Oct 192018

Caroline Johnson, Patrick Parks, Lenora Murphy and Christine Swanberg will be the featured authors at Waterline Writers on Sunday, October 21st at 7 pm.

Caroline Johnson has two poetry chapbooks, Where the Street Ends and My Mother’s Artwork. In 2012 she won 1st Place in the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Poetry Contest and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She has more than 70 poems in print, is past president and current webmaster of Poets and Patrons of Chicago, and is a facilitator for the Illinois State Poetry Society. Her full-length poetry manuscript, The Caregiver, is forthcoming from Holy Cow! Press in May 2018.

Patrick Parks has had fiction published in a variety of journals, including The Chattahoochee Review, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Clockwatch Review, Farmer’s Market, B City, and had a story in the anthology, The Breast. In addition, he was editor of Black Dirt, a literary journal, edited Sarajevo: An Anthology for Bosnian Relief, and wrote reviews for Literary Magazine Review. Recipient of two Illinois Arts Council awards, he is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. Tucumcari is his first novel. www.patrick-parks.com

Lenora Murphy is an English student at Northern Illinois University specializing in creative writing and teacher licensure. She has been published in the Paragon, Horizons, Towers, and Quail Bell Magazine. Her writing consists of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and drama. Lenora’s first stage production titled Pieces of Harper’s Heart debuted in 2015 which Lenora also cast and directed. Lenora’s most recent nonfiction publication can be found in Quail Bell Literary Magazine’s August issue titled Beauty Mark: http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-real/essay-society-self-acceptance-and-beauty-marks.

Christine Swanberg has published hundreds of poems in journals and anthologies such as Earth Blessings, Garden Blessings, Gratitude Prayers, and Back To Joy. Recent books include Who Walks Among The Trees With Charity (Wind, 2005), The Alleluia Tree (Puddin’head Press, 2012) and Wild Fruition (Puddin’head Press, 2017). A community poet interviewed by Poet’s Market 2008, she has won many poetry awards and grants such as The Mayor’s Award for Community Impact, YWCA Award for the Arts, and Womanspirit Award.

Admission is $5/$3 students. You’ll have the opportunity to purchase signed copies of any of our authors’ published works, wine or beer ($5), beautiful hand-tooled pens from Wooden Writers, and custom hand-constructed journals from Tieri Ton Books. We also offer food from The Market at Gaetano’s.

Everyone is welcome! Writers may bring a 5-minute piece to share at our 8:30 Open Mic. Waterline Writers, 3rd Sundays at 7 pm, October to May, in the art gallery at Water Street Studios, 160 S. Water Street, Batavia IL. To be considered as a featured writer for the 2018-19 season, follow the Submission Guidelines at WaterlineWriters.org, contact James Joseph and Cathy Borders at submissions@waterlinewriters.org, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

Jun 052018
May 212018

Thanks to all for a very unique and successful event, Let The Blues Be Your Muse! The videos of this event are available for all to enjoy! This was our final event of the 2017-18 season, and it was a collaboration intended to create crossroads between artistic communities, in particular writers and musicians, and to set the stage for June’s blues events in and around the area. The brainchild of Steve Warrenfeltz, LTBBYM evolved into a collaboration between Steve’s store, Kiss The Sky; the Fox Valley Music Foundation, of which he is the director; Water Street Studios and Waterline Writers.

In January, we sent out a call for submissions for written work inspired by or evoking blues music, and received 30 submissions, an impressive number! I also had a great team helping with submissions: Memphis-born Paula Garrett, whose love of the blues and National Public Radio led her to host a blues radio show during her years in Australia, also helped coordinate the entire event. Scott Tipping and Dave Nelson, two first-rate musicians, guitarists and dedicated blues lovers, lent their expertise to the submission selection process. Notably, they selected a poem from participant Latrina Childs and wrote a song with her lyrics, sharing it with us for the first time at the event. While Latrina was unable to attend at the last minute, we’ll be able to share the event video with her very soon.

Other selected participants who attended and co-created this great evening of fiction, poetry, essays and music included Robert Hellenga, Emily Hollis Tipping, Dave Ramont, Paula Garrett, Joan Colby, Sharon Kotzin Frolick, and Al Schubert. Christopher Stolle was also selected, but unable to attend. It was a strong evening from start to finish, but I have to say it was very special to be able to host Bob Hellenga, one of my first and most memorable Knox Professors, reading from one of his seven novels, Blues Lessons, and playing Mr. Jelly Roll Baker on his guitar.

We had a great time presenting this event from the Kiss The Sky music stage, so appropriate for a blues literary event. As always, in the adjoining art gallery at Water Street Studios, 160 S. Water Street in Batavia, we offered authors’ books & CD’s, charcuterie from The Market At Gaetano’s, wine, beer from Solemn Oath Brewery, hand-tooled pens from Wooden Writers, hand-crafted books and journals from Tieri Ton Books, the chance to meet the folks from The Republic of Letters and The Book Shop Batavia. Look out for the launch of their upcoming Batavia Lyceum series.

Now that you’re in the mood, don’t miss these upcoming blues events:

Friday, 6/8: Art of the Blues art exhibit at Water Street Studios

Saturday, 6/9: Blues & Roots on Water Street with one stage at Kiss The Sky and another stage at Water Street Studios.

Friday & Saturday, 6/15-16: 22nd Annual Blues on the Fox Festival at RiverEdge Park in Aurora

And if you want to be a featured reader at Waterline Writers next year during the 2018-2019 season, please closely read and follow our Submission Guidelines and send us your work no earlier than August 15, 2018. 2018-19 events are held at 7 pm, on 3rd Sundays: 9/16, 10/21, 11/18, 12/16, 1/20, 2/17, 3/17 & 5/19. (No April event due to Easter.)

I can’t thank Water Street Studios’ executive director Dani Hollis and special events manager Jaime Gutierrez enough for being so supportive of Waterline Writers! We ask anyone who loves Waterline and is able to support the arts to become a member of or donate time, talent or money to Water Street Studios! They make Waterline Writers possible!

I also want to thank Kevin Moriarity, Managing Director and co-founder of Waterline, for another seamless, drama-free year of partnership. The other long-standing volunteers who make Waterline happen and have done so much to create the community it has become include Frank Rutledge, Ginny Klespitz, Barbara Barrows, Chuck Bennorth Photography, Denise Bennorth, Ray Ziemer and Paula Garrett. Rick Veague is not only on our volunteer list, but is on my A-list for supporting this endeavor at every level. Thanks to all of you!

Anne Veague, Creative Director of Waterline Writers



May 182018

What drew you to Waterline’s blues-themed event?

What drew me to Waterline’s Blues Themed event was when outta nowhere I received an email about Waterline Writers and since I’ve been writing poetry since a little girl and how it’s helped me cope with life I saw the email as a sign from God to show my work to the world so I submitted some poems and when I was chosen I felt like I won a million dollars especially to have my poem played in song by blues singers Dave and Scott made me even happier I chose Waterline writers!


My poems are about me, about the struggles in life I endured, the many trials I had to go through, all the hurt and pain I experienced as a child and how I never gave up on my dreams. My poems are about how I stayed strong and how I will keep pushing until I read my goals in life. My poetry is how I kept my strength and never gave up on hope.

For more information about Waterline’s event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/.

May 182018

What drew you to Waterline’s blues-themed event?

I’m drawn to the music and history of the blues — maybe because it seeped into me growing up in Memphis. My mom grew up in Arkansas and my dad in Mississippi so I’ve spent some time around the birthplace of the blues. Later I sort of fell into hosting blues radio shows. I really enjoy getting to meet and interview musicians, learning more about their sources of inspiration.

Through my relationship with Waterline Writers, I heard about the call for blues themed poems a few years ago – to celebrate Blues on the Fox and Aurora’s Poetry in Public Places – where these two poems originally appeared.

To me music and poetry can be one and the same. When I hear music that stirs me, it’s most often blues based and urges me to explore and express the images and feelings it conjures up. Since my musicianship is sub-basic, I try by playing with words.


Paula is addicted to public radio. She writes regularly for the NPR station at Northern Illinois University, and her topics for WNIJ have covered Internet privacy and security, and the arts, especially music.

She started working in radio when she was living in Sydney and hosting a blues show that was syndicated across Australia and New Zealand. When she moved back to Illinois, she joined WNIJ as a host for several years of the Saturday Night Blues.

Her two blues poems were part of the Poetry in Public Places exhibits in Aurora.

For more information about Waterline’s event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 182018

How does the blues influence your writing style? How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

My first two novels feature a family with three daughters, the father plays blues guitar, and someone goes to Italy. When I started writing my third novel, I told myself that there would not be a family with three daughters, that no one would go to Italy, and that no one would play blues guitar. No one goes to Italy. I got rid of the daughters, though an illegitimate daughter creeps into the story. But I couldn’t get along without the blues, which you can figure out from the title of the book—Blues Lessons

Why is that?

I think that it’s because for me the blues is the mother tongue, the American mother tongue. The language of the blues allows me to articulate something that’s central to my life as a person and as a writer. And it’s a mystery: How do three lousy chords and three of four basic patterns open a door to great riches in a little room? Like all great mysteries, you can’t explain it. You can only tell stories about it. Stories that begin like this:

“I got the key to the highway. I’m going away, Baby; cryin’ won’t make me stay. Come on in my kitchen, ’cause it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors. Now she’s gone gone gone, and I don’t worry, ’cause I’m sittin’ on top of the world. I got me three wimmin and they live on the same old road. You know I’d rise from my grave, for some of your jelly. If I get lucky, and find my train fare home. Standin’ in the station, my suitcase in my hand. I told you you could go, and don’t come back here no more. I’m goin’ back home, wear out ninety-nine pair of shoes. Now it is a needin’ time. Ain’t had no lovin’ since you been gone. I went to the crossroads, fell down on my knees. I went down to the depot, that evening train done gone. I’m a stranger here, just blowed in your town. I’m a big fat mama, got the meat shakin’ on my bones. You made me love you, now your man done come. All my life I been a travelin’ man. If I had a listened to my second mind. When I had money, we lived on Easy Street. Winds on Lake Michigan, Lord, blow chilly and cold. Rise up dead man, and help me drive my row. When my bed get empty make me feel awful mean and blue.”


Robert Hellenga has published short stories from coast to coast, seven novels, and a collection of short stories. He is the father of three daughters, who have inspiried much of his fiction, and lives in Galesburg, Illinois, with his wife, Virginia, and a dog, Simone.

Read reviews of his book, Blues Lessons, in Acoustic Guitar Magazine and the LA Times.

For more information about the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 172018

How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

I would say the blues didn’t necessarily “inspire,” but rather, provoked the work.

I enjoy blues music, and older recordings in particular, but I find that my enjoyment is fraught with my own inadequacy.

Bessie Smith’s 1920s recordings for Columbia surely evoke an emotion, but who am I to pretend I can ever understand where Bessie Smith is coming from? …who was orphaned at the age of 9 …who busked with her brother on the streets of Chattanooga …who was at one time the highest-paid black entertainer of her time, but then was buried in 1937 in an unmarked grave after dying in a segregated hospital …whose grave remained unmarked until 1970.

The blues shines a spotlight on privilege. And while we might feel something listening to it, I don’t believe us capable of really understanding.


Emily Hollis Tipping is an editor, poet and sometimes-singer living in Warrenville, Ill. She has worked in the publishing industry for the past 20 years, spending the past 12 years as Editorial Director for a business-to-business publication covering recreation, sports and fitness facility management. She has self-published one book of poetry, Cold Moon, September 2016. A second book, titled Field Notes, is in progress.

For more information about Waterline’s event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 172018

What drew you to Waterline’s blues-themed event?

I was drawn to the Waterline event because, as a singer / songwriter and professional musician since 1963, I have performed my own blues compositions and those of numerous other artists whose styles incorporate the blues

How does the blues influence your writing style?

I write and perform songs which stem from numerous idioms, including the blues and blues oriented rock as well. I am not a “one trick pony” per se, but my audiences respond very enthusiastically to my blues related compositions.

How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

Among my favorite musicians who influence my work, I include Addison’s Al DeCarlo, the guitarist and singer from Bangor Flying Circus who passed away this past year, as well as Leon Russell, the fabulous keyboard and guitar player, who we lost recently as well. My inspiration is to carry on the musical influences they and so many other artists have had on my writing and playing style. Since I have a four page list of those who have influenced me over the years, I will pay homage to their styles as I continue to evolve as a singer / songwriter.


I have been a professional musician for more than 55 years. During that period I have played the blues, had the blues, taught thousands of students how to play the blues on guitar, bass guitar, piano and organ. The late, great Steve Goodman put it this way: “My baby came to me this morning; she said I’m kind of confused; If me and B.B. King were dying; which one would you choose; I said babe … oh babe … I’ll love you until the twelfth of never; but I ain’t never heard you play no blues.”

I will let my music do my talking for me, just like Steve did.

For more information about the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/

May 162018

How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?

My contribution was inspired by Blind Willie Johnson, whose recording career spanned only 1927-1929. His songs are very haunting, timeless; he sang them as if they possessed him and needed to be exorcised. And while the hands we were dealt in this world couldn’t be much different, I still feel a thin, common thread when it comes to melodies and vibe, and staying true to yourself in the creative process. He made “blues” music during a time when no one was doing so for money or fame, only because the songs moved him and he wanted to affect his listeners. I think that’s an important lesson, and one which I hold close.


Dave is a singer/songwriter, music teacher and producer from St. Charles, releasing 4 CDs and 3 more with his Swillbilly band Dick Smith. He’s performed around the Midwest and points beyond for years, with his songs receiving airplay on public and college radio worldwide.

He occasionally writes for his blog, BLathering On Gratuitously, and since 2016 has been writing for a trade publication, having over 70 articles published.

For more information about the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/