The Protagonist: Kickstart Your Literary Endeavor by Chancing on the Goodwill of Other Artsy Types

Written by Alissa Fleck on . Posted in NY Press Exclusive.


Traveling_hippieKickstarter is a pretty neat product of the crowd-funding-platform movement. It relies on people’s generosity, a collective undying love of one-of-a-kind craftiness and the simple prayer that an inclination toward Kickstarter fatigue will never prevail over the optimism of hopeful artists and niche art appreciators everywhere. Kickstarter is one of those truly unequivocally great things that has come out of the Internet, though like anything it’s not without its detractors.

Because The Protagonist loves finding innovative ways to launch one’s literary career/project/seemingly unattainable dream, especially using the Internet, my interest was piqued when I heard about a couple poets using Kickstarter to take their literary endeavors to the open road.

Enter Line Assembly out of Pittsburgh, PA. Surely just one of a very large handful of literary hopefuls trying to make it happen on Kickstarter, Line Assembly gives itself the tagline: “Six Poets. One Van. No Quit.”

I know what you’re thinking — but Line Assembly is less Jack Kerouac and more art in the public interest; less Burning Man and more engaging wee tots at public libraries and the elderly at senior centers. Sound boring? That’s up to Kickstarter “backers” to decide.

Line Assembly is a group of six emerging poets who met as undergrads at Carnegie Mellon University and have since accumulated MFAs, full-length publications, notable awards and a collective 30 years of teaching experience between them. These poets want to give back to the communities which fostered their own passion for the literary arts by going straight to the heart of where they believe this passion is born. They will be providing free workshops and performances, donating books of poetry and helping develop resources so local communities can bolster their own emerging literary arts scenes.

The whole endeavor will also be made into a documentary, partially in response to a recent Washington Post op-ed which got literary groups seething by claiming “poetry is dead.”

“Can a poem still change anything?” asked Alexandra Petri  in the Post back in January. “I think the medium might not be loud enough any longer.”

Au contraire! says Line Assembly, poetry is alive and thriving in local community spaces and elsewhere around the country. Poetry indeed exists outside institutions of higher education, and it’s more important than ever to make sure it continues to flourish in those spaces.

Line Assembly only has until the end of April to fund its Kickstarter project, but hopefully the group’s inspirational message and the infectious enthusiasm of its participants will provide some impetus to anyone out there looking for an outlet or structure for his or her own project, or simply a way to beg for financial support under the guise of idealistic, youthful quirkiness. Throw in a ukulele solo and, project cohesion aside, you’re at least a little closer to getting your project fully backed.

Another thing that makes Kickstarter so great? No matter what happens, you have very little to lose.

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