Last night, I went to the Write Club at the Hideout. I’ve mentioned the Write Club several months ago but for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it is a live literary event that is described as Fight Club for writing. Ian Belknap is the irascible, swearing host who brilliantly moves the show along. There are three rounds where two writers face off armed with a single word for seven minutes. Previously bouts have included “Fallow” v. “Fertile” in September, “Vampire” v. “Zombie,” in October and “Give” v. “Receive” in December. Yes, the topics tend to be themed to the month. The audience votes by cheering on the winner of each bout. The winner receives a tiny trophy of “The Loving Cup of Deathless Fucking Glory” and part of the proceeds will go the winner’s charity of choice. But Ian is always sure to remind you of what charity you failed to support.
This month, the words were inspired by Mother’s Day. The rounds were “Mother” v. “Father,” “Freedom” v. “Family,” and “Love” v. “Marriage.” My favorite round was the “Freedom” v. “Family.” The Freedom advocate talked about the US’s perception of freedom and how we have the right to make choices (Well, sort of, depending on the state). But what made her piece particularly epic was her comment that she started writing the piece on Monday meant for Tuesday and she could choose to get up with 7 blank pages and have seven really awkward minutes of silence. And she silently turned blank pages for about 2-3 minutes. It was sublime. The “Family” advocate talked about the illusion of freedom. First we are confined by our families growing up and can’t wait to leave for the big world. But there we have to deal with roommates who drink all the milk, squeeze the toothpaste etc. Then we have to deal with our jobs and then our own families and responsibilities. The writer explained, Freedom is just an illusion, an idea. Something that really doesn’t exist. Families exist. She commented, “families reach out a hand and welcome you home.” Beautiful.
The advocate for “Father” also had a wonderful story. It can be hard to stay the line between too personal and too general. If you go too general in your argument, the piece lacks punch. Generalities are dull in my opinion. If you are too specific, it can feel very self-indulgent. But if you can use your personal experience to illustrate a point, your piece can be powerful. The gentleman with “Father” argument talked how his mother always knew how to take care of him, knew how to make him feel better but it was his father who taught him about grief. He saw his father crying and learned it was appropriate and okay to feel sad.
Anyway, next month’s Write Club is on June 17th and then they are on a hiatus until September! So go if you can!
Also several months ago, I talked about Michael Rakowitz’s art piece “The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist” from the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Art of the Shovel exhibition. Well, the piece is on display at the Oriental Institute until May 25th. So you have a short period of time to see this incredible body of work referring to the art looted during the Iraqi War.