Imagine you’ve recently discovered an internet radio show where the host, a stuffed bear, pairs literary readings with music. (He might also pair readings with the occasional nip of whisky.)
Imagine the show is called Mr. Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon, and the tagline is “where the sky is evening-gorgeous, the drinks won’t cloud your head, and the cocktail nuts are poems.” The format is strong, and the tagline seals the deal: you become a regular listener. Imagine that you are scrolling through Twitter when a notification comes through: something you wrote will be featured on the show in one hour!
Now imagine how happy I was when I saw this tweet:
— Mr. Bear (@MrBearStumpy) September 12, 2017
With all the crazy weather thanks to hurricanes in the Caribbean and the US lately, no wonder this week’s theme was rain and floods. I really enjoyed the readings and lots of new-to-me music. Unfortunately, I missed the first twenty minutes—only to discover Mr. Bear had opened with two songs followed by my piece, Flood Season (published in Asian Cha’s March 2012 issue, and chosen as a finalist for that year’s Sundress Best of the Net Anthology.) I looked forward to hearing the podcast the following day.
— Mr. Bear (@MrBearStumpy) September 13, 2017
At around the eight-minute mark, I heard the opening lines of Flood Season. A few paragraphs in, I thought: What a gorgeous reading! I continued listening. Just the right rhythm and lilt. Emphasis in the right places. Quite possibly better than I could read it myself.
And no wonder. Mr. Bear’s cohost and alter-ego is the multitalented Georgia Bellas. Creator of the Violet Hour Saloon, Georgia is a writer and voracious reader. She’s also a photographer, artist, musician, filmmaker, and ardent promoter of literature. She and Mr. Bear weave their violet hour magic at Boston Free Radio on Tuesdays from 8–9PM EST, and the podcast is archived at secretlives.podbean.com
Speaking about the show in various interviews, Georgia or Mr. Bear—I’m not sure which—has said that “Maybe the writers themselves would hear and know their words mattered, or maybe I’d just share these words with people who might not have come across them otherwise.”
The Violet Hour Saloon has nailed both for me. The show introduces me to great work by writers I had not previously come across, and pieces that are new to me by writers I admire. And I was thrilled to learn that my little memoir piece mattered enough to a well known, well loved powerhouse in the literary community that she read the whole piece on Boston Free Radio. It couldn’t have come at a better time—I’ve been so busy with life and with putting together query packages for my manuscript that I haven’t submitted any writing anywhere this year, except for one contest. (I didn’t even make the shortlist.) It’s such a lift to know that people are still reading and hearing my writing.
I’ve heard some great poetry, fiction and nonfiction, old and new, on the show, but Georgia’s own writing is well worth a read. I love her short yet many-layered memoir piece Family Interpreter, recently published on The Coil.
Love, Cliff, in the Summer 2015 issue of People Holding…, surprised me with its unexpected angle.
Surrenders, in issue 24 of Literary Orphans, is full of beauty and melancholy.
You can learn more about Georgia and Mr. Bear in this lovely interview with Synaesthesia Magazine. They tweet as @MrBearStumpy.
Thanks to Mr. Bear for permission to post his photos here.