Circumtext is a reading group/series whose only rule is that participants may share only pieces that they did not write themselves. Since 2011, we have held several regular reading events in Seattle, the Bay Area, and Portland. We organize events semi-regularly, or by invitation as part of other events, though we encourage groups in other cities to organize their own events.

These are just some of the types of things that have been shared at Circumtext: one-of-a-kind library finds; obscure dictionaries and specialized reference works; signage and advertising copy; instruction manuals, fine print, and legalese; email spam, classifieds listings, and internet commentary; vintage correspondence, historical ephemera, and de-classified documents; marginalia, latrinalia, glossolalia, and other linguistic paraphernalia; transcripts, translations, and other transformations.

The name “circumtext” comes from the Latin prefix ‘circum’, meaning “around” or “about”, and the root ‘text’. A similar construction is used in the English words context, subtext, paratext, et cetera. The name is also patterned after Seattle’s subtext collective, one of whose members (Nico Vassilakis) we talked with at various bars in Georgetown – and asked permission to use the name – when we were starting our group. We wanted to wrap all of the other “-text” prefixes into one, and to suggest that texts worthy of our consideration arise from many different cultural (and non-cultural) sources – high and low and everything in between, and that these texts can be approached from many different angles – above, below, and all around. Hence circum-text.

We are continually seeking new texts to be shared at our readings and possibly also to publish. Specifically: texts that are found, sought, collected, curated, arranged, generated, or produced by some process of constraint, search, crawling/scraping, aggregation, filtering, translation, auto-generation, or hand-picking, from sources high and low and far and wide, especially those not already recognized for their “literary” qualities, by entities not known as “authors” (but those too), texts that are removed from their original context or put into new ones, taken apart and put back together, into pieces that are fit for the page or screen or for other adaptation but also ultimately meant to be read aloud or otherwise shared in groups of people. Email submissions or inquiries to submissions [at] circumtext [dot com].

Also seeking typographers, graphic/web/motion designers, bookmakers, voice actors, calligraphers, animators, title designers, signmakers, performers, and other artists to collaborate with us and our contributors on the adaptation of textual material. Email collaborate [at] circumtext [dot com].

Join the list for updates on Circumtext readings in the Bay Area, or contact us for other inquiries.

Circumtext at Short Run Small Press Festival, Seattle, WA, November 2012

Circumtext Short Run