Live and Unfiltered

Brooke Jarvis Tells a Firefly Love Story at Pop-Up Magazine

The immersive live experience returns to Seattle for the first time in three years.

By Sophie Grossman November 4, 2022

Local journalist Brooke Jarvis first performed Among the Fireflies as part of Pop-Up's spring issue in Oakland this year.

Brooke Jarvis still remembers her first Seattle winter. She was interning for Yes! Magazine and living in the house on Bainbridge Island where the publication put up its junior staffers. Because the interns were all “good environmentalists,” they nobly neglected the thermostat and sat in the living room bundled in their sleeping bags. 

Fifteen years later, as the damp cold of winter is once again tightening its grip on the city, the New York Times Magazine writer and Pulitzer Center grant recipient will take the stage at Moore Theatre on Monday, November 7, to tell a love story about fireflies. 

Pop-Up Magazine, the event during which Jarvis will contribute her piece about fireflies, is difficult to categorize. It’s a live magazine—but what does that even mean? Jarvis puts it this way: A magazine is a collection of stories, and those stories are “literally brought to life” at Pop-Up Magazine. Lights, film, a live score—Jarvis says they've even thrown smell and taste into the mix in past issues. The storytellers include writers like Jarvis as well as comedian Pamela Rae Schuller, poet Sarah Kay, and filmmaker Nadav Kurtz. The theme for this issue (or is it an event?) is love stories, broadly defined.

Jarvis has lived in Seattle on and off since 2007.

When she first attended Pop-Up Magazine, Jarvis didn’t know what to expect from the singular experience. And that, she says, is a boon. “It’s great going to something where you don’t know what to expect, where you’re going to be surprised.” But she feels confident in saying that viewers will be “delighted” and “moved.”

Pop-Up Magazine orchestrated its fair share of pandemic pivots—a food-themed “Issue in a Box,” featuring chef/writer Samin Nosrat and novelist Karen Russell, a street art “Sidewalk Issue,” an audio experience that guided you through a walk in the woods—but the in-person experience is core to its ethos. They don’t allow filming at any of their events, and many of the stories that appear are exclusive to the show. Part of the magic, says Jarvis, is the communion between performer and audience, the unique chemistry and unexpected intimacy that builds in the room.

In service to the purity of the live experience, Jarvis can’t share much about her fireflies story ahead of its telling. It’s not a love story in the conventional sense of the label, she says, but rather expands the idea of what a love story can be. What does a love story about fireflies even look like? You’ll have to see for yourself. 

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