Inspiration Station

Today marks the end of an event filled week that began last Tuesday with the arrival of my cousin, Janna. Her first visit to the Windy City, the California girl may have been the reason for the unusually warm weather. We celebrated by thrifting in Wicker Park which led to extra early happy hour at Big Star. It has been confirmed by the California native – their margaritas are really, really, really good. Also, best guacamole in the city. 

Janna was in town for the 2012 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (AWP) to promote her literary journal, Under the Gum Tree.

I was crashing. First order of unofficial business: attend the keynote presentation by Margaret Atwood. I read The Handmaid’s Tale in my very first Women’s Studies class so this was a really big deal to me. Hosted in the historical Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Ms. Atwood gave a delightfully inspiring, albeit brief, talk about the difference between “Art” and “Craft.” Giggling at her own jokes and poking fun at her own mortality (“Isn’t she dead?”), Atwood suggested that craft is the tool. Her analogy “If you want to slit someone’s throat you have to sharpen your knife.” Yeah. She’s awesome.

Friday, I was lucky enough to sneak into a panel: Memory Without A Net, and OHMAGOD – my friend, idol, and all around swell gal Kelsie Huff was a presenter! After jumping up and down, hollering and doing some crazy hula-hoop dance inspired by my last name (in the Grand Ballroom of The Palmer House, mind you), I sat down with Janna to enjoy the panel. Holy amazing. There are some kick ass storytellers in this city and they are making shit happen all around town. Kelsie performed a piece from her critically acclaimed solo show, Bruiser: Tales from a Traumatized Tomboy.

The rest of the panel included stories by Dana Norris, Shannon Cason, Kevin Gladish, and Scott Whitehair plus and extended, and very valuable, Q&A. For a list of storytelling events around Chicago go here.
Next, we hit the book fair to promote UTGT and do some shameless self-promotion (so what if I only gave my card to the cute boys.)

For real though, I discovered the local publisher Haymarket Books (not just because he had a beard)and bought a copy of IraqiGirl: {Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq}. 

Look for my review coming very soon at Love YA Lit.

Saturday we continued our support of live performance and I introduced Janna to one of my favorite Chicago discoveries: Paper Machete – a live magazine presented 3pm every Saturday at The Horseshoe Bar. IT’S FREE!!! We ended out evening at The Laugh Factory (boo!) compliments of Ms. Ever Mainard (YAY EVER!). I met Ever through the FemCom community and have been continually impressed and inspired by her work. That night she blew off her entire set to riff on a “wolfpack” of fellas spanning the front row. Hilarious.

Lately, Ever has received a lot of attention for the following bit, which I love.

Sunday = Brunch at The Fountainhead because they are the only bar to carry our new favorite beer: New Belgium’s Cocoa Mole. Seriously y’all, this beer will change your life. And, I am not even a beer drinker. Do it.

It was a great visit with my cousin and a great opportunity for finding inspiration and building community. Please follow the links if you want to know more and feel free to reach out to me or Janna or any of the other people/places mentioned in this post. We love to hear from our audience!

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4 comments

  1. Laura · March 8, 2012

    Hey, my sister D’Anne was at that conference too!

  2. Pingback: Sactown vs. Chitown: the good, the bad, the ugly
  3. Janna · March 8, 2012

    Love it — what a frickin fantastic recap of the trip! Yay for inspiration! I also wrote a post, with a way different perspective here: http://thinkhousecollective.com/sactown-vs-chitown-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly

    The trip totally got me thinking about Sacramento & how the city needs to get its act together in a lot of ways…

    Thanks, Lisha — love you!!

  4. Pingback: What Chicago taught me about mustering up the boldness. | janna marlies maron

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