Letter From The President
The month of May nearly gave me whiplash from jolting emotions. I felt snapped from a state of high-flying excitement when encountering a jolting encounter with the surreal, all in one month. Each week, as I navigated our OCWW Zoom Workshop calendar, I marveled at the extraordinary enthusiasm I gleaned from the swarms of attendees the events were attracting. Over the month, the weekly count was averaging in the 80s with one week skyrocketing to a crowd of 159. Moreover, though the vast majority of attendees represented current OCWW members, the workshops also attracted more than a score of guest visitors from as far away as Australia, to France and Israel. More attended from California, Washington, Minnesota, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Florida. In all, we gained 22 new members in the month from the workshops alone. An additional seven new members also joined to be able to attend the OCWW Summer Program entitled “Reading Like A Writer.”
Though we’ve become accustomed to ordering our groceries online for delivery, when my wife wished to purchase some hanging geranium baskets, we drove to our local Jewel, which was displaying a freshly delivered supply. Due to my immune-compromised condition, I remained in the car while she selected her flowers. From my vantage, I had a full view of the entry to the store and could see store patrons scurrying in and out, each mask covered and gloved. Even the store workers who were rescuing scattered grocery carts from the parking lot were masked and wore gloves. It looked like an invasion of masked aliens invading the store and escaping with shopping bags and carts of loot.
I sat back in my seat, adjusted my mask, and thought this is surreal, and it’s going to last for a long time. We’ve entered a different world—the enthusiasm I was carrying from the excellent Zoom workshop turnouts and membership spike momentarily ebbed. But quickly, I thought ahead, to our splendid OCWW Summer Program, the coming June, July, and August sunshine, blooming flowers, the Wilmette beach, and Gilson Park, my daughter, and her family’s anticipated summer visit, and the positive days ahead. No longer hyper-enthusiastic nor experiencing the surreal, I felt tranquil and reenergized.
I thought we can all now look ahead to freedom from confinement, better economic times, safety from the virus threat, and good health. Next season, at some point, we will be able to resume workshops in person. To those who have been wondering, until then, we will continue our Zoom gatherings next season. Though they do not provide the same social warmth as in-person sessions, they are the next best thing. Our postponed year-end members’ luncheon will also be rescheduled as soon as allowed. Another year of outstanding attendance will allow us to again cover the costs of that luncheon for members. We will continue using Zoom for all events when live workshops are not allowed, and we will combine Zoom sessions with live workshops when live sessions are permitted. There may be a few extra Zoom-only sessions to allow us to enjoy presentations from some of our favorite out-of-town speakers.
Thank you all for your tremendous support this year. We couldn’t have done it without your membership participation and the extraordinary commitment made by our Officers, our Board, and our member volunteers who have worked tirelessly to keep OCWW the most exceptional craft writing organization in Chicagoland.
My warmest best wishes to you all for a splendid summer ahead,
Off Campus Writers' Workshop “Reading Like A Writer”
OCWW announces its “Reading Like A Writer” Summer Program for the 2020 season. The meeting times are: June 18, July 23, and August 20 — from 11 am to 1:30 pm. Topics to be discussed during remote Zoom sessions are:
June 18, George Saunders’ “The Red Bow,” facilitated by Peter Hoppock
July 23, Katherine Mansfield’s “A Dill Pickle,” facilitated by Judy Panko Reis
August 20, Alice Munro’s “Passion,” facilitated by Aurelia Nichols.
Each monthly session will focus on a short story by a well-known writer, utilizing techniques from Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer to examine the craft of writing through lively discussion. Our goal is to have every participant leave feeling energized and motivated to write! Regardless of whether you're working in a specific genre, literary fiction, creative non-fiction, or even memoir, these discussions will touch on issues you've faced.
Round-table talks will be led by a moderator. A core group of twelve (12) will have open-mike access to offer observations on writing craft from a deep reading of the selected work. All other participants will be able to listen in and submit comments and/or questions via Chat.
These are not intended to be "book club" discussions about the "meaning of the story." We will look at how these writers solve aesthetic problems and/or elevate elements of their craft to enhance their work so that we can gain greater insight into our own writing process.
To register for individual—or all three—sessions, email OCWWSummerSeries@gmail.com. Sessions are free. Remember, open-mike participation is offered only to the first twelve (12) who register, so please sign up soon! Registration is restricted to OCWW members.
|Thank You Email from Lynn Sloan
“I want to thank all those who have worked so hard, so productively, and so generously, to create a new way for our OCWW community to stay in touch and flourish. These are hard times, but your efforts have made it less hard, less lonely, and more inspiring. Thank you.” Lynn attached a snapshot she took of the May 21 Zoom session with Amy Hassinger’s presentation, that shows how, in her words, “OCWW is Zooming along.”
|OCWW presents Meet our Authors
To support our authors OCWW will be sponsoring a series of “Meet our Authors” Zoom get-togethers this summer.
If you’d like to introduce yourself and your publication(s) to our membership, please fill out this Google Form.
Four previously published and two new poems written by member Rita Pyrillis will appear in Eunoia Review in late June. Eunoia Review, which has been around since 2010, is a Singapore-based online literary journal committed to sharing the fruits of ‘beautiful thinking.’ Rita also will have an essay published in the June issue of the Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Thought. The theme of the issue is racism and the piece, The Only Indian in Chicago, is a braided essay on adoption and cultural identity.
Jennifer Hou Kwong (Jian Ping) is a writer and documentary filmmaker. Last month, Mulberry Child, an award-winning doc film based on her book of the same title, became available on Amazon Prime. It’s directed by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bissett.
Her directorial debut is documentary film on a legendary Chicago icon: Art Paul. Art Paul of Playboy: the Man behind the Bunny, also available on Amazon. It’s about the life and impact of Art Paul, founding art director of Playboy and creator of the rabbit logo. Welcome Jennifer!
| Fellowship Awarded to Della Leavitt
The Newberry Library awarded Della Leavitt a 2021-2022 Short-Term Fellowship for her historical novel-in-progress, On Maxwell Street: New Americans/New Beginnings (1922-1957).
| Poem by Speaker Brian Turner
Member Laura Joyce Hubbard shared a poem by OCWW acclaimed speaker, Brian Turner from a recent New York Times project.
Julie Lambert’s essay, “Mother’s Day,” will be published in the Spring/Summer 2020 print edition of Hypertext due out in June. The essay also won 2nd place in their nonfiction essay contest.
|Reciprocating Reading and Reviews Can Lead You To Fame
Many of us have books published in Amazon, where they languish for a long time due to the lack of reviews. We'd like to help.
We have created a Google Doc listing our members' Amazon-published books.
Feel free to add yourself to the list. Leave the name of the author, the name of the book and the URL of your book in Amazon.
If you take advantage of this opportunity, please make sure you read and review other OCWW authors. Fair is fair.