Litquake seeks to foster interest in literature for people of all ages, perpetuate a sense of literary community, and provide a vibrant forum for writing from the Bay Area and beyond as a complement to the city’s music, film, and cultural festivals. Litquake is a project of the Litquake Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit registered in the state of California.
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From Litstock to Litquake
Originally hatched over beers at the Edinburgh Castle pub in 1999, Litstock debuted as a free one-day reading series in a fog-bound Golden Gate Park. Local writers Jane Ganahl and Jack Boulware realized quickly that booklovers craved something grander. Against the backdrop of a technology-crazed San Francisco, writers were still drawn to the city, and readers still appreciated the written word.
In 2002, the festival was rechristened Litquake, and began expanding its programming to include all elements of the Bay Area literary scene. Taking a cue from a USA Today report that San Franciscans spend twice the nation’s average on books and booze, in 2004, the festival inaugurated an immediately successful closing night Lit Crawl bacchanal throughout the city’s Mission District.
Popular demand drove Litquake to expand even further, adding more national and international authors, youth programs, classroom visits and book giveaways, monthly literary Epicenters, and special localized editions of the Lit Crawl now held each year in Austin, Seattle, New York City, Iowa City, Los Angeles, Portland, London, and Helsinki.
Whether it’s poets reciting in a cathedral, authors discussing science versus religion in a library, or novelists reading in a beekeeping supply store, the goal remains the same: whet a broad range of literary appetites, present the literary fare in a variety of traditional and unlikely venues, and make it vivid, real, and entertaining. Now grown to the largest independent literary festival on the West Coast, Litquake continues its mission as a nine-day literary spectacle for booklovers, complete with cutting-edge panel discussions, unique cross-media events, and hundreds of readings.