Works In Progress

Happy site make over! It’s been on my post-graduation to-do list for a while now. I still feel like I’m in post-graduation (DePaul) mode really. I think I’m allowed to feel that way for at least one full school year after, right? When I still know folks in the program and I’m still feeling the momentum and the wind of my freshly minted degree still on my back (unless that’s really the Arctic wind this winter’s brought upon us.)

In addition to Mortified, I was a part of Defining Moments, Broken Road Theatre’s storytelling benefit for their first show. Thanks again, Dennis! While I did an encore of sorts of my Mortified piece, I am working on some new material to submit or have on hand for future invitations. I’ve also been trying to make it out to shows I haven’t been to. Finally made it to Story Sessions! And in the past few weeks, I’ve “officially” met folks around Live Lit Land I’ve only before known of either through seeing them at an event or around the Facebook groups. Always good to have some real connection. You probably know who you are. 🙂

A couple nonfiction things in the works hopefully soonishly coming to a show and/or publication near you:

Drama 101 – Morning radio improv game, high school, automotive knowledge or lack thereof…

Stolen – Of a childhood home break-in and other loss.

I have some nonfiction work from school that needs some love as well for publication and/or performance (some of it works better for performance than others.) I’ve thought about posting here the piece I wrote about the passing of my friend Cookie Crumbles, though with some editing it may work for live events. So we’ll see… There’s the story of my volunteer work at the Lakeview Pantry last year (The Pantry) There’s also my piece on going home to Detroit to learn more about Rouge River conversation efforts (On the Rouge), which in some ways is less about the river itself and more about Home and connection with my Dad. So hopefully I’ll have news on those stories in the near future…

I need to start entering more contests. There are some deadlines coming up this month. I gotta get on that for real…

I have some fiction work going on as well. This week (and this weekend…) I’ve gotten back into edits of my “Todd & Wendell” story, a story of a grandson and a grandfather I’ve been working on since the summer before school started. I workshopped it in my first writing class at DePaul, and worked on it some more in a literary editing class. And with some much appreciated feedback from my classmate Raul Palma, I’m going full-ish steam ahead on round, um, I really don’t know what round I’m on at this point. I also have The Red Car, an Indiana story, which I included as a work sample for my DePaul application. That draft is long buried, but it’s good to know it was still good enough at the time. There’s also my Triptosis, the story of a couple best friends as told through an unexpected point of view written for Rebecca Johns-Trissler’s Speculative Fiction class (a program highlight for me–take it!) Hopefully you’ll hear good news about these stories as well.

And of course there’s all those other drafts and half-started ideas and first sentences waiting for me to focus my “writerly A.D.D.” back onto them. We all have those!

I suppose this public declaration can act as a motivator. I better follow through for you!

I’ll keep you posted.

Cheers.

Photo: Charlotte Built my Hotrod, 2007.  A favorite from my South Bend, Indiana days. See it on Flickr.

I Am a Master!

Image

I started this site/blog during Grad School Phase 1 at IUSB in 2008. Five years and two addresses later (and of course our triumphant return to Chicago), I finally have that Masters. Cool. So a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s been a part of it along the way. All my profs and peeps at Indiana who encouraged me and worked with me and helped me dive back into academia after a ten year hiatus. And to all my DePaul MAWPers (graduates and near future graduates alike) who I already miss even though it’s been only a little over a month.

Onward in life and art and scratching things off our summer to-do lists.

Cheers!

The Snackpot & School

Hello! Finally taking a second to catch up on a few things around here. School is finished for the year. This quarter thing took us into June, so after a while it was like What are we still doing here? But I rallied and did some solid revisions for my Speculative Fiction class (taught by the fabulous Rebecca Johns) which was a whole lot of nerdy fun. I knocked out my essay revision discussing nostalgia in Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story for my Independent Publishing class. I also finished my work for a Small Press Sampler project we’re working on. My essay on Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago plus other contributions will be included. A website for the project will soon launch, and eventually it will all come out in e-book and possibly print form. More to come! I also got an A on that Language and Style test I told you about in February. Winter also saw my interviews with Stroger Hospital trauma nurse Ernie Purnell all come together for a Chicago youth violence project. The narratives will be featured in a published anthology and a Steppenwolf Theatre production. More to come on all that as well! Finally, my play, Coffee Boy was included in the DePaul English Department’s Thresholds 2012 lit mag. Way cool!

So. The Snackpot.  I’ve been pestering my Facebook and Twitter peeps with links. But now finally, the official MichaelVanKerckhove.com announcement! 🙂 The Snackpot is a way cool new snack and culture site I’ve been writing for these past several months. The site is the brainchild of music publicist Jacob Daneman. I was recruited by the fabulous Keith Ecker to be part of the inaugural writing team. I’ve been reviewing snacks all winter and spring in preparation for the May 2012 launch. I’ve covered things from strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups to Maple Nut Clif Bars. The tone of the site is a healthy balance of information and snarky humor. There are news bits and longer form writings. I need to figure out some essay ideas for sure. The snacks I take on are little writing prompts which have also taught me a few things. It’s food writing with an edge. I’m digging it. To check out my contributions, visit my author page. Note: as of this posting, only the ten most recent reviews show up. Hopefully the interwebby content field thingy (a technical term!) can be expanded to fit everything. All reviews are available in the reviews archives. The site has been doing well, and I’m proud to be part of such a cool project. Please check it out and share with all your peeps. That’d be awesome.

Looking ahead to the next couple months, I’ll be catching up on various projects, reading, revising, and hopefully generating some new CNF material to share with the Chicago Storytelling scene. A little traveling and playing with my new “stupid” iPhone. 😛

Have a rad summer. More to come. Cheers.

Radio DePaul Reading & Interview

Hey friends, it’s finally this site’s official Radio DePaul post!  On January 20, 2012, I joined hosts Colin & Marcy and my classmate Bethany for this term’s second edition of DePaul Student Writers Series.

I read two of my personal essays, Dance of the Ring and More Than Words. Following the reading, we discussed the pieces and the writing process.  Definitely a cool way to spend a wintery Friday morning.

Listen via the show’s new site Welcome post, or go directly to the site’s embedded audio.  Please Note: the first couple minutes featuring announcements got clipped, but the main event is all there.  Also, I’m second guest in the line up.

It’s been a busy quarter, and I should be studying for my Language & Style test right now.  But I still have time.  I’m also involved in a really cool project for my Art of the Interview class.  More on that to come!

Be well, and enjoy the show.  Cheers.

Mortified, Memoirs, and More

This is not me. But you’ll be able to see and hear Mortifying things about me December 10 at Schubas.

Firstly, MichaelVanKerckhove.wordpress.com is now MichaelVanKerckhove.com.  Yeah, I went ahead and bought myself my own domain name, snatching it up from the two other guys on earth I know of with my name–they live in Belgium.  All things still point to WordPress.  Thought I’d take a moment to celebrate.  Take your own moment if inspired.

Secondly, I have a show coming up!  I’ll be returning to MORTIFIED on December 10, 2011.  I’m way excited!  This time around, we’ll be at Schubas.  I’ve seen concerts there, and now I get to do my own thing on that stage. Awesome.  I’ll be reliving the piece I did in March–hear me share excerpts from my 9th grade journals.  GET YOUR TICKETS as it will sell out.  Can’t wait to see you there.

Memoirsofaguncle.wordpress.com

Thirdly, my first quarter at DePaul University is officially over.  I am currently enrolled in the MA Writing & Publishing program.  My grad school re-boot is in full effect and going well.  My fiction workshop–Time & Place in Fiction–got my fiction brain back in gear.  I had the opportunity to workshop two first drafts.  One newish and one really new.  (More on the stories themselves to come, perhaps.) We read inspiring and relevant published stories, and got to know my classmates through their work.  My Digital Publishing class has pushed me to  get this site a good dusting.  I also launched a new site as part of my class work: Memoirs of a Guncle-adventures in gay unclehood.  The site is inspired by mine and Ernie’s new(ish) unclehood and my essay on my evolving attitude toward kids and fatherhood, An Ernie Yes or No.  I also want to add more Chicago focused posts on cool things to do with the young ones in our lives.  Please check it out and follow on the Twitter and Facebook and all that good stuff.  I want to get a new post up soon and keep it going beyond just the class. Wish me luck.  And to all my classmates and profs: Have an awesome break and see you soon!

Finally, I wrapped up my Marketing & Events internship at Open Books, the brilliant Chicago literacy non-profit.  All our work on Revelry 2011 paid off.  With this opportunity, I was able to get a cool look at the inner workings of a non-profit, broadened my awareness of the city (even from my desk), and picked up some experience points in event planning.  I also had the chance to experience an amazing Chicago event space–the Catalyst Ranch.   Check out the site!  In the weeks ahead, I’m going to re-post some of the more personal writings I contributed to the Open Books blog.  Now, I get time back to work with the kids–I’ll be doing another field trip on the 30th.  Looking forward to it!

More to come.  Cheers.

Back to School

August, in addition to my posting the fabulous coffee poem which has brought many people to this site via search engines (that and all the people looking up Kip Winger! I didn’t realize so many people were searching for him. They’ve all ended up here. All of them I think.) Um, anyway, I say to everyone, stick around.

That’s a bundle of fragment sentences up there. Where was I going? Right. August. We did some traveling–visited our nephew in North Carolina and saw our niece again in Detroit. Baby Tour ’08 rocked! We also hit up Stratford for the Shakespeare Fest. Interestingly, I didn’t see any Shakespeare this time around, though Ernie and his dad did. I could get a post in there about all that. We’ll see.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since our return. That week between our travels and the new semester was, well, all about the new semester! Getting ready for it. This time around, I am not taking classes. Ultimately I decided to take some time to make some money, do some writing, ponder, etc, and we’ll take it from there.

As it turns out, my “professor hat” has gotten a good tightening. I was set to teach my class out in Elkhart, but I picked up a section on the South Bend campus as well. I’m teaching Intro to Theatre again, and so far so good. I have a little over 50 students between the two sections. Not sure if any of them have found this site at all, so Hi gang! The calendar is a little wonky this semester. I blame leap year. But I think I have a solid schedule that will probably change somewhere in there. Having last year under my belt has been a help in getting this year together.

For this semester, my goal is to evolve as a teacher (instructor, professor?) and hopefully inspire at least a handful of my students. Staying organized and on top of things will keep me sane. And I think I got everyone’s names down now. 🙂

I do also have my stories floating around my head. Some of it has made on paper these past few weeks, but I’ll get back to business in earnest soon enough. I re-read a more developed story I’ve been working on all this summer (“The Mail Slot” in case you’re keeping track). Lots of good stuff in there that’s all connected, but it may need a little boiling down before I expand it. Much to think about….

So that’s what’s going on. In case you were wondering. I enjoyed the rainy day this afternoon as I sat on my couch and re-read Oedipus. It’d been a while since I’ve actually read the thing. Quality stuff. I found a 2004 translation online that’s pretty accessible. The ones I have in print are pretty stodgy. We don’t want that.

While I’m here, giving a shout out to all my classmates and profs from last year.  Drop me a line!

Many Burners on my Stove

{This is not me. It’s this guy.}

You are all on my mind, and I love you all. At the moment, you’re also competing with the various projects that are bouncing around my head. Since it’s late and I’m too brain dead to actually write them, I’ll write about them. It’s still writing. Right?

Fictional: The Fall 2007 semester seems like a zillion years ago, doesn’t it? After the past semester’s Creative Nonfiction class, I’ve been a little like, “I don’t feel like dealing with myself right now; I want to make some shit up.” I just finished re-reading Peter Selgin’s wonderful fiction writing book, By Cunning & Craft (though some of it could help with CNF as well). I re-underlined, remembered, and re-remembered some important stuff. I made smiley faces brighter (or darker, I guess, since I used my pencil). I’ve made new notes and I feel like Peter and I are new BFF’s. Thanks much to Kelcey for assigning it!

Mine and Ernie’s student, Samantha, recently went through her books and gave me her copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird. I first heard of this while reading the Selgin. I know, I’m a little behind, right, especially as one web site said that reading it was this whole huge rite of passage for fiction writers! This theatre guy needs a little catching up on things literary it seems. But hey, it all goes into the same creative pot. Oh, and Kelcey also made available the optional Arthur Plotnik’s Spunk & Bite , a response of sorts to Strunk & White’s Elements of Style, which I also need to read. Both of them, that is. Yoy, maybe I shouldn’t be admitting all my literary greenery in such a public forum, but I’m going to celebrate my writerly journey where ever and whenever I am, so there.

So, like, projects! I have two brand new short stories I want to give some love to. They are in various stages of early development (to put it kindly). One, The Other Corner (working title, natch) is a little more steeped in autobiography, and I’ve written about this relationship–with a neighbor growing up–before, but wanted to free myself from even the most liberal truthiness approach to Creative Nonfiction. It seems like these days, writers need to ask themselves whether a particular close to life idea should be explored by way of fiction or creative non. At least I do. There is that spectrum, and I feel like with this story, it would be too far from CNF for comfort.

The other (embryonic) story is my grabbing onto an image I’ve that’s haunted me for several years. Right now, the story’s called The Mail Slot, but I’m sure that will change. I have more questions than answers right now. This one is in First Person and the other is 3rd Person Serial, so it’ll be cool working with both approaches.

Now that I’ve announced these babies to the world, I better produce! 🙂

Of course, I want to work with my piece, The Smile of Light, a short story I wrote for Kelcey’s class last fall. It’s actually a partial adaptation of a play of mine, A Thousand Without a Word, my “problem child” play which I don’t think I even list on the Plays page. I re-read it again recently, and, well, oof. There is so much there with these characters and the story, but it all needs some work. The short story rather reads like a first chapter, since it’s almost a “prequel” to the play. I would definitely be interested in turning it into a novel of sorts. Or I could expand it far enough where it’s still a short story. I guess I can do what I want!

I know there’s debate out there about Can playwrights be fiction writers and vice versa? I’ll just leave it at (because it’s late) that I think having both of those brains can be helpful.

Another play-into-novel adaptation I’ve begun to explore is of The Eulogy Stalker. A play that’s near and dear to my heart, but still. Work! I recently re-read this one as well, and well, I’ve grown. It would also be interesting to see what I could do with it as a play, now that I’ve had some distance from it. We’ll see….

I want do want to get the short stories down, though, because I find myself having trouble with the short stuff sometimes. I’m always thinkin’ big! I really only have one complete “10 Minute” play. Others are so good at them, and I always wanted to be in it for the long haul.

Revisiting Rip: In addition to feeding kangaroos, there was much creative inspiration to be caught while in Adelaide. I’ve never thought of myself as a Theatre for Young Audiences artist per se–even after my collaboration with Ernie on a Goldilocks & The Three Bears script, many enough moons ago. After seeing some of the “older kid” stuff, particularly Angela Betzien’s absolutely AMAZING Hoods (which I’m feeling the need to devote more time to in the nearish future), I thought about what I do have in my personal canon and decided that with perhaps a few adjustments, my 2003 script, MisteRip, could score some TYA cred. I sat in our garden the other day and re-read it (it’d been a while). It’s not half bad. I cringed less than I feared (less than with the others!) It still needs work and input. Character and plot points need some love. For the shorter TYA format it would have to be trimmed. But something that could work….

I of course have my solo show, Battles with Boys, to work on (but that would, you know, involve dealing with myself) I have other fictional material to work with, including other course work, my NaNoWriMo 2006 monster, The Vacuum Inspector, that needs some serious picking apart. Oh, and my less than half-attempt at NaNo 2007 which never really took off because of that grad school thing. I’ve actually spent more brain cells on that idea than my “Mail Slot” piece, so I’m just going to slide these two fictional NaNo inspired goals right up next to my aforementioned short stories. They make a cozy bunch.

THEN. There’s continued Australia round up (a part of which I accomplished in this post–Yay!) both pictorial and wordly. I have various family oriented writerly projects floating around in there. Etc. There are new family members to meet and visit with too!

So that’s what I’m working on. Lists are good. I like seeing all this stuff all in one place. But tomorrow (well, probably not tomorrow, so much,) I will continue my adventures beyond the list.

Here’s to getting all our stuff done! Cheers, friends. 🙂

End Scene

Well, got that paper done and turned in. Wednesday night was my last official activity of the semester. My Creative Nonfiction class held a reading where we shared excerpts of our portfolio revisions. Great work, everyone! Drinks at the Oaken Bucket afterward (downstairs, non-smoking). Cool.

Now for the NEXT focus….