Live to Dream

Since recent SFU grad Julie Bifano returned to Santa Barbara-and took up residence at our own Independent office-she’s been branching out in nearly every direction. Along with pulling double duty as both editorial intern and Web editor, Bifano has managed to organize her very own bi-monthly poetry and short-story reading series at Elsie’s (117 W. De la Guerra St.). This Wednesday, April 2, she’ll play host for the series’ inaugural night, hopefully jumpstarting a fun new spot for all of our up-and-coming S.B. authors. Below are just a few reasons why you should sign up, sit in, and start writing.

1) Setting the Mood: After jumpstarting a slew of successful reading nights at a small cafe up in San Fran, Bifano understands how important it is to find a location conducive to both public speaking and creativity. “I liked Elsie’s because it reminded me the most of the cafes I used to read in,” Bifano explained. “It’s funky; it’s off the beaten track. : I just like the vibe there. It’s mellow and casual.” And the cozy bar cum showspace was only too happy to have her. “[Owner] Pete Degenhardt was so sweet and so willing. : I was really surprised at how easy it was.”

2) A Grassroots Movement: Unlike the open mike nights that are popping up around town, the focus of Live to Dream is less about performing to a crowd and more about sharing and creating in a community. “A lot of it is word of mouth,” Bifano said of her former experiences. “To start, most of the people attending were people in my grad program.” But it’s just that idea that makes something like Live to Dream work-friends tell friends and a buzz starts to form. “Here, I don’t feel like there’s a community for writers. There was such a great writing community in the city.”

3) Timing Is Everything: Because Bifano opens up her readings to writers of all walks, organization is key. “It’s usually 90 percent people reading short stories, then two or three poetry writers,” she recalled. Interested parties are instructed to sign up for a slot prior to each event. “It’s not open mike. I actually try to form a list before it happens of somewhere between 10 and 12 people.” Likewise, participants are instructed to keep their readings somewhere between two and five minutes, regulated by the hostess herself. Inquiries and would-be readers are encouraged to contact Bifano at, or email


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