MARCH 13–18, 2011 FREE & O P EN TO T HE PUB L IC
C OLUMB I A C O LLEGE CH IC AG O F IC TIO N W RITIN G D E PA RT ME N T P RE S E N TS
LETTER FROM THE CHAIR STORY WEEK IN FIFTEEN ACTS STORY WEEK 2011 PHOTO: J ESSICA TIERNEY
Fifteen years! Who would ever have believed it? Certainly not those of us who were involved with putting together the first Story “Week”—which was really just a few events over three days but which, in our hyperbolic way, we were bold enough to term a week nonetheless. It was also going to be our one and only. But people forgave our hyperbole and responded beyond our wildest expectations, so we thought, “Well, why not do another?” People responded even more enthusiastically, so we did another. And another. And here we are, in Story Week 2011, our fifteenth-anniversary celebration of the best, most diverse voices at work today. We are very happy that you have joined us and know that you will find the jampacked week of events stimulating, provocative, inspiring, and utterly enjoyable— all the things that have come to characterize this festival over the past decade and a half. This year’s theme, “Class Acts,” is meant to draw attention to the main thing that we have always striven for at Story Week: quality. Each year, we have sought out the best of the best among writers, publishers, editors, reviewers, and interviewers locally, nationally, and internationally to present their work through readings, performances, conversations, and panels. And this year is no different—as even a quick glance at the program will reveal. Award-winners from around the nation and abroad abound, among them Jennifer Egan, Karen Tei Yamashita, Regina Taylor, Tanya Saracho, and Preston L. Allen. They join other award-winners from Chicago and Columbia College, including Audrey Niffenegger, Joe Meno, Sam Weller, Gina Frangello, Patricia Ann McNair, and this year’s Fiction Writing Department Visiting Writers in Residence, Gerard Woodward and Donna Seaman—as well as award-winning old friends, Irvine Welsh and John McNally, both returning as “Back By Popular Demand” invitees based upon voting by students in the Fiction Writing Department. With readings by Fiction Writing Department undergrad and grad students; panels and conversations on publishing, playwriting, and the place of story in the arts; a kick-off event with the inimitable 2nd Story and final birthday party celebration of Chicago writing hosted by a man who knows it well, Rick Kogan, this Story Week promises to be a high-quality affair from beginning to end. Every one of this year’s participants is a class act. And we haven’t even mentioned the after-party DJ Dream Team of Welsh, Don De Grazia, and Metro impresario Joe Shanahan spinning after our annual Literary Rock and Roll event! But in addition to quality, this year’s theme also refers, of course, to the many ways in which the notion of class comes into play in story. In an age when it has become increasingly difficult for Americans to think of themselves as living in a classless society where upward mobility is a possibility—even a right—for all people, when the income disparity between the rich and poor has widened to staggering proportions, and when education, race, culture, gender, and other factors interact with class in such a way as to harden boundaries rather than erase them, we might well ask what insights writers have to offer about such a world.
LETTER FROM THE CHAIR
The ways that class issues manifest themselves in writing are complex, difficult to untangle; and when it comes down to it, the worth of a story is most often found in the depth of character, the vividness of imagery, the play of language, and the drama of human interaction. No doubt, we will hear many of our writers this week talking about those aspects of story and how they managed to negotiate them in their own individual process of writing. But along with questions about those factors, we might also ask things that bear directly upon our own understanding of class issues: Does class simply reveal itself in setting, the stage upon which particular characters act out their story? Are some stories more class-bound than others? Is there such a thing as a definable workingclass—or middle-class or upper-class or underclass—fiction? How does class intersect with issues of race, ethnicity, culture, education, and gender in present-day fiction? Are there any differences in the ways class issues play out in fiction and in plays? Is class more apparent in writing of certain ages—the Thirties, for instance—than others, and are we entering a time in which writing about class might be more visible again? Is writing about class inherently political, even didactic? What does writing in the British Isles or other places where class consciousness is a strong tradition have to tell us in America about our own class issues? What do changes in the publishing industry portend for various classes of readers? What, finally, is the function of story in helping us cross boundaries of all sorts and move toward reestablishing hope for something better? Writers write from the wealth of their experience and the depth of their own understanding. Inevitably, their work will be set within a specific milieu. Sometimes, class may be more visible, as in the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald or Dorothy Allison or Regina Taylor or Irvine Welsh. Other times, it may be less visible, as in the work of James Joyce or Francine Prose or Preston L. Allen or Jennifer Egan. (And yes, to start the argument, you may quibble with my choices!) But I would argue that it is never absent and seldom interrogated in any meaningful way. Story Week will give us an opportunity to think about class in a new light and, as we hear writers musing about the issue, perhaps to begin living a better life—which is, after all, the ultimate benefit of listening to or reading well-told stories. We welcome you to Story Week 2011 and urge you to join the dialogue with fiction writers, playwrights, agents, editors, publishers, performers, and others who will make up the fifteenth-anniversary celebration of the festival. All of us involved with Story Week are very happy that you are here and offer our deepest thanks for coming. I hope that the quality of the presentations and the liveliness of the ensuing conversations will prompt you to return for each of the next fifteen Story Week festivals!
RANDALL ALBERS, CHAIR, FICTION WRITING DEPARTMENT Founding Producer, Story Week Festival of Writers
LETTER SECTION FROM GOES THE CHAIR HERE
SCHEDULE OF EVENT
SUNDAY, MARCH 13 T WO S P EC I A L P RE - E V EN T S FOR ALUM N I ON LY
2:00—4:30 PM (1:30 PM Doors) DANCE CENTER CHICAGO
STORY WORKSHOP® ALUMNI MINI-CLASSES: DON DE GRAZIA, BETTY SHIFLETT, JOHN SCHULTZ 5:00—6:30 PM (4:45 PM Doors) | MARTYRS’ (Ages 18+)
ALUMNI RECEPTION For Columbia College Chicago Alumni & Fiction Writing Students Co-sponsor: Office of Alumni Relations O P E N TO T H E P U B L I C
7:00 PM (6:30 PM Doors) | MARTYRS’ (Ages 18+)
6:00 PM | HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY
2:30 PM | FILM ROW CINEMA
2:30 PM | FILM ROW CINEMA
READING/CONVERSATION/SIGNING: JENNIFER EGAN
FUTURE OF PUBLISHING PANEL
CONVERSATION: JOHNNY TEMPLE, Akashic Books publisher and DAN (Fake Rahm) SINKER, cellstories.net
9:30 PM | SHEFFIELD’S BEER GARDEN (Ages 21+)
Craig Jobson, Art & Design, Columbia College Chicago Steve May, Bath Spa University Joe Meno, The Great Perhaps Donna Seaman, Booklist/Chicago Public Radio Dan Sinker, cellstories.net
GRAD READING/OPEN MIC
Host: Randall Albers
Host: Donna Seaman, Booklist/Chicago Public Radio
Geoff Hyatt, Malagon Rising John McNally, Ghosts of Chicago Host: Chris DeGuire
TUESDAY, MARCH 15 11:00 AM | FILM ROW CINEMA
UNDERGRAD READING/OPEN MIC Hosts: Greg Baldino and the Student Board
Brown bag conversation with host Sam Weller follows
Storytellers: Lott Hill, Eric May, Patricia Ann McNair, April Newman
2:30 PM | FILM ROW CINEMA
Music: DJ White Russian & Seeking Wonderland
FICTION WRITING FACULTY READING
Host: Megan Stielstra
MONDAY, MARCH 14
Host: Betty Shiflett
6:00 PM | HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY
Audrey Niffenegger, Her Fearful Symmetry Gerard Woodward, Nourishment Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel Host: Alexis J. Pride
11:00 AM | FILM ROW CINEMA
ADJUNCT FACULTY READING/OPEN MIC Mort Castle, All American Horror of the 21st Century: The First Decade Jeff Jacobson, Wormfood James Sherman, Beau Jest Host: Mort Castle Brown bag conversation with host Gary Johnson follows 2:30 PM | HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY
CONVERSATION/Q&A/SIGNING: JENNIFER EGAN, A Visit from the Goon Squad Host: Joe Meno
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16 11:00 AM | FILM ROW CINEMA
FROM PAGE TO STAGE SCENES FROM STUDENT PLAYWRIGHTS Hosts: Lisa Schlesinger and Tom Mula
Brown bag conversation with host Lisa Schlesinger follows 1:00 PM | FILM ROW CINEMA
CONVERSATION: KAREN TEI YAMASHITA, I Hotel Host: Alexis J. Pride
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
6:00 PM | METRO (All Ages)
LITERARY ROCK & ROLL Reading/Signing: Irvine Welsh, Crime Preston L. Allen, Jesus Boy Gina Frangello, Slut Lullabies Short Comedy: Stephanie Shaw Spins: DJ Dream Team (Joe Shanahan, Irvine Welsh, Don De Grazia)
THURSDAY, MARCH 17 10:00 AM | THEATER BUILDING
PLAYWRITING WORKSHOP: REGINA TAYLOR, The Trinity River Plays
Host: John Green
11:00 AM | HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY
MAKE-READY: MANUSCRIPT TO BOOKPUBLISHING PANEL WITH DONNA SEAMAN Booklist Associate Editor & Chicago Public Radio book critic Heidi Bell, freelance editor Katie Dublinski, Graywolf Press Managing Editor Scott Miller, VP, Trident Literary Agency Johnny Temple, Akashic Books publisher Sam Weller, Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews Brown bag conversation with host Sarah Dodson follows 1:00 PM | HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY
CONVERSATION WITH PLAYWRIGHTS: REGINA TAYLOR, The Trinity River Plays TANYA SARACHO, El Nogalar Host: Lisa Schlesinger
4:00 PM | FILM ROW CINEMA
COLUMBIA COLLEGE CHICAGO STORY AND THE ARTS PANEL
Rod Slemmons, Museum of Contemporary Photography Philip Hartigan, visual artist Audrey Niffenegger, author, visual artist Tony Trigilio, poet Darrell Jones, dancer Bruce Sheridan, filmmaker Host: Patricia Ann McNair
FRIDAY, MARCH 18 11:00 AM | FILM ROW CINEMA
REFLECTIONS ON WRITING PROCESS A RESEARCH EXCHANGE Readers: Gerard Woodward, Bath Spa University, Shawn Shiflett, Columbia College Chicago, and others Hosts: Steve May, Bath Spa University and Randall Albers, Columbia College Chicago 6:00–8:00 PM (5:30 PM Doors) LINCOLN HALL (All Ages)
CHICAGO CLASSICS WITH RICK KOGAN Chicago Tribune journalist and WGN radio host presents guests from Chicago’s literary community reading works by their favorite Chicago authors.
STORY WEEK LOCATIONS Dance Center Chicago 3868 N. Lincoln Ave, 2nd Floor Film Row Cinema Columbia College Chicago 1104 S. Wabash Ave, 8th Floor Harold Washington Library Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State St.
Lincoln Hall 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. Martyrs’ 3855 N. Lincoln Ave. Metro 3730 N. Clark St, Sheffield’s Beer Garden 3258 N. Sheffield Ave. Theater Building Columbia College Chicago 72 E. 11, Rm. 404
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
FEATURED READERS P RES TON L . ALLEN is a recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction. His work has been anthologized in Las Vegas Noir, Miami Noir, Brown Sugar, and numerous literary journals, including the Seattle Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Black Renaissance Noire. His novels All or Nothing and Jesus Boy have received rave reviews from the New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Kirkus, Library Journal, Feminist Review, AALBC, and Florida Book Review. He teaches writing in South Florida. Photo credit: Phillip Roche PRE S TON L . AL L E N
J EN N IF E R EG AN
JEN N IFER EG AN was born in Chicago, where her paternal grandfather was a police commander and bodyguard for President Truman during his visits to that city. She was raised in San Francisco and studied at the University of Pennsylvania and St. John’s College, Cambridge, in England. In those student years she did a lot of traveling, often with a backpack: China, the former USSR, Japan, much of Europe, and those travels became the basis for her ﬁrst novel, The Invisible Circus, and her story collection, Emerald City. She came to New York in 1987 and worked an array of wacky jobs while learning to write: catering at the World Trade Center; joining the word-processing pool at a Midtown law ﬁrm; serving as the private secretary for the Countess of Romanones, an OSS spy-turned-Spanish countess (by marriage), who wrote a series of best sellers about her spying experiences and famous friends. Egan has published short stories in many magazines, including the New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, and McSweeney’s. The Invisible Circus, 1995, was released as a movie starring Cameron Diaz in 2001. Her second novel, Look at Me, was a National Book Award Finalist in 2001, and her third, The Keep, was a national best seller. Her most recent novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, is a national best seller and was on many critics’ best of 2010 lists. Also a journalist, Egan has written numerous cover stories for the New York Times Magazine on topics ranging from young fashion models to the secret online lives of closeted gay teens. Her 2002 cover story on homeless children received the Carroll Kowal Journalism Award, and her 2008 story on bipolar children won an Outstanding Media Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons. Photo credit: Pieter M. Van Hattem/Vistalux
GINA FRANGELLO is the author of two critically acclaimed books of fiction, Slut Lullabies (2010) and My Sister’s Continent (2006). The longtime editor of the literary magazine Other Voices, she co-founded its book imprint, Other Voices Books, in 2005, and is now the Executive Editor of the press. She is also the Fiction Editor of the popular online literary collective The Nervous Breakdown (www.thenervousbreakdown. com). Frangello’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in a wide array of publications including Prairie Schooner, Fence, Story Quarterly, Swink, A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross-Cultural Collision and Connection, MAKE, ACM, F Magazine, and the Chicago Reader. Her journalism, book reviews, and essays have been published in the Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, and many other print and online publications. In addition to her editing work at Other Voices, she has served as the guest editor for the anthology Falling Backwards: Stories of Fathers and Daughters and was the faculty supervisor for the inaugural issue of TriQuarterly Online at Northwestern University. She has been the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Individual Fellowship for Prose, an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award, and recently won a trip to Kenya, the grand prize for the Summer Literary Seminars fiction contest judged by Mary Gaitskill. She has been a part-time member of Columbia College’s Fiction Writing Department for more than a decade. Her novel London Calling will be published in 2012. Photo credit: David Walthour
GI NA FR A NGELLO
J O H N M C N A L LY
is the author of three novels: After the Workshop, America’s Report Card, and The Book of Ralph; and two story collections, Ghosts of Chicago and Troublemakers. He is also author of The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist. His next book, Vivid and Continuous: Essays on the Craft of Fiction, will be published in the fall of 2011. McNally’s work has appeared in over a hundred publications, including the Washington Post, the Sun, and San Francisco Chronicle. A native of Chicago’s Southwest Side and former Visiting Writer at Columbia College Chicago, John presently lives in North Carolina. Photo credit: John McNally
AU DRE Y N IFFE N EG GE R is the acclaimed author of the novel The Time Traveler’s Wife, an international best seller and basis for the film of the same name. In addition, she has published numerous books printed and bound by hand, including two that have been commercially published by Harry N. Abrams, The Adventuress and The Three Incestuous Sisters: An Illustrated Novel. She has also published the novel Her Fearful Symmetry and the recently released, serialized graphic novel The Night Bookmobile. She has co-authored The Book as Art: Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts and is presently at work on another novel, The Chinchilla Girl in Exile. Her books have been translated into 36 languages. Having received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from Northwestern University’s Department of Art Theory and Practice, Niffenegger has worked in various media and forms—painting, artists’ books, drawing, comics, printmaking. She had a show open at Printworks Gallery in September 2009 where her works have appeared often since 1987. Previous to her appointment in the Fiction Writing Department, Niffenegger taught for the MFA program in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts, as well as for the Newberry Library and Penland School of Craft, specializing in image/text relationships. She helped found Columbia’s Center for Book and Paper Arts and is a founding member of the writing collective Text 3 (T3). She is a board member and Distinguished Artist of the Ragdale Foundation and has received residencies, grants, and awards from Yaddo, the Illinois Arts Council, and ALA, as well as a British Book Award. Photo credit: Stephen Desantis
JOHN M C NA LLY
AU D RE Y NI FFENEG GER
SECTION FEATUREDGOES READERS HERE
JENNIFER EGAN BY N AOMI HU F F MA N
Chicago-born Jennifer Egan is the author of five books, most recently A Visit from the Goon Squad, which the Los Angeles Times deemed “the smartest book you can get your hands on this summer” in 2010. The book was subsequently named by Time magazine, the New York Times, and many others as one of the top fiction books of the year. One Tuesday evening last fall, I had the chance to speak with Jennifer about her newest book. Over the course of our conversation, Egan put her sons to bed, cleaned her kitchen, and took a phone call from her husband who was on the road on business. If her life isn’t proof enough, then her newest novel certainly is—Jennifer Egan is a master of multi-tasking. A Visit from the Goon Squad takes place in several different cities (San Francisco, New York City, and Naples, among others), spans more than five decades, and chronicles the lives of a handful of characters. It’s an example of an author taking risks with setting, point of view, and form—one of the later sections of the book is narrated by a PowerPoint presentation. The result: a masterful novel that defies genre and definition.
Naomi Huffman: My first question is about process: When you get an idea for a story, how do you put it to paper? Jennifer Egan: Well, I don’t start so much with an idea, as a kind of feeling. By that I mean a sense of time and place. That’s usually where I begin, more than with a person or people or a plot. I’ll just have a sense of a time and place. And then, the way I write first drafts is very instinctively, without a lot of thought. I will sit down and try to make myself plunge forward without thinking very much about what I’m doing and just see what evolves out of that time and place. And the feeling I love is the sense of surprise and discovery, almost as if I were reading instead of writing. So that’s kind of
Q&A WITH JENNIFER EGAN
how the first draft works, whether it’s a story or a novel. There’s just a lot of discovery and surprise as I go along. By the way, this is all by hand. Once I have a first draft, I type into the computer, print it out, and read it, which is usually very painful. And then I read it, and I try to think pretty systematically about what I need to do. First of all, I try to figure out, is it alive? Is there interesting stuff here? What’s interesting about it, and what does it seem like it could be? And then I try to think very clearly, in a very dry way, about what I need to do to keep it closer to that goal that I think it’s reaching toward. NH: Can you describe the aesthetics of your process? Is there a specific place you like to work? Do you listen to music? JE: I usually like as close to silence as I can get. Goon Squad was a little bit of an exception because there’s so much music in the book. I listened to a lot of music while I was working on it because it helped me to recalibrate from one section to another. I have an office in our house, which I like to work in, although it’s also somewhat overrun by domestic things, so it can be very distracting, especially if I’m having trouble getting started on something. Because I write by hand, I really can write anywhere. I will sit in a park or a cafe. Lately
I’ve been sort of wandering around Brooklyn because I’m trying to get into something new and I find myself really wanting to procrastinate. My office offers me a lot of opportunities to procrastinate! Once I start editing, I can especially start working anywhere. Then the project really has a life of its own and I feel lucky in that way. I can go anywhere. NH: How do you know when something is a novel, or when it’s a short story? JE: I usually have a pretty clear sense of that going in. I have a sense of the scale or the scope of the story. That seems to be part of the initial impulse. But I have to say, with my new book, that was not exactly the case because it...I mean, (laughs) is it a novel? I don’t know. I’m almost calling it that just because other people call it that. But I didn’t really think it was as I was working on it. I just thought I was fooling around, writing a story or two, to entertain myself while I sulked about starting the new book I was trying to write. At a certain point, I began to realize that these stories were coalescing in a way that was exciting to me and that they really were what I wanted to work on. And then in the end, I ended up treating it very much as a single unit, and thinking about it in all the ways I usually think about a novel. In that case, the story took me by surprise. NH: Let’s talk about revising. What sort of procedures do you go through when combing out the stories or moments that aren’t working so well? JE: Good question. How do I do that? There’s no set way, I think that’s the answer. Sometimes I’m writing by hand, so sometimes I’ll make an error and move to the other side of the page and essentially start a certain section afresh. If a whole piece isn’t working, that’s sort of a different problem. I’ll have to take a step back and kind of try to understand what the general problem is. It just really depends on how major the problems are. NH: Your book takes place in a number of different cities and spans over half a century. How difficult was it to keep track of the different places and settings and time periods? JE: My novel Look at Me truly made my brain hurt. This one wasn’t quite like that, for some reason. But keeping this time line clear, and managing everyone’s relative ages, was definitely a challenge. I didn’t feel like it was a very ambitious book. I mean, I felt like it was ambitious in terms of form. I mean, to switch thirteen different times, have no overlap of tone or mood or world, that was really hard. I was struggling like hell. But I
didn’t feel that the scope of the book was really that large. I’ve been kind of surprised to find that readers do perceive that it is. I wonder if in a certain way I somehow kept that from myself by working on it in these small pieces because I was worried I would feel overwhelmed or not up to the challenge of trying to encompass the large scope of the story. Maybe it was really helpful for me not to think of it that way. NH: You utilize a PowerPoint presentation in Goon Squad, which definitely created a very unique reading experience. How did you arrive at this idea of using this PowerPoint. How did your process differ when creating this form than say, when you write prose? JE: I’d been obsessed with the idea of writing in PowerPoint for quite a while, because I realized it was everywhere and was being used for all these things. I figured, let’s see how it works for fiction. The first step of PowerPoint as a fiction writer, and as any user, is just figuring out what the component parts of the moment you’re trying to depict are. In fiction, that’s an interesting question to ask. And then, if you’re going to go beyond bullet points, which you really have to if you’re going to do anything decent in PowerPoint, you have to ask yourself what is the relationship between those component parts. What is the structure of what you’re describing? That again, was a really interesting question to ask about fiction. It was not easy, but it was a satisfying experience. I ended up being able to tell a story I wouldn’t have been able to tell conventionally. NH: Despite your struggles, I think it was a very successful experiment. JE: Thank you. I’m pleased with it too. It could have gone the other way, but I got really lucky. NH: In Goon Squad, some of the characters are involved in the punk rock movement in the ’80s, and music is a prevalent theme throughout the story. What type of research did you have to conduct for the music aspect of the book? JE: You know, I actually didn’t do that much research for the music aspect of the book. I spent a lot of time on the phone with a producer and a mixer who, well, I needed to understand what the difference between analog and digital was. We had maybe three two-hour conversations. I read a lot. A lot of it was drawn from my own memories of different musical moments I’ve lived through myself.
Q&A WITH JENNIFER EGAN
FEATURED READERS TA NYA S AR ACHO
TAN YA S A RAC HO was born in Sinaloa, México, and is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and Teatro Vista, a Goodman Theatre Fellow at the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender at Columbia College Chicago, an Artistic Associate with About Face Theatre, the founder of the Ñ Project and Founder and former Artistic Director of Teatro Luna. Her plays include El Nogalar, inspired by The Cherry Orchard, opening in the spring of 2011 at the Goodman Theatre, and commissioned by Teatro Vista; an adaptation of The House on Mango Street for Steppenwolf Theatre SYA (2009); Our Lady of the Underpass with Teatro Vista (2009); Surface Day with Steppenwolf/CCHF (2008); Jarred (A Hoodoo Comedy) with Teatro Luna (2008); Kita y Fernanda at 16th Street Theatre (2008), and Quita Mitos with Teatro Luna (2006). Saracho is a recipient of an NEA Distinguished New Play Development Project Grant with About Face Theatre and a 3Arts Artists Award. She is a winner of the Ofner Prize, given by the Goodman Theatre. Saracho is currently working on two Mellon Foundation commissions for Steppenwolf Theatre, as well as historical fiction about a transgendered civil war soldier, titled The Good Private, for About Face Theatre. She is a Chicago actor whose voice can be heard on radio and television commercials. Photo credit: Tim Thomas REGINA TAYLOR is best known to television audiences for her role as Lilly Harper in the series I’ll Fly Away, for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Taylor was most recently seen starring in the CBS hit drama The Unit alongside Dennis Haysbert. In February 2008, she took home the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her work on the show. Taylor is also an accomplished playwright. Her other credits as playwright include Oo-BlaDee, for which she won the American Critics’ Association new play award, Drowning Crow, (her adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, which was produced on Broadway by Manhattan Theater Club in its inaugural season at the Biltmore Theater and starred Alfre Woodard), The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove, A Night in Tunisia, Escape from Paradise, Watermelon Rinds, and Inside the Belly of the Beast. Taylor’s critically acclaimed Crowns was the most performed musical in the country in 2006. Her latest play, Magnolia, premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in March 2009. Her new trilogy, The Trinity River Plays, will premiere this season at Dallas Theater Center in November and the Goodman Theatre in January. Taylor is a member and Artistic Associate of the Goodman Theatre. She received the Hope Abelson Award from Northwestern in 2010. She received an honorary doctorate from DePaul University. Visit her online at www.reginataylor.com.
I RV I NE WELS H
GER A RD WOODWA RD
K A REN T EI YA M A S HI TA
I RV I N E W E L S H
is the author of the critically acclaimed Trainspotting, which became a play and later a film adapted by Danny Boyle. Irvine Welsh has remained a controversial figure, whose novels, stage and screen plays, novellas, and short stories have proved difficult for literary critics to assimilate, a difficulty made only more noticeable by Welsh’s continued commercial success. More books have followed, Ecstasy becoming the first paperback original to go straight in at number one on the Sunday Times best-sellers list, a feat emulated by Filth, which became Welsh’s highest selling book after Trainspotting. His first novel has now sold almost 1 million copies in the UK alone and is a worldwide phenomenon. Books such as Glue, Porno, and The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs have increased his profile in America and Canada. He has recently branched into film and is a partner in two film production companies. He joined Four Ways Films, which was founded by Antonia Bird, Robert Carlyle, and Mark Cousins, and has set up Jawbone Films with his screenwriting partner Dean Cavanagh, and Phil John and Jon Lewis Owen. His newest collection of short stories, Reheated Cabbage, was released in 2009, shortly after his novel Crime. His forthcoming novel, Skagboys, will be released in 2012. Photo credit: Steve Double
G E R A R D W O O D WA R D
is author of an acclaimed trilogy comprising August (shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread First Novel Award), I’ll Go to Bed at Noon (shortlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize), and A Curious Earth. He was born in London in 1961, and published several prizewinning collections of poetry before turning to fiction. His latest collection of poetry, We Were Pedestrians, was shortlisted for the 2005 T.S. Eliot Prize. His most recent novel, Nourishment, was released in the fall of 2010. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Photo credit: Charlie Hopkinson
K AREN TEI YAMASHITA has been heralded as a “big talent” by the Los Angeles Times, extolled by the New York Times for her “mordant wit,” and praised by Newsday for “wrestling with profound philosophical and social issues” while delivering an “immensely entertaining story.” Her latest novel, I Hotel, took over a decade to research and write, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award. The author of four previous novels, Yamashita received an American Book Award and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Award. A California native who has also lived in Brazil and Japan, Yamashita teaches at the University of California–Santa Cruz. Photo credit: Mary Ulyematsu Kao
SECTION FEATUREDGOES READERS HERE
MORE FEATURED READERS A N DRE W ALLEGRE T TI is the winner of numerous Illinois Arts Council Fellow-
A NDRE W AL L EGRE T TI
ships and Literary Awards, and teaches in the graduate and undergraduate programs of the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago. His fiction has been published in many magazines, including TriQuarterly, Private Arts, Stand, and F. “Heat Lightning,” the prologue to his novel, Winter House, was a semifinalist for the James Fellowship for Novels in Progress, sponsored by the Heekin Foundation. An excerpt from his novel-in-progress, A Fool’s Game, appeared in f4. Allegretti has chaired the John Schultz & Betty Shiflett Story Workshop Scholarship Fund gala and is a board member of the Story Workshop Institute. Photo credit: Elise Tanner
MORT C ASTLE is editor of On Writing Horror from Writer’s Digest Books. A seven-
MORT C AST L E
time Bram Stoker Award nominee, Castle has written novels, short stories, poems, articles, and comic books, with credits numbering well over 600. His newest books include All American Horror of the 21st Century (Wicker Park Press) and J.N. Williamson’s The Illustrated Masques, a hardbound limited edition graphic album (Gauntlet Press). Castle was cited as one of “21 Leaders in the Arts for the 21st Century in Chicago’s Southland” by the Star / Hollinger Newspaper Group and, in 2008, as editor, won the Readers’ Choice Black Quill Award for Best Nonfiction Work for On Writing Horror, and in 2009, as editor of Doorways, won the Black Quill Best Dark Fiction Magazine. His work has been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, German, and Polish, and Newsweek magazine (Polish edition) cited the translations of his novel The Strangers and short-story collection Moon on the Water as “two of the best books published in Poland in 2008.” Photo credit: Jane Castle
GEOF F H YAT T is the author of the novel Malagon Rising, published by Leucrota Press. His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in the anthologies Night Terrors and Rock & Roll is Dead, as well as in Criminal Class Review, Necrotic Tissue, Knee-Jerk, Temenos, Thuglit.com, and elsewhere. While he was in graduate school, an internship at Star Farm Productions led to a full-time staff writer position on novels published by Little, Brown and Penguin-Puffin UK. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America accepted him as an active member in 2010. He received his MFA from Columbia College Chicago in 2009. Photo credit: J. Gaylord
JEFF JACOBSON teaches fiction and screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago. His crime novel, Foodchain, from Five Star Mystery and horror novel, Wormfood, from Medallion Press, were released in 2010. His latest short story, “Ghost Net,” will be featured in Cemetery Dance magazine. Other short stories have appeared in Doorways, Read by Dawn Vol. 1 and 3, F Magazine, and Hair Trigger. He lives near Chicago with his family. Visit his website at www.jeff-jacobson.com. Photo credit: Debra Jacobson JA ME S S HE RM A N is the author of the plays Magic Time, The God of Isaac, Mr. 80%, The Escape Artist, Beau Jest, This Old Man Came Rolling Home, Jest a Second!, Romance in D, From Door to Door, The Old Man’s Friend, Affluenza!, Relatively Close, and Jacob and Jack. He began his professional career as a writer and performer with the Second City in Chicago and received an MFA degree from Brandeis University. He is currently a member of the Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Ensemble. Sherman has been a teacher of playwriting and acting on the faculties of Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, the Second City Training Center, Chicago Dramatists Workshop, Victory Gardens Theater, and at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. He was a visiting professor for the spring ’01 semester in Seoul, South Korea, at the Korean National University of the Arts. Sherman was awarded a playwriting grant from the Illinois Arts Council for 2002. The Old Man’s Friend and Jacob and Jack won the Streisand Festival of New Jewish Plays in La Jolla, California. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Ragdale Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. Visit him online at www.jamessherman.com. Photo credit: Jennifer Girard
S H AW N S H I F L E T T
is a professor in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago, where he is a Story Workshop Master Teacher. His novel, Hidden Place, was included in Library Journal’s “Summer Highs, Fall Firsts,” a 2004 list of most successful debuts. He was born and raised in Chicago, the son of civil rights activist parents. His honors include the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award, Honorable Mention Finalist for the James Fellowship novel-in-progress contest (sponsored by the Heekin Group Foundation), and several Pushcart Prize nominations. He is working on a second novel, Hey, Liberal!, about a white kid in a predominantly African-American high school right after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. An excerpt from Hey Liberal! appeared in f8. Shiflett has also presented on numerous panels at AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) conferences. Photo credit: Sarah Hammond
GEO F F H YAT T
SECTION MORE FEATURED GOES HERE READERS
JEFF JAC OB S ON
JA M ES S HERM A N
S HAWN S HI FLE T T
MORE FEATURED READERS
E-READERS BOOKS VS.
THE GREAT DEBATE
BY K A RE N S C H M I DT
With the emergence of E-Readers in the past few years, a rift within the writing community has formed. On one side stands a group ready to defend to the death the integrity and the physicality of paper books, on the other, a group with their mobile devices primed and ready to bring publishing into the electronically dominated future. The gulf between these ideas is immense, but is it impassible? I went to Donna Seaman and Daniel Sinker over e-mail (make of that what you will) to ask them to offer an argument defending their stance. Here to fight for the printed word, Donna Seaman is a selfproclaimed “lifelong book addict.” She is the Associate Editor at Booklist and frequently reviews books for the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Public Radio. Defending the electronic form, Daniel Sinker is a founding editor of the now defunct underground literary and culture magazine Punk Planet who currently spends his time teaching in the Journalism Department of Columbia College Chicago and blogging about media for the Huffington Post. He is the creator of cellstories.net, a story archive accessible only through a mobile device.
E-READERS VS. BOOKS
Round One: Donna Seaman in Defense of Books Donna Seaman: A book is a perfect object. It always works. And you can so easily mark your place, underline passages, make notes. The map made by readers with pen or pencil in hand is beautiful, intriguing, revealing. A well-read book can be full of marginalia or artifacts. I love coming across old bookmarks—lists, notes, scraps, lost bills, lost letters, junk mail, postcards, ticket stubs, boarding passes, string, a strip of cloth, a matchbook cover, paper clips, coupons, rubber bands, gum wrappers, Post-its, a CTA pass, a nail file.
constantly throwing away old gadgets to buy new ones, creating mountains of trashed electronics. E-waste is an enormous environmental problem in scale and complexity.
Daniel Sinker: So a book is a folder, pocket, scrapbook, and notebook? And here I thought this was Story Week.
But you also snuck two points in here. Your first: that there are craftspeople and artists involved in the making of books—that’s very true. Again, I’ve made books—beautiful ones, successful ones. I love type and design more than almost anything. But I’ve also made software from scratch. And it’s love and art and passion too. Nowadays, I can stare longingly at lines of code the same way I stare at the descender on a lowercase g. If someone loves something, is passionate about something, that’s what matters. That’s true if they’re crafting code, setting type, or writing a story. Passion should matter most.
Donna: Print books involve the skill, conviction, and effort of many different people beyond the writing and editorial work. The art of book design is a lustrous tradition, from fonts to layout to paper selection, trim size, and, of course, those all-important covers. On to everyone involved in manufacturing, from the making of paper and ink to printing, binding, boxing, on to warehousing, transportation, and distribution. Think of all the jobs. And while books do consume trees, they are recyclable and are not toxic. Unlike e-book readers and cell phones and computers, which are filled with hazardous, even deadly materials. People are
Dan: Yep. It absolutely is—you have no argument from me here. But paper mills are no picnic either. Nor is the shipping of millions of books from printer to warehouse, from warehouse to store and from store to consumer. Everything is industrialized, from books to electronics.
Donna: Books have spines and give us backbones.
E-READERS VS. BOOKS
Round One continued... Dan: Books do have spines. Man, those spines are expensive to make and a bother to ship around the world. The story gives us backbone, not the spine of the book. Donna: A book is wholly private and immutable. No corporate entity can suck it out of your device, nor censor it, nor track how long you dwell on a particular page. Dan: Hear! Hear! I agree completely. But an opensource, personal-privacy-touting book format is completely technologically possible. Donna: No pop-up ads ever. Dan: Now that’s just low. Any site with a pop-up ad isn’t a site worth reading—books, doubly so. Donna: Books do furnish a room. I can hardly think in a bookless place. The very presence of books enriches the atmosphere and feeds the mind. Books on shelves, table tops, and the floor offer clues to people’s true nature. A book-filled room is an inspiring, contemplative, anchoring place. Home. Dan: You’re getting very into the material object of a book, and that’s awesome. I love books. I have designed and made books. I love working with the form too. But right now, you’re describing by-products of the book. The point of a book isn’t a CTA pass holder and it’s not to be an object for interior design. A book, first and foremost, is there to take a reader somewhere else. And you can do that in a lot of ways and in a lot of forms. Donna: A paper and ink book is off the grid. It needs no “power” beyond brain power. Not to mention batteries, charger, software, apps, and techie prowess. You simply turn the pages. And it’s hard to break a book. Dan: All good points. The book form has been great technology for a very long time—a hell of an improvement over the scroll. But it’s not the form that’s being questioned here, but the book as a delivery mechanism. Donna: Gadgets make a person hurry. Devices breed impatience, restlessness. You don’t pause and gaze up thoughtfully from a screen, you keep
E-READERS VS. BOOKS
Round Two: Daniel Sinker for Electronic Publishing scrolling and clicking. Gadgets instill a craving for movement rather than concentration. Gadgets evoke a constant sense of time subtracted. Minutes cost money. Screens are slippery; you’re always gliding forward. Books allow one to slow down. Time is stilled; story is all. Printed language has presence, weight, and timbre. It is the sentences that move, not your fingers. Dan: I think that you can have incredible experiences with devices that aren’t print. They’re often unexpected ones, like suddenly being struck by something while you’re on the train, and being able to dive into it right there and then. Or being out with friends talking about the minutae of a story, and then being able to pull out a phone, pull up the story, and share it right there and then. Mobile devices are our most personal objects— they contain everything we love. I think that’s wonderful. Donna: Books are sensuous, and their physicality—the texture of paper, the hardness or pliability of covers, their good smell and gentle displacement of air when pages turn, their heft and solidity, all deepen the reading experience. Dan: There are so many crap books that have bad paper, crappy covers, awful typography. You can’t cherry pick here—there are tons of awful book experiences. Not every one is amazing. But there are also amazing experiences that can happen, immersive, meaningful experiences in the digital realm as well. Donna: There are no limitations on the life of a paper book except the laws of nature. If you own it, it is yours forever and you are free to loan it to as many people as you wish. Dan: But there are limitations to keeping those very same books in print. And as soon as you remove the costs (and scale) of production—of making and distributing a physical object—you can keep a lot more books available for a much longer period of time.
Dan: I don’t want to play the inevitability card right off the bat, but it’s inevitable that much of publishing (particularly the commercial end) will end up electronic sooner rather than later. Donna: We hate to give things up. We still listen to the radio, go to the movies, ride bicycles, write with pens. Books that have weight and texture will still exist. Books that exist on the earth, not just in a cloud. Dan: Don’t worry about the Kindle, it’ll be gone soon enough. Reading-specific devices are an interim step. Understand where things are really going which is mobility. Donna: Gadgets come and go and come and go, but I will never forgive Amazon for destroying the once gorgeous word kindle. Dan: Mobile is everything. The ability to carry a device around with you and have access to your very favorite library, your greatest music, the entire Internet, and all your friends? Yeah. You want it too. Donna: Mobility is wonderful. Paperbacks travel well. Dan: There’s an ease to mobile devices. You know, it’s actually really cool to be able to push a button, wait a few seconds, and have a book in your hands. Donna: There is also pleasure in hunting and gathering. Walking through the stacks of a library or bookstore. Finding books by accident, wandering and browsing with your entire body, feeling the presence and promise of books, books of different dimensions, designs, colors, textures, and ambiance. Dan: Moving physical objects from point A to point B is an incredible pain—and is a lot of what a publisher concerns herself with. Getting rid of that concern is worth every penny, if you ask me. Donna: The physical, sensual world is the world in which we evolved, and which inspires us down to our very cells. We need the sensuous realm to be fully alive, to trigger our brains’ full capacities. Moving “objects” is to be physically alive. To navigate the wonders of gravity, speed, wind, light and dark, scents and sounds, that is life. Bodies in motion. Bodies that thrive on the physical, from food to caresses to walking to playing.
Dan: Once the ability to make an e-book gets just a little bit easier, you’re going to see a boom in self-publishing. I think that’s awesome. Donna: It’s fascinating how many innovative small publishers end up producing actual books and magazines. Dan: If, for some reason, electronic publishing were to topple some existing publishing giants, I for one wouldn’t cry. Donna: As publishers fall or are absorbed into corporations, other presses sprout to take their places. This is a law of nature. Dan: This is an opportunity to build a better publisher. Related to my last point, once we’re through production issues (and there are definitely production issues right now), you’re going to see new publishers emerge. A step above self-publishing, these new publishers will see opportunities in the ability to create with a lowbarrier to entry, and will put out amazing books that wouldn’t have made it in the printed world. Donna: The more dynamic, creative, and accessible publishing becomes, the better. It isn’t paper that has corrupted commercial publishing; it’s the corporate imperative. Dan: There is so much possibility here: there are things that you can do electronically that you can’t do in print at all, ever. Let’s do those. Donna: Yes, electronic possibility is phenomenal. So is the power of our imagination fed on stories. Dan: This whole thing should really be titled “An Argument in Favor of Experimentation” because we’re not quite there yet, but if you’re not at least experimenting in this already, you might want to check to see if you have a pulse. Donna: My pulse is strong and steady, thank you very much. And it quickens whenever I experiment by reading a new writer or a new book or a fresh issue of a magazine.
E-READERS VS. BOOKS
A DOSE OF REDEMPTION
Running an independent book publishing company is chronically stressful. When my staff and I are occasionally kicked in the teeth by errant realities, frequently economic in nature, I take solace in the shelf by my desk holding every book Akashic has published since 1997, over 200 so far. One title that consistently provides me with a dose of redemption when I need it is Jesus Boy by Preston L. Allen.
At Akashic, we knew from the start that we were dealing with a “tender masterpiece” (in the words of Dennis Lehane). The novel is an epic story of family and community, almost like a soap opera at times; I firmly believe it provides the basis for a stellar HBO series. The writing itself is addictive. It was one of those rare manuscripts where I knew immediately after reading it that we would make the author an offer. My staff and I all had the same instant reaction. It’s a rare occasion when the in-house editorial evaluation process doesn’t really require discussion: the book screams Akashic! With our fairly eclectic literary list, it’s not always evident what an “Akashic” editorial sensibility is, but in this case it was crystal clear. Preston had published his previous novel All or Nothing (2007) with us, and it had been a good success, so he was happy to go with Akashic again for Jesus Boy.
It was one of those rare manuscripts where I knew immediately after reading it that we would make the author an offer.
Set in an evangelical black church community in southern Florida, Jesus Boy follows the ascent and decline of Elwyn Parker, a devout sixteen-year-old, as his sexual awakening clashes with the community’s strict moral code. The book serves up lush details of a small community’s social behavior, both private and public.
Preston gives the reader a unique glimpse behind the veil of a devout religious group. Comparisons can of course be made—James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain comes to mind—but Jesus Boy explores a truly evangelical black community with a profound depth only possible from a writer who knows his setting intimately.
Y TEMP LE
ON PUB LIS
The novel is filled with unexpected and dazzling twists, and Preston’s writing throughout is gorgeously crafted, often yielding a wonderful levity even while exploring dark and provocative social issues such as infidelity and incest. The book’s denouement is both perplexing and enthralling, reinforcing how the reader never quite knows where the story is headed.
When it came time to design a cover for the book, the first person I consulted was Preston. His initial idea was a design that emulated the Bible, but with red panties draped over it. It seemed like a bold, provocative idea, certainly visually arresting—so our designer Jim Pascoe made some mockups. Soon after sending the mockups along to Preston, I got a somewhat panicked email from him pleading that we remove the panties from the image. One of the various beauties of the novel is that for all of its unblinking examination of religious hypocrisy, the story is more strongly characterized by compassion and love.
Soon after sending the mockups along to Preston, I got a somewhat panicked email from him pleading that we remove the panties from the image.
The book does not lampoon or dismiss Christian faith, and Preston found himself uncomfortable with his original, more lurid cover concept. In the end we kept the Bible imagery but didn’t taint it with the undergarment. In the spring of 2010, soon after the publication of Jesus Boy, Preston was interviewed at the Brooklyn Public Library by Leonard Lopate (whose radio show on NPR-affiliate WNYC is arguably the best literary radio spot in New York City). At one point Leonard asked Preston when he had left the church, and Preston’s swift response, offered with a coy smile, was, “Who said I left the church?” All or Nothing, Preston’s previous novel, was a phenomenal work of fiction, the best book I’ve read on the subject of gambling. The New York Times compared it to Dostoyevsky and Burroughs. But with Jesus Boy, his fourth book, Preston shifted into literary overdrive and brought things up to a whole new level. There is little more joyful to me as a publisher than to host such a creative evolution. Jesus Boy and its author are precisely why I publish books, and for this I am thankful. Amen.
A DOSE OF RESEMPTION
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, PRESENTERS K ATIE DUBLINSKI serves as Managing and Editorial Director for Graywolf Press, an independent literary publisher based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She considers manuscripts for Graywolf’s fiction and nonfiction lists. Authors she has worked with include Alyson Hagy, Ander Monson, Ron Carlson, and Robert Boswell. In addition, she oversees the book production process and sells subsidiary rights. She has been with Graywolf since 1997. Photo credit: C. Fischbach GREG B AL DI NO
HEIDI B EL L
DO N DE GR A ZI A
GREG B AL DI NO is an undergraduate in the Fiction Writing program at Columbia College. His fiction and journalism have been published in City Pulse, Skin Two, Washington Square Review, and Indy Bound. Baldino received the first associate in arts degree in creative writing from Lansing Community College; he was recognized by the College Reading and Learning Association for developing a supplemental instruction program for Lansing’s tutoring services department. Baldino has volunteered for 826 Michigan, a nonprofit literacy organization, and created the Planet F.I.C.T.I.O.N. Writers Group, a public workshop. Currently he serves as President of the Fiction Writing Student Board and is a feature writer for BleedingCool.com. Photo credit: Susan Lanier H E I D I B EL L is a freelance editor committed to helping other writers make their work the best it can be. She has edited a broad range of acclaimed fiction and nonfiction, including Bonnie Jo Campbell’s American Salvage, finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in fiction. She is also an award-winning writer whose fiction and book reviews have appeared in Jane, Salon, the Women’s Review of Books, and the Chicago Reader. Photo credit: Adam Burke
DON DE GRAZIA
is a Fiction Writing professor at Columbia College Chicago, where he also earned his BA and MFA. After completing his master’s thesis, “American Skin,” De Grazia sent it off to London’s prestigious publisher, Jonathan Cape, who offered him a contract. In January 1998, American Skin was published in the UK. Hailed as an American classic, the book was so highly acclaimed by critics that it caught the attention of publishers around the world, and in April 2000, American Skin was released in the U.S. by Scribner. A flood of positive reviews appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. It is now in its fourth printing and was recently anthologized in The Outlaw Bible of American Fiction. A member of the Screenwriters Guild of America, De Grazia is currently adapting the script for American Skin. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and other publications. He resides in Chicago, where he is at work on his second novel, Reel Shadows, a chapter of which appeared in the March 2009 issue of TriQuarterly. De Grazia is also the co-founder of Come Home Chicago, a series that celebrates our city’s unique storytelling tradition with readings and entertainment held at the legendary Underground Wonder Bar. Photo credit: Cat Jimenez
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, AND PRESENTERS
P H I L I P H A RT I G A N
is a visual artist who was born in the UK and now resides in Chicago, where he is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago. He has worked for more than two decades as an artist, writer, editor, and photographer, making art that relies on personal narrative and memoir. His paintings, prints, short films, and installations have been shown in solo and group exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2009 he was awarded a grant from the Freeport Art Museum to teach a community printmaking class in rural Illinois. In 2010 he collaborated on a public art and community memoir project with Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Faculty member Patricia Ann McNair, for which they were awarded a faculty development grant from Columbia College Chicago.
K AT I E D U B LI NS KI
P HI LI P HA RT I G A N
RICK KOGAN was born in Chicago and raised in the city’s Old Town neighborhood. At age 16, Kogan launched his newspaper career by writing a story about the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention. Kogan has written for the Chicago Daily News, Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Tribune, where he is now a senior writer and columnist for the Sunday magazine. Kogan has been named Chicago’s Best Reporter, Chicago’s Greatest Living Journalist, and in 2003, he was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame. He is the author of ten books, including Yesterday’s Chicago (in collaboration with his father, Herman); Everybody Pays: Two Men, One Murder, and the Price of Truth (in collaboration with Maurice Possley); America’s Mom: The Life, Lessons, and Legacy of Ann Landers; and A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, a Curse, and the American Dream, the history of the Billy Goat. He is also the creator and host of WGN Radio’s Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan.
RI C K KOG A N
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, AND PRESENTERS
C RA IG JOB S O N , Professor of Art and Design, has transformed twenty years of
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art direction for design, books, and magazines into a passion for the publication arts. In his design career he has held positions as Art Director for the National Office of the American Heart Association, Art Director for Tracy-Locke/BBDO Advertising, Design Director for Holt, Rinehart and Winston, and Design Director for McDougal Littell Houghton Mifflin. He holds a BA in literature and BFA in printmaking and design from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in interdisciplinary arts concentrating in book and paper arts from Columbia College Chicago. His studies on the Private Press movement in Britain and the United States resulted in the purchase of a Vandercook press and the founding of Lark Sparrow Press. In the spring of 2009, he was the full-time faculty recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, awarded by Columbia’s Center for Teaching Excellence. Recent work consists of a 64-page, fully illustrated, three-color letterpress, printed abecedarium, A Field Guide to Urban Fowl; a volume of poetry, I Am Already; and a suite of short stories titled The Billy Chronicles. Photo credit: Diane Derr
G ARY JO HN S ON is a writer/producer of creative nonfiction for public radio on G A RY J O HN S ON
Morning Edition, Soundprint, Living On Earth, and Pacifica. Among his awards are the Associated Press Award for Best Radio Documentary and National Federation of Community Broadcasters’ Silver Reel. He was a Herman Kogan Media Award finalist and a winner of the Edwin L. Schuman Award for Fiction, Northwestern University. His fiction appears in F2, F3, Private Arts, Hyphen, and his articles have appeared in the Chicago Reader. He is a Certified Story Workshop Master Teacher. Photo credit: Erika Hildegard Johnson
DARRELL JONES has performed in the United States and abroad with a variety DA RREL L J ON E S
of choreographers and companies such as Bebe Miller, Urban Bush Women, Ronald K. Brown, Min Tanaka, Ralph Lemon, and Kokuma Dance Theatre. Jones is a choreographer and teacher and has collaborated with choreographers Kirstie Simson, Angie Hauser, Jeremy Wade, Lisa Gonzales, Paige Cunningham; with writer Cheryl Boyce-Taylor; and with musicians Jessie Mano, Brian Schuler, DJ Franco De Leon, and designer Mawish Syed, in dance films, documentations, and interactive multimedia installations. Jones has also choreographed and produced such group projects as “third Swan from the end” (2007) and “Whiff of Anarchy,” commissioned by the Chicago dance company the Seldoms (2009). Jones teaches workshops and master classes in dance technique, improvisational processes, and the voguing aesthetic throughout the US and in other countries such as South Africa, UK, and South Korea. Jones is presently a tenure-track faculty member at the Dance Center of Columbia College in Chicago. He will be rehearsing and touring two separate projects with Ralph Lemon and Bebe Miller in 2010–2011. Photo credit: Hillary Shedel
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, AND PRESENTERS
is a fiction writer and playwright who lives in Chicago. He is a winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Great Lakes Book Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Story Prize. He is the author of five novels: The Great Perhaps (W.W. Norton 2009), The Boy Detective Fails (Akashic 2006), Hairstyles of the Damned (Akashic 2004), Tender as Hellfire (St. Martin’s 1999), and How the Hula Girl Sings (HarperCollins 2001). His short-story collections are Demons in the Spring (Akashic 2008) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (TriQuarterly 2005). His online serial, The Secret Hand, ran through Playboy magazine at playboy.com. His short fiction has been published in McSweeney’s, Witness, TriQuarterly, Mid-American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Washington Square, Other Voices, Gulf Coast, and broadcast on NPR. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times and Chicago magazine. He was a contributing editor to the now defunct Punk Planet magazine. He is a professor of creative writing at Columbia College Chicago. Photo credit: Joe Wigdahl
S C OT T MI L L E R is a Vice President and literary agent at Trident Media Group. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Temple University School of Law and is a member of the New York State Bar. Since beginning his publishing career in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency as an agent trainee, he has worked with a wide array of diverse authors, including Tom Clancy, Bill Cosby, Janet Evanovich, and Dean Koontz. His clients include New York Times best-selling authors W. Bruce Cameron, Harold Coyle, Selden Edwards, Dalton Fury, Ronald Kessler, Chris Kuzneski, Cesar Millan (the “Dog Whisperer”) and Melissa Jo Peltier, Sean Naylor, Ralph Peters, and Joel C. Rosenberg. Other award-winning and best-selling clients include J. T. Ellison, Robert Ellis, Daniel Judson, Marcus Sakey, Harry Shearer, Patricia Smiley, and Jeanne C. Stein. Photo credit: K. Anne Whalen
JOE M ENO
S C OT T M I LLER
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, AND PRESENTERS
TO M M U L A
has been an award-winning playwright, actor, and director for nearly thirty years and has taught in the Theater Department at Columbia College Chicago as a Senior Lecturer since 1986. His plays W!, The Golem, and his work on Nicole Hollander’s Sylvia’s Real Good Advice were all recognized by the Joseph Jefferson Committee; he is also the proud author of Almighty Bob. His novel Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol was published in 1995 by Adams Media, and it became a Chicago Tribune best seller. The audio version was broadcast nationwide on NPR for six seasons; the play received the Cunningham Prize from the Goodman School of Drama at DePaul. It premiered in 1998 at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, was Jeff-nominated, and received an After Dark Award. Since then, it has received hundreds of productions nationally and worldwide, including productions in South Africa and Australia. His acting credits include seven seasons as Goodman Theatre’s Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and a Jeff Award for his performance in Hot Mikado. His story “Graven Images” appeared in Hair Trigger 31 and received a Certificate of Merit from the Columbia [University] Scholastic Press Association. Photo credit: Jennifer Girard
AL E XI S J. PRIDE
is a novelist, playwright, producer, and founder of the AJ Ensemble Theatre Company. Excerpts from her work were published in f5, f6, and Ink Stains. She is a contributing writer to Chicago Innerview, has served as editor for the internationally circulated literary anthologies PragueMalion and Belletrist, and is presently working toward the completion of her second novel, Game Keepers. An excerpt from this novel, entitled “Sex Kills,” appeared in the March 2009 issue of TriQuarterly. Pride’s play I AM, sponsored by the Salvation Army, was produced in fall 2009. Pride received a Columbia [University] Scholastic Press Association Award for her short story “Fried Buffalo.” She is Director of Graduate Programs and earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, where today she is a Fiction Writing Department professor. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Photo credit: JessicaTierney.
L I S A S C H L E S I N GE R ’s plays include Wal-martyrs, Celestial Bodies, Twenty One Positions (with Naomi Wallace and Abed Fattah Abusrour), Same Egg, Manny and Chicken, Rock Ends Ahead, Bow Echo, The Bones of Danny Winston, The Go Back Land, and The Artist of Transparency. She is currently at work on Harmonicus Mundi, the second play in her Celestial Bodies trilogy. She has received commissions from the BBC, the Guthrie Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Portland Stage Company. She is a recipient of the NEA / TCG Playwrights Residency Award and winner of the BBC International Playwriting Award, and has received grants and awards from the NEA, CEC International, the Bush Foundation, and the Iowa Arts Council, among others. She has recently published work in American Theatre Magazine, Yale University’s Theater magazine, and the Performing Arts Journal. She received her MFAs from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Iowa Playwrights’ Workshop, and is Coordinator of the Playwriting Program at Columbia College Chicago. Photo credit: Alexi Schlesinger
TOM M UL A
ALE X IS J. PRIDE
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, AND PRESENTERS
JOHN SCHULTZ is the originator of the Story Workshop® approach to the teaching of writing and professor emeritus of the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department. His numerous publications include The Tongues of Men (stories and novellas), No One Was Killed, The Chicago Conspiracy Trial, Writing from Start to Finish, and the Teacher’s Manual for Writing from Start to Finish. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in many journals and collections, including Big Table, Evergreen Review, Georgia Review, Chicago Reader, College English, and the UMKC Law Review. He has been featured in several television documentaries, including The Chicago Conspiracy Trial (A & E, American Justice, Court TV), Daley: The Last Boss (PBS), and the BBC Radio Drama The Chicago Conspiracy Trial. He was a featured participant in the showcasing of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial at the national ABA convention in Chicago, August 2001. He is also the Founder and President of F, a literary anthology that publishes excerpts from novels-in-progress, stories, essays, and poetry. Schultz is the co-producer of the instructional videos The Living Voice Moves and Story from First Impulse to Final Draft. The Story Workshop video and written text was presented on Brown University’s Education Alliance website, The Knowledge Loom (www.knowledgeloom.org). He is also Founder and President of the Story Workshop Institute and SGI (Schultz Group, Inc.), offering supplementary education programs. He was appointed Fulbright Senior Specialist in fall 2007 and, along with Betty Shiflett, taught master’s creative writing at Fudan University, Shanghai, PRC, helping them establish the first master’s in creative writing program in China. New editions appeared in spring 2009 of No One Was Killed and The Chicago Conspiracy Trial, with forewords by Todd Gitlin and new afterwords by the author. Photo credit: Tony Ortega
JOHN S C HU LT Z
D ONNA S E A M A N
DON N A S E A M A N is Associate Editor for Booklist, book critic for Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ), and a freelance reviewer. The recipient of Illinois Arts Council grants, Seaman has received the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism, the Writer Magazine Writers Who Make a Difference Award, several Pushcart Prize special mentions, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, and Literacy Chicago’s Literacy Hero Award, in recognition of all that she does to encourage reading. The National Book Critics Circle named Donna Seaman as a finalist for the 2010 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Seaman is the creator of the anthology In Our Nature: Stories of Wildness, and her author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books and at openbooksradio.org. Seaman is currently a Writer in Residence in Columbia College’s Fiction Writing Department. Photo credit: David Siegfried
L IS A S CH L E S I N GE R
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, AND PRESENTERS
STEPHANIE SHAW has performed in many theaters across Chicago, including
STE P H A NI E SHAW
Apple Tree Theater, the Body Politic, Wisdom Bridge, Oak Park Festival Theater, Stage Left, Lifeline, the National Jewish Theater, the Royal George, and the Curious Theater Branch, among others. She was a theater critic for the Chicago Reader for three years and a member of the Neo-Futurists for four years, writing and performing regularly for the ongoing late night hit Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. She has written and performed several solo performance pieces that have been produced at the NeoFuturarium, Live Bait Theater, the New York Fringe Festival, the Chicago Poetry Center, the Dollar Store, the Rhino Fest, 2nd Story, and the semi-annual Estrogen Fest. She has directed several solo performance pieces for Live Bait Theater, and is a member of BoyGirlBoyGirl, a solo performance ensemble here in Chicago. At Columbia she is a Senior Lecturer in the Theater Department as well as the facilitator of the Theater Department’s twice yearly 24-Hour New Plays Festival. Her short story “Afterbirth” has won numerous awards and was published in Interfictions 2 in the fall of 2009. Her novella, Mademoiselle Guignol, has been accepted by Doorways Publications and will be available sometime in the foreseeable future. Photo credit: Suzanne Plunkett
BE T T Y SHIFLE T T is professor emerita of the Columbia College Chicago Fiction BE T T Y SHI FL E T T
Writing Department and a winner of the Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award. She was the Founding Director of the Fiction Writing Department’s Story Workshop Tutoring and Tutor Training program, Founder and Artistic Director of the Visiting Writers program, and a Founding Director of the department’s in-service teacher training program. She is also a distinguished writer, playwright, and writing consultant. Shiflett is author of the play We Dream of Tours and the musical drama Phantom Rider. Her stories, articles, and novel and play excerpts have appeared in Life Magazine, Evergreen Review, Fiction and Poetry by Texas Women, Emergence: Writings by Women, Private Arts, F Magazine, The Story Workshop Reader, College English, Writing from Start to Finish, and many others. Her award-winning story “The Country Barber” was published in American Fiction and translated into Mandarin by the novelist Geling Yan for Sichuan Literature Monthly. She is Co-Producer and interviewer for the Story Workshop video The Living Voice Moves, featuring Randy Albers and his Prose Forms class, and she and her Story Workshop Advanced Fiction class are featured in the video Story from First Impulse to Final Draft, co-produced by John Schultz and Randy Albers. Shiflett has been a featured writer three times in the Southwest Writers Conference at Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas. Along with John Schultz, she taught master’s creative writing in fall 2007 at Fudan University, Shanghai, PRC, helping Fudan set up its first master’s in creative writing program in China. She is Principal Story Workshop Master Teacher, now at work on a memoir as novel, Grassfires. Photo credit: Tony Ortega
is the owner of Metro and Smart Bar, Chicago’s independently owned and operated music venue for over twenty-eight years. He is also part-owner of Double Door, Daily Bar and Grill, The Publican, and Violet Hour. He co-founded the North Clark Street Business Owners Association, and serves as President of the group, which seeks to improve relations between businesses, residents, and the City of Chicago. He serves on the boards of several charities, including Rock for Kids and the Chicago Children’s Choir, as well as the Sacred Heart Schools’ Art Council. Shanahan’s Metro has hosted Story Week events for over a decade, and he can often be found coercing authors to join him behind the turntables. Photo credit: Metro
B RUCE S H E RIDA N has been Chair of the Film & Video Department since 2001 and is a leader in the move to redesign film and media education for the 21st century. He has 30 years experience directing, producing, and writing drama and documentary for the screen and teaches all of those disciplines. He won the 1999 New Zealand Best Drama Award for the tele-feature Lawless. In 2006 a short film he produced with Tim Evans and Steppenwolf Films called Kubuku Rides (This Is It) was recognized as Best Narrative Short at Memphis IndieFest. Professor Sheridan is currently developing a feature film set in New Zealand and Peru called Hunting Daniel and writing a book (working title “Dust”) about the death of his father in the Australian Outback. He is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Auckland, researching imagination and creativity as they relate to artistic development and expression. Photo credit: Jacqueline Bissett DA N S I N KE R received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was a John S. Knight Fellow 2007–08 at Stanford University. Sinker is creator of the mobile storytelling initiative CellStories.net and the founding editor of the influential underground culture magazine Punk Planet that was published from 1994–2007. He is editor of the book We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet, the Collected Interviews and of the spin-off Punk Planet Books imprint. He is currently a contributor to the Huffington Post, on the advisory board for Vocalo.org and the curator of the Chicago Mayoral Scorecard. He teaches in the Journalism Department of Columbia College. Photo credit: Janice Dillard
JOE S HA NA HA N
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, AND PRESENTERS
B RU C E S HERI DA N
DA N S I NKER
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, AND PRESENTERS
ROD SL E MMON S
has been the Director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago since 2002 where he also has taught undergraduate photo history and graduate theory seminars. He also teaches graduate courses at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has curated six exhibitions at MOCP, including “Persistence of Vision: The Career of Paul Berger,” and “Conversations: Text and Image.” Slemmons previously taught photography, history of photography, and graduate Museum Studies for twelve years at the University of Washington in Seattle, overlapping with fourteen years as Curator of Prints and Photographs at the Seattle Art Museum. He was the National Chair of the Society for Photographic Education from 1990 to 1994 and was named Honored Educator at the SPE National Conference in Miami in 2007. He has an MA in contemporary literature and writing from the University of Iowa. Photo credit: Natasha Egan
JOHNNY TEMPLE 27
J OH N N Y TE MPL E
is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of Akashic Books, an award-winning Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction. He is also the Co-Founder, with Akashic Senior Editor Ibrahim Ahmad, of Brooklyn Wordsmiths, an editorial and consulting company. Temple won the American Association of Publishers’ 2005 Miriam Bass Award for Creativity in Independent Publishing, and the 2010 Jay and Dean Kogan Award for Excellence in Noir Literature. Temple plays bass guitar in the band Girls Against Boys, which has toured extensively across the globe and released numerous albums on independent and major record companies. He has contributed articles and political essays to various publications, including the Nation, Publishers Weekly, AlterNet, Poets & Writers, and Bookforum. He is also the Chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council, which works with Brooklyn’s borough president to plan the annual Brooklyn Book Festival in September.
PANELISTS, PERFORMERS, AND PRESENTERS
SPEAKING OF CLASS A CONVERSATION WITH DON DE GRAZIA AND RANDY ALBERS Fiction Writing Department Chair and Story Week Founding Producer Randall Albers recently sat down with professor and author Don De Grazia to discuss this year’s Story Week theme, “Class Acts.” In 1999, De Grazia’s novel, American Skin, was published by Jonathan Cape in England. The book was hailed as a tour de force of working-class fiction—a timelessly relevant rumination on racism, teen rage, and the skinhead movement in 1980s Chicago. An excerpt of Albers’s forthcoming novel, All the World Before Them, a sweeping, epic story set amidst the tumult of Vietnam War-era America, recently appeared in TriQuarterly.
SPEAKING OF CLASS Randall Albers: So, Don, today we’re just exploring ways that class manifests itself in stories. To start with, I wanted to ask about your reading preferences. You’re known as a pretty eclectic reader. I’m curious about whether you find yourself drawn to writing about one class or another. Don De Grazia: No, I don’t. But I think that most readers, fairly serious readers, people who read a lot, tend to have a somewhat eclectic range. At the same time, they tend to be attracted to certain things more than others. I think I can speak more about what I recognize, a complaint I have about the publishing world, particularly the short fiction world—namely, that the people who are selecting that writing—it’s not some conspiracy or anything like that, but they tend to come from a fairly small group, class-wise, culture-wise, and all, so there’s a tendency toward sameness, a tendency to publish things that speak to them particularly, so that’s a little bit— RA: It encourages a kind of narrowness. DDG: Ultimately, yeah, and then I think it tends to encourage people who aren’t from that class to write to that class. In my own case, I was very attracted as a kid to both Huckleberry Finn and Catcher in the Rye, and I don’t know that you could argue either of them are coming out of any similar class or cultural background to my own, other than American, I guess, white, and male. But Holden Caulfield’s experience was very different from my own, and yet I thought that it was absolutely speaking to me, you know. So I tend to think that if it’s a good story, it’s going to be universal. But then, when I do come across something that really speaks to my own particular experience, I think I’m going to respond to it. RA: You’ve sometimes been labeled a workingclass writer. Do you find yourself reading, thinking, in those terms? DDG: No, I mean, I know that after I wrote American Skin, I didn’t really have a sense that it fit in with a lot of what was getting published in New York, and at that time, what had been dubbed a working-class fiction movement in Scotland had
SPEAKING OF CLASS
been going on—guys like Irvine obviously came out of that—and I ended up getting published by the publisher that was publishing all of them. So I benefited from something that was being called a working-class fiction movement or whatever, but I’m wary of the whole conversation because it can bring out a bad side in people. People tend to be very proprietary about the notion.… RA: I think England has been much more class conscious than America. In America, we have this kind of myth of a classless society. But the myth itself may mean that class issues aren’t so readily identifiable in American fiction, or that they’re masked in some way. I was thinking today about the famous interchange between Fitzgerald, who seemed totally fascinated by the upper class, and Hemingway. Fitzgerald said, “The rich are different from us,” and Hemingway replied, “Yes, they have more money.” DDG: Yeah, and that adds another layer of complication to it all. I mean, if your dad was a heavy crane operator in a construction yard and he was making $100 an hour, are you more working class than if your dad was an office manager and he was making a little bit more than minimum wage? RA: So it may not boil down to money, it may boil down to consciousness in some way. Some historians point to the movement off of farms as one of the defining features of an expanded middle class.…I guess my question is, if that’s true, that the ’30s spawned a lot of writing that made class issues visible, right now we’re living in a society where the evidence shows that the gap is clearly widening between the rich and the poor, with the wealthy getting wealthier and the poor hanging on, and it makes me wonder whether class issues will become more prevalent in fiction. DDG: I’m sure they will, and it will also create new—new for America, anyway—wrinkles, in the sense that we’re also heading, supposedly, towards a time when, for the first time, new generations will do worse than their parents did. RA: Right.
DDG: So there will be drops in class. RA: Downward mobility. DDG: And I think you’ll see subject matter that deals with having lived a certain portion of your life in one class and then dropping a class, or two. So, yeah, I think it’s inevitable. I mean, people tend to write about the problems that they see around them, and as basic survival becomes more of a problem, it’s going to be more of an issue in fiction, I would guess.… RA: When you think about writers who in some way foreground class issues, you might think of Algren certainly, but are there others that come to mind? DDG: For whatever reason, the first author that comes to mind is Richard Wright, and particularly the book Native Son. I can’t imagine how that was received then because when I read it, which was about, probably about 20 years ago, it seemed really revolutionary. And that was way after it was published, so I can only assume that it really was a breakthrough book in that way. RA: That’s interesting on a couple of counts, isn’t it, because Wright was very clearly interested in class issues—you know, affiliated with the Communist Party for a time—so that was very much in his thinking. It’s also interesting because when people talk about class issues in fiction, I think of black writers, of a certain generation of women writers, writers from various minority backgrounds. Sherman Alexie writes about class issues, Amy Tan, to some extent, but a lot of black writers—Baldwin, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison. So I’m also interested in the way that class intersects with issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and so on, and whether minority writers are in some way—using the broad brushstroke here—more aware of class distinctions and the way they might play out in fiction. DDG: I can’t speak for everyone, but my sense is yes. And not only that, but—I don’t know if ironic is the right word—but more willing to see their own experience as legitimate as opposed to trying to
write like somebody else. I think that being more class-conscious as a group has benefited a lot of writers, minority and women writers because their experience, the struggles that they’ve seen and that are legitimate to them, as opposed to “I have to write the perfect New Yorker story.” RA: So, are you saying they can be more honest? DDG: Well, I think you can’t universalize, but I think, yeah, there’s more honesty, as a general rule.… RA: I guess I was thinking about pushing you a little more on other writers that you’re attracted to who might foreground issues of class.… DDG: Obviously, reading something like Catcher in the Rye gave me a glimpse into the point of view of a class that I was not from. Holden says things like, “When you see a really poor guy wearing a pearl gray hat, he thinks he looks really sharp.” You read it, and you think, oh, so that’s how people see different people. RA: People from a different class. DDG: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know, how about you? RA: I’m fascinated by the world of The Catcher in the Rye, or, you know, some of Updike or Cheever or Fitzgerald, people who write about a class that I don’t come from. I’m fascinated, and I’m glad I read these people, but I suppose there’s some sense in which I read them as if I might read a Regency novel of manners or something like that, as a kind of foreign world. I resonate more with Wright Morris, who writes about rural culture and who is probably my favorite author, with Hubert Selby and Richard Price and William Kennedy, people who write about a class I don’t come from either but whose work seems more hard hitting, more honest, in some ways. I don’t mean to say these other writers aren’t honest; that’s maybe not the right word. The language is just rawer, more interesting to me.… DDG: I think one thing that has to be said is that a discussion of class in writing can become kind
SPEAKING OF CLASS
of simplified, maybe over-played or whatever, but I don’t really think that there is any denying— it’s not universal—but there is a tendency in the upper-class, East Coast world that tends to control publishing to think that the arts, which include writing, are their domain and that they will only let certain people in. I know when I was working early in the film project for American Skin, there was one producer who hadn’t produced anything, but she came from Manhattan, her parents knew a lot of people, she’d been to some good schools, so there was this real sense of, I would say, entitlement. We were working towards making a movie out of a book that I had written, but there was always this sort of attitude that she was above me in the project, creatively. And at some point, with one step in the process, we had to convince these other producers to get on board, and another producer wanted me to write a letter basically arguing the case for the story. I did that, and it convinced the other people, so it was big victory. And I remember the woman coming back to me, and you could tell she was a little bit—she was happy that it happened, but she had to communicate something to me, and she said, “Yeah, that was a really good letter.” It was like, wow— RA: You can write? DDG: Literally! She was, like, “You don’t seem in real life like the guy, you know, who uses the big words and stuff. And then you read this letter, and it’s like, Who is this guy?” She couldn’t just let it go, she had to assert something at this point. And I didn’t really say anything in response, but the lesson of that was, it doesn’t matter who your parents know, or what schools you went to, it comes down to the writing, ultimately, and in that case I was able to write about something where I knew what I was talking about. That’s a class anecdote that comes to mind. [Laughter] It still irks me a little bit.
RA: Well, we question that all the time. [Laughter] DDG: So I speak that monosyllabically? RA: That’s interesting, though, isn’t it. Because when you think of working-class fiction, I mean, I don’t know, is that one of the defining features? That people don’t use big words, that it’s not highbrow language? DDG: Well, yeah, I think that definitely you see—I see it with a lot of students, even in grad students. A lot of people seem to feel that one of the essential components of good literary fiction is high language, beautiful language, poetic language. And I think that it does tend to be equated with evidence of education or something like that. It’s some signifier, something that’s telling the reader, this isn’t just someone telling a story, this is someone who knows a lot of words, and a lot of poetic theory, and in fact knows how to tell a story in a way that’s not straightforward.… RA: Yeah. It has to be impenetrable in order to be good. It’s part of the mystery or something.… DDG: Yeah, and who is defining working-class fiction is a big question, too, at any given time. If it’s people who have absolutely no connection with working-class experience, then I think very often they are going to respond more positively to things that border on caricature, and things that strike them as nonthreatening. It becomes almost like a pet project or something to be inclusive, but it’s not necessarily inclusive. It’s essentially working-class fiction as defined by someone who is very far removed from anything even remotely approaching working-class experience. RA: Do you think that there’s a sense in which working-class fiction has been treated, in some way, like genre fiction? That it’s almost its own genre?
RA: Obviously. DDG: “Who is this guy?” Well, this is the guy that wrote the book that you want to make a movie out of. RA: And he can write a letter, too. And he can use big words if he needs to. DDG: It did make me question how I seem in real life, though.
SPEAKING OF CLASS
DDG: Well, yeah, absolutely. And I think then it becomes working class with a capital W and a capital C—almost a genre, absolutely.… RA: I wonder what place writing programs have in all of this. DDG: Well, I don’t know, it sounds like a commercial, but I do know that when I came here as a student there was—I mean, not even to say if it was bad or good, but obviously I think it’s good so
that’s why I stayed here—but, objectively speaking, there was a huge emphasis here on really defining fiction for the students in the broadest possible way, with the broadest possible scope. This whole emphasis here on striking juxtaposition of voices, content, class— RA: Which is what Story Week’s been about for 15 years. DDG: Right. The fact that you guys would bring Hubert Selby to Story Week. When I think by the end of his life he was a highly acclaimed author and all, but in academic settings he was sort of persona non grata, in a lot of spheres anyway, that was a statement in itself, bringing guys like Selby into a college literary festival as the main guy. Always a lot of minority authors being brought in, a heavy emphasis on that. So yeah, here, that was the case. I do think that there is something to this idea of there being a quote-unquote MFA program short story, and I don’t think that’s a good thing at all. I see it, to some extent, in my own classes. And I think it’s unfortunate . . . RA: It’s in some way writing that’s almost too conscious of audience . . . DDG: Yeah, a particular audience. RA: And when I think of people in this program who are trying to do that, it usually seems to me as though it sets up a kind of static in their ear and they can’t hear their voice. It’s hard to get to their authentic voice and it’s hard to get to their authentic content because they want to write that thing so badly that everybody else is writing so they’ll get published. Publishing is almost too much of a goal.
RA: They’re not aspiring to become that writer who lives in the “Y” and is down to his last 75 bucks before they can figure out where to send a novel that’s going to get published. DDG: But that’s funny because in a sense, boy, I can’t complain about the way I was treated by the publishing world. I was very happy with it. I lived at the “Y” largely because I didn’t have much money. But I also lived very close to my girlfriend at the time, and I would go there for hot meals all the time, so it was just a place to work, it was just a temporary thing in my mind, but that kind of got blown up. And the last $75 thing, I think I borrowed the money from my girlfriend at the time, but it was my last $75 until the next $75 I got. It wasn’t like I would then starve to death in the gutter or whatever. But that’s like, OK, let’s heighten this guy’s struggle and gritty street existence, you know, all that . . . RA: The mythification of De Grazia. DDG: Yeah. But that’s the thing with writing, it’s become like a joke now, when you look at the writers’ bios—worked as a rodeo clown, a merchant marine cook, a semi-pro baseball player— RA: Picked oranges in the groves of southern California. DDG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. RA: For a dollar a day. DDG: I know that when they’d do my bio, they asked all the jobs I had, and they’d put factory worker in there, but they didn’t put cold-call telemarketer. RA: Didn’t have the same ring.
DDG: Absolutely, I agree. I also think that it has something to do with the emphasis, first and foremost, on the identity of being a writer, the writerly identity, wherein a student writer or an aspiring writer or whatever is trying to replicate the feeling or the effect of what might have been a very fine short story, but then rather than actually looking at how it was achieved on the page, they’re just trying to recreate that effect from the get-go because of this identity of what a writer is, almost the image of the writer.… Usually, I think that image of the writer is a guy, with a cashmere turtleneck, sitting in an expensive leather chair somewhere in New York, drinking some expensive Scotch, and surrounded by original art.
DDG: Or Vitamin World employee. They left those out. RA: I guess it must have been from the wrong class.
SPEAKING OF CLASS
2ND STORY 2nd Story (www.2ndstory.com) crafts venue-specific events that weave stories and music to create a profoundly human experience. Founded in 1999 as Serendipity Theatre, the organization has evolved into a collaborative community of theater artists and writers, DJs and graphic designers, musicians and producers, teachers and arts managers, and have supported over a hundred diverse storytellers in the telling of their own stories. 2nd Story has a standing monthly series, Stories & Wine, at Webster’s Wine Bar in Lincoln Park; a quarterly series, Stories & Live Music, at the Morseland in Rogers Park; and a new series, Stories & Chefs, that rotates through some of Chicago’s favorite neighborhood bistros. 2nd Story regularly collaborates with theaters and other organizations to customize events, and have performed in conjunction with the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Next, ATC, Victory Gardens, Wordstock Literary Festival, Emergency Fund, Abbott Labs, the Spertus Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the University of Chicago, among others, and are thrilled to be collaborating with Columbia College and Story Week once again.
MEG AN S TIELS TRA is a writer, storyteller, and Literary Director of 2nd Story. She’s performed at the Goodman Theatre, the Steppenwolf Theatre, the Chicago Poetry Center, the Neo-Futurarium, Story Week Festival of Writers, Wordstock, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Dollar Store, and Chicago Public Radio, and is a Literary Death Match champ. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Other Voices, Fresh Yarn, Pindeldyboz, Swink, Perigee, The 2nd Hand, inthefray, Punk Planet, and have been performed by Theatre Seven of Chicago and Bohemian Archeology in New York. She holds an MFA fromColumbia College, where she currently teaches in the Fiction Writing Department and serves as Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. She is also a lecturer at the University of Chicago and a teaching artist with the Goodman.
M EG A N STI E L STR A
LOT T HILL is a poet, fiction writer, photographer, and a strong believer in active citizenship. He received his MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago, where he now serves as the Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. He is a teacher of Creative Writing, Poetry, and community-based learning and ServiceLearning classes. Lott’s fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in multiple issues of Hair Trigger, Columbia Poetry Review, Fish Stories, B-City, Metropolitan Universities, The Spoon River Poetry Review, AdBusters, Demo, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities Peer Review and is a regular featured reader at Serendipity Theater’s Second Story reading series. Photo credit: R. Meher
LOT T HI L L
ERIC C HA RLES MAY is an associate professor in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago. A native of Chicago’s South Side and a 1975 grad of Columbia, May is a former reporter for the Washington Post. His fiction has appeared in Angels In My Oven, Fish Stories, and F magazine. In addition to his reporting for the Post, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate magazine and the Chicago Tribune. May has taught at the Stonecoast and Solstice writers’ conferences, and is a past judge for the Columbia (University) Scholastic Press Association. Photo credit: Susan Lanier
ERIC CHARL E S MAY
PAT RI CI A A N N M C N A IR ’s fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in American Fiction: Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers, Other Voices, F Magazine, River Teeth, Fourth Genre, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Air Canada’s en Route magazine, and others. She is also published in The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction, edited by Dinty Moore, and is a regular contributor to Elks Magazine. Her honors include a number of Illinois Arts Council Awards and Pushcart Prize nominations in fiction and creative nonfiction, Columbia College Chicago’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and a nomination for the Carnegie Foundation’s US Professor of the Year Award. She has served as Writer in Residence at Interlochen Arts Academy and visiting lecturer at Bath Spa University in Bath, UK. McNair is a professor in the graduate and undergraduate programs of the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago. Her story collection, The Temple of Air, is forthcoming from Elephant Rock Books. Photo credit: Philip Hartigan
PAT RI C I A A NN M C NA I R
APRIL NE WMAN has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College and her professional experience includes penning curriculum, editing, and storytelling. She teaches for DeVry University and the University of Phoenix online. April is a company member of the Serendipity Theatre Collective, where she acted as the Director of the Storytelling Cycle for 2nd Story. Her work has appeared in the Iowa Review, Hair Trigger and various spots online. She lives in Chicago. Photo credit: Julie Sadowski
A P RI L NE WM A N
DJ W H I T E R U S S I A N —As a designer, musician, composer, and performer, Mikhail “Misha” Fiksel is an emerging presence in the Chicago theater and music communities. Originally from Siberia, Mikhail found his way to the Windy City via University of Chicago, where he earned his bachelor’s degree and began his ventures into the realm of sound design. He has become a regular in the Chicago Equity and Non-Equity theater scene, as well as Chicago’s music and DJ culture. In addition to being a member of Teatro Vista, the Strawdog Theatre Company, and the Serendipity Theatre Collective, he is an artistic associate with Collaboraction and has designed and composed for such theater companies as ATC, the House, Redmoon Theater, Victory Gardens, the Goodman Theatre, the Hypocrites, and many others. He also is a resident designer at the Vittum Theatre, and a part-time faculty member of the Loyola University Theatre Department. As a musician, he performs throughout this city, as a solo artist (often under the moniker “DJ White Russian”) or with his project “Seeking Wonderland,” an improvisational ensemble (Kevin Richey, Paul Foster, Mikhail Fiksel, Shaun Whitley, and others), fusing nu-jazz, electronic music, and visual media. Fiksel holds residencies at Sushi Wabi and the Morseland, and has been regularly featured on Q101’s Sonic Boom: Subsonic, a program dedicated to new electronic music. Photo credit: Julie Sadowski
DJ WHI T E RUS S I A N
S EEKI NG WOND ERL A ND
S E E KI N G WO N D E RL A N D is a musical coalition that exists to fuse individual passions and histories into music that sounds like what it feels like to be alive today. Their feet are on the dance floors of our DJ cultured youth, their hips are shaking to the undeniable funk of the classic radio waves, and their heads are in the improvisational clouds. Throw in some cinematic soundscaping and the joy of immediate discovery and you’re there. This coalition has been Seeking Wonderland throughout Chicago since 2003. They have enjoyed residencies at the Red Kiva and Morseland nightclubs and customized performances for Redmoon, Serendipity, Wildclaw, Strawdog, and Collaboration theater companies as well as the Chicago Marathon and Society for Contemporary Art. Seeking Wonderland also enjoys scoring music for live storytelling events and independent films.
STORY WEEK COORDINATORS S A R A H DO D S O N is the Managing Director of Story Week. She is also the Executive Director for MAKE Literary Productions, NFP, publisher of MAKE: A Literary Magazine, for which she is also the Managing Editor. She is a consultant for Poetry magazine’s Printers’ Ball, a yearly celebration of literary culture, produced in conjunction with Columbia College. Dodson earned a BA from the University of Iowa. Photo credit: Johnathan Crawford ROBYN E ASTMAN is in her fourth year as videographer/film editor of the Story Week Festival of R A N DA LL AL BE R S
SUS AN B ABY K
NIC O L E C H A K A L I S
C H RI S D EG U I RE
RANDAL L AL BERS
chairs the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago, one of the largest undergraduate and graduate writing programs in the country, and is the Founding Producer of the Story Week Festival of Writers. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Chicago Review, Mendocino Review, F, Writing in Education, TriQuarterly, Writer’s Digest, and elsewhere. His work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A former winner of the Columbia College Teaching Excellence Award, he is the co-writer and co-producer of the Story Workshop teaching of writing videotapes, The Living Voice Moves and Story from First Impulse to Final Draft, and is a frequent presenter at conferences here and abroad devoted to the teaching of creative writing. Photo credit: Shane Welch
SUS AN B ABYK is Story Week Assistant and received an MFA in creative writing from Columbia College in 2005. She is an adjunct faculty member of the Film Department and has taught in the Television Department. She recently retired from twenty years of service in Columbia College’s Executive Vice President’s Office, and is a freelance writer and Master Gardener, plays the guitar, and has performed with the Hump Night Thumpers, a jugband ensemble. Photo credit: Susan Babyk
NI C OL E CH AK A LIS
is the Secretary of the Fiction Writing Department and holds an MFA in creative writing at Columbia College Chicago. She studied at the University of Havana and has received the Sylvia McNair Award for Travel Writing. Chakalis was also the recipient of a fellowship at the Ragdale Artists Residence and the Arts & Media Award for Excellence from Columbia College Chicago. She has been published in the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Journal, Hair Trigger 27, and Pigeon. Photo credit: Nicole Chakalis
Writers. Eastman received her BA from Columbia College in Television and Fiction Writing in 2007 and her MFA in Creative Writing–Fiction in 2010. Before coming to Columbia, Eastman spent 15 years in radio as producer, writer, and on-air personality; her last station was KABC in Los Angeles. She has produced films, commercials, music videos, and events. She recently moved back to Maui, Hawaii, where she is currently working on two books, developing a project for Pacific Radio Group, creating writing workshops, and enjoying “no snow.” Recent publications of her writing include the first chapter of her historical fiction novel Dark Side of the Wave in F Magazine, and “Under Rell’s Spell” in Rell Sunn: Queen of Makaha, a collection of stories about surfing legend Rell Sunn, edited by George Ambrose. Photo credit: Tim Fielding
S H E RY L J O H N S TO N , Artistic Consultant to the Story Week Festival of Writers, has been involved with the festival for fourteen years. Johnston earned her BA in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago, and her work has appeared in Emergence, Hair Trigger 16 and 17, Bandit-Lit.com, Footlights Magazine, Chicagoartistsresource.org, and other publications. Before attending Columbia, Johnston was an editorial writer at WLS-TV, a vice president of public relations at J. Walter Thompson, and president of her own communications agency. She has served as a judge for the WBEZ-FM Stories on Stage contest, as an editor for Hair Trigger and Bandit-Lit.com, and as a panelist for the Northwestern University Summer Writers’ Conference. She is a proud recipient of the 2007 Story Week Achievement Award. She is also an independent publicist for various authors throughout the country, and consults on publicity and event management for clients involved with education, the arts, and entertainment.
J E N N I F E R L IZ A K , Promotions Director for the Story Week Festival of Writers, earned a BA in communications from Loyola University Chicago. She has worked as the Publicity Director for Metro/ Smart Bar for over ten years, and is the Vice President of the Chicago Independent Radio Project, where she directs Marketing and hosts a weekly radio show on CHIRPradio.org. Her articles have appeared in UR Chicago, Venus Zine, and WOWmusicchicago.com. Photo credit: Andy Marfia
CH RI S DEGUIRE is Assistant Artistic Director of Story Week and earned his MFA in creative writing at Columbia College Chicago, where he is now an adjunct faculty in Fiction Writing and the Assistant Coordinator of the department’s tutoring program. His work has appeared in Hair Trigger, F, and No Touching. He is a past winner of the John Schultz and Betty Shiflett Story Workshop Scholarship. Photo credit: Chris DeGuire
STORY WEEK COORDINATORS
ROBYN E A S T M A N
S HERYL JOHNS TON
JENNI FER LI Z A K
STORY WEEK COORDINATORS
LIN DA N AS LUN D is the Story Week Administrative Assistant and earned her MFA in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago. Naslund assists with organizing the Story Week Festival of Writers, and helps produce the Fiction Writing Department’s annual student literary magazine, Hair Trigger, and is Associate Editor of Fictionary. She has published articles in The International Dictionary of Historic Places and fiction in Emergence III. She is the former Co-Creator and Co-Editor of Pigeon magazine. Photo credit: Jessica Tierney LI NDA N ASLU N D
DEB ORA H RO BERT S is the Assistant to the Chair, Randy Albers, of the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago. She received her MA in English literature from the University of Cincinnati in 1980. Roberts began working in Columbia’s Fiction Writing Department in 1988 as secretary to John Schultz. She assists in the publication of Hair Trigger and has helped to organize the Story Week Festival of Writers since its inception. Photo credit: Jessica Tierney K AREN S C HMIDT has worked as the Managing Editor of the program for Story
D EB OR AH ROBE RT S
Week for two years. She has previously served as Assistant Editor on the 2009 issue of Fictionary, which was awarded a Gold Medalist Certificate by the Columbia [University] Scholastic Press Association. Her award-winning nonfiction has appeared in Fictionary, as well as Newcity and the University of Chicago’s School of Public Health’s magazine Healthviews. Karen is a student of fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago, and her fiction has appeared in the online literary journal Kaleidoscopic Resonance. Photo credit: Jenn North.
STORY WEEK AUTHORS REFLECT
H ERE’ S WH AT PAST STORY WEEK AUT HORS S AY AB OUT T H EIR PROCES SES , INFLUENCES , AND PERS ONAL STORY WEEK MEMORIES .
B Y E R I N N E D ER B O
S AM WELLER is the authorized biographer of literary icon Ray Bradbury. Weller’s
K ARE N S CHMI DT
book The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury was a Los Angeles Times best seller, winner of the 2005 Society of Midland Authors Award for Best Biography, and a Bram Stoker Award finalist. The companion book, Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, was published by Melville House/Stop Smiling Books in 2010. Weller is the former Midwest Correspondent for Publishers Weekly magazine. He is a frequent literary critic for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and Playboy. com and has written for the Paris Review and the National Public Radio Program All Things Considered. He was also a host for the Chicago Public Radio program Hello Beautiful! Weller’s short fiction has appeared in numerous books and journals, including the 2008 anthology Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories, published by Free Press. His pop-cultural essays have appeared in Post Road, Annalemma, and F, among many other publications. Weller is a professor in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago. Photo credit: Ian Merritt
WH AT ’S THE M O ST I M P O RTA NT PA RT O F Y O UR WRI T I NG PRO CESS? Nami Mun: Letting my characters talk…letting them speak (in journals, on table napkins, etc.) gives them a chance to surprise me. Dorothy Allison: Revision John McNally: Getting up in the morning and writing. Having a routine. Take that away, and you have no stories or books. Joe Meno: Trial and error. Stumbling in the dark and allowing time to make mistakes. Being open to those mistakes and rewriting.
WH AT PI ECE O F A D V I CE D O Y O U WI SH Y O U HA D RECEI V ED ? Nami Mun: Write with your pants down. And then (I’m paraphrasing Charles D’Ambrosio here) revise, revise, and revise until your errors yield up the truth. Dorothy Allison: Take your time. Get it right before you let go of it. John McNally: I wish someone had impressed upon me the importance of networking, which is distinctly different than schmoozing, although I’m not sure it would have made a difference since I was pathologically shy when I was younger. Joe Meno: Almost all of writing is practice, and be willing to fail. Don’t be precious with it, there’ll be ten bad stories before there’s one good one.
STORY WEEK COORDINATORS
W H AT P I EC E OF LITE R ATU RE MOST INFLUEN CED YO UR WRI TI N G? Nami Mun: Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr. slapped me in the face, punched me in the stomach, blinded my eyes, and choked my heart. That book reminded me to take risks in my writing, and to write so I could feel it in my body. Dorothy Allison: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, which was the book that gave me permission to write what I feared to write, and to write it in a language that sang to me. John McNally: John Irving’s The World According to Garp, because it’s the book that made me want to be a writer. Irving’s world in that novel is rich, comic, devastating, bizarre, and believable. It’s a three-dimensional world. Plus, it’s about a writer. Joe Meno: Maybe not the best book to learn from, but the book I most love would have to be Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. It’s an intimate and quiet book with an electric feeling when you read it.
W H AT ’ S Y O U R FAVORITE STOR Y WE E K MEM O RY? Nami Mun: How the usually raucous crowd at the Metro turned absolutely silent while Richard Price and Lydia Millet read. Gave me chills. Dorothy Allison: Sherman Alexie and I read at the Chicago Public Library. I read a 30-page story. When I got to the last page, I discovered it was blank. It was a story I had been challenged to get the right ending. I looked out at the audience, closed my eyes and channeled a revision of all the endings I had done. Afterward, I had to write down what I had done. It was exactly what I had been trying to write for three years. John McNally: “Backstage moments.” Staying out drinking with Irvine Welsh and Don De Grazia or how I foolishly recommended that we have beer up on stage for the “Is There a Working-Class Fiction?” panel, and how, one by one, we had to leave the stage to go to the bathroom. Joe Meno: I’d have to say the reading at the Metro with Dave Eggers and the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir because it was a party more so than a literary event. That’s really what Story Week has become for me.
T E L L US S O M E THING RE ADE R S DON’ T K N OW ABO UT YO U? Nami Mun: Once, in the ’80s, without any training whatsoever, I dance-auditioned for the TV show Fame. I’m pretty sure the cast members are still laughing about it. Dorothy Allison: I am shy, and pretty much a hermit—except when I am teaching or doing readings—then I pretend I am not shy. John McNally: I have three dogs, seven indoor cats, and four feral cats that I take care of. I have to stay employed just to afford the food. Joe Meno: I worked at Shoney’s, a 24-hour diner kind of like Denny’s up in Roger’s Park. At the time most of the state’s psychiatric facilities in the area were closing and most of the customers had just been released.
C H EC K O UT: Nami Mun: Miles from Nowhere Dorothy Allison: Bastard out of Carolina John McNally: The Book of Ralph Joe Meno: The Great Perhaps 39
STORY WEEK AUTHORS REFLECT
AC KNOW L ED GM EN TS Story Week wouldn’t be Story Week without the creative and energetic contributions of many people who deserve heartfelt thanks. At the outset, we would like to thank Artistic Director Sheryl Johnston, who has been at the helm virtually from the very beginning and without whose tireless efforts, Story Week would never have become the festival it is today. This marks Sheryl’s final year in her role, and to understand the scope of that role, we will simply note that we have had to bring on two people in order to begin to address her manifold duties. Her comprehensive and clarifying sense of the festival’s purpose, her professionalism, her tenacious search for excellence, and her willingness to go the extra mile in order to put together a festival unlike any other are beyond compare. She will clearly be missed. This year also marks the end of a remarkable run for Faculty Artistic Director Sam Weller, who leaves for a well-deserved and much-needed sabbatical after leading Story Week efforts for the past four years. Sam has brought a broad knowledge, wisdom, tact, and focus to the festival, adding his own particular stamp and dragging us kicking and screaming into the 21st century with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and all the rest. He made the program you hold in your hands into a collector’s item, shepherding a volunteer staff of writers and making sure that even the Chair met his deadlines (more or less). He, too, will be missed, and we wish Sheryl and him all the best, as we also offer our profound thanks for their contributions. We welcome and thank the new dynamic duo of Managing Director Sarah Dodson and Promotions Director Jenny Lizak, both of whom have embraced their roles with vigor, strategic intelligence, congeniality, and industry. They have brought fresh ideas and energy to Story Week, and what you experience this week will be, in great part, attributable to their efforts. Fiction Writing Department Administrative Assistant Linda Naslund has also stepped into more crucial roles with Story Week, including coordinating the website, grant writing, copy editing, and a variety of other tasks. She is a joy to work with for her competence and her sense of humor, and we need plenty of both. Other thanks go to Assistant Artistic Director/Student Board Advisor Chris DeGuire, who has brought a Yoda-like concentration and a steel work ethic to the program; to Fiction Writing Department Student Board President Greg Baldino, Vice President A.J. Camerena, and all of the other Student Board members who have offered their enthusiasm and ideas to enhancing our already amazing community of writers; to all of the unsung heroes of the Story Week posse for their essential logistical support; to Secretary Nicole Chakalis and all of the student staff members who attend so well to a formidable array of tasks large and small; to Associate Chair Gary Johnson and the rest of the incredibly talented and committed Fiction Writing Department faculty; to professors emeriti John Schultz and Betty Shiflett who began the writing programs at Columbia over four decades ago; to videographer Robyn Eastman and her assistant, Tracy Mailloux, for their excellent documentation of events; Computer Lab Manager Mike Sims for much-needed web support; Susan Lanier for photography; Fictionary Managing Editor Stephanie Velasco for overseeing the latest issue through production; and Managing Editor Karen Schmidt for overseeing the program you now hold in your hands, which is, for the second year, a Fictionary publication. And a very special thanks to Assistant to the Chair Deborah Roberts, who for twenty-three years has been the heart and soul of the Fiction Writing Department and who leaves this position to assume full-time duties as gardener and grandmother. Others at Columbia are worth special mention. John Green, Theatre Department Chair, collaborated throughout on playwriting events. Lott Hill, Director of Columbia’s extraordinary Center for Teaching Excellence, offered support through the college’s Critical Encounters initiative, along with CE Fellow Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin; the Office of Alumni Relations, especially Assistant Director of Alumni Opera-
tions Michelle Passarelli and Assistant Director of Alumni Programming Cynthia Vargas, brought ideas and financial support to the alumni event at this year’s festival; and Director Mary Forde and her fantastic staff at Creative Services, especially Abigail Friedman, Ben Bilow, Trevor Gerring, and Edward Thomas, worked imaginatively and tirelessly to ensure the highest quality for print and online materials. The Office of Institutional Advancement, headed by Vice President Eric Winston and Executive Director Michael Anderson, has offered important assistance, with significant contributions by Associate V.P. for Institutional Advancement Kim Clement, Associate V.P. for Public Relations Diane Doyne, Director of Marketing Brenda Berman, Director of Foundation and Government Grants Cynthia Thomas, Director of Event Operations Diana Cazares, Development Assistant Lynda Tetteh, Director of Industry Campaign Initiatives Kelli Walker, and Director of Development Ruby Schucker.
AN D A S P ECI A L TH A N KS TO
Thanks to Columbia College Chicago for its support of the Fiction Writing Department and Story Week, especially Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts Eliza Nichols, Vice President for Academic Affairs Louise Love, Senior Vice President and Provost Steve Kapelke, and President Warrick L. Carter. Without their support, this program would not have become a leading contributor to the life of the arts and humanities in Chicago.
Bill Young, President, Midwest Media
Special thanks go to Marcia Lazar, MFA in Creative Writing alum and Columbia Trustee, for her insights and enthusiasm, as well as to other members of the Story Week Board who have helped put this festival together over the course of the past year: our favorite impresario, Joe Shanahan, who has continued to offer his wisdom, as well as space at Metro and Smart Bar, each year for the past decade; Barry Benson, Vice President of Development & Communications, ProLiteracy Worldwide, who offers support and a partnership particularly dear to our hearts; Bill Young, from Midwest Media, who brings an insider’s advice and a good friend’s understanding of vision to the festival; Rick Kogan, who has become such a valuable contributor to Story Week and such a great supporter of all those interested in literature; and, most of all, the inimitable Donna Seaman, Associate Editor at Booklist and NPR interviewer, who continues to offer her wonderful counsel and encouragement with characteristic elegance, tact, and wit. We can’t thank these people enough.
Don De Grazia, Professor, Fiction Writing Department, Columbia College Chicago
We want to offer particular thanks, of course, to the co-sponsors and funders listed elsewhere in this program, all of whom we hope you will support and patronize in order to express your own appreciation for what they have done for this festival. Their contributions have never been more welcome than in a year where foundation giving has been strained and where state and federal arts organizations have been under pressure by budget watchdogs. Special thanks to those at the Harold Washington Public Library, including Commissioner Mary Dempsey, Leah Vaselopulos, Annie Tully, and all of the staff who display incredible professionalism, grace, and good sense in everything they do.
Eric Winston, Vice President, Institutional Advancement
We are proud that Story Week 2011 continues the International Creative Research Partnership, a collaboration among the creative writing programs at Bath Spa University in England, the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, and the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago. This partnership looks forward to resource sharing, educational and artistic exchanges, and research on the impact of creative practice on various cultural economies at home and abroad. We are happy to welcome Steve May, Head of Department: Creative Writing, Bath Spa University. And we are very happy that Story Week will thus continue to build upon its long-standing practice of including an international component in the week’s events in order to encourage a much-needed global perspective for writers and readers.
Debra Parr, Associate Dean, School of Fine and Performing Arts
Finally, our profound gratitude goes to all participants and, most of all, to those of you who—as you have for fifteen years—continue to express your support of Story Week by attending one or more of the events. We trust that, in the spirit of Columbia College’s extraordinary mission, you will find the diverse voices represented at these events enjoyable, stimulating, and challenging. We hope that you will return again for other events sponsored by the Fiction Writing Department and Columbia College Chicago.
S TORY W E E K B OA RD M E M B E R S Marcia Lazar, Trustee and President of the President’s Club, Columbia College Chicago Donna Seaman, Associate Editor, Booklist and Book Critic, Chicago Public Radio Joe Shanahan, Owner, Metro
Barry A. Benson, Vice President of Development & Communications, ProLiteracy Worldwide Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune journalist and WGN radio host, Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan Patricia Ann McNair, Professor, Fiction Writing Department, Columbia College Chicago
Ann Hemenway, Professor, Fiction Writing Department, Columbia College Chicago Joe Meno, Professor, Fiction Writing Department, Columbia College Chicago
C OLUMB I A C O L L EGE C HIC AG O Warrick L. Carter, President Steve Kapelke, Provost/Senior Vice President
Randall K. Albers, Chair
Louise Love, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Andrew Allegretti Don De Grazia
Eliza Nichols, Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts
Ann Hemenway Gary Johnson, Associate Chair
Bill Frederking, Associate Dean, School of Fine and Performing Arts
Eric May Patricia Ann McNair Joe Meno
Diane Doyne, Associate Vice President of Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising, Institutional Marketing Department
Nami Mun Audrey Niffenegger
Michael Anderson, Executive Director of Development
Kim Clement, Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations
Ruby Schucker, Director of Development for Fine and Performing Arts and Institutional Advancement
Donna Seaman, Writer in Residence
Kelli Walker, Director of Industry Campaign Initiatives
Betty Shiflett, Emerita
Brenda Berman, Director of Marketing
Diana Cazares, Director of Event Operations
Steve Kauffman, Director of Public Relations
Gerard Woodward, Writer in Residence, Bath Spa University
Lynda Tetteh, Development Assistant
FIC TIO N W RITIN G D E PA RTM E N T FU L L - TIM E FAC U LT Y
This Story Week program is a
John Schultz, Emeritus
Story Week Festival of Writers Presented by the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago
Accommodations: Special “Story Week Rate” at the beautiful Wyndham Blake Chicago, 500 S. Dearborn, includes complimentary internet, continental breakfast, and two drink vouchers for the Bar Blake. Reservations/info: Adam Kwiatkowski email@example.com 312.344.4935. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Story Week is sponsored in part by the Chicago Public Library and Metro.
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COLUM.EDU/STORYWEEK 312.369.7611 MEDIA INFO: JENNIFERLIZAK@GMAIL.COM / 708.707.1503
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