Tag Archives: Ian Belknap

Fuck Yeah: Ray’s Tap is Back.
by Alba Machado

Oh PicklesDid you know that a number of Chicago’s foremost live lit performers are either current or former members of The No Cussing Club? That’s right. This Saturday, for one night only, playwright Chris Bower reunites this unlikely group of malediction-conflicted writers for an installment of the popular Ray’s Tap Reading Series: Ian Belknap, Daniel Shapiro, Carly Oishi, Dave Snyder, Stephanie Douglass, Mark Chrisler, Tim Racine, Alicia Swiz, Ben Harpe, Matt Test, John Cahill, and Randall Colburn. These members of the “most cyber-bullied anti-profanity club in history” will each offer a literary response to the NCC’s manifesto, as well as its alternative-to-swearing handbook, Oh Pickles, shedding some light on what it’s like to “remain PG in an X-Rated universe.” Music by Tijuana Hercules will also be featured. Author and seasoned potty mouth Mason Johnson (Sad Robot Stories) highly recommends the series, saying, “Ray’s is, without a doubt, my favorite reading series in Chicago. Now that Encyclopedia Show has ended at least! It happens rarely, it happens late, and it goes for a long time, but it’s all worth it (especially because of the “happens rarely” part). For those involved, this isn’t another reading series they have to read another goddamn piece for, this is extra special, and you can tell by the quality of the readers’ pieces. It’s fucked up and it’s amazing and everyone should go.” Bowers seems confident that this event will be as successful as the club meeting his reading series hosted four years ago for The Grand Lodge of the Steam Donkey Operators.



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The Way of the Overlord: 6 Steps to Hosting Live Lit the Write Club Way
by Alba Machado

Write Club


Taking over the Hideout for the last show of the season, in an installment entitled “Violence, As It Turns Out, IS the Answer,” Write Club continues to set a high bar for all reading series in Chicago. Here’s how we can learn from its example. Continue reading

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Write Club

“Literature as bloodsport.” In 2013, this show was named the “Best Literary Event” by the Chicago Reader and the “Best Reading Series” by Chicago Magazine, and it is undoubtedly one of the driving forces behind the local and international live lit movement. The premise: three bouts of two writers each, who get seven minutes apiece to defend one of two diametrically opposing ideas, such as “rain versus shine.” “Combatants” fight not only with persuasive essays, but with a range of literary forms and theatrical techniques—and they win or lose according to audience applause. At the end of each show, there are three victors, three charities benefited, and three “Loving Cups of Deathless Fucking Glory” awarded. Hosted by “overlord” Ian Belknap. The Hideout | 1354 W Wabansia Ave | $10 | 21+ | 7pm every third Tuesday of the month | Website

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Fighting Words at Write Club
by Alba Machado

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are here at The Hideout for the three big fights of Write Club, Chapter 16. The place is packed. Clearly, previous audiences have honored the first rule of Write Club: those who attend Write Club must tell five to seven people about Write Club. If this keeps up, Ian Belknap, the host and “Overlord” of this “bare-knuckled lit” reading series will have to consider either taking its fights to another, larger venue, or amending the first rule of Write Club. The latter is unlikely, given Belknap’s penchant for rules. Since his first public match in January of 2010, when, at Prop Thtr, as part of Rhino Fest, he fought on behalf of Light in a match against fellow local writer Jenny Magnus (who represented Dark), he has come to insist that each bout conform to the following format: two opposing writers, two opposing ideas, seven minutes apiece, audience picks a winner, and winners compete for cash going to a charity of their choosing. With a large clock and bell to signal the end of each round, he begins the show by roaring, “ARE YOU READY TO WRITE CLUB?”

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Encyclopedia Show for the Metrophobic
by Alba Machado

While figuring out how best to present sixth graders with poems last year, I discovered that the fear of poetry had become so common that a medical term was coined for it by the American Psychiatric Association: metrophobia. Many people feel that you have to be highly educated to understand poetry and highly pretentious to appreciate it. Its themes seem too lofty, its language grandiose, its structure complex and confusing.

Tonight at the Vittum Theatre, it’s apparent that no one in Chicago need suffer from metrophobia any longer. It’s nothing a single treatment of The Encyclopedia Show can’t fix.

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