Smile Politely

Stories & Beer returns Saturday the 14th

Stories & Beer | Saturday April 14th | 3 p.m. | The Iron Post | FREE

After taking a bit of a hiatus, Stories & Beer is back and better than ever with a group of readers including local boy done good, Mark Neely and absconding U of I professor John Griswold, AKA Oronte Churm. Not to mention a ragtag group of misfit-hosts including, but not limited to, the one and only Michael Don (as seen below).



Here’s our lineup:

Mark Neely grew up on Arlington Court and Elm Street in Champaign. Champaign- Urbana was the site of his first breath, first home run, first job, first love, first guitar, first dog, first humiliation, and first poem. It was not logistically possible for his first child to be born here, and for that he apologizes.

John Griswold has taught creative writing at Illinois for a decade but is suddenly leaving town this summer, never to return. He’s got a novel about people killing each other in inventively sadistic ways, and he’s published hundreds of thousands of words under an alias. Despite all this, he claims he’s done nothing wrong.

It took Lania Knight ten years and seven drafts to write her novella, Three Cubic Feet. Why? Because she fell in love with her characters and couldn’t let them suffer. Finally, at about draft five, one of them took out a baseball bat and declared enough was enough and said, Hey, it’s okay to love your characters, but you don’t have to LOVE your characters, and she was finally3 freed from her stupor. And if you’re wondering why most of her stories feature a 16-year-old, ask her about the guy on the motorcycle in east Texas on that warm day in late August of 1985.

During Katie Schmid‘s senior year she completed 200 of 288 pass
attempts for 2,924 yards and 35 touchdowns with three interceptions
throughout a stunning season of 15 games. Nicknamed “Big Wet Sandwich”
by her teammates for her glistening biceps’ uncanny resemblance to
footlong submarine sandwiches, she was poised to lead the team to
victory at the state championship when a heartbreaking shoulder injury
ended her career as QB1 and she was sidelined, thus forcing her to
find a new hobby. That hobby was poetry.

John Palen has books out from March Street Press, Pudding House and Mayapple Press, including a brand new collection of short fiction, Small Economies. He moved to town in May from Michigan, is 70 years old, and is only as good as his last story.

Jess Thom is in her last semester as an MFA student at the U of I. She is currently working on a YA novel about two high school seniors who end up on a reality TV show. She is from Philly and likes reality TV (aka using her novel as an excuse to watch all-day marathons of Kourtney and Kim Take New York), rum and coke, and volunteering at the Champaign County Humane Society, where she wishes she could adopt every puppy she sees.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!

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