Deep Carnivale: A whirlwind of words 

This year's Artists & Writers Group festival offers an impressive and provocative lineup.

Each year, local arts scene champion David Audet — who in 2006 reignited the storied Artists and Writers Group founded by photography living legend Bud Lee — gathers scribes, actors and visual artists for events that have hovered under the radar but are gaining momentum, extending beyond the enclaves of Tampa Bay’s literati and bohemians.

The group originally started in the ’70s with the hugely popular and ridiculous “Artists and Writers Ball,” an annual Ybor event that spoofed Gasparilla festivities with wild costumes and satirical performances.

More subdued while retaining Lee’s characteristically offbeat charm, the group endures with seasonal events like the Cuban Sandwich Series and Festival of the Moving Image, which last year upped the ante with an impressive array of offerings. Likewise, the springtime annual event Deep Carnivale 2013: A Celebration of Words offers another cavalcade of uniquely compelling acts. The only unfortunate part is that it’s all condensed into a brief weekend of showcases, Feb. 21-24, at Grownman Brand Studios in Seminole Heights.

Some of the area’s best writers provide inspiration — including David Durney, Maria Fabian, actor/writer Richard J. Girard, Paul Guzzo (Cigar City Magazine writer, Tampa historic storyteller and author and owner of the The Buzz coffeehouse in Harbour Island), Stuart Kincade, Sarah Myhre, Fred Smith, Ira Sukrungruang (scholar, writer and blogger behind Sweet: A Literary Confection), Katie Riegel (poet, author, Sukrungruang’s wife and co-blogger behind Sweet), Hillsborough County Poet Laureate James E. Tokely Sr. and spoken word artist/writer Neko Linda Williams. Locally renowned poets Silvia Curbelo, Melissa Fair and Rhonda J. Nelson add to the mix.

On Thursday-Saturday evenings, Mike Daisey’s controversial one-man show The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs debuts in the Tampa Bay area, performed by Girard and directed by Taylor Edwin Ashley.

NPR radio show This American Life ran a piece about Daisey’s one-man show last year — and soon after, a retraction, because of alleged fabrications ­(or poetic license, however one wants to interpret it) within Daisey's piece. He has since written a more widely embraced 2.0 version of the monologue, which can be downloaded from his blog at

Incidentally, American Stage almost staged Daisey’s Steve Jobs piece last season, but pulled it — though they may be revisiting it again with Brian Shea as the star.

Other provocative and thought-provoking deep-dish Carnivale fare can be enjoyed. Ladies, hold onto your uterus for “Wombs on the Run,” a spoken word performance by Williams; and be sure to check out The Exclamations Point!, Kincade’s soundscape and spoken word performance. On Sunday, the event is free to attend with readings by some of the fest’s stellar poets.

For a full schedule of events, visit


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