Tag Archives: Essay Fiesta

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

A Year of Essay Fiesta
by Alba Machado

A staple of any good literary community is the reading series. If, as Tim Yelvington-Jones has suggested, “writers should be rock stars,” then the reading series is an opportunity for them to rock out, connect with readers, and celebrate the written–and spoken–word.

Luckily, there is no shortage of excellent reading series in Chicago. From simple and straightforward, author-with-book-in-hand readings to feisty debates and whimsical performances, there’s something for everyone who’s interested in expanding the literary experience beyond the book or screen.

Essay Fiesta is as good a place to start as any other. Bringing together some of Chicago’s top artistic talent, including comedians, playwrights, authors, and journalists, Essay Fiesta began at a dinner party when comedians Alyson Lyon and Keith Ecker decided that “Chicago needed a storytelling series that provided a platform for a cross-discipline of artists to share funny, poignant and thought-provoking stories from their lives.” It’s one of the Book Cellar’s most popular events, and although it’s free, it uses a raffle to raise money for the Howard Brown Health Center, a citywide community health organization that focuses on the GLBT community. In honor of the one-year anniversary that Essay Fiesta will be celebrating on November 15th, one of its co-founders, Keith Ecker, took time out of his busy life as comedian, theater critic, and freelance writer to answer some of Literary Chicago’s questions.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,