Zoe Gould and Maryan Captan are the masterminds behind the first annual Philly Lit Spelling Bee at Johnny Brenda’s on Friday, May 13th. The erudite event is a fundraiser for The Head & The Hand Press, a Fishtown nonprofit that publishes artisanal books. The evening will also celebrate many other of Philly’s uniquely focused literary organizations as lettered academics compete for the title of "Majesties of Orthography."
Rather than duel with pistols, host a jousting match or do something else acceptably cultured, Gould and Captan chose a Spelling Bee for its first annual competition because of its "whimsy," says Gould. "We all labor hard to put out great work and do great workshops and never really take pause to assess why we do this – it's because we love words, the technical aspects of writing. So what better way to incorporate all the members of our community than to have a party centered around words."
Esposito, the night's emcee and founder of The Head & the Hand Press, admits having problems spelling antagonistic ("a word that thwarted my victory in a 5th grade spelling bee and I'll be damned if I let it happen again"), and paragraph ("mis-typed this word so many times I fear I now have some mental block that would prevent me from not spelling ‘in’ correctly"). Gould's trouble spots however are area names, such as Schuylkill and Passyunk as well the often abused committee and vacuum. "It's all the double letters," she says.
While a lion's share of the money raised goes to The Head & The Hand Press, the winning team of the Spelling Bee will also win a cash prize for their efforts, as judged by official "Pronouncers" (who'll repeat the word, pronounce it slowly and used it in a sentence) Linda Gallant-Moore and Gould.
So far, competing Bee teams include Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Lanternfish Press, Editorial Freelancers Union, APIARY Magazine, Backyard Writers Group, Fuze Poetry and The Head & Hand Press.
If you go:
Friday, May 13
Doors: 8 p.m., $10