Last night, Juli and I attended the Hunter Alumni reading night at the KGB Bar in the East Village after enjoying a meal of lentil soup and potato pancakes at B&H Dairy on 2nd Avenue. I have one word to describe the event—Wow. Now, that sounds fucking cheesy as shit, and it is, but let me explain.

But first, here’s the brief.

Please join us for the Fall 2009 reading featuring, Vanessa Manko (Fiction, 2008), Maya Funaro (Poetry, 2008) and Jason Porter (Fiction, 2008).

Vanessa Manko earned her MFA in Fiction from Hunter College (2008). After training in ballet at the North Carolina School of the Arts and dancing professionally with the Charleston Ballet Theater, Vanessa returned to school to earn a B.A. in English from the University of Connecticut. She went on to receive her M.A. in dance studies and cultural history from NYU’s Gallatin School. In addition to writing fiction, Vanessa writes about dance. She is the former Dance Editor of The Brooklyn Rail, and has written articles and reviews for Dance Magazine, NYFA’s Current, Dance Teacher, and Dance Research Journal. Vanessa is currently completing her first novel. She lives in Brooklyn Heights.

Maya Funaro’s chapbook Setting in Motion was released in 2009 by Fox Point Press. She completed her MFA in poetry at Hunter College in May of 2008. Her poetry has appeared in Ekleksographia, and Ology, the Graduate English journal of Hunter College. She holds a B.A. in Visual Art from Brown University and has studied printmaking, bookbinding and letterpress printing in Providence, Bologna and New York. Born and raised in South Jersey, she currently makes her home in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

After a brief career as an online news editor and a less brief non-career as a rock musician, Jason Porter completed an MFA in Fiction at Hunter College in 2008. He has since written a short novel titled Why Are You So Sad? and is hard at work on a new novel about a fallen celebrity boxer. Despite a perfectly happy childhood in southeastern Michigan, he is even happier to now call Brooklyn his home, where he is gradually aging along with his girlfriend and their two nearly perfect terrier mutts.

The KGB Bar, as awesome and Communisty and red as it is, is a tiny little upstairs affair you’d never know was there save for the sign on the street. The windows are curtained and you have to walk into what was clearly once a tenement building that has been converted into a bar/theatre/performance space. The KGB Bar occupies the second floor with the other things on other floors. Tidy! When we got there at about 7:40 for an 8 o’clock start time, only a couple of tables were filled. Mind you that there are probably only 8 tables in the whole place. Nevertheless, it was still relatively empty. By the time the first reader went on, it was packed. Passage to the bathroom was impossible.

The turn out was incredible. I recognized a number of current and former Hunter MFA students from the two open houses I’ve attended. It’s demonstrative of the strength of their community that they could fill this place up on a cold Tuesday night. It is certainly a good sign to me that Hunter is the right place for me. A program that inspires that sort of loyalty is attractive. I would like to be part of it. Now, I just have to convince them that I am right for them.