Oct 182016

Thanks to Chuck Bennorth for the pictures!

Oct 142016


Katie Phillips has worked as a hotel housekeeper, a laundromat attendant, a magazine telemarketer, a library clerk, and a church administrator. She lives in Geneva, IL with her husband, poet Kevin Burris, and their Alaskan Malamute, Sasha, about whom they talk entirely too much. Katie’s chapbook “Driving Montana, Alone” (Slapering Hol Press) was published in 2010 and the title poem was later read by Garrison Keillor on NPR’s The Writers’ Almanac. She can be reached at DrivingMontanaAlone@gmail.com or through www.facebook.com/katie7phillips.

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

I don’t remember deciding anything; books were just always part of my life and it seemed natural to want to create them myself. I did, however, discover plagiarism early — my mom helped me trace pictures out of the children’s classic “Are You My Mother?” so I could write a nearly-identical sequel called “Are You My Father?” Sometime later, I wrote and illustrated an account of a Grand Canyon hiking trip I took with my dad called “Down and Out,” which ended with a drawing of an airplane crashing behind the airport (there was no tragedy — I just couldn’t draw to save my life).

Describe your writing process.

My writing process in recent years has been scattered and undisciplined, but I’m getting better at it. Lately, I’ve been riding my bike to the Batavia Library, writing in my notebook for a few hours in front of a window, and riding home. I always write longhand and then edit on the computer. I try to write everything that comes into my mind, which is harder than it sounds, and I occasionally end up writing “I don’t know what I’m doing” or my name until another thought comes along.

I’m rarely inspired by something that I then have the urge to write about. I subscribe to the Flannery O’Connor school of thought: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Once I’ve filled up enough pages (which may take days or weeks), I type it all into the laptop and see what I’ve got. I edit from there, almost exclusively on the computer. I also carry a small notebook in my purse so I can jot down ideas or (more often) funny things I hear while eavesdropping.

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

These poems span 15 years of writing, some very new and some from my book. If I had to choose a theme for them, I’d go with “things change.” In these poems, a child learns to speak, a road disappears in a field, November becomes December, someone dies, old pictures reveal a lie, I get lost in in the Midwest, and a bird hides behind my couch.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on writing enough poems to put together a full-length manuscript, tentatively titled “Prison Stories.” (Alas, the title is the easiest part!)

Oct 132016


Julie Oleszek grew up the ninth child of ten. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education from Northern Illinois University and later earned a master’s degree in Education from National-Louis University. She loves to vacation near water, especially the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas. Julie is the proud aunt of more than forty nieces and nephews. She and her husband live in Chicago’s western suburbs. The Fifth Floor is Julie’s debut novel. Her second book, Just Like Ziggy is its sequel.

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

My father was a published short story writer, an unpublished poet, and a phenomenal storyteller. This was most likely my first inspiration into the writing world. My earliest saved writing is from when I was eleven. I wrote mostly poems, but my favorite past time was journal writing because I could keep it secret. Growing up the ninth of ten children was tricky. I was always on guard for the next teasing episode. A stupid poem could kill a carefree spirit, so I avoided sharing at all costs. However, when I was in the seventh grade, I handed in an assigned writing piece. I chose to write about the Red Wood Forest even though I had never visited there. Days later, my teacher Mrs. Collins read my story to the class and announced that I was a “very talented writer”. I remember a sense of pride bubbling up inside me. Since I have never forgotten her exact words, in which student desk I sat, and the feel of my pounding heart, I’d guess this was my very first discovery that someday I would become an author.

Describe your writing process.

I have a regimented but flexible schedule, if that makes any sense. Basically, I keep my eyes on my goals and open to opportunities. I attend meetings, answer and make calls, texts, emails, etc. as long as it pertains to my goal of writing. If it doesn’t, it can wait.

I write Monday-Friday 9:00-4:00 and use my weekends for the typical daily grind. However, I constantly have a pen and paper at hand for that moment an idea blossoms. I don’t want ideas rattling around in my brain because they will stay just that–ideas. Writing down an idea in my notebook brings it to light. It becomes tangible. I become accountable to use or lose it. Ideas that appear into thin air are easily lost into thin air. At the very least, the action of writing it down makes it memorable for a short period longer.

Writing in the AM is best for me. I’m up at 5:30, walk my dog Bo and then settle in, sometimes at home and other times I venture outside the four walls of my home office. Surrounding myself with the right group of people is crucial to write convincing characters. Since my first two novels are written in the 1970s & 1980s, I had to depend on memory, the memories of others, and media from that time period. By far, my best resources were the journals that I kept as a teenager. The Fifth Floor and Just Like Ziggy are autobiographical fiction so Thank God I never tossed my many journals out with the trash on one of my cleaning sprees.

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

I’m a big believer in taking action for inspiration. The mere gesture of moving from one place to another, either it be a walk around the block, a couple jumping jacks, or observing commotion in a favored café can divulge loads of great ideas. I enjoy attending workshops, writing and speaking engagements, networking with other authors, surrounding myself with great literature and reading best-selling books. Gathering knowledge is key to writing an excellent novel.

I have chosen a chapter where Anna (the protagonist) is in a state of emotional crisis. She’s unwilling to share detrimental details of a traumatic childhood event, and yet she’s on the brink of losing control of her secrets. Although The Fifth Floor is written as fiction, it is based on many personal events that create a powerful glimpse into the world of many teens and young adults who are in emotional crises.

What are you working on now?

I am working on two books at the moment. One is an anecdotal book based on my pre-writing career and the other is Anna’s continued story, following The Fifth Floor and Just Like Ziggy. Future events include book club author visits and craft fairs: Batavia Craft Fair on Nov. 11 & 12.  and the Marmion Craft Show on Nov. 26 & 27.

Oct 122016


Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. His work has appeared internationally since 1965.

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

Being a writer wasn’t a decision, and there wasn’t a specific source of inspiration. It was a natural progression for a born story teller once I started learning to read and write. Although my parents were voracious readers, any encouragement I received for my writing came from my teachers.

Describe your writing process.

There’s no process as such, and certainly no routine or rituals. For me, writing bears no relation to work, and isn’t segregated from the rest of my life.

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

Being alive.

What are you working on now?

Jazz Me, my tenth poetry title, is now available on Amazon and CreateSpace. A recent conversation with Jennifer Dotson for “Poetry Today,” about poetry and writing, will be featured on the Highland Park Poetry Web site during October. I have some poetry collections, as well as books of short stories, in various stages of taking shape; these will probably be self-published. In December I’ll be featuring at Traveling Mollies, and in May at Waiting 4 the Bus.

Oct 112016


Hillary Kobernick writes poems for both performance and page. She has competed at the National Poetry Slam six times, representing Atlanta and Chicago. She holds a master’s of divinity and currently pastors outside of Chicago. Her poems have appeared on Button Poetry and in literary magazines in the U.S. and Canada including DecomP, Bellevue Literary Review, Barely South, and FreezeRay. She hosts the Spilled Milk Open Mic at The Corner House coffeeshop in Lombard and is the slammaster of Chicago’s Mental Graffiti Poetry Slam.”

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

In third grade Isabelle Woodward and I developed a collaborative story about a pig. I wrote, she illustrated. Thus, a dream was born.

Describe your writing process.

I believe in intentional writing processes. Inspiration is good, but it isn’t everything. I often prepare a cup of tea, sit down, and freewrite before doing anything. I try to begin by writing badly, loosely, un-self-consciously. I begin by doing it for the love, and for myself. Then the discipline and self-conscious habits follow: editing, reading, submitting.

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

First, a former relationship. Second, Third-grade PE class (it was a formative year). Third, Pears.

What are you working on now?

Sanity. I am the slammaster (manager) for the Mental Graffiti Poetry Slam in Chicago. I also host Spilled Milk, a monthly music-and-writing open mic at The Corner House in Lombard. This winter, I have two poems forthcoming in Stonecoast Review. I’m beginning to prepare for a poetry-themed sabbatical from my day job as a pastor. And I probably should be working on a sermon….

Oct 102016


Like most people, Kevin lives in one far-flung arm of a spiral galaxy orbiting the central mass of a large black hole. He has spent a not insignificant portion of his allotted time trying to describe this experience. He has a wife and dog who sometimes snore. He is afraid of doctors. He has lived long enough to see Spiderman swing from the pages of a 12-cent comic book onto Netflix. Recently, the good people at FutureCycle Press were kind enough to publish his first book of poetry, The Happiest Day of My Life. So far, so good.

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

 It may have been in seventh grade when my English teacher, Sister Jeanette, complimented me on an assignment saying: “You have a way with words”. If she is still living, it may only be to regret having said that.

Describe your writing process

The poet Gary Snyder wrote:

How Poetry Comes To Me

 It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light.

My campfire is usually a back table at a local coffee shop. I try to write every day. I start with a strong cup of coffee and often a book of someone else’s poetry. Revision and new writing sometimes bleed into one another much as I try to keep them separate. If a poem wants to take me somewhere unfamiliar I turn to research for a map. I love that kind of traveling, learning as I go.

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

Ann Veague, Kevin Moriarity and a $25 honorarium.

What are you working on now?

Showcasing The Happiest Day Of My Life, (available at: www.futurecycle.org and on Amazon) and new poems, always. I plan to concentrate on revision and submission with an eye toward assembling a new book manuscript in the coming year.

Sep 302016

The next Waterline Writers event is Sunday, Oct 16th 2016 at 7 pm. Everyone is welcome! Hear a chapter from Julie Oleszek’s The Fifth Floor, a powerful story of a teen’s struggle with grief and anorexia; savor fine literary poetry from three Waterline favorites, Kevin Burris, Katie Phillips and Lennart Lundh; then experience the change of tone and momentum in Hillary Kobernick’s insightful spoken word poetry. The authors’ books will be available for sale and signing. Admission is $5/$3 students. Writers, bring a 5-minute piece to share at our 8:30 Open Mic or visit WaterlineWriters.org to find submission info for future events and browse videos of past readings. We meet 3rd Sundays at 7 pm, September to May, in the beautiful art gallery at Water Street Studios 160 S. Water Street, Batavia IL. Like us on Facebook!  Contact us at waterlinewriters@gmail.com. 

Sep 212016

Photos courtesy of Check Bennorth.