An Artful Business: An Evening with "Papa Legba"

By Ian Archbold at "You're Beautiful, New York!"

Saturday evening is the book launch of Le Chat Noir's 2011 literary journal, Drinking with Papa Legba, hosted by the journal's editor, Lee Anderson, at KGB Bar in New York's East Village.

Anderson is the founder of Alphabet Pony, a literary arts collective that hosts events and authors a weekly blog dedicated to the promotion of arts and literature.

Anderson may not fit the mold of the artsy, literary type, judging by his successful career as a New York City real estate broker, but this hasn't stopped Anderson's original passion as a writer and as a patron of the literary arts.

"I was trying to think of different ways to promote my business," he said. "I've always been into arts and literature, so this was a natural step, combining the two."

The transition from blogging about properties and apartments to the arts was seamless. With the help from a colleague who works for the head of the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, Anderson was granted permission to use the Department's official banner on his site.

"I didn't want to do another blog critiquing someone else's work. I knew that getting the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs' sponsorship would add some legitimacy to us here at Alphabet Pony," Anderson said.

With Alphabet Pony firmly established, Anderson began conducting interviews and articles about events having to do with up-and-coming artists and writers. A friend suggested taking Alphabet Pony to the next level by posting short videos of local performance artists and music videos from promising new bands.

"It's a Sunday ritual for me to sit down all day on the computer trolling for content. Nothing too viral, nothing with an ad in it, whatever was cool," Anderson said. "Lately people have been sending me videos, and it is great having others involved. I like the community spirit."

While at school at Florida International University, Anderson and a classmate started a literary society in Miami, hosting events involving burgeoning writers, poets and musicians.

"I used to co-host events in Miami at a South Beach hotel. I remember how much I enjoyed it. It was nourishing to be around these other writers," Anderson said.

Relocating to New York City, Anderson sought to immerse himself in the literary scene, seeking other talented individuals, with the urge to create another community based collective. After bring introduced by a mutual friend to Matthew D'Abate, YBNY writer and creative director and founder of Le Chat Noir, a film, music, and literary arts collective based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the two decided to join forces with a monthly reading series at the famed literary, communist-styled watering hole, KGB Bar.

"I wanted to make Le Chat Noir bigger and more visible. Until then, most of their events were based in Brooklyn. One of the ways Matthew and I came up with was to host these monthly readings in Manhattan," Anderson said.

The next move was to prove to the powers that be that both Alphabet Pony and Le Chat Noir could bring the crowds to the busy literary dive bar. The highly booked calendar at KGB is filled each night with readings from both established and emerging authors.

"KGB is a literary landmark and I am honored that they let us host Le Chat Noir's readings there," Anderson said.

Drinking with Papa Legba is edited by Anderson and the 18 stories in the volume all metaphorically relate with Papa Legba, the Haitian Voodoo Deity that guards the crossroads between the material and the spiritual world.

Editor's Note: Drinking with Papa Legba includes a piece from YBNY founder, Joel Silverstein.

The Drinking With Papa Legba Launch Party is Saturday December 10th, from 7pm-9pm, at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street in New York City, featuring readings by authors Karissa Chen, Lourdes Simon, Eric Kingrea, and Matthew D'Abate. Drinking With Papa Legba will be available for purchase at the event, and online after the launch

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