Category Archives: Authors

Book Review: One Flesh by Obed Ladiny

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“Your problem was you thought it was wrong to high-five yourself. You thought you’d go to hell for giving yourself a hug…”

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Where I Ache Blog Tour: Interview with Megan O’Keeffe

I was fortunate to interview Megan O’keeffe, author of Cracked Open (2018) and Debatably Dateable, a blog about poetry, romance, and love. Her latest poetry collection, Where I Ache, is available for pre-order on Amazon. (2019). Read on to learn more about the poet behind the pen.

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Flashback Friday: Terms of Futility

Today we’re sharing A.J. Huffman’s poem, “Terms of Futility”. This poem first appeared in the Torrid Literature Journal Vol. III – The Forgotten Art. Continue reading

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New Release: The Effects of Grace

The Effects of Grace Front Cover V7

Available at Amazon

The Effects of Grace brings together a collection of Christian poetry that offers hope and inspiration to readers.

The contributing authors share personal stories of their trials, testimonies, and struggles, through the beautiful gift of poetry. They also reflect on their love and admiration for God and His mighty works. These authors have hope. Moreover, they’re standing on the promises of God. Continue reading

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Artist Interview: Eileen Tull

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a performing artist originally from Cincinnati, OH, currently living in Chicago. I have a big family and I love Star Wars. I have worked in theatre as a director, playwright, and administrator, although I’ve recently moved towards performance. I perform all over the country as a performance artist, poet, one woman show person, storyteller, and comedian.

When did you first discover your passion for writing and the theatre?

From a very young age, my siblings and I were creating horrible holiday plays and forcing my parents to watch. I’ve sought the sound of applause ever since I can remember.

What is your creative regimen? How often do you write?

My best inspiration is a deadline. I wish I had a better schedule for myself, but I find the actual act of writing very tedious. I take lots of ideas out for walks or runs by the lakefront, sort them out, and then, at the last possible moment, sit at a laptop and type the thing.

Do you have a day job as well?

I have two day jobs right now, as well as a monthly production management gig. I need the structure and the financial support provided by these things. I can’t function without either, truth be told.

Do you have any advice for artists who are looking to direct and/or write stage plays?

Don’t start a theatre company. But when you do, make sure you’ve seen a ton of work in your community. Be genuine and don’t apologize for yourself. Find the balance between confidence and humility. Get comfortable, it’s a long haul. Take breaks. Build other people up. Come to terms with the necessity of your day job. Talk less, drink less, and do more.

What themes or topics do you like to discuss through your art?

At this moment in time, I explore feminist themes, body politics and food, and addiction (to technology, to substances, and to ourselves), all tied to a central theme of seeking joy. Above all, seeking joy.

What are some of the most memorable plays you’ve directed?

I’m still in love with the first play I ever directed, John Patrick Shanley’s Savage in Limbo. It’s a strange little script about people who don’t know what to do with their lives. I directed it my senior year of college, so I heavily related. I still do. I had a great cast and creative team, and it was such a dream to see the play come to life. I enjoyed playing maestro to that piece, we created a beautifully dysfunctional world together. Since then, I’ve directed plays in bars, historical buildings, and art galleries. I love a good non-traditional performance space. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work with some amazing artists in Cincinnati, San Francisco, New York City, and, of course, in Chicago.

You’re also a comedian. Where do you draw inspiration from to create your material?

Everything can turn into a bit, for better or worse. I draw on my real life experiences (and sometimes the experiences of those around me) and I use comedy to understand them. For me, comedy is a way to find each other in the darkness, following the sounds of laughter until you bump into someone, and you’re not alone anymore.

Can you describe one of your favorite poems that you wrote? Why does this poem stand out more so than the others?

A while ago, I wrote a poem called, Everest: Or, How Do I Get Down, to express my anger about the prevalence of sexual assault in America. I’m particularly proud of this piece because it drew from a different voice inside me. I am constantly using humor to address my fears or the general misery I sometimes feel. In this poem, I faced some intense fears and realities head on, without apologizing for this direct address or for the seriousness of my tone.

What inspired you to write this poem?

The first line of the poem materialized in my head after some terrible injustice against women by politicians emerged in 2013. Take your pick of which one.

Where do you get your ideas for your poems?

I usually start with an image, either real or imagined, that transforms into a metaphor, and I try to use words to describe what I’m seeing.

Do you have plans for a book?

Yes, I just need to take the leap and start sending the manuscript through the proper channels.

What was the last play that you wrote?

I recently completed a draft of a new one woman show about what I’ve learned about life and love from Harrison Ford films. It’s intensely personal and chronicles my romantic life up until this point, while also commenting on my lifelong obsession with movies.

Why did you feel compelled to tell this story? What message did you want to get across to the audience?

Well, lots of creative people have a delusion that their lives are so interesting that audiences should watch us talk about them and clap at the end. I suffer from that delusion. But I make sense of the world and my life through creative expression, whether it’s storytelling, performance art, comedy, poetry, or theatre. So, I suppose it’s mainly that there were (and still are) a lot of things I’m trying to make sense of. I also have an ongoing love affair with Harrison Ford and it’s time the world finds out.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Sitting down and doing it. Shutting off the part of my brain that tells me this is going to be terrible before I even get a word down on paper. Finding the time.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Once you get it down on paper, the weight of the thing is lifted off of your shoulders. And then you can really examine it. You also get to give your thoughts, feelings, and creations to people and make them focus on it for a time.

How do you deal with writer’s block? What is your advice?

Go outside. Tell your block to get out of the way. Go outside again. Come back in. Write, even if it hurts.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I run. I love being in Chicago. I love all the historical buildings, museums, and beautiful energy of the streets. I like to retrace my steps to see where if I’m in the same place I used to be the last time I was here.

What books are you reading now?

I just started Lena Dunham’s memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, I am slowly getting through On the Road, and I’m always in the middle of rereading Leaves of Grass.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

I Want…I Want…I Want Everything I’ve Ever Seen In The Movies (which is a line from Mel Brooks’ The Producers).

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as a writer, theatre director, and comedian? What has been the best compliment?

Some of the best criticism has been that I use too many words. I spend a lot of time “clearing my throat” in my writing. Just get started. Kill your darlings. Don’t be afraid. I’ve also been told that I apologize for myself as a way of trying to express humility. Sometimes humility can take a back seat.

The best compliments are when people tell me that my work is brave or courageous, because that means that something I said or did addressed a fear that they themselves hold deep inside. And now they feel less alone. I also just always want to be told that I’m funny.

Which artists have inspired you while traveling through your journey in the arts?

I am heavily inspired by Gilda Radner, Steve Martin, Tig Notaro, Julia Cameron, and Marina Abramovic, among others. There are so many fantastic people and shows in Chicago that light me on fire constantly. I love when women are confident and creative about telling their truth.

Can you share with us some of your goals for this year?

I hope to finally get my book of writing published. I just started co-curating a monthly performance series for female-identifying artists exploring gender, sexuality, and feminism, so my goal is to make it one of the best shows in Chicago. I put a post-it note above my desk on January 1st: “Just Keep Going,” so I’m trying to follow that.

Which of your teachers was the most important? 

I never thrived in any academic setting, in terms of theatre or performance. I got the most support from teachers in other subjects, especially my Latin teachers. They buoyed my confidence in myself, personally and creatively. I felt (and still feel) so believed in, even though I never got cast in a speaking role in high school theatre.

What motto, quote, or saying do you live by? Why?

“The truth is like castor oil: it is bitter to swallow and people don’t want it, so you make them laugh and when their mouths are open, you pour it in.” – Harold Clurman

“Life is a party. All the time. Sometimes you have a bad day, and that just means it’s a bad party. Sometimes you have a good day, and that’s a good party.” – my little brother Billy, when he was 8

“But they are not the Me myself.” – Walt Whitman

Do you have any upcoming projects, tours, events, or announcements that you would like to share with our readers?

I’ll be at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival performing Jesus, Do You Like Me? Please Mark Yes or No., a one woman show at the end of May. I will be in the Minnesota Fringe Festival at the end of July with A Series of Absurdities, a three woman sketch show. And I co-curate Sappho’s Salon, a monthly performance series featuring female-identifying artists exploring gender, sexuality, and feminism at Women and Children First bookstore in Chicago every second Tuesday of the month.

Can you tell us where people can find you and learn more about your work? Website, social media, blog, etc. – my general website – my website for poetry, writing, general thoughtitude – my facebook page – Twitter

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. What final thought and/or message would you like to leave with our readers?

Creativity, empathy, and humor are your most reliable tools. Use ’em.

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