Author Sarah Gerard Is Coming to Jacksonville–Why I’m asking you to be there too

This coming Monday (May 1) Bridge Eight will host NY-based writer Sarah Gerard with her new book SUNSHINE STATE (Harper Perennial) at 7PM at CoRK Arts Studio.


I’m not asking you to come to a reading because it’ll be “fun.” That isn’t the draw. Sure you’ll have a good time, but that isn’t its purpose. I’m asking you to come because as a person, writer, artist, it’s an opportunity for you to be inspired and challenged.

In an interview with the Paris Review, William Faulkner said, “Art has no concern with peace and contentment.” His words demand that we as artists embrace discomfort and seek influences that challenge the how and why we create.

And this is my challenge to Jacksonville, as a whole and to its writers: embrace discomfort. Interact with the possibly unsettling influences that challenge you to be better.

I say this because one of the greatest gifts Jacksonville gives to any writer is its sense of the collective. We celebrate our own. From our up-and-comers to professionals, we recognize the creators, validate their ideas, and offer support. I love this about our city.

But our greatest benefit has the potential to become our weakness. Jacksonville needs to continue to appreciate and celebrate its own talent, yes, but at some point in time and as we reach a certain level, the talent isn’t here to be appreciated. It isn’t attracted for that reason. The talent is here and will come because of the opportunities this city gives them to be challenged to create work that competes with their peers living in other parts of the world.

It’s time we increased those opportunities. This is one of them.

This reading features Sarah Gerard, a Florida native living in New York. Right now she’s touring Florida with her new book SUNSHINE STATE, a collection of essays recently published by Harper Perennial (an imprint of Harper Collins). Since its release on April 17, it has been reviewed by the New York Times, NPR, Chicago Review of Books, Publisher’s Weekly and many more. It was listed in Buzzfeed’s “32 Most Exciting Books of 2017” and is a Paris Review staff pick.

Beyond the accolades, it is a book that defines itself as exploring Florida “as a microcosm of the most pressing economic and environmental perils haunting our society.” In its review, NPR described it as an “Unflinchingly candid memoir bolstered by thoughtfully researched history.”

I’m not asking you to come because it’ll be fun, no. I’m asking you to come because I know you’re not satisfied with peace and contentment and are looking for inspiration. Looking for a way to see how you can add to the larger conversation. Looking for reasons to see that your best work is still yet to come.

If this is you, I’ll see you Monday 7PM at Babs’ Lab (CoRK Arts District).


To read more about this event and Sarah’s growing accolades, check out the Facebook event.

To purchase the newest issue of Bridge Eight, visit their website.

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