Competition, the art of language and the local literary community bring on the heat in The Inner Loop’s first ever Literary Madness event, a month-long author-focused tournament and virtual fundraiser. The Inner Loop aims to amplify local authors and support the D.C. literary community.
“So, we’re pitting famous writers — past and present — against each other in a series of literary death matches,” Lena Crown, program manager of The Inner Loop, says. “Essentially, we wanted to give some of our writers, readers and our community the opportunity to engage with those writers’ work. It’s a low stakes, fun, exciting, creative way to think about literary history.”
Inspired by the March Madness basketball tournament, Literary Madness asks participants to complete a bracket by March 1 and donate at least $15 via PayPal. Authors such as David Foster Wallace, Jane Austen, Edward P. Jones and Emily Dickinson are pitted against each other for the fight of the greatest literary legacy. Submitting brackets enters participants into a raffle to win $150 in gift cards to local bookstores. Participants will also receive exclusive content from writers in The Inner Loop’s “Author’s Corner” program, where they will narrate the match plays. For those unable to donate, TIL will broadcast the results throughout the month on their social media.
“We had a lot of people reach out and say, ‘Oh my God, so and so has to face off against so and so,’ and there were some very strong feelings about that,” Crown says. “And even among the writers who were crafting the matchups, they were like, ‘Oh, I’ve definitely got to do this one,’ so I think it is a fun way to just get people reading.”
Those who have not read every author in the bracket should have no fear.
“As with all tournaments like this, there is an element of chance that makes it exciting, and we’re hoping that element of chance and upset can welcome everyone in,” Crown says.
Proceeds from the event will help fund The Inner Loop’s five programs: their reading series, radio podcast, writers-in-residency program, retreats and Author’s Corner. The Inner Loop will also be uplifting writers along the way and publicizing them on their social media channels.
“Our goals always are to support our authors and the authors who have already participated in the Inner Loop,” Courtney Sexton, co-founder of The Inner Loop, says. “So hopefully by bringing their words directly to readers — even maybe readers who haven’t encountered their work before — if they really vibe with someone’s writing style or want to read more, then they’ll seek out their work.”
For those who want to learn more about The Inner Loop and their programs, visit theinnerlooplit.org, check them out on Instagram at @theinnerlooplit and sign up for their mailing list to keep up to date with their monthly readings.