May 152018

How does the blues influence your writing style?

The strong, driving rhythms of the blues help to accent the meter and punch of my poems. I hear the riffs in my  head and before long I have a poem appear on paper.

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

The twang of the dobro or open tuning for bottle neck slides raises the hairs on my neck :  “Sweet Home Chicago,”  a classic Robert Johnson, “Trouble in Mind,”  a favorite sung by Lightnin’ Hopkins.


Sharon Kotzin Frolick has anchors in the sand of the Chesapeake Bay and seeds in tasseled grasses of mid-western prairies. As educator, facilitator and published author, Sharon brings a creative twist to the writing process. She lives in Naperville.

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May 142018

How does the blues influence your writing style?

The musical aspect of poetry is very important to me. I “hear” a poem as I write and inner rhymes and line breaks are influenced by that. It’s not just the metrics of the blues that attracts me, but the subject matter: hardship, resignation, inspiration, passion, the elemental forces of life that so clearly and sometimes harshly resonate. I like the tactic of repetition in poetry, an essential strategy of the blues–how we respond as reader or listener to refrain.. The first poets were singers and the blues are poems, fierce and memorable poems that come from the soul.


Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, Gargoyle, Pinyon, Little Patuxent Review, Spillway, Midwestern Gothic and others. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published 20 books including  Selected Poems” from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and “Ribcage” from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Three of her poems have been featured on Verse Daily and another is among the winners of the 2016 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. Her newest books are  “Carnival” from  FutureCycle Press and “The Seven Heavenly Virtues” from Kelsay Books. Her next book “Her Heartsongs’ will be published by Presa Press in 2018.  Colby is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review.

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Apr 282018
Apr 222018

Let The Blues Be Your Muse! will be a blues-themed literary evening hosted by Waterline Writers at 7 PM, Sunday May 20th 2018, at Water Street Studios and Kiss The Sky in Batavia, IL. The event includes poetry, prose, essays and lyrics that not only evoke or celebrate blues music, but also build on and play off each other to create a unique literary experience. Participants include Latrina Childs, Joan Colby, Sharon Kotzin Frolick, Paula K Garrett, Robert Hellenga,  Dave Ramont, Al Schubert, Christopher Stolle and Emily Hollis Tipping.

Thank you to all 30 writers who submitted so many good pieces from which to choose, to Kiss The Sky’s Steve Warrenfeltz, who suggested this concept, and to musicians Scott Tipping and Dave Nelson, who helped curate this event!

Scott Tipping has been a member of The Mighty Blue Kings, Backyard Tire Fire, Magic Box, Cornmeal and currently plays guitar with the Grammy/Emmy nominated singer/songwriter, Peter Himmelman. His latest project, Bluebird Sessions Vol 1 pays tribute to the historic recordings that were made in 1937-1938 at The Sky Club in Aurora, IL. The project features a host of national artists including Nora O’Connor, Robbie Fulks, Dave Hererro as well as local legends like Mick Ducker and Mae Koen, who is featured here on I Won’t Be in Hard Luck No More.

Guitarist Dave Nelson performs with Heartsfield, Electric Dirt, Rachel Drew & The Bitter Roots and many Chicago area musicians. He worked with producers Steve Warrenfeltz and Scott Tipping as a major contributor to the Leland Bluebird Sessions. These sessions paid tribute to the blues artists of the late 1930’s, of which Dave has a profound and deep admiration. For forty plus years Dave has taught, performed, written and recorded many different and diverse styles of music. But none resonate so close to his heart than primitive American blues music. This original and truly American art form captivated him early on in his musical life.  The real life stories of the men and women who pioneered this music is what Dave believes to be some of the most visceral and fascinating history of our country and whose influences reach so far into numerous genres of music today. Dave is with Clayhead Records and can be heard at Heartsfield | Rockin’ the Country and The Minutes I’m In, a recording with Ben Schiltz, a local writer whom Dave admires greatly.

This collaboration with the Fox Valley Music Foundation, Kiss the Sky Records and Water Street Studios sets the stage for:

Paula Garrett & Anne Veague at

Apr 152018

April 15th, 2018: Welcome to Waterline Writers! We host live readings on 3rd Sundays at 7 PM.   At 8:30, Frank Rutledge hosts our Open Mic, limited to 6 writers. (We want to hear many different writers. Please don’t sign up more often than every other month!)

Tonight’s featured readers are:

Donna Pucciani, a long-time fan of Waterline Writers and frequent reader, has published poetry on four continents. Her work has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, German and Italian. Her seventh and most recent book of poetry is Edges, available tonight for  $15. She’s reading from her chapbook, Ghost Garden (available tonight for $10), which traces her genealogical adventures finding her roots in Italy. For more about Donna:

Christopher Kuhl is a frequently published poet and an active reader of his work.  Recently, he has begun to explore short fiction: he has published all his stories, and in 2016 won Editor’s Choice for his story, “Wade,” in Inscape. He is trained in all the arts except for literature, but has always written, and continues to improve. His new poetry collection, Night Travels, was released in August. When not writing, Christopher is either doing visual art or studying Hebrew. He is never bored. Christopher will have Blood and Bone, River and Stone available for $6 and Night Travels  for $6. For more about Christopher:       

David W. Berner is a journalist, broadcaster, teacher and author of four memoirs and two novels. Of A Well-Respected Man, The San Francisco Review of Books says, “Impressive…writing with an enormous sense of humanity.” His broadcast reporting and documentaries air on WBBM, the CBS Radio Network, and on NPR. David is a former Writer-in-Residence at the Hemingway Birthplace in Oak Park and the Jack Kerouac Project in Orlando. His writing appears in Eunoia Review, Under the Gum Tree, PERIGEE, Tiny Lights Journal and others. David will have A Well-Respected Man or October Song available for $12 tonight. For more about David:


John Arends is a poet, author, playwright and screenwriter. He participated in the early days of Marc Smith’s poetry slams at the Green Mill in Chicago, and more recently is writing scripts for Hollywood and television. Tonight, he’ll read a scene from his full-length play, Of Sorrow Songs and Treason. It’s a work in progress, inspired by the life of civil rights activist Paul Robeson. His collection of poetry, SINEW – Muscle Poems and Mantras, Bar Rants and Bliss, is available on Amazon or  he’ll have copies tonight for $5.

Frank Rutledge is an author of poetry and short fiction, a musician, and popular host of 3 Open Mics: Modest Mic (3rd Wed, Sugar Grove Library), Harmonious Howl (Graham’s 318, 4th Thurs, summer), and Waterline’s (3rd Sundays). He’s a co-founder of Open Sky Poets and Early Risers Writers, and a pillar of Waterline Writers. He’s been published in A Café in Space: an Anais Nin literary magazine, Arts Beat, the Downtown Auroran and Foxtales Anthologies. Frank will have copies of Clothed in August Skin and Eat the Punchline–This Joke Is Over for $6 each tonight. His haiku, Voice in a Whisper, is $5 tonight. Frank’s books are also available on Amazon.

Sat. April 21st marks the 1st Fox River Arts Ramble, a 1-day, self-guided art tour of 40 locations from Elgin to Aurora. Info & maps on Facebook or!

Our venue! Water Street Studios makes Waterline Writers possible! Please become a member of WSS, sign up for Art Classes, attend 2nd Friday exhibit openings or 4th Friday Live Art Series, or expand your art collection – buy work from the main gallery or from one of the 26 resident artists’ studios!

Our sponsors! Solemn Oath Brewery & The Market at Gaetano’s.

Our vendors! Hand-tooled pens from Wooden Writers and handmade books & journals from Tieri Ton Books make wonderful gifts for writers, readers …  and you!

Our friends! The Republic of Letters, 1 W. State, Ste 103, Geneva offers books, classes, discussions, special events and more. The Book Shop Batavia is now open! Find them at 15 N. River Street!

Our neighbors! Kiss The Sky hosts live music and offers new & vintage vinyl, audio equipment and eclectic gifts! Check out this local gem, our collaborators in the May 20th Blues-themed Waterline event:

Let The Blues Be Your Muse, our special May 20th blues-themed literary event, is designed to kick off June’s Art of the Blues exhibit 6/8,  Blues & Roots on Water Street 6/9, and the 22nd Annual Blues on the Fox Festival 6/15-16 with poetry, essays and fiction evoking and celebrating The Blues. Scott Tipping & Dave Nelson will help curate this event, which will also feature live blues! Find the event on Facebook, at or contact Paula Garrett at

Friends of the Fox are looking for poets and storytellers to share their work on Love Our River Clean Up Day (5/12 in Elgin, 5/19 in Batavia). The clean-up will end with live music, stories, poetry, contests, picnic, treasure hunt and environmental exhibits. Contact Gary at

Frank Rutledge hosts Modest Mic for writers and musicians at The Sugar Grove Library, 125 S. Municipal Dr. on 3rd Wednesdays from 6:30-8 PM.

Teens: attend T-WAAP Wordplay workshops! To support Teen Writers & Artists Project and their vital writing programs, contact Shayne Phillips at,  go to or Smile.Amazon.

Thanks to our crew Frank Rutledge, Chuck Bennorth, Ginny Klespitz, Ray Ziemer, Paula Garrett, Barbara Barrows & Rick Veague; WSS’s Dani Hollis & Jaime Gutierrez; and to our wonderful audience!

Apr 132018

I would like to go to a fine Thai restaurant with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Then after our stomachs are satiated, discuss the deeper things of life over coffee. Or maybe share a picnic and balloon ride with Emily Dickinson.”

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

First off, I am always inspired by reading poetry. It’s important for my growth as a poet that I do. My inspiration comes from open observation of the everyday, reflection on emotions and an active imagination. I’m always mulling over my experiences I have had or am having. I’m a romantic at heart and always trying to impress the muse. I’ve been enchanted with the work of a painter friend of mine. My life is enriched contemplating other artistic media and disciplines. Music. Painting. Theater etc.

What are you working on now?

I have been writing and gathering new poems for my next book, “A Tattered Square of Joy.” I’m excited with anticipation to be sharing new work with an audience, the fresh poems I’ve created this winter. Often, I get the urge to dabble in the prose discipline, to tangle with sentences and paragraphs. Therefore, when I’m not working on free verse poetry, my brain wanders to prose poems (flash fiction). I’m enjoying visiting that different place in my mind.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

Lately, I have been entranced with the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca. His clarity and precision of vocabulary impresses me. He has a way of making it look simple but I’m certain it is accredited to his aptitude and practice of craft. His poetry is well polished yet doesn’t sacrifice emotion. Like other Latin poets and writers his meanings are ensconced in a gentle surrealism. Specifically, I’ve been spending time in his collection, “A Season in Granada.”

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

I would like to go to a fine Thai restaurant with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Then after our stomachs are satiated, discuss the deeper things of life over coffee.  Or maybe share a picnic and balloon ride with Emily Dickinson.

Apr 122018

I’d invite Jane Austen [to dinner], whose sharp wit and brilliant control of satire would provide a lively commentary on the current political scene that would no doubt rival Colbert, Oliver, and SNL, among others.”

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

The inspiration for my chapbook, Ghost Garden, was the desire to connect with my Italian roots. After I retired from teaching a few years ago, I had time to research my family tree and discovered hundreds of Italian ancestors and also a few living cousins with whom I have become close friends. Together we have visited “our” village in southern Italy and walked the cobbled streets of our grandmothers, linking arms with each other and the past.

What are you working on now?

Current projects include preparing for a reading of my latest full-length poetry collection, EDGES, for First Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, and participating in Poetry Month displays at Chicago and suburban libraries.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

Latest “good reads” include A Gentleman from Moscow by Amor Towles and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. One is by an established author, the other new, and they are polar opposites in plot, style, and characters. But both books are brimming with the kind of exquisite prose, particularly  the “voices” of their narrators, that inspire me as a poet.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

I’d invite Jane Austen, whose sharp wit and brilliant control of satire would provide a lively commentary on the current political scene that would no doubt rival Colbert, Oliver, and SNL, among others.

Apr 112018

…I realize that even children are mortal, and by the time they’re in school, they’re wondering about death. And that’s when we start telling them fairy tales…”

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

As I get older, I become more and more aware of my body, and mortality and spirituality (I don’t mean “religion”). And with that, in these poems I realize that even children are mortal, and by the time they’re in school, they’re wondering about death. And that’s when we start telling them fairy tales (religious or otherwise). But we all, ultimately ask, Why? The other thing I’m concerned with (also often in the same poem) is our relationship to the physical world, and time, and how they play into our lives.

What are you working on now?

I’m not working on any particular project now, except to become a better writer, and broaden my outlook. As I say that, though, I also have to say I have a little germ in the back of my head, because since my last book, I’ve been finding, feeling that these new poems are related in some way. So I’ll just say that the germ in my head also has a working title: TIMES THAT BIND, TIES THAT REND. But it’ll be a while before anything comes of that because I’m also just concentrating on learning more things. In any case, book or no book, I’m having a good time.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

I have to expand this to two, one a short novel, the other a collection of poems. First, the novel: A LESSON BEFORE DYING, by Ernest J. Gaines. It’s a powerful, angry and compassionate book about race, (in)justice, relationships between others, and with ourselves. It just blew me away. And the writing is beautiful. The other book is a collection of poems that won the 2014 Walt Whitman Award: THE SAME-DIFFERENT, by Hannah Sanghee Park. Talk about playing with language in all kinds of ways that I’ve never seen before. It’s absolutely fascinating. I keep it next to me, dipping into it again and again. Find a copy, read it, and be prepared to fall over with the power and depth and tragedy and playing that this book provides.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

Flannery O’Connor. A short fiction writer and novelist, her language, imagery and spirit have, in their own way, shaped me. Although her work is fiction, she still deals, with power and twisted wit (I don’t seem to have that in my work), many of the issues that drive me.