Summer Catch-Up

In the true spirit of summer, I’ve let my days blur into one another without realizing exactly how much has been happening. Now that it’s September (the first month of Halloween as far as I’m concerned), that’s come to an end.

Photo by RHINO Poetry

Photo by RHINO Poetry

RHINO Reads!

This year marks 40 years of RHINO bringing together poetry-lovers by independently publishing an overwhelmingly beautiful publication. 40 years’ worth of love and dedication without the safety net of university backing. Let that sink in because it’s amazing.

At the end of 2014, I received the very welcome news that my poem ‘Cooking Lessons’ was an honorable mention in their Founders’ Prize, and would be published in RHINO 2015. To say this was a bright spot in a dark time is an understatement; every creative knows how easy it is to get disheartened, and this when I was really struggling with my writing as well as a pretty grim work and living situations. Don’t get me wrong–I’m still a struggling artist because there isn’t any other kind. I jumped at the opportunity to be one of the readers celebrating the impact RHINO has had on everyone it touches, and, as ever, was blown away by the poets whose company I shared. There is a chance you can attend a reading no matter where you live because of the 40 Readings in 40 Cities series they’re organizing, so check it out.

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Ewa Blecharczyk at Wasted Pages reading.

Wasted Pages Reading

Wasted Pages has been my writing home since I first moved to Chicago. That makes it sound like it was a lifetime ago when it’s not even been three years, but that’s how it seems. Like I told Gaper’s Block, it’s been a sustaining force for creativity and good that I cherish. The majority of the friends I’ve made in this city are thanks to Wasted Pages and the CHIPRC‘s engaged, beautiful community.

We host readings from time to time to show off the hard work attendees have put into developing their craft, and to give everyone an excuse to hang out. Because we focus on providing resources to writers and artists who don’t have the benefit of university backing or patronage, everyone works jobs with all kinds of hours, making it hard to get together without a reason. And what a reason! I am honored and awed by the writers I’ve gotten to work with and befriend. I’ve been leading Wasted Pages for a little over a year now, and can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

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Aesthetics of Research

Aesthetics of Research Event

Wasted Pages and the CHIPRC are lovely microcosms of what creative people can accomplish when they’re unbound; if no one is backing you, then you only have to answer to yourself and your art. That said, we really believe that there is strength in numbers, and reaching more members of the creative community is the best way for each of us to grow.

So we did a cool event as part of the equally cool Aesthetics of Research series, run out of the Columbia College library. This series highlights the importance of libraries as resources for creation, and focuses on research as being as much a part of the artistic process as the actual drafting and editing. I grew up around the corner from the library and my first job with actual responsibilities was in one, so they are dear to my heart and so is anything that sings their praises. Kristy Bowen, the series curator, was our gracious host and really set the tone for a lovely afternoon; she also runs the small and mighty Dancing Girl Press if you are looking to make any additions to your personal library.

In between all of this glorious excitement, I’ve managed to get a few things published, cross Madison off my travel list, and get grown-up health insurance. Not too shabby, really.

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