defines who we are. How did food morph into politics? Join us for a fresh conversation with leaders in the food trenches who get to the heart of the national food debate, demystify the science of taste, and explain how to truly make a difference through your food choices. Moderator John Birdsall.

Julie Guthman, Dan ImhoffStephanie V.W. Lucianovic, Barb Stuckey

Lyrics & Dirges at Pegasus Books
October 13, 2012
4:00 PM
Pegasus Books
2349 Shattuck Ave.

A special Litquake edition of the bookstore’s event series, which features a mix of prominent, emerging, and beginning writers each month. Hosted by Tomas Moniz.

Manjula Martin, Micaela Petersen, Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, Meliza Banales, Erika Lopez,

Pints, Poetry & Prose
October 13, 2012
4:00 PM
Bec’s Bar & Bistro
2271 Shattuck Ave.

Poet Cody Gates and author Laurie Ann Doyle co-host a reading which features a stellar lineup of fellow UC Extension instructors and students.

See this event in UC Berkeley Extension’s catalog.

Followed by Berkeley Ramble After Party at Bec’s.

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, check out Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...