Friday, May 20, 2011

Who Doesn't Want to See Artists Rallying Together? And Writers.

A nice intimate time was had at our event for Cris Mazza and Elise Blackwell last night.  I always find it fascinating to hear how teaching writing affects writing itself. Mazza teaches at the University of Illinois-Chicago, a similar school in profile to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  Mazza remembered the days of the "urban 13", but neither of us knew if this program was still functioning.  And you know I like a good Shakespeare tie, and it turns out that Varous Men Who Knew us as Girls is thematically, if not structurally, tied to Hamlet.  Hey, you can review the book with The Tragedy of Arthur!

Blackwell runs the creative writing program at the University of South Carolina.  I remembered that one of our Schwartz alums had gone on to teach in Columbia, in the art/media department.  I remember getting a copy of the book, but I wasn't able to grasp the technical language.  Anyway, he was a good guy so I tried to find out if Blackwell knew him, but it's hard when you don't remember the person's name. Blackwell's An Unfinished Score is structured a bit like a concerto, but not in an over-the-top way, just in that it has three movements.  Any more might be over the top, but I like over the top if you can pull it off and not distract from the narrative and charactes.

Both authors were quiet engaging, and who knew that they had not previously met?  But good news for Chicago fans.  They are both reading tonight at Book Cellar in Lincoln Square.  More on their website.

I feel compelled to make a pitch for a couple more of our indie nonprofit literary press fiction titles.  Mark your calendars for two great events in June.

Monday, June 6, 7 pm, Alan Heathcock, author of Volt (Graywolf). This is a great short story collection by an well-regarded indie press out of Minneapolis, where there are several.  Stacie says reading this book is like taking a sucker punch to the gut, but that's a good thing.  And from Booklist: "Heathcock displays a real talent for describing a character in a telling phrase and shows a deep appreciation of the petty and serious violence of daily life. Recommend Volt to fans of Cormac McCarthy, Larry Brown, and Tom Franklin."  Hey, you like Cormac McCarthy, right?

Wednesday, June 8, 7 pm, Danielle Sosin, author of The Long Shining Waters (Milkweed). Another great Minneapolis press whose spring focus is generally their Milkweed Prize winner.  We've had good turnouts on the last two Milkweed Prizes and we're hoping for another good showing this year.  Sosin's novel has won some love from Boswellian Carl, and I quote: "With Lake Superior as the lodestone, this novel tells the tales of three women from different times (1622, 1902, and 2000) who are all at crossroads in their lives. A mysterious fourth character looms in the background and ties the narrative together flawlessly. The storytelling is beautiful, as is the imagery of The Big Lake."

It's the end of the evening and I'm working out and there is Christina Ratatori, who helped coordinate our event with Linda Nathan last fall.  They're doing a fundraiser this Saturday for Artists Rallying Together at a new bar on North Avenue called Hotel Foster, 2020 E. North Avenue.  Since our event, things have become even more dire for arts educators in Milwaukee, and even Wisconsin, with cuts planned everywhere. (But don't worry, you're getting improved highways.) Saturday, A.R.T. is holding a fundraiser concert at 9 pm (May 21), featuring the Gutens, Fresh Cut Collective, and the Delta Routine. 

Christina and a friend were looking at stuff in our (very organized) event vestibule and happily noting that we put up their poster, which of course called for a photo.

This was a bit of a coincidence as at lunch, I ran into Angela Damiani, who helped us coordiante the Paolo Giordano event this spring and also has this wonderful family-and-art program with us called Artreach: The War of Words, on Sunday, June 12, from 2-5 pm.  Details in another blog piece, the next newsletter, the whole shebang.

It would have been nice to do a whole blog piece on both events, organizations, and coordinators, but Artists Rallying Together's Fundraiser is tomorrow. So that's what I've got to say.  Rally

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