For an industry that makes its living off the creativity of writers, the book publishing word sure isn't very innovative. Publishing houses all seem to grab onto a trend and churn out the same books with slightly different covers. Thank goodness for Watchword. This Berkeley-based literary journal dedicates its pages to fresh new talent, Eastern European translations, and a whole wealth of voices and ideas that tend to get overlooked by the big publishers. Editor Amanda Green and publisher Danielle Jatlow (who works as a nonfiction literary agent by day) volunteer for Watchword in their free time, searching for those literary gems in the rough. In addition to poetry and short stories, the biannual nonprofit journal has started a current events commentary section called "In Response." The press often holds events, such as its annual MFA open mic, on both sides of the bay and has held court at Oakland locations such as the Oakland Box, Oasis Restaurant and Bar, and Mama Buzz cafe.
While the region's influence on mainstream hip-hop has gone overlooked for decades, a new generation of break-out artists are reclaiming their musical heritage and drawing national attention back to the area.