This week on Smile Politely Radio, we talk to authors Josh Wild, Laura Adamczyk and Caleb Curtiss about the last Stories & Beer of 2011. Listen to hear an excellent original holiday tale centered around Goodfellas, the joys (or pains) of televangelists being the only thing on late-night television, and a poem about Christ taking a holiday from Christmas. Plus, poet Josh Wild shares a very non-Christmas poem, just in time for the holiday season.
Below by Laura Adamczyk
This past Saturday was the last Stories & Beer of 2011 and the readers brought it (“it” being both their skills and their friends, apparently). One of the best attended (and best in general), this edition of S&B filled the Iron Post to the brim, giving the readers (and, okay, us) a warm, funny feeling that we haven’t felt in a while. Why didn’t you tell us sooner that you liked us? Didn’t you know that we liked you, too? To think, all this time we could have been snuggling on the couch, eating crullers, and watching re-runs of My So-Called Life. But enough of that. You’re here now, and that’s the important thing.
And, for those of you who couldn’t make it out or who did but just want to relive the reading over and over, a recap: Starting the night off right was Eric Tanyavutti, third-year UIUC MFA student and community basketball league point guard. Eric read from a tightly written story about a young girl’s grappling with her biracial identity and love of (what else) basketball. Next, Amy Sayre-Roberts kept the mic hot, reading a few strong-voiced narrative poems from her fisherman’s daughter series. Then, rounding out the first half of the evening was UIUC lecturer John Rubins (or possible Norwegian architect “Jon Rubinson”). Rubins related a comedic and emotionally affecting story about teaching creative writing and a car accident he once witnessed. Good stuff, Jon.
After everyone took a short break for refills and book purchases, Vouched Books proprietor Christopher Newgent kept the pace up with a few snappy poems and flash fiction pieces. Bam—short and sweet. Up next was Paxton, Illinois native Josh Wild who impressed the crowd with his complex, lyrically dense poetry. To end the evening, Ayiti author and S&B repeat offender Roxane Gay took the stage, reminding us yet again why we keep asking her back. First, Roxane read a couple of hilarious and creative nonfiction pieces—one, a critical analysis of the recent Twilight film (complete with visual aids) and the other, an essay in which she made clear the distinction between a water fountain and a water feature. Believe us when we say that both of these pieces truly enriched our lives. Hilarious, witty stuff made all the more hilarious due to Roxane’s quick, deadpan delivery. Too, too funny. Finally, to bring everything home, Roxane read her story “Girls With Eating Disorders”—a piece at once amusing and sad and disconcerting. Thanks again, Ms. Gay.
So, there you have it. We’re so glad we finally got the chance to hang out with you all Saturday and hope, if it’s not too much trouble, that we can do it again sometime. You know, if you’re free. If you want to. Maybe in January? Yeah? Yeah, that would be nice.