Review: LitFest Pasadena 2019

A person dressed in a black dress is reading an essay in front of an orange colored wall

Actress Jasika Nicole reads a student writing at the Tomorrow Prize & Green Feather Awards readings (Photo – Mike Pashistoran)

The 8th annual Pasadena “festival of books” – LitFest Pasadena 2019 – has come and gone.

The wonderful Light Bringer Project and the literary journal, Literature for Life, brought the free event to the public. The City of Pasadena and Pasadena’s creative heart, the Playhouse District, provided additional support.

You missed it?  What! Well, here are some observations and a small sample of photographs from the literary weekend in the historic Pasadena Playhouse District, including unique events, workshops, readings, exhibits, performances, podcasts, author signings and more.

LitFest Pasadena began in 2013. Founders included Pasadena resident and acclaimed journalist, Jonathan Gold, who died last year. LitFest Pasadena 2019 chose to honor his memory:

In Memoriam: This year’s [LitFest is] dedicated to Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize winning food critic, who was a frequent participant and supporter of ours. He was also a contributor to our Literature for Life online publication and teacher resource, which brings authors into classrooms in Los Angeles public schools.

There were several other free, quality events in the Pasadena area this past weekend, including the big bike race that finished at the Rose Bowl, Amgen Tour of California.  Such events may have affected the LitFest Pasadena 2019 turnout.

Still, I chose to check out LitFest Pasadena 2019 on both days despite not being as attracted by the 2019 schedule as previous years. Poems, poetry and poets seemed to be the major emphasis of this year’s schedule.

The strength of the LitFest Pasadena 2019 schedule seemed also to be its weakness. The abundance of events resulted in too many events in the same time periods. With six to eight events in the same hour, difficult choices had to be made.

The highlight and closing event of LitFest Pasadena 2019 was a tribute to the late, great Jonathan Gold. Unfortunately and surprisingly, half the seats for this event were empty.  Perhaps people were heading home by Sunday night at 8 p.m.

Well, I can hardly wait until LitFest Pasadena 2020!

A panel of 4 people at Vroman's courtyard with two murals behind them

Modern Wave of Middle Grade panel featuring Kitty Felde (Photo – Mike Pashistoran)

A bronze statue with a sign that hiding its crotch

Shut up and read poetry (Photo – Mike Pashistoran)

2 women panel with prange colored wall in the background

Lisa See, with Nina Revoyr in Conversation with Janet Fitch (Photo – Mike Pashistoran)

4 panel members discussing the impact of jonathan gold in front of an orange colored wall

How Jonathan Gold Reinvented L.A. panel, moderated by his widow Laurie Ochoa. This event closed out LitFest 2019 (Photo – Mike Pashitoran)

Mike Pashistoran

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2 comments to “Review: LitFest Pasadena 2019”
  1. I enjoyed the wonderful performances at this delightful event with one exception. On Saturday evening, an unruly group of degenerates calling themselves “Poets in Distress” began loudly reciting poems celebrating their genitalia, followed by a “song” featuring a chorus of “Dance MFer.” I can only hope that next year’s event has a more rigorous screening process.

  2. I am grateful, as editor and host of Coloradoblvd.net Poets Salon, as a witer, and reader, participant in just one LitFest program, for the creativity of the LitFest in Pasadena.

    The focus on LOCAL writers, poets, and performers fostered local poetry and local writing communities, to be heard and appreciated by many new lto our work.

    It was obvious from the small experience I had, that Vromans and the other venues put tremendous efforts, and tireless good work into their presentations, in displaying and caring for our books, and hosting the panels and readings.

    It was beautiful to see this and to experience in rreal time the wider growth of community on many levels. New ideas, new connections and strengths were realized and engendered.

    While timings,were challenging, and an overload of simultaneous riches bestowed (as in any conference, bewildering choices) and unanticipated problems created some lack of attendance at some events, Many (including me) missed the call for proposed programs and perhaps advertising could have been more timely. But the overall intent and work of all those concerned was astonishing and worthy of praise.

    I for one, learned a lot and appreciated this opportunity, thanks to the Altadena Poetry Review, the Pasadena LitFest organizers, Vroman’s especially wonderful hosting, and all the venues –and to Pasadena and especially Coloradoblvd.net for fostering and celebrating poetry in such a consistent and vibrant way, with our Poets Salon and all the great writing on environmentall causes and cultural community that we foster. Thanks to Wafic Khalil for all the opportunities he creates for writers and the arts to flourish!

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