Another Bernice season has ended and, while a new one is still in the planning stages, I won’t be participating. After a lot of thinking, I’ve decided to leave Oh, Bernice! to pursue other projects. I’ve loved being part of your literary lives, bringing you literature and fun on a monthly basis, but running a reading series is incredibly hard work. There are no weekends, no lazy summers, no quiet drinks, alone, without planning another reading, solidifying a lineup, a venue, worrying that it all will fall through. It’s taken a toll on my body and my mind, and now it’s time to step back and give something to myself.
As you probably know, I’ve been with Oh, Bernice! since the beginning, when we were just a few people reading in a basement cabaret space that Bernician Tyler Rivenbark found in Sunnyside, with no hope of a series, let alone one that would span five seasons. I’ve seen this series grow and change so much in the years since then. I’ve been proud to preside over a series that brought The Oh, Bernice Dating Game, DOE Deathmatch, a reading from the film The Room, and Dollar Store Secret Santa to the literary world. I’ve been proud to pair the best of the Queens scene with some of the best writers in New York City (not exclusive terms, but you get the idea) including multiple Guggenheim fellows, a Lambda Award winner, a Grammy Award winner, and many, many others.
I know I’ve left my mark.
There are times where, as Series Coordinator, I’ve become synonymous with the series. Sometimes that just seemed like a way to introduce myself to people at parties, but it was always true. There were a lot of lean, lonely years where there was more work than I had free time, but I did it all because I wanted to The Oh, Bernice! Reading Series to keep going. Right now, I’m feeling a little separation anxiety, leaving. But Bernice, at it’s conception, has always been a group project. I’m leaving you in the capable hands of my fellow Bernicians, and I hope you will support them as the grow and change the series as they see fit. I want to thank them for what work they have done, and I want to thank you all for coming to Oh, Bernice!, whether it’s been for years or just once–we couldn’t have done it without you all. As for me, I’m hoping to find more time to actually write, draw, cook, and, eventually, go out to other readings without thinking about anything other than the literature being read.
Exclamation points to you all!
– John Rice