Scenes from LitFest Pasadena 2017

May 29, 2017

Unsurprisingly, Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold packed the courtyard, standing room only. He’s a soft-spoken, engaging speaker with an unexpectedly dry humor and, as expected, a great storyteller. He’s always been a big draw at LitFest Pasadena.

At LitFest 2017 held on May 20 and 21, all the panel subjects, speakers, readers, and poets had alluring qualities and reasons for attending—difficult to be everywhere at once! LitFest is an extensive smorgasbord of literary personalities and knowledge with diverse life experiences and endless stories to tell. One volunteer who’d come from the west L.A. was gobsmacked by the quality and distinctive offerings—authors and literature unleashed!


Vroman’s courtyard.


The only evening panel was “Shades & Shadows” led by Xach Fromson and though we, the working staff, were dead on our feet, hanging out in the Pasadena Playhouse’s courtyard, the enthusiasm and applause from the folks packed into the Friendship Room for two hours of dark fantasy, horror, noir, and science fiction were music to our ears.


The atmospheric Pasadena Playhouse.


LitFest Pasadena Director Roz Helfand and PR Director Paddy Hurley in the Pasadena Playhouse courtyard.


LitFest Pasadena has evolved into a 2-day event with 5 to 6 site locations for readings, discussions, and panels, all within walking distance in the Playhouse District. Vroman’s both in the courtyard and in its upstairs event area, Zona Rosa, El Portal, the Walt Girdner Photo Studio and Gallery, the Playhouse, and Sculpture Plaza.



LitFest information booth in front of the Playhouse.


Iranian-American Laleh Khadivi, author of The Kurdish Trilogy, packed the stunningly beautiful and intimate Makineni Library on the second floor of the Playhouse, as did award-winning journalist Jean Guerrero and managing editor of Snopes Brooke Binkowski during “Hostile Environment Reporting for Young Journalists.”


Makineni Library, Pasadena Playhouse.


Batchelder tiles!


Poet and editor Neelanjana Banerjee moderated another panel to a packed courtyard, this time at El Portal—thank you, Abel, Armando, and Luis!—to discuss publishing indie and writers responding to changes in social media and the tech industry. “The Impossibility of L.A.” and “Writing in the Times of Black Lives Matter & Resisting Trumpism” were two more popular panels. We were grateful to get out of the hot sun and be able to use the Carrie Hamilton Theatre—Thank you, Pasadena Playhouse!—and there wasn’t even standing room during the Tomorrow Prize! with L.A. County teens reading their sci-fi stories.


Preparing for the “Mixed-Race & Interracial Experience to Make Meaning in a Time of Protest” panel with Natashia Deón and Heidi Durrow at El Portal.


“The Ins & Outs of Indie Publishing” at El Portal.


“Humor and Heartbreak in L.A.” was jam packed too, which we do not doubt as the great writer and always funny Lian Dolan was on the panel. The information table in front of the Playhouse kept directing people to “How to Get a Literary Agent” with B.J. Robbins and Betsy Amster, and “Sunshine Noir” with notable authors such as Naomi Hirahara, Phoef Sutton, Steph Cha, and Gary Phillips discussed how to write mysteries in the land of sunshine.

How about a panel that has writers discussing the commonalities and connections between running and writing? Yeah, we had that. Award-winning poets and poet laureates speaking their words of love, resistance, and social justice in the Zona Rosa alley with colorful papel picados flapping overhead.




From how the city eats, immersive readings, flights of fantasy, and literary activism to magna comics, destiny and determination in YA, spontaneous writing, and community building, LitFest Pasadena 2017 was packed with creative concepts, ideas, personalities, experiences, stories and words.

LitFestPasadena 2018. Here we come.



LitFest Pasadena is presented by Light Bringer Project and Literature for Life.





Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena