Tag Archives: Curbside Splendor

Tis the Season for Literary Events

Holiday Mic

Make storytelling one of your holiday traditions. It’s easy in Chicago. This week, there’s a different literary event happening every night of the week.


Monday, December 15, 2014


ESSAY FIESTA
“An Essay Festivus For the Rest of Us,” featuring performances by Moth Grandslam champion Lily Be, Curbside Splendor managing editor Naomi Huffman, comedian Dave Stinton, This Old Neighborhood author Bill Hillmann, and writer Mike Manship. Hosted by Willy Nast and Karen Shimmen, Essay Fiesta is humor and heart—first person, nonfiction essays that benefit 826CHI by bringing together a cross section of Chicago’s art and writing communities. Bonus: it takes place in a cool independent bookstore that serves booze. Book Cellar | 4736 N Lincoln Ave | 7pm | FREE | All ages | Website


Tuesday, December 16, 2014


WRITE CLUB
Chapter 65: “War on Xmas/Book Release-travaganza!” Celebrating the publication of Bare-Knuckled Lit: The Best of Write Club, the holiday installment promises to be extra exciting. Its line-up consists of the following “combatants”: David Isaacson (GIVE) vs. Susan Karp (RECEIVE), Dave Stinton (NAUGHTY) vs. Emily Rose (NICE), Samantha Irby (SANTA) vs. Ian Belknap (JESUS). Hosted by “overlord” Belknap, Write Club is “literature as bloodsport”—three bouts of two writers each, who get seven minutes apiece to defend one of two diametrically opposing ideas. At the end of each show, there are three victors, three charities benefited, and three “Loving Cups of Deathless Fucking Glory” awarded. The Hideout | 1354 W Wabansia Ave | 7pm | $20 in advance | 21+ | Website

STORY CLUB
“Stories About Things that May or May Not Happen in the Future.” Hosted by Dana Norris, Story Club is a nonfiction storytelling show that aims to “mix the spontaneity of an open mic with the experience of live theater.” In addition to open mic performers, this installment’s featured performers are comedian Kirsten Clifford and writers Maura Clement and Bill Drew. Co-Prosperity Sphere | 3219-21 S Morgan St | 7:30pm | $10 suggested donation | All ages | Website


Wednesday, December 17, 2014


CURBSIDE SPLENDOR
The inaugural “Curbside Yuletide Book Thing” features an all-star line-up of storytellers, including Gina Frangello, Rebecca Makkai, Kathleen Rooney, Halle Butler, Susan Hope Lanier, Ryan Kenealy, Dmitry Samarov, Ben Tanzer, James Tadd Adcox, Jac Jemc and Jessie Ann Foley. It’s also got a “holly jolly raffle” for fun surprises and a City Lit book table for seasonal shopping. Beauty Bar Chicago | 1444 W Chicago Ave | 7pm | FREE | 21+ | Website

A SURVIVAL GUIDE TO THE HOLIDAYS
Pivot Arts continues its Pop Up! Performance Series with its first-ever Holiday Show. Featuring holiday stories by Jeremy Owens and Alan Neff from Story Sessions, as well as Ike Holter, Sharon Lanza, Mia McCullough, Tanya Palmer, and Julie Ganey—and music by River Rising. Uncommon Ground | 1401 W Devon Ave | 8pm | $10 | 21+ | Website


Thursday, December 18, 2014


POETRY OFF THE SHELF: WRITE CLUB EDITION
Because once during a busy holiday week is just not enough. Because they’re hyping their newly released book, Bare-Knuckled Lit: The Best of Write Club. Because they are tireless. And still they manage to pull together a killer line-up: Whit Nelson (PAGE) vs. Jessica Anne (STAGE), Robbie Telfer (READ) vs. JW Basilo (WRITE), and Patrick Carberry (PROSE) vs. Barrie Cole (POETRY). Again, hosted by “overlord” Belknap, Write Club is “literature as bloodsport”—three bouts of two writers each, who get seven minutes apiece to defend one of two diametrically opposing ideas. This time, though, the bloodsport is free of charge. Poetry Foundation | 61 W Superior St | 7pm | FREE | All Ages | Website

GROWN FOLKS STORIES
“More formal than an open mic and less orchestrated than a performance.” Hosted by Cara Brigandi, this series is natural storytelling—no readings, no poetry, no judging, no theme. All guests are welcomed to share a story, each getting no more than five minutes on the mic. The Silver Room | 1442 N Milwaukee Ave | 8pm | FREE | 21+ | Website


Friday, December 19, 2014 AND Saturday, December 20, 2014


2ND STORY
“Home for the Holidays with Lakeview Orchestra.” With rotating hosts, 2nd Story is personal storytelling that is both carefully crafted and fresh and surprising. Rehearsed with directors and set to music, its performer’s piece is the “first story,” and it’s meant to inspire another from each of its listeners—the “2nd Story”—told to friends during breaks, over food and drinks. For the second year, 2nd Story and Lakeview Orchestra will team up to present a symphonic story sampler, featuring stories by Jessica Young, Julie Ganey and Vince Pagan. Rocks Lakeview | 3463 N Broadway St | 7pm | $20 at the door, $15 in advance, and free for students while inventory lasts | 21+ | Website


Sunday, December 21, 2014


THE MARROW
Curbside Splendor Publishing continues “cutting to the bone” with its nonfiction reading series. Hosted by Naomi Huffman and Leah Pickett, this installment features storytelling by Curbside events and programming manager Catherine Eves, writer Susan Hope Lanier, comedian Tyler Snodgrass, and culture writer and Literary Chicago social media coordinator Danette Chavez. The Punch House | 1227 W 18th St | 7:30pm | FREE | 21+ | Website

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Not All Who Wander are Lost: Finding an Honest Guide in Ben Tanzer’s “Lost in Space”
by Jeff Toth

Lost in Space

“So you also look for signs to provide you some kind of roadmap for where things might possibly be going, because even a sign that is hard to read or navigate is better than none.” — Ben Tanzer, from the essay “The Boy with the Curious Hair”

Full disclosure: despite what may seem like a daunting title, Ben Tanzer’s Lost in Space: A Father’s Journey There and Back Again is neither hard to read nor difficult to navigate. It is, instead, an incredibly honest take on the joys and fears every parent experiences, sometimes long before their children are even a part of the picture. With a blend of humor, inventive structuring, and sometimes sobering truth, Tanzer explores the wide array of influences and instances that continue to shape his journey as a father and as a man. As signs go, Lost in Space is everything a person in need of a guide through the uncertainty of adulthood, manhood, parenthood, personhood, could hope for. At least that was the experience of this reader. I’ll explain.

I first encountered the author and his latest collection of essays in Seattle of all places. We set out separately from our respective homes in Chicago in late February to attend the annual conference for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP)—Mr. Tanzer, no doubt, kissing his wife and two sons goodbye before setting out to share his work with the literary masses, while I was taking the last trip I would ever take on my own before becoming a father myself. Then again, it wasn’t so much a “trip” for me as it was an exploratory mission. Continue reading

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The Power of Story
by Scott Eagan

Once I Was CoolI have an admission I’d like to get out into the open before moving onto Megan Stielstra’s wonderful collection of personal essays, Once I Was Cool. I know the author. I mean, we’re not besties or anything. There was this time, not so long ago, when I decided, on a whim, to take a class taught by Bobby Biedrzycki and Megan Stielstra called Story and Performance—an experience I hold as one of the high points in my pursuit of an MFA degree at Columbia College Chicago. (Bobby makes a very powerful appearance in Once I Was Cool, in the essay “Dragons so Huge.”) For fifteen weeks I got to learn from Megan, while being exposed to fragments of this collection. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. And every so often, as I read this book, these small moments would sweep in and leave me with this sense of familiarity, because I heard a part of the story, like with the first line to the essay “Those Who Were There.” Or like with this striking bit of insight on the nature and importance of story, which I highlighted then promptly wrote down in my journal:

Story—when done right—can help you find yourself in others, share realities that can’t possibly be real, and show a person or people a world that you never before imagined.

Here’s the thing: writing, like anything else in life, is a process. Even this review—the approach of which is a bit unorthodox, but who the hell says a review needs to be orthodox—is part of a process. A presentation of my opinion on Once I Was Cool with the intent to persuade—totally the case with this book—or dissuade—not the case with this book—the reader. But, and this is the important part, I need to first understand why I think Once I Was Cool is so good. Is worth both your money and time. Accomplishing that is not just about pinpointing the things that I liked, or admired. It’s also about the distillation of the work into those themes that resonate the strongest with me. And sometimes that can be tricky. So I’m going to walk you through the process I underwent in order to find those themes. Continue reading

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