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“Not About The Buildings” Spelling Bee – June 22, 2009

From Not About The Buildings:

For the third year in a row, tensions are mounting in Providence as some of the city’s best spellers gear up for a fierce night of competition to benefit local literary organization Not About The Buildings. The battle begins promptly at 9pm on June 22nd at AS220 (115 Empire Street).

Founded in 2006, Not About The Buildings strives to build a vibrant literary community in Providence; initially, its focus was on the struggling library system, but more recently it has branched out into events, small-press publishing, and art installations. (An exhibit in the Washington Street windows of the URI Library, part of the Providence Art Windows, opens June 18th, and June 21st a joint fundraiser with Providence Books Through Bars will be launching.)

The Spelling Bee is both its largest annual fundraiser and its biggest draw. Last year’s bee attracted thirty-seven spellers and nearly a hundred spectators. This year, the winner can expect to receive about two hundred dollars’ worth of donated prizes.

“My favorite part of the bee,” says Matthew Lawrence, founder of Not About The Buildings and host of the event, “is the way it draws really different groups of people together. There was probably a forty-year span in the contestants’ ages, and it was really fun seeing college professors hanging out with punk kids and the everybody from Blue State and Urban Outfitters. We’ve also had two married couples squaring off against one another.”

After fourteen rounds of competition, Maureen Reddy won the 2008 competition with the word ‘caesura,’ a literary term referring to a break in a line of Old English poetry. (Perhaps not surprisingly, Reddy is the Chair of the English Department at Rhode Island College.)

She will be returning this year as a judge, alongside JP Reader, Umperor of the Providence Kickball League.

Proceeds go to maintaining Not About The Buildings, and are raised in two ways: the Bee costs five dollars to enter (though it’s free to watch); additionally, people are encouraged to donate money on behalf of their favorite spellers, with prizes going to whoever puts the most money on the winner.

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