Getting Local: Writing About Chicago Reading and Reception

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By: Chicago Studies Staff

On Wednesday, April 25th, the Committee on Creative Writing and Chicago Studies held the second annual reception for the winners of the undergraduate Writing About Chicago Contest. The winners, announced on April 11th, are Michael Lipkowitz, Naseem Jamina and Caroline O'Donovan. They were awarded for their work in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction respectively. At the reception, which was held in the Performance Penthouse on the 9th floor of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, winners read their pieces to an audience of faculty, staff, and students. 

Here are a couple of excerpts to give you a taste of their wonderful pieces:



From "Tales of Von Steuben High"

August 24th.
Strange things happen in this city, but people don't really talk about them. A pitbull ran onto a CTA bus in Bronzeville. Its owner, a 60-year-old single man, stood shocked outside the bus holding the leash as the dog ran down the aisle, growling and yapping at some poor old ladies wearing swimcaps. What was that pitbull thinking?
Michael Lipkowitz is a graduating fourth-year majoring in English with an Honors Concentration in Creative Writing. This quarter instead of taking classes he has been moonlighting as a preschool teacher. Most recently he has had writing published in the Midway Review, Makom Journal, Stockyard Magazine, Sliced Bread Magazine, and the Chicago Studies blog. He has received a FOTA grant twice and a Summer Arts Council grant once for which he wrote a poetry chapbook about cemeteries around the world.



From "Chicago Ghazals" 

People in passing ask me how things are, and I blink. 
My mind checked out long ago, and my lips have sealed.

They say this city rips itself in half. 
I've lived both sides.

Weekly, Craig presses his lips to the neck of another. 
Their faces always change, but his hopes do not.

Ramona quickly learned the way around Logan Square. 
Her leash lets her go no farther.

Southern boys mock my accent, silencing my song. 
My lips curl, crude comments cut down.

Naseem Jamnia is a third-year Biological Sciences major and Creative Writing minor. She is a Senior Editor of Sliced Bread Magazine, and her work will be appearing in the 2012 issue. She is also a proud member of Jannotta House and a native Chicagoan. In an effort to balance both science and the arts, she spends her days playing with laboratory mice, cuddling her giant stuffed neuron Norbert, and drinking cups of English Tea No. 1. 


From "Out of Turn: A Campaign Story"

"Chicago ain't ready for reform!" "Don't make no waves, don't back no losers" "Ubi Est Mea--Where's mine?" Urban historians are quick to point out that Chicago didn't invent the political machine. New York had the first, and Philadelphia even had a machine run by Republicans. All it takes is a large number of economically depressed, heavily immigrant underclass and an opportunistic, resource-rich political class. Early in the invention of social science, scholars pointed to the machine's connotations of bribery, intimidation and fraud, not to mention with extortion, murder, and Al Capone. While other cities gradually learned to want more out of their government, however, Chicagoans have retained much lower expectations. As Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna, one-time boss of the First Ward once put it, Chicagoans "never go for the big stuff."

Caroline O'Donovan is a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Chicago Political Science and English departments with a lifelong interest in politics and journalism. Originally from New Jersey, Caroline spent the past four years on campus working for the UC Democrats as their Director of Community Outreach. She has also been a leader in the arts community, helping to grow The Dean's Men theater troupe and the 24-Hour Play Festival. She spent over two years working for the University News Office as a student media monitor, during which time she also interned at Arts Alliance Illinois, the Obama for America Communications Department, and the Better Government Association, where she helped start a Citizen Watchdog Training program. Most recently she worked at The New Republic, where she published a book review on history and religion. Caroline is currently a production intern at WBEZ, and her writing appears at The Huffington Post, The Chicagoist and Gaper's Block. She tweets at @ceodonovan.


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Seminar is very important for students for gvung the seminar they will not get the stage fear

Company said:

Congratulations for the winners! I am sure that they deserve their places. Their pieces are really splendid and inspiring.

Daniela said:

Great info! Thanks, it helped me a lot!

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