When WordSpace presents Nikki Giovanni at the Kessler Theater on December 8, the



evening will begin with a solo set by Betty Soo, a rising star on the folk rock circuit from Austin who has already had several successful shows at the Kessler.

In 2004, at the age of 26, Betty Soo wrote her first song. She liked it. She liked singing it. She dropped out of graduate, quit her day job, wrote some more songs, and took to the road. Things have turned out well. She has had sold-out tours in both the U.S. and Europe, reaping such praise as this from the Americana magazine in the the U.K. —

BettySoo’s voice is the perfect combination of strength, vulnerability and clarity.

She has been named the Kerrville New Folk Winner, the Mountain Stage New Song Competition Winner, and won the Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year. The Houston Post referred her as “The Real Deal,” which also coincidentally is the name WordSpace has given to the evening with Nikki Giovanni.

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni

Tickets for Nikki Giovanni, with Betty Soo and the winner of the Metroplex area poetry slam are available on Prekindle.

While deciding how many to buy, enjoy this video of Betty Soo in performance.



At WordSpace we proudly present each of our readers at the fifty or so events we sponsorNikki Giovanni each year. But on December 8, we both proudly present and are honored to present Nikki Giovanni at the Kessler Theater.

Nikki Giovanni is a poet of passion and intellect whose verse, for the past forty years, has embraced everything from the  raucous rhythms of hip hop to the formal elegance of the greatest of modern poets. Early in her career she was dubbed the “Princess of Black Poetry.” That has a certain fairy-tale ring to it, but more recently she has been acknowledged as both a National Treasure and appeared on the list of Oprah Winfrey”s Living Legends.

Her evening at the Kessler will be filled with her verse and we can only hope her unfettered opinions. (We never ask our speakers to hold back on any topic that interests



them.) There will also be music from BettySoo, a rising star on the Austin song circuit, and a special appearance by the winner of a local poetry slam  held specifically to offer one Dallas area poet the chance to appear on the same stage as Ms. Giovanni.

Tickets for Nikki Giovanni: The Real Deal are available on Prekindle.

During the next two weeks WordSpace will be posting frequent excepts from earlier perfomances, lectures, and interviews with Nikki Giovanni. Here is her response to the death of Tupac Shakur from a performance in 1997.




DallasNoir1-127x200On October 30, Half Price Books on Northwest Highway in Dallas hosted a book launch for Dallas Noir. This volume, from the remarkable literary press Akashic Books, puts Dallas into the esteemed company of New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Paris, Istanbul,  and over forty other metropolis’s whose native authors revel in showing their beloved hometowns at their absolute worst.

What fun.

WordSpace is proud to say that we have hosted in the past year two contributors to this volume and will bring you a reading by a third in January 2014. Ben Fountain did his first public reading from Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk at a WordSpace salon months before it won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Will Bondurant, whose second novel The Wettest County in the World became the film Lawless, also did a salon event. In January 2014, David Haynes will be reading from his soon to be released seventh novel.

These three join seventeen other Dallasites who offer up all the mayhem and low behavior you could hope for. Since it is all conveniently organized by neighborhood, you can quickly find out what your neighbors are getting up to. Your worst suspicions will be deliriously realized.  Dallas Noir is available wherever fine books are sold. Half Price Books sold out of their first shipment at the launch party, but more are on the way.

This respectable looking bunch have surprisingly lurid imaginations

This respectable looking bunch have surprisingly lurid imaginations



OK, that question is facetious.

Sandra BernhardSandra Bernhard has not made a name for herself by not speaking her mind, on any topic and in any venue. We look forward to her doing the same at the Kessler Theater on October 23 at 8:00. She opens the WordSpace at the Kessler season which will also include appearances by Nikki Giovanni, Laurie Anderson, and John  Waters. Tickets for Sandra Bernhard and Nikki Giovanni are currently available at Prekindle.

What can you expect from Sandra Bernhard at the Kessler? We can only hope, as Bette Davis said in All About Eve, that we should fasten our seats belts for a bumpy night.

Check out Sandra Bernhard on Canadian TV for a sense of her thoughtful/acerbic side




Bonnie Friedman

Bonnie Friedman

Bonnie Friedman’s essays tend to make their way into a lot of “Best of…” anthologies. She has been in such anthologies as The Best American Movie Writing, The Best Writing on Writing, The Best Spiritual Writing, and The Best of The Oprah Magazine. Her first book, Envy, Fear, Distraction, and Other Dilemmas of the Writer’s Life as a Village Voice bestseller.

Friedman, who currently teaches Creative Nonfiction in the MFA program at the University of North Texas, will read new work at the WordSpace Salon on Thursday, September 12. To sample her writing, check out this essay published on Shambhala Sun — and find out why this blog post has the title it does.

The WordSpace Salon begins at 7:00 PM. Salons are free to WordSpace members and $10 for nonmembers.  Refreshments will be served. (What an excellent time to join WordSpace. Given the free salons and discounted tickets to Kessler Theater events, you make back you $35 membership in just a few months.)

Since salons are held in private homes, we do not publish the address until guests  RSVP at 214-838-3554 or via email at wordspace@wordspace.us.



WordSpace and the Kessler Theater have presented several knockout shows over the past few years. Shows featuring Dan Savage, Amy Sedaris, and Andrei Codrescu. But this year, thanks to the sponsorship of Half Price Books, we have an entire season planned. We are producing shows starting this October. Here is the line up:

Sandra BernhardSANDRA BERNHARD — October 23, 2013. Remember when she and Robert de Niro kidnapped Jerry Lewis in Martin Scorcese’s The King of Comedy? She may not be taking prisoners at the Kessler, but expect an evening of her no-holds-barred brand of comedy. She has requested that we provide a grand piano for the stage. We at WordSpace were a bit taken aback by the cost, but you know, even if she merely drapes herself across it, the money has been well spent.

Nikki GiovanniNIKKI GIOVANNI — December 8, 2013. This is the point when I am supposed to list all the awards and honorary degrees this remarkable poet has received, but you can read about those on the WordSpace website. I’ll just say that it is a long and impressive list, but here’s the cool part. Robert Baker, a researcher at Texas Tech University and major Gioivannii fan, discovered a new species of bat in Equador and named it after the poet. For those whose Latin is a little shaky. the Micronycteris giovanniae can also be called Giovanni’s small night flyer.

Tickets for both Sandra Bernhard and Nikki Giovanni are currently on sale at Prekindle:

Sandra Bernhard       Nikki Giovanni

laurie-andersonLAURIE ANDERSON kicks off the 2014 season on March 13. Laurie Anderson has been presenting dazzling multi-media stage shows since her premiere with Oh, Superman in 1981. She is a singer, a storyteller. a composer, and a virtuoso of the neon violin. The Kessler offers an unusually intimate setting to see this mega-star working her special brand of stage magic.



John WatersJOHN WATERS — May 29. It has come to our attention that many of what we have come to think of as “the younger crowd” know Mr. Waters only through his delightful, PG musical Hairspray. If you are too young to have had your mind twisted and possibly your life changed by such transgressive midnight masterpieces of the 1970’s  as Pink Flamingo’s and Female Trouble, his one man presentation of This Filthy World will be your chance to catch up. Mr. Waters has asked only for a stool, a cordless mike, and a spotlight. But what more does a born showman need?

Tickets for both Laurie Anderson and John Waters will go on sale after January, 2014. Watch both the WordSpace website and Prekindle for updated information.




Over the past year Off World meetings have talked science fiction in general, the authors Off World Mystery GuestsNeal Stephenson  and Philip K. Dick (in general), and sponsored book signings and panel discussions. But on May 8 we will meet to discuss The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick. There is still plenty of time to read this 240 page novel, although if you have read it in the past or just want to absorb some good PKD weirdness, please join us at 7:00 pm at the WordSpace World Headquarters, 415 North Tyler Street, Dallas 75208.

Find out more about this and other WordSpace events at our website.

For a more on The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and a clue to why this blog post is illustrated with a picture of Barbie and Ken, read a review of the book on Potato Weather.


If you look at the picture to the right and think, “Hey, that’s Octavio Solis!” you may be

Octavio Solis, circa 1990

Octavio Solis, circa 1990

showing youour age.

I think the website I found that image on was from 1995, and even by then  Octavio had left Dallas for San Francisco several years in the past, lured there by the prospect of working with the Magic Theater.

Here in Dallas, in the late 1980’s, Octavio produced several plays in local clubs and for Teatro Dallas. A native of El Paso, he was a graduate of the theater program at Trinity University in San Antonio. His stay in Dallas was in fact fairly brief, but he had a definite impact on the local theater scene. And after his relocation to San Francisco in 1990, he continued to return for the occasional production at Undermain Theater and The Dallas Theater Center, as well as visits to theaters in San Antonio and Austin.

On May 24, Kitchen Dog Theater opens Se Llama Cristina, Solis’ newest play, previously produced only this past January at the Magic Theater in San Francisco.  WordSpace is delighted to present an evening with the playwright on April 17 at the McKinney Avenue Octavio nowContemporary.

The evening will provide old fans and a new audience with a chance to get to know one of the finest playwrights in the the country. The evening begins at 7:30, with tickets at $15 or $10 for WordSpace or MAC members. You can preorder tickets here


or take your chances at the door.



Here’s a joke that only makes sense if you read a lot of science fiction:

Cruel attempt to deprogram young SF fan

Cruel attempt to deprogram young SF fan

Q: What’s the Golden Age of Science Fiction?

A: 12

Get it? You see the Golden Age of SF is really considered the 1940’s, when the pulp magazines began their rule. But let’s face it. We all started reading it when we were around 12. (I am generalizing here.) And we were hooked, maybe for only the next few years or maybe a lifetime.

While Dallas celebrates the Big Read with a citywide reading of Ray Bradbury’s classic

A healthy and perfectly normal SF reader

A healthy and perfectly normal SF reader

Fahrenheit 451, WordSpace and Half Price Books join in the festivities with the panel discussion Growing Up With Science Fiction, April 9 at 7:00 pm in the public room of Half Price Books, 5803 E. Northwest Hwy.

We are bringing together a diverse group of area writers and readers to delve into what science fiction did, or did not, mean to them while growing up.

And our panelists are:

Ben Fountain — novelist and recent recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk. (Ben claims to have read one SF novel as a child and to have never found one he liked since.)

Ken Ruffin — Ken is the president of the National Space Society of North Texas, an organization you should all know about and support. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect he trounces all over Ben’s lifetime SF reading stats.

Jerome Weeks — book critic and KERA commentator. He’s read his fair share of SF and has definite opinions. He is, after all, a book critic.

The panel moderator is Charles Dee Mitchell — freelance writer, curator, chair

Why my parents did not encourage my SF reading

Why my parents did not encourage my SF reading

of programming for WordSpace and yes the author of this blog posting. I abandoned science fiction in high school but confess to have returned to the fold in my own golden age.

The evening will be fun, free, and with lots of time for audience participation.

There are many Big Read activities  during the month of April you will want to check out. My favorite, other than this panel, is The Science of Fire at the new Perot Museum on April 13. For more information about all the events, visit the Big Read Dallas website.

For more information on WordSpace programming visit our website.

Hope to see you on April 9. You need not speak Klingon to attend.


Of course we want everyone within the sound of this email to come hear award-winning american elsewherescience fiction writer Robert Jackson Bennett at the Barnes and Noble on Northwest Hwy in Dallas on March 13. And unless you are a scaredy cat, you will want to pick up a signed copy of his new horror/SF novel American Elsewhere. 

But the good news is that you can support WordSpace even if you do not attend the event. Our readings and signings at Barnes and Noble are also bookfairs, where by using a code I am about to give you, a portion of what you purchase between now and  March 14th, will go WordSpace. This applies to purchases in store and on line.

And that not so easy to remember code is #11056124. On the evening of the event, you will be given vouchers with those magic numbers. But feel free to visit Barnes and Noble online right now, shop like a fiend, and use that code upon checkout to direct part of your money to WordSpace.

Get more details on the event at the WordSpace website. Learn more about Mr. Bennett, 972-285-8661.

Is this the face of a man who wants to scare you? Well, actually it iswho only wants to frighten you and show you a good time, on our previous blog postings.

Is this the face of a man who want to scare you? Well, actually it is.