"The museum of americana" is bringing its “Traveling Trove of Literary Curiosities” to Scratch Brewing Co. in Ava from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 — so grab a beer and a chair, and listen to a reading series, featuring several SIU graduate students and alumni.
Created by Justin Hamm in 2012, "the museum of americana" is an online literary review that is published three times a year in winter, summer and fall.
“'The museum of americana' was founded on two core beliefs," according to the publication's website. "The first is that there is much to love and celebrate in historical American culture. The second is that, while certainly not all aspects of Americana ought to be praised or celebrated, there is still great value in holding even that which is embarrassing or difficult up to the light to see what it is made of — and what could possibly be made of it."
Assistant Editor John McCarthy describes the review's editor, Hamm, as a “lifelong Midwesterner.” Hamm has resided in both central Illinois and Missouri.
“The Midwest has this reputation about being the center of what we would define as Americana," McCarthy said. “He wanted to create a review that publishes the ideas of Americana and preserves them.”
The notion of preserving this “lost, forgotten or reimagined” history helped lend to the literary review’s name “the museum of americana,” McCarthy said.
“We seek work that showcases and/or repurposes historical American culture," according to the review's guidelines for submission. "This is, of course, an enormous and diverse tub of spare parts, and we want to see if you can turn them into a hot rod. Give us fiction that dramatizes weird old folk songs or steals their characters. Give us love poetry that mixes language cribbed from ‘The Federalist Papers’ with language cribbed from WWII propaganda posters. We want medicine shows and riverboats, doo-wop and Duke Snider. We want aspects of Americana we may not have even heard of yet."
“Everything from Civil War stories to Beach Boys songs,” McCarthy summarized of the review's purview. “It’s a very broad umbrella.”
“It’s creating a great online community — about writing, and the conversation and dialogue about our cultural history — about what is means to be American,” McCarthy said.
Hamm and McCarthy both have ties to SIU, Hamm as an MFA poetry graduate and McCarthy as a third year MFA poetry candidate. The event at Scratch Brewing Co. will be somewhat of a “homecoming,” McCarthy said. On Saturday, the traveling reading series will showcase the talents of several Salukis, including third year PhD student Andy Harper; first year MFA poetry students Tafisha Edwards and Isiah Fish; and faculty member and "Crab Orchard Review" Editor John Tribble. McCarthy, who is also a resident of Carbondale, will be emceeing the event.
McCarthy said the event is being hosted at Scratch, not just because many graduate students like to congregate at the location and enjoy petting the goats, drinking the root beer and sitting in the outdoor atmosphere, but because they’ve been “very supportive, not just of SIU’s arts department, but the community as well.”
As the “Traveling Trove of Literary Curiosities” tours the nation, at other venues like Scratch, various contributors, editors, and fans of the online review will come together collectively to share the review’s prose, poetry, art and music.
“Traveling Trove of Literary Curiosities” will travel next to Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday, Nov. 13, and then to Bucktown-Wicker Park Library in Chicago on Saturday, Nov. 19.
The review publishes material including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book/chapbook reviews, writer interviews, music, photography and art. For those who are interested in submitting work to the online review, visit www.themuseumofamericana.net for submission guidelines.