Tuesday, May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024
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Will Evans Is Now Legit

The founder of Deep Vellum gets his flowers in the New York Times. But can I quibble?

The NYT today dropped a wonderful story that you should take the time to read. It’s about Will Evans, of Deep Vellum (the bookstore and publisher), and Javier García del Moral and Paco Vique, of Wild Detectives. Too busy right now? Just want the tastiest part? Says the paper:

Today Dallas is home to one of the most dynamic, international literary scenes in the country, inspired in many ways by the infectious, D.I.Y. energy of Deep Vellum, now one of the country’s largest publishers of translated literature, and Wild Detectives. Their fates have been twined from the start, and this past weekend they threw a joint 10th-ish anniversary celebration at the bookstore that lasted three days and felt more house party than book party.

Orchestrated by García del Moral, it was vintage Wild Detectives. D.J.s pumped up the swaying crowds that grew wilder as the evenings wore on. Tattoo artists set up a corner table; a barbecue pit set up outside. Dallas’s first poet laureate, Joaquin Zihuatanejo, held the packed house spellbound as torrential rain cascaded down on Saturday with a reading from his latest book, Occupy Whiteness, published by Deep Vellum.

Pretty cool, right? If I were a gentleman, I’d leave it there and go back to trying to understand why some people get so excited by the NFL draft. But, well, picking nits is more fun than thinking about the draft. So let me bring up one problem I have with the NYT story.

The top of the story talks about how Evans, when he moved in Dallas and attended lit events, would post about them and include a hashtag that generated some ridicule. But then the guys at Wild Detectives started using the same hashtag. The story says: “Soon, they picked up the #literarydallas hashtag, too. So did the Dallas Morning News. Suddenly the idea was no longer a laughing matter, but something real, willed into existence.”

Not so fast.

When Evans came up with the idea of naming a poet laureate for Dallas, in 2022, here is how the News began its editorial on the subject:

Poets are a rare and precious resource. Dallas needs more of them, especially now.

On Wednesday, we will learn the identity of our city’s first poet laureate, an office created by the Dallas Public Library, the Office of Arts and Culture, and Deep Vellum Publishing. Last year, announcing the creation of that program, Deep Vellum founder Will Evans said confidently, “There is no doubt that Dallas, is, and has always been, a literary city.”

We have our doubts.

Dallas is a business city, a successful city, a can-do city. But it’s not always a poetic city.

Mention this editorial to Evans, and he’ll get animated. He’ll sarcastically shout, “We have our doubts! Dallas is a business city, not a literary city! We doubt it!” Evans has that editorial tacked to a board above his desk at work so that it can inspire him to greater heights.

I learned about this editorial and its place in Evans’ life when I interviewed him for a Q&A in the May issue of D Magazine, which isn’t yet online. The occasion of the Q&A was Evans’ receiving a knighthood from the French government. You, of course, know it as the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. There may or may not be a party at the Wild Detectives on May 17. Stay tuned, mon ami.


Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…