Upcoming Spring 2016 Events

Hey Friends, I have three (3!) upcoming live lit events in the next couple months. I hope to see you out at one or more. That would may me way happy. It’ll all be really very. (No not a hint as to what movie I’ll be talking about at Flick Lit…)

Is This a Thing Logo

Is This a Thing? – Are You There God, It’s Me..? @ O’Shaughnessy’s, Ravenswood, Chicago. Monday April 11, 2016 @ 7:00. More on Facebook and the Facebook Event Page.

I’m revisiting an old story friend for this one.

 

Essay Fiesta New

Essay Fiesta @ The Book Cellar, Lincoln Square, Chicago. Monday April 18, 2016 @ 7:00. More on the Essay Fiesta website , Facebook, and the Facebook Event Page.

My triumphant return after a six year hiatus!

 

Flick Lit Logo

Flick Lit: Reel-to-Real Storytelling for Movie Lovers – Bad Movies @ The Logan Theatre. Logan Square, Chicago. Wednesday May 11, 2016 @ 7:30. More on Facebook.

A newer show on the block I’m way excited about.

 

Happy writing, reading, listening, living, Everyone! 🙂

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Voices of the Middle West Lit Fest 2015 – Some Takeaways

This year, I was able to make it back home to Michigan to attend the 2015 Voices of the Middle West Lit Fest, brought to us by Midwestern Gothic, and the Residential College at UM Ann Arbor. The photo above was taken at the BELT Magazine table as I proudly hold my purchased Detroit Anthology. (You can read my story On The Rouge on the BELT website!)

The book fair was a fun opportunity to talk with Midwest presses and lit mags, spend money, and enjoy some giveaways. I had to go to my car part way through to unload my acquisitions. I now have new readables from Two Dollar Radio, BELT, Cream City ReviewMid-American Review, Michigan QuarterlyPleiades, Southern Indiana Review, and more! Plus my book of matches from Hobart.

Matt Bell signed my copy of his story collection How They Were Found, and Stuart Dybek signed my copy of his Coast of Chicago. (It was also cool talking WMU for a minute. He was teaching while I was there, but alas, I never had him for class). I also met and talked to other attendees, including the writer Adam Schuitema who I’d only been Twitter buddies with up to that point.

I also read at the open mic, which was pretty rad.

I attended two panels: The Midwest as Place and Midwestern Fabulism. Here are a few takeaways as jotted down in my notebook. Most of the time I didn’t write down names next to notes, so credit to ALL the panelists and moderators!

Midwest as Place: Melba Boyd, Caitlin Horrocks, C.J. Hribal, Marcus Wicker; Mod: Aaron Burch

– “The Great Lakes keep  me anchored.” (Melba)

– “We’re a Laverne & Shirley re-run. We are complicated. (C.J.)

– We are writing into a voice of the popular mindset of what the Midwest is. We are working against, with, around, etc. the images and spaces people have.

– The Midwest is often defined by what it isn’t.

– The Midwest can still affect our writing even if a story isn’t specifically set here.

– We are stewards and critical champions of the Midwest. We’re outsiders even when inside. Our internal rhythms change even when moving around within the Midwest.

Midwestern Fabulism: Matt Bell, Laura Kasischke, Alissa Nutting, Anne Valente; Mod: Elizabeth Schmuhl

– We can use fairytale tropes even in more realist work. (Matt)

– Fairytales have so much contemporary potential; they are story shapes you can’t wear out; the building blocks have so much life in them.

– Magical realism allows you to bend the world.

– Nonrealism helps in approaching issues and problems from the side. (Matt) Also, as a male writer, it can be a more palatable way to approach sensitive subjects.

– Writing imitations of fairytales can help with inspiration.

– In fairytales, when you need something, it’s there. Let things happen without clean cause and effect to make way for other interesting things to happen.

– Magic needs to be in the DNA of a story, not just added like a bad Instagram filter. (In magical realism, the magic by definition HAS to intersect with the realism.)

– To indicate or not to indicate at the outset that the story will delve into the fabulist…

– Fantasy elements from the subconscious–let the writing surprise you in the first draft. Put everything in there and then deal.  (Matt)

– We all pick different magic. What magic to I see?

– “Euchatastrophe”: the good that comes out of a tragedy.

– Fairytales use exaggeration to make a point.

Stuart Dybek Keynote

– Writers are builders of place.

– Chicago writers are humanists, but we’re also realists. We’re not afraid of sentiment. We’re writers of class.

– Midwest writers work with landscape (rural) and class (urban); those who stayed vs. those who ran away; realist vs. fabulist.

– His Chicago is a made up place.

– The Midwest is not an area that values pretension. We have a good talent for smelling it out.

Looking forward to 2016!

Upcoming Spring/Summer 2015 Events

Hello, everyone. I have a couple upcoming events booked. I’d love to see you there!

Mingle Cover

The Mingle @ Ravenswood Used Books, Ravenswood, Chicago. Thursday April 16, 2015. More at the Facebook event page.

Is This a Thing Logo

Is This a Thing? – Your Song @ O’Shaughnessy’s, Ravenswood, Chicago. Monday July 13, 2015 @ 7:00. More on Facebook and Twitter.

A Place for Grandma

My grandmother, Julia Elizabeth Van Kerckhove, passed away on October 17, 2014. She recently celebrated her 92nd birthday on October 11. The following is what I shared at her service on October 22, written earlier that morning.

So the story goes that after the performance of the Greasepaint Players’ production of Deadwood Dick that I saw when I was 3 going on 4 years old (that I also fell asleep during), I went back stage to greet Grandma and declared that THIS is what I wanted to be when I grew up. After several school plays, a theatre degree, and my current job running a national arts organization for children’s theatres, I’d say I’ve kept to my word.

Our girl Julia was many things to all of us: sister, cousin, mother, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother, friend. The kind of friend you can navigate through various disagreements with—from simple things like taste in music and the spice level in your dinner (note: she liked absolutely zero) to deeper, more ideological issues—and then keep going with the grounded, positive relationship that you started with. We all have our ins with her. In my case, theatre, art, and to some extent writing (dibs on her vintage typewriters!) are mine.

Here then is a montage of things she is to me, and as these moments wash over you, I invite you to riff on your own.

Julia is waking up early and eating blueberry pancakes around the chrome sided kitchen table at Bedford, and then driving to the Detroit Institute of Art—either solo, or with Steve, and sometimes Mark across the street—where we’d roam through galleries of paintings, jade sculptures, and suits of armor, and also touch the bronze the donkey.

She is practicing her Art in the Schools presentations with us in the Bedford dining room. And driving across town for sessions with MY 4th grade class, and letting ME run the slide projector.

She is late night stories around the same kitchen table, lit by the glow of her Blessed Mother nightlight—our own Virgin Queen campfire. Including the book about the little ghost where the family, whose house he haunts, one day decides to oil all the doors in order to silence this mysterious search of a new house to haunt, only to discover they are already taken by other ghosts.

She is cold meatloaf sandwiches on white bread with butter; she is carrot Jell-o and Raisin Bran.

She is watching Murder She Wrote and scandalous 1980s miniseries. And asking me if the TV show The Facts of Life is about sex.

She is asking me if Michael Jackson is “the one with the nice personality” while questioning my love of Prince and Madonna.

She is my silver sequined sparkle vest she made for one of my dance recitals, where she sat with Mom and Dad in the audience on metal folding chairs across Redford Township.

She is “Graham Crackers” a nickname that probably came from the classic snack of graham crackers and butter.

She is insisting on my washing my hands before heaving thinking of touching her piano–or doing anything really. (And any neuroses I have in this area is all her fault!)

She is saved Quaker Oats canisters recycled as Star Wars action figure fortresses and pencil holders wrapped in brown contact paper; birthday cards with newspaper clippings; and tubs and tubs of previously unpublished photos.

She is bonding with my husband Ernie over the musical Gypsy.

She is a cookie tin filled with colored foiled stars; she is a shouted “FRANK!” echoing throughout the house.

She is “Judy” as Grandpa called her, which of course made me think of Judy Garland cos that’s how I roll.

She is asking about school and grad school and my writing and work, and giving me her pride and support up until the very end.

She is a million other things I’m not thinking of at this moment in part because the house is a whirlwind this morning and cartoons are blasting from the downstairs TV and live goes on, but I know they will all come to me in the days and months and years ahead. As they will for all of us. I mean, I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to forget such a present, powerful, inspirational, and downright stubborn force in my life. For real.

So, Thank you, Grandma!

Riot Fest 2014 Reflections

Ramblings, Reflections, and Tiny Confessions

(Concise Music Journalism this Is Not…)

Back in MY day, music festivals TOURED, dammit. None of this all day-weekend 80 hundred bands kinda thing. I went to the first four Lollapalooza tours from 1991-1994, a period spanning high school into college. I stayed in Kalamazoo in the summer of 1995 for theatre stuff, and then didn’t Metallica headline at one point? I mean, no offense to Metallica (I dig ’em), but Metallica? Whatever. I’ve not gone back to Lolla even though it sits in my own backyard.

I would’ve last year. For The Cure of course. Alas, I was unavoidabley out of town, and that post-Lolla Monday, I sulked on my hotel bed in Stratford, Ontario while my husband and his parents went swimming. I watched the video of the entire set on my phone. I wished I’d been there, despite all the…people.

So when Riot Fest announced The Cure as a headliner, it was a no brainer that I’d go. If I missed them AGAIN for this their second summer in a row in Chicago, then I’d officially suck and have to turn in my Cure card. I bit the bullet and got a 3-day pass (thank you, honey!) as they hadn’t announced each day’s line-ups (that’s how they get ya!) and I didn’t want to stress over single-day ticket stuff. No VIP thing for me (I was tempted by the better bathrooms and lounges…) For the last September of my 30s, I thought I’d “slum it with the kids” and just deal with the mess. Didn’t imagine how messy it was going to be. But we were all in this together: the “babies” (literal babies and teen-and-20-somethings both) and the more vintage of us. And really, there was something for everyone based on age and styles. I had an awesome time, and now that my bones are like Oh, you’re not going to be standing in mud all day? and they don’t hate me so much, I get back into the groove of my week and take some time to reflect on my adventure.

Friday

The early weather forecasts for this first Riot day had called for cloudy and 72. Yeah, not so much. Ever the Boy Scout, I packed my satchel with essentials including a travel poncho, sanitizer, earplugs (!), water bottle, sunscreen (for later in the weekend…), my ticket folded into a plastic bag, and Cold-Eze to fight the cold I picked up on Monday after my dentist appointment. I was actually feeling better by the weekend, but ya know, keeping myself in check. Properly layered with my outer jacket good for any light to moderate rain. I made it to Ashland after work and took the bus down to North. Was going to take the North bus, but kept waiting and waiting and, eff it I’ll walk. I joined up with others doing to same thing and talked with Javier and Kristie (??) along the way. We parted ways at the gate. Hope they had fun.

Okay, so here we. My goal was for a 5:00 arrival, and I made it with time to spare. My first band of the weekend was The Hotelier over at the smaller Revolt Stage. Found a tree on the edges of the healthy crowd to hold off the rain that was somewhere between a mist and a light drizzle. Good opening act for me! They describe themselves as a anti-pop anarcho punk band, but they still have some catchy pop sensibilities. In the best, accessible way if I’m making sense. I preferred when the vocals were melodic and clear over when they got screamy. The inner sanctum of the crowd was way into them, and they had their fans who knew the words and communally thrashed their heads. My favorite was the dude in the pink plastic hat thing. Looking forward to listening to more of their recordings.

After a little time to peruse the spiky jewelry and t-shirts with cool stuff on them that I’d never buy or wear and getting better acquainted with the lay of the land, I was back at the Revolt Stage for From Indian Lakes. They brought a more chill Northern California vibe. A slightly cleaner sound, though I felt like the bass levels were way up in general on this stage. Listening to them as I type, and I dig how they can switch from Fleet Foxes mellow (but not as wispy if that makes sense) to punk rock heavy without missing a beat. Again, I look forward to listening to more of their stuff.

Good starting at this smaller stage. Got me acclimated to the festival, the crowds, the people watching opportunities, and I didn’t feel like the world was pressing in on my organs. That would be later. From there, I made my way to the main Riot Stage and saw my friend Anna. Cool! I helped lead her to the left side of the sound booth where her friend Trish said to meet her. The weather was getting worse–colder and rainier. But I was good. Anna not as much. Trish arrived, and we were there in time for Gogol Bordello. They obviously have a large fan base, and I know they’ve been around, but they’re new to me. A Gypsy punk band with a Ukrainian lead singer (Eugene Hütz from Everything Is Illuminated!) The music is exactly what you’d expect, and it was awesome! One song intro sounded very traditional, and I said to Anna, this is the part of the show where Ernie’s mother starts dancing a traditional Romanian peasant dance. Loved every second! So now I’m sold, and I’ll listen to them more. During the show, the rain fell harder, but Trish had an umbrella even though they were on the No-no list. Since were further back, I didn’t feel so bad. From my angle, I loved watching the Pokeman and lit-up Mario on sticks bouncing in the crowd. The girls were done and over it for the evening after GB. So as the crowd moved out, I moved up and got a pretty sweet spot for Jane’s Addiction.

The rain continued, but never so torrential that I was like I hate my life. My poncho never did make it out of my bag, though it probably should have. My layers and Makers Mark baseball cap kept me decently dry, but I asked a lot of them. Got to talking to folks waiting with me. A few of my vintage who also remembered seeing Jane’s headline the first Lollapalooza tour. Tim and Desiree. And nutty Jean from Pensacola, Florida who flew up here primarily for Jane’s. She wasn’t letting anything rain on HER parade, yo. She loved how everyone in Chicago was so nice to her and made her feel like a part of the city. Glad we’re doing our part to be hospitable.

So Jane’s: effin rad. A handful of bands were set to play an entire album in its entirety. Jane’s played all of Nothing’s Shocking from “Up the Beach” to “Pigs in Zen,” and including of course “Jane Says” (when they brought out the kettle drum), “Mountain Song,” and “Standing in the Shower…Thinking.” I hadn’t listened to it straight through in a while so I had fun listening and remembering. Perry Ferrel was crazy and cooky as ever and I loved him for it. Dave Navaro was tank- topped and rocker-hot as usual. Perry would just start monologuing about whatever, including how he could take a bubble bath on stage with all the rain water. A few times, a bass note would hit and it felt like the who city shook, like something was off with the sound booth (guess bass is a tricky wicket). Glad I had my earplugs. Looked like Dave yelled at one of the stage guys about it after the second time it happened. Perry did make his way into the crowd on my side. I was just out of reach, but I was so close. Jean freaked out, and was very explicit about the brick she shit. Ha! I grabbed a couple photos that turned out decent enough. Pretty awesome! The closed with a couple songs of Ritual de lo Habitual which is the album I got into them with, really based on my age and time of life and all that. “Been Caught Stealing,” where at the first Lolla, Perry introed the song by asking the crowd, “Do you like my pants? Well, why don’t you steal ’em?!” The closed with “Stop!” which is one of my faves. No “Classic Girl” unfortunately. In fact they stopped a few minutes early, I think cos of the rain. Looked like the fire marshall was on stage there. Perry was afraid we’d all catch pneumonia. With all that rain (among other rules…), there were of course no bonfires behind me like on the hill at Lolla where when I looked back during Jane’s, I counted at least 14 of them. Listening to Shocking as I type. I only have Ritual on cassette with the censored cover. Of all my old faves, that one never made the digital transition. Not even a CD from the South Bend library. I should fix that. Jean and I walked part of the way to the gate together. We gave each other a big wet hug before parting ways. I hope she had a fun rest of her weekend!

Getting home. Best way really was the North Ave bus to the Red Line. I waited in line to get on one of the extra long CTA buses, and managed to snag the last seat across from the back door because the couple sitting there kept smiling at folks so no one sat next to them. I didn’t even notice their moves and saw the empty seat. Getting out of the way plus getting off my muddy (!) feet were my motives. Very friendly folks. Didn’t catch their names. But the guy, a cute buzz cut Latino was jovial and conversational. He asked a number of questions including what art form I’d perform on (he named a plaza) in Madrid, and how many wash cloths I could stack on my erect penis (we got a little more in depth about the varietals involved, but I’ll spare you all that as perhaps I’ve already gotten a little TMI here, ha.) We all talked about our experience so far, comparing notes and commiserating/celebrating the rain and mud.

When my new friends got off at the Blue Line, another couple sat next to me. A New York couple where the fella was very tattooed and I think ear gauged. We got to talking, and then they asked me the best way to get back to Lincoln Park. I started to suggest they take the Red Line one stop up to Fullerton, but then I didn’t know which part of LP they needed to go. Further up to the Halsted and Diversey area. Since the Red Line station is right at Halsted, they I think asked if they could walk, and I said Yeah, that it was only a half mile up. BUT. As I rode up the train toward Fullerton, I realized I had them walking up from Fullerton and not North, which adds another mile to their walk. Ugh! I felt SO bad. Like Mortified at my dingbattedness. My brain did not reboot from the earlier part of the conversation. So yeah, I should’ve had them come with me to the train and then they could walk from there. Here I was trying to be nice and helpful and welcoming to our fair city and I totally bombed. I was like They hate me! I am cursed! If they see me the rest of the weekend they’re going to kick my ass. I knew where they were staying and even thought of calling the hotel to leave a message apologizing. But that would’ve been weird, eh? So, I Tweeted my apology along with sending it through the more traditional Through the Universe route. My Tweet was randomly re-tweeted by a couple folks with not very many followers. Not sure if they were trying to help or laughing at me. I deserve both I guess. At least my new friends who probably hate me got to pass such Chicago cultural institutions such as Steppenwolf and Kingston Mines. So there’s that. Again, SORRY! I obsessed about it some, but as I started thinking about how I’d write about it (here and through more creative means), I calmed down. The power of turning ridiculousness into art. 🙂

Saturday Wait, Sunday Always Comes to Late (Click “more” for the rest! Scroll Down for The Cure.)

(more…)

A Place for Rick

Three weeks ago on April 5, I lost my Uncle Rick. Mom’s older brother. He’d been fighting cancer for a long time. While it went away for a while, it came back with a vengeance, as it does. Though he kept how bad it was mostly to himself. These past several months, it was hard to get a hold of him. I left a few messages, texts, and sent him a copy of Midwestern Gothic. His 80th birthday was in March. I texted him, and then never got a hold of him. I regret not trying harder, but what you can you do? When we learned things were really bad, we heard he wasn’t taking calls. I tried calling to at least leave a message in hopes that his caregivers would play it for him. But the call never went to voicemail.

Cousin Mary, who lives in California a few hours north of Rick let us know she was driving down and would read any messages we emailed her. I was back home for my niece’s birthday, and was finishing up my email sitting at my dad’s kitchen table, when my Aunt Diane called to tell me he’d passed. This was also the three year anniversary of my Uncle Charlie’s passing, so not a good day for my aunt already.

I sent my message to Mary anyway, and these few weeks later, I thought I’d post a slightly edited version here.

A few other things. Rick was a big deal in the dog world, judging dog shows all over the planet. He’s written several dog books including Rottweilers for Dummies (kinda cool, eh?!) Check out his Amazon Page! He hosted a Tournament of Champions dog show in Detroit for several years around the time I was in high school. He knew Betty White.

His house in Malibu was next door to Olivia Newton John, but I didn’t see her when I was out there. Before that, he lived on the same street as Bob Dylan. When The Wallflowers broke in 1996 and my crush on Jakob Dylan was at its most intense, Rick told me how he remembered Jakob riding around the neighborhood on his Big Wheel. Awesome.

Maybe there’s more I could say, but this is good for now.

So here’s that message. Thank you Rick. 🙂

 

Hi Rick. First off, THANK YOU. For everything. For being part of a pretty stellar line up of uncles: yourself, Charlie, Terry, Ron, and Gary. Pretty awesome there.

Thank you for taking care of Mom, in whatever way you needed to in a given moment. You took care of her growing up. And also rescued her from her houseful of crazy boys. Well maybe not so much from ME, ha. Okay, that’s a lie. The Me part. I know that the adventures you went on together enriched her life like I’m sure they did yours. Thank you in the end for being my “co-eulogist” when it was her turn to go. It was an honor to share that with you.

Thank you for making your visits such events—even if at first that meant you took us to Toys R Us and let us pick TWO toys!

Thank you for being there for graduations and other events. For sending me cards (and cash) when I was a broke college student just starting off on that crazy adventure.

Okay, early memory time: Summer 1978 when Mom, Steve, and I stayed at the Malibu house. You were there part of the time before going on your travels. Steve couldn’t stop running fearlessly toward the ocean. Me, I held back, content to digging in the sand because Jaws was going to get me. Once, I got carried away, flinging sand as I dug. You were sitting downwind, reading. Sand kept blowing at you, and you told me to stop. Probably with a stern look like Grandma. A small moment, but it stuck.

Thank you also for being an inspiration both as a gay man and a writer. Having you to look up to and talk to as I was figuring myself out I think made it much easier. Probably for Mom too. Thank you for being a part of mine and Ernie’s ceremony (10 years ago next month!); for sharing some of your stories, for connecting me to a part of that history. I only wish we lived closer together so we could share more of our stories more often. As a writer, I am definitely aware of this family tradition we have going on here.

(Side bar: I love how many years ago, Ernie and I were flipping through his TV in his studio apartment and when we hit Animal Planet you and Ron Regan Junior were giving commentary at a dog show. What an awesome and beautifully random moment!)

So, the writer thing. Our subjects and approaches may be different, but I love how we both found our ways in (though I suppose I’m still figuring that out.) Thank you for your support in all my creative endeavors. Having you at the show I did in Chicago that dreadfully cold February in 2006 was very cool.

Thank you for that awesome October adventure a few years ago: my triumphant return to California after 32 years! The talk, the wine, the fresh air, my “brush” with Jack Kerouac at Big Sur.

As an uncle now myself, I hope I’m half as fabulous as you’ve been.

Thank you again!!

Love, Michael

Works In Progress

Happy site make over! It’s been on my post-graduation to-do list for a while now. I still feel like I’m in post-graduation (DePaul) mode really. I think I’m allowed to feel that way for at least one full school year after, right? When I still know folks in the program and I’m still feeling the momentum and the wind of my freshly minted degree still on my back (unless that’s really the Arctic wind this winter’s brought upon us.)

In addition to Mortified, I was a part of Defining Moments, Broken Road Theatre’s storytelling benefit for their first show. Thanks again, Dennis! While I did an encore of sorts of my Mortified piece, I am working on some new material to submit or have on hand for future invitations. I’ve also been trying to make it out to shows I haven’t been to. Finally made it to Story Sessions! And in the past few weeks, I’ve “officially” met folks around Live Lit Land I’ve only before known of either through seeing them at an event or around the Facebook groups. Always good to have some real connection. You probably know who you are. 🙂

A couple nonfiction things in the works hopefully soonishly coming to a show and/or publication near you:

Drama 101 – Morning radio improv game, high school, automotive knowledge or lack thereof…

Stolen – Of a childhood home break-in and other loss.

I have some nonfiction work from school that needs some love as well for publication and/or performance (some of it works better for performance than others.) I’ve thought about posting here the piece I wrote about the passing of my friend Cookie Crumbles, though with some editing it may work for live events. So we’ll see… There’s the story of my volunteer work at the Lakeview Pantry last year (The Pantry) There’s also my piece on going home to Detroit to learn more about Rouge River conversation efforts (On the Rouge), which in some ways is less about the river itself and more about Home and connection with my Dad. So hopefully I’ll have news on those stories in the near future…

I need to start entering more contests. There are some deadlines coming up this month. I gotta get on that for real…

I have some fiction work going on as well. This week (and this weekend…) I’ve gotten back into edits of my “Todd & Wendell” story, a story of a grandson and a grandfather I’ve been working on since the summer before school started. I workshopped it in my first writing class at DePaul, and worked on it some more in a literary editing class. And with some much appreciated feedback from my classmate Raul Palma, I’m going full-ish steam ahead on round, um, I really don’t know what round I’m on at this point. I also have The Red Car, an Indiana story, which I included as a work sample for my DePaul application. That draft is long buried, but it’s good to know it was still good enough at the time. There’s also my Triptosis, the story of a couple best friends as told through an unexpected point of view written for Rebecca Johns-Trissler’s Speculative Fiction class (a program highlight for me–take it!) Hopefully you’ll hear good news about these stories as well.

And of course there’s all those other drafts and half-started ideas and first sentences waiting for me to focus my “writerly A.D.D.” back onto them. We all have those!

I suppose this public declaration can act as a motivator. I better follow through for you!

I’ll keep you posted.

Cheers.

Photo: Charlotte Built my Hotrod, 2007.  A favorite from my South Bend, Indiana days. See it on Flickr.

“Dance of the Ring” in Midwestern Gothic

MWGissue11Midwestern Gothic  is a quarterly print literary journal based in Ann Arbor, Michigan dedicated to featuring work about or inspired by the Midwest, by writers who live or have lived here. My essay Dance of the Ring is part of Issue 11 (Fall 2013) their first devoted to Creative Nonfiction. I originally presented this Mad About You-inspired  story as part of Solo Homo 8 with NewTown Writers in June 2010. The now defunct Q Review published it online in June 2011. I’m honored to be a part of this exciting issue and to have it as the new literary home for my story.

Pick up a print or digital copy at MidwestGothic.com. Cheers.

Mortified in Photos

Thanks to everyone who came out to Mortified Chicago to “share the shame” with me as I presented a collection of high school poetry and song lyrics affectionately titled Angry Young Man. As I navigated through the music-inspired personas I put forth, I shared such titles as “Downhill,” “Get Off My Foot,” and “My Bleeding Soul.” I had a blast and can’t wait to to do it all over again.

Photos by my fabulous cast mate Jill Howe who shared with us her take on The Crucible by way of Alanis Morrisette.

UPDATE: Listen to the audio at Soundcloud.com!

Image

My inner Robert Smith and I.

Mortified 2

Giving the Censor Board a piece of my mind, yo.

My air guitar and I "sing" about a love that's gone "Downhill."

My air guitar and I “sing” about a love that’s gone “Downhill” from 8th grade.

Mom's "moody one."

Mom’s “moody one.”