Sep 212016

Photos courtesy of Check Bennorth.

Sep 162016


As a child, Joanne Zienty spent a lot of time wandering the aisles of a South Side branch of the Chicago Public Library. She also read a lot, but when she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing her own. In 5th grade, she completed a 70-page novel and had her first play – a Thanksgiving melodrama – produced at her school. Joanne is now an elementary school library director, which allows her to combine several of her favorite things: reading, encouraging others to read, teaching information literacy and keeping up with her tech geek skills.

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, even my earliest days in elementary school. I wrote my first “novel” in 5th grade: a 70-pager about a girl and her racehorse, which was essentially an “homage” to the Walter Farley Black Stallion book series. I have always had stories and characters and situations running through my head. Reading and writing have always been as essential as breathing. Continue reading »

Sep 152016


Christine Swanberg has published eight books, most recently THE ALLELUIA TREE (Puddin’head Press) and WHO WALKS AMONG THE TREES WITH CHARITY (Wind). Hundreds of poems appear in journals such as SPOON RIVER QUARTERLY, CHIRON (with two Pushcart nominations), AVOCET, and June Cotner books such as GRATITUDE PRAYERS and EARTH BLESSINGS. She gives workshops and readings throughout the country, most recently op cit books in Taos, NM; and for Pump House Poetry in Sedona, AZ, where she was featured in KUDOS magazine; and the Dickenson Series in Door County, where she taught at the Clearing. Interviewed in POET’S MARKET, she has won many awards for poetry, the YWCA Leader award for arts and Rockford Arts Council awards and grants.

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

I always had a nudge to write. However, being raised in the 50’s, most women didn’t aspire to be writers as gender roles were pretty specific: teacher, nurse, secretary. So, I became a teacher. I taught Creative Writing, among other classes, as East High School (Rockford) for many years. During that time, I enjoyed doing the assignments with my students. Eventually, the nudge to write became a burning desire, which led to sabbaticals in which I honored the writer in me. I spent a year working with Lucien Stryk at Northern Illinois University and later another year at the Vermont Writers’ program working with Lynda Hull. They were both inspirations in different ways. Working with Lucien taught me to be more concise and tight, while working with Lynda taught me to be more lyrical and expansive. I navigate poetry both ways, depending on subject and mood. Continue reading »

Sep 142016



Karen Halvorsen Schreck is the author of the historical novels Broken Ground (Simon & Schuster May 2016), called a “masterfully written . . . must-read” by USA Today, and Sing For Me, along with two novels for young adults and a book for children. Her short stories, interviews, and essays have appeared in magazines and journals including The Rumpus, Belt, and Image. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize and an Illinois State Arts Council Grant, Karen received her doctorate in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She lives with her husband, the photographer Greg Halvorsen Schreck, and their two children in Wheaton, Illinois.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

My mother’s story inspired my initial efforts in writing Broken Ground. Like my main character, Ruth Warren, she reconstructed her life as a young woman after the sudden death of her first husband. And like Ruth, she did from a context—both time and place—that might have defeated another person, that might have defeated me. Continue reading »

Sep 132016


Rick Holinger’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, criticism, and book reviews have appeared in The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Boulevard, and Witness. His fiction collection, Not Everybody’s Nice, won the 2012 Split Oak Press Flash Prose Chapbook Contest, and Kattywompus Press published a chapbook of innovative flash fiction.Other full or part-time jobs include newspaper columnist, workshop moderator, and high school English teacher. He lives in Geneva, Illinois, with his wife and editor, Tia, and his two children when home from her U. Conn graduate school and his Chicago landscape architecture career. Rick is incredibly appreciative to Anne and Kevin for giving him a chance to try out his new magic act, using two of his Kane County Chronicle columns to somnabulize his audience for a full ten minutes.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

Probably it won’t surprise anyone that the inspiration that motivated “For Your Safety…” grew from the consistently frightening and mean-spirited rhetoric of Donald Trump. The piece concludes with the warning that evil will triumph if reasonable people say or write nothing. Now is not the time to be reticent. Continue reading »

Sep 122016


Amy Strauss Friedman is the author of the chapbook Gathered Bones are Known to Wander (Red Bird, 2016). She is a regular contributor to the newspaper Newcity and a staff writer for Yellow Chair Review. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kentucky Review, Whale Road Review, Red Paint Hill, Lunch Ticket, et al. Amy earned her MA in Comparative Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Chicago and teaches English at Harper College and at Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development. Her work can be found at

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

I always loved to write, though I do vividly remember that during seventh grade I made the decision to become a writer and an English teacher because my English teacher, Mrs. Hoskins, was so wonderful. She made literature accessible. I couldn’t wait to get to class each day to learn more from her. I fell in love with literary analysis and writing in her class, and I’ve been forever changed by it. That’s the power of a great teacher; she can bring to life a student’s latent talents and interests. Continue reading »

Aug 282016

Waterline Writers kicks off its 2016 – 2017 season with a great literary event on Sunday, Sept 18th 2016 at 7 pm. Waterline is proud to present five featured writers: Amy Friedman, Rick Holinger, Karen Halvorsen Schreck, Christine Swanberg and Joanne Zienty.

Amy Friedman’s prose poetry captures average days just as distinctly as shattering break-up’s; columnist and teacher Rick Holinger’s essays pin controversial subjects to the page for closer examination; Karen Halvorsen Schreck reads from Broken Ground, the Depression-era novel of a tragedy which intertwines a young white woman in the lives of Mexican migrant workers; Christine Swanberg shares a few treasures from a lifetime of poetry publication; and Joanne Zienty, Soon to be Famous Illinois Author of 2014, reads from her compelling novel The Things We Save.

Admission is $5 / $3  for students! Writers can join our 5-minute-limit Open Mic at 8:30, or check out our submission FAQ’s. Events are 3rd Sundays at 7 pm, September to May, in the art gallery at Water Street Studios 160 S. Water Street, Batavia IL. Like us on  Facebook!

May 152016


May 15th 2016: Welcome to Waterline Writers! 4 years, 44 events, 142 writers, 260 readings—all available on our Video Library! We host curated readings on 3rd Sundays at 7 PM and a 5-minute-limit Open Mic at 8:30 PM. This is the last event before our summer hiatus! We return on Sept. 18th, Oct. 16th, Nov. 20th, Dec. 18th, etc. Send us fall submissions as soon as possible; we’re already scheduling! Read our Submission Guidelines, then send to  Now, tonight’s lineup:

Tasha Fouts received her BA from California State University at Long Beach, her MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University, and is “all but dissertation” on her Ph.D. in English at The University of Illinois at Chicago.  Her work has previously appeared in Salt Hill, Little Red Leaves, Bateau, and other literary journals.  She is passionate about many things, but especially whipped cream, a good mocha, and enormous scarves.  She works and lives in suburban Illinois but still calls Alaska home because its wildness will always be in her heart.

Kate Johnson says if her life were a book, she could have used a better editor. She didn’t start writing until her 50’s, when she had a wine-facilitated epiphany at her Ladies Monthly Book Club Night, criticizing a particularly uninspired choice. After that – but before she sobered up – she found the courage to lock herself in her guest room (the only space in the house with an uncluttered desktop) and begin writing. Her husband and teen-age children have not heard from her since, but they can be found roaming the streets of St. Charles at night, searching for dinner. Feed them. They are good people.

Donna Pucciani has published poetry on four continents and her work has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Italian and German. She has won awards from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, the Illinois Arts Council, and many other organizations. A five-time Pushcart Prize nominee and former Vice President of the Poets’ Club of Chicago for over a decade, her  most recent collection of poetry is A Light Dusting of Breath, from which she will be reading tonight. Treasure your own signed copy for $15 tonight! (Donna dedicates her reading to friend and fellow poet Nancy Carrigan, whose art is currently featured in the WSS gallery.)

Astrid E. L. has finally accepted the fact that she is a writer. While on the journey to this realization, she attended many West Suburban Wordplays hosted by Adam Gottlieb and hosted a few herself as a teaching artist. She was also an assistant coach for Mooseheart’s first Louder Than A Bomb poetry slam team. She’s had two poems published in Waubonsee Community College’s literary magazine Horizons, and this spring she was co-editor in chief for the magazine. Being a recent graduate of Waubonsee with her Associates in Science degree, she will be furthering her craft of writing at Northern Illinois University this fall.  Free copies of Horizons available tonight while supplies last!

Born and raised in Chicago and a lifelong resident of its metro area, Ed Piotrowski survived 12 years of Catholic schools before graduating summa cum “nada” from N.I.U. with a B.S. degree from its College of Business. Tucked in the bowels of corporate America for 35 years, he emerged several years ago to retire and spend more time on the equally challenging hobbies of writing and fishing. His non-awarding winning (though funny, he’s been told) articles have appeared in Muskie magazine, Outdoor Notebook, and Musky Hunter magazine. His memoir, A Life Well Fished: “Reel” Adventures & the Stuff That Happened in Between is available on Amazon. Ed and his wife, Jo Ann, reside in Hampshire. He notes that everything else about him is in his book! $15 tonight!

At 8:30 PM: Nik Markevicius hosts our 5-minute-limit Open Mic! Sign-up at the counter. No racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise hateful content. Note that Open Mic material has not been screened.

Tonight’s book sales:

Donna Pucciani   A Light Dusting of Breath  $15

Ed Piotrowski     A Life Well Fished: “Reel” Adventures & the Stuff That Happened in Between  $15

Jen May             Armchair Locomotion  $10  (Not yet available at the time of Jen’s April reading.)

Astrid E.L.       Waubonsee Community College’s literary magazine Horizons   FREE while supplies last!

Portraits of writers: Before events, Kevin Moriarity posts fascinating interviews with featured writers. Afterwards, we post Chuck Bennorth’s beautiful portraits! Watch our website or Like us on Facebook!

                                      Are you writing? IF NOT, CHECK OUT

  1. Learn about 20 area writers’ groups. Find the perfect format, day and time for you. 
  1. Writers and musicians, Frank Rutledge’s Harmonious Howl is 4th Thursdays, May –Sept. Sign up at 6:30, Open Mic at 7. Free gelato or coffee to participants! Graham’s 318 patio, 318 3rd St. in Geneva.
  1. Teens can attend world-class Wordplay workshops in Batavia, St. Charles and Elgin.

This summer, Water Street Studios has a lot to offer! Attend gallery opening receptions on 2nd Fridays, meet the Resident Artists, expand your art collection or take a School of Art class for adults, teens or children! We want to thank Water Street Studios for hosting us, and if you love Waterline Writers, please help make all of this possible! Donate or become a member of WSS today!

Many thanks to poet Katie Phillips for reading Nancy Carrigan’s poems at the opening of the current WSS art exhibit, Nancy Carrigan, A Retrospective. We’ll be featuring Katie again this fall!

Our neighbors at Kiss The Sky host lots of live music and offer new and vintage vinyl, turntables and eclectic gifts and resale items! Check out this one-of-a-kind local gem! 

This event is being filmed for future broadcast on BATV. HOWEVER…YOU can catch up on missed Waterline readings or re-experience your favorites at any time. Visit our Video Library, a treasury of over 225 individual readings! 

Submissions: Go ahead and send new submissions for this fall’s events to We are looking for fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, memoir, essays, etc. from traditionally-published, self-published and unpublished writers. Please read our website’s Submission Guidelines first!

Thanks to tonight’s readers, to volunteers Frank Rutledge, Erin Bell, Yvan Keta, Nik Markevicius, Chuck Bennorth, Ginny Klespitz, Paula Garrett and Rick Veague. Most of all, thanks to all of you for supporting this community of 350+ writers! Please share our contact information with other writers!