statement of translation: Henry Hoke On Enter>text

We call ENTER>text a “living literary magazine” because we do not consider it a reading so much as a collection of written works presented in immersive performance rather than in a published format. Audiences drift from one encounter to the next – some interactive installations, some intimate readings — like turning pages. From the get-go my co-conspirator Marco Di Domenico and I set out to shed the normal trappings of a literary reading (podium, microphone, rows of chairs) in order to get back to something more fundamental and strange.


Most of us first experienced “being read to” as an intimate childhood staple, a necessary exchange before we’d developed reading skills. And when we learned to read silently to ourselves we took our books into hiding places. Text became a respite in the milieu of commutes, a companion in bed and in the bathroom, and our event tries to throw readings into these same spaces to bring these formative encounters with literature back into play.


When you read something on the page the writer is absent, effaced. Reading by yourself is about you, where your mind takes the text. You can close your eyes at a live reading but there’s still a person between you and the text. With ENTER>text we seek to acknowledge this barrier and incite a new dynamic with these people in this room at this moment, to re-efface the author in the mask of performer and mutate what a reading can be.

I keep this exchange from The Neverending Story in mind:


Mr. Koreander: Your books are safe. While you’re reading them, you get to become Tarzan or Robinson Crusoe.

Bastian: But that’s what I like about ’em.

Mr. Koreander: Ahh, but afterwards you get to be a little boy again.

Bastian: Wh-what do you mean?

Mr. Koreander: Listen. Have you ever been Captain Nemo, trapped inside your submarine while the giant squid is attacking you?

Bastian: Yes.

Mr. Koreander: Weren’t you afraid you couldn’t escape?

Bastian: But it’s only a story.

Mr. Koreander: That’s what I’m talking about. The ones you read are safe.

Bastian: And that one isn’t?


ENTER>text contributors find the stakes in their work and make them stakes in the moment, or pull a frame or conceit that’s already imbedded in their story or poem and explode it. At our event, who you are in relation to the reader and what you might get up to is as varied as the written works featured and the writers presenting them.  You might be the a reality TV star in Kate Durbin’s “Wives Shows,” or a passenger in a car that’s heading toward the apocalypse in Samantha Cohen’s “Archive of Endtimes” compilation. You may even become the writer, as part of Diana Arterian’s open invitation to contribute to her wall of erasure poems. You might drift into a room and find yourself all alone with Saehee Cho, who has stamped her story on various parts of her body. As she unfolds each passage of the story, revealing text by lifting the hem of her dress, extending fingers, pulling back her hair, she plays out a dance by having you, the reader shift along with her, to become her partner in the pas-de-deux. And that’s all contained in our Fall 2012 “Age of Obsolescence” show.


We strive to create a transformed literary environment where you can never half-listen to the text, because you are activated, implicated, engaged with the writer and their work. You, as an audience member, are 100% necessary for the exchange, for ENTER>text’s success. You might get lost, or we might. I’ve let the crafting of ENTER>text infect my writing practice: now when I start to write a new piece I don’t think of publication or a sea of faces or a network of followers. I think of whispering into a stranger’s ear in the dark.




Henry Hoke was a child in Virginia and an adult in New York and California. His work appears or is forthcoming in PANK, Gigantic, Birkensnake, Concord, and The New Short Fiction Series. His plays have been produced on the West Coast and at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival and published by Snail Press. He created and curates the ENTER>text series of immersive literary events in Los Angeles.


• all photos courtesy of Jason Gutierrez

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