Insomniacathon 2004, On-Line!

Insomniacathon - A Brief History

On February 4, 1992 I became co-editor, with graduate student Kent Fielding, of what had been a student literary publication at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. I asked the academic committee that hired us if I had their permission to turn the publication into one of a small handful of the world's leading literary journals. The committee members looked at each other with disbelief, simultaneously nervously laughed real loud, then said Yes. What had been THE THINKER became THINKER REVIEW. After the meeting Kent told me he wanted to start a literary revolution in Louisville. I told Kent I wanted to start a Global Literary Renaissance home based in Louisville.

For three years we produced hundreds of music and poetry events in Louisville branching out to Kentucky, the USA, the world. Kent and I worked together for three years.

From 1992 to 1995 there was lightning in the air and on the streets of Louisville, lightning that flared out round the world to an ever growing arts community.

In February 1993 we brought to Louisville Eithne Strong from Ireland and E. Ethelbert Miller from Washington D.C. As was often the case we organized events first and then figured out how to cover our expenses. For Eithne and Ethelbert we needed money for airfare, hotels, and honorariums. But where would we find it?! When faced with a crisis we had brainstorming sessions. Two days before Eithne and Ethelbert arrived staff member Michael Crain and I had a session in the THINKER REVIEW office. Feeding thoughts words images back and forth we came up with the idea to produce a 24-hour non-stop music and poetry INSOMNIACATHON. Our guests were arriving in 48 hours. We decided to produce the first ever INSOMNIACATHON the next night at Twice Told Coffee House on Bardstown Road, the heart of the bohemian arts district in Louisville. We produced a flier, ran copies at Kinko's, and sent a team out to plaster the town. Everyone else got on the phones. Word spread like wildfire. Word of mouth remains the best form of advertising. The next night was amazing. Hundreds came. Hundreds were turned away because there wasn't enough room in Twice Told. We passed the hat periodically throughout the 24 hours of non-stop performances. 24 hours later, hours before the arrival of Eithne and Ethelbert, we had the money to cover all their expenses. But something more important had occurred. I witnessed the transformational power of combining poetry and music at the same event. I was uplifted and inspired. Nearly everyone else in attendance was too.

A year earlier, in April 1992, over 400 people attended our first ever open mic poetry reading at which the first THINKER REVIEW was released. Between 1992 and 1995 so many amazing events and publications were produced.

The first big INSOMNIACATHON was held in 1993 at multiple locations in the Bardstown Road Bohemia district. The main venue was The Thunderdome which, at the time, was Louisville's premiere music venue. 72 bands and 112 poets participated. The event ran non-stop for more than three days and three nights. Every night over a thousand people packed The Thunderdome to hear energy charged performances from cutting edge high velocity local regional national bands and poets.

In 1994 we produced four 48-hour non-stop music and poetry INSOMNIACATHONs in New York City, Lowell Massachusetts, Monterey and Louisville Kentucky.

After 1995 Kent and I went separate ways. Kent moved to Alaska. I moved to Iceland.

The history of The Global Literary Renaissance is so rich and dense and painful and joyous that it is nearly impossible to confine a description, albeit brief, to a few words. Producing one INSOMNIACATHON is a near death experience. For over a decade I produced one, two, three, and even four per year, from New Orleans to New York City to The Netherlands.

Kent Fielding and David Baker produced Insomniacathon 2000 at several Louisville, Kentucky locations. Andy Cook produced Insomniacathon 2003 at The Rudyard Kipling in Louisville, Kentucky. James Walck produced the first ever OnLine Insomniacathon 2004. I was Advisor for all three of those Insomniacathons. Will there be another Insomniacathon? I hope so. I hope young people (of all ages) round the planet produce many Insomniacathons.

The Insomniacathon is a temporary autonomous zone where people from all walks of life come together to create, produce, perform, share their creative work, share their lives. All the creative arts are included: poetry, prose, music, painting, photography, sculpture, dance, theatre, film. Performers and attendees come away inspired to live, to create.

Since 1992 I've produced over 1,000 music and poetry events, including 24-48-72 hour non-stop Music & Poetry INSOMNIACATHONs, across the USA and Europe.

The University of Louisville Rare Books and Archives, directed by Delinda Buie, is the permanent repository, past present future, for all my work including my work to create and perpetuate the sacred profane fire known as . . .
The Global Literary Renaissance.

Keep The Flame Alive!

Produce! Produce! Produce!

Never Give Up!

Ron Whitehead

the wanderer


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On Sunday, Feburary 20th, Writer, The Gonzo Journalist, Kentuckian and Friend, Hunter S. Thompson headed on from this world to the next. Click Here to read the emotes, reflects, rants and raves coming in to Insomniacathon On-Line!
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More info about The Literary Renaissance
Messina and Amram at Insomniacathon 96'  -  New Orleans
Seven years later, old friends do it again in Louisville at Insomniacathon 2003

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