A Theatre and a Literary Magazine Cross-Pollinate

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While he was traveling in Barcelona, Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls was struck by bold promotional posters for a book featuring pink crosses in the desert.

The images compelled Falls to read that novel, a 900-page work that stirred him in its scope and structure and how it seamlessly moved between comedy, film noir, hyper-realism and fairy tale across Spain, England, Mexico and Germany and from the 1990s to World War II.

The book, 2666, written by Latin American writer Roberto Bolano, inspired Falls to bring it to the stage and the world premiere opened last week at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.

At five hours with three intermissions, it’s an ambitious play, but how else to express Bolano’s aspirations? It’s a five-part, multi-media mingling of reality and fiction based on a real-life crime wave. Fifteen actors portray 80 roles wearing 120 costumes and includes video, projections and original music.

A recent New York Times article says the play is about “evil, memory, chaos, futility, dread, hunger for meaning, and, not least, the sometimes maddening lure of literature itself.” Bolano, who died at age 50 in 2003, was posthumously awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for the book in 2008.

So when the Goodman Theatre reached out to Thread to help showcase this production, Thread was delighted to become a partner. As the editor of a literary publication that explores the breadth of human experience via personal essay, how could I resist a play that addresses such a wide range of themes that grew out of a real-life event?

The Goodman may be an iconic theatre and Thread, a new literary publication and reading series, but we are Chicago-based art organizations who share audiences who love both the literary and the stage. And, we each released new work just last week!

You love the arts, right? Show your support by reading the latest issue of Thread and clicking on the Goodman artwork you see at the right of this blog post. You’ll find everything you need about getting tickets to the show. 2666 has a limited run from February 6 – March 20.

Subscribe to Thread.

Submit to Thread.

Support Thread.

If you are local to Chicago, or planning to be in the area in early April, circle April 3rd on your calendar for the next Thread Reading series to be held at a new location, The Curragh, in Skokie.  Go to the Readings page of the Thread site for updates.

Look How You’ve Grown!

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I like to think of Thread as a magnificent tapestry made from the lines of letters that form the words that make these beautiful stories.

But Thread has a story of unto itself. While the writers give Thread its color, texture and dimension, it feels like my job as editor is to keep track of Thread’s own story, marking the important milestones.

December 10 is one of those moments. It’s the first anniversary of Thread’s launch! I can barely believe how much this small online literary publication has grown in twelve months. In just under one year, Thread has published three issues, which has included the work of eighteen writers and five photographers, hosted three readings with full houses, two of which included original music; shot a video, and been featured in Brevity, New Pages and Duotrope.

Plans for 2016 include three more issues, a mega-event with readings, music and spirits at a new, soon-to-be-disclosed, larger venue, a flash non-fiction writing contest, a greeting card line and a few other surprises that will be revealed next year. Subscribers of EBB & Flow will be the first to know, so if you haven’t yet, I urge you to do it now!

Most importantly, I wanted to acknowledge that Thread wouldn’t be what it is without your multi-dimensional love. Thread is a beautiful blending of visual, digital, audible and mobile words and images.

Art, in four dimensions.

So stay close to stay looped into the conversational thread.

Photo by Ellen Blum Barish. Copyright 2015.





Over the past two years, I’ve submitted my own essay labors of love to more than fifty publications. I’ve been told by writer friends that this is a drop in the bucket, numbers-wise. They’ve argued that if I doubled or tripled that amount, I’d have far better odds of seeing my work published. I suspect there’s some mathematical truth to this. But, there’s really only so much rejection a girl can take, right?

The way I look at it, of those fifty-something attempts at getting my work published, four of my essays have found homes. I’m okay with that math. I’ll even reach and say pleased, because I know what I’m up against: There are a lot of remarkable essayists out there. And a growing number of outstanding literary publications that publish them.

It’s worth a moment to stop and look at the word submit.

To submit is to offer, present, put forward. These suggests something proactive. But the word also is defined as a yielding, a succumbing, a letting go. It’s this second definition that is, without a doubt, the hardest for any artist. We put an enormous amount of ourselves into our work; we edit, tweak, cut, add, shave, rework, and sometimes  start all over again. When we finally feel that our work is ready to send out –  a moment worth acknowledging, practically worth a small parade –  we are presenting it and surrendering it, simultaneously. Like a tree that put itself out there protectively, like shelter, but also appears, perhaps with one or two branches, to be letting itself go.

It’s with a deep understanding of this weird and wonderful creative process that I announce open submissions for Thread beginning on January 12th, 2015. That’s next week! Please do review the Submissions Guidelines on the site. I never fully understood what all the fuss was until I was in the position of reading vast amounts of content. The guidelines really help smooth the reading process. There’s less in the way and more room for the editor to experience the small universe those words create, the art you’ve poured yourself into.

At this writing, my plan is to publish two more issues in 2015, translating into eighteen essays, perhaps a few less as I have my eye on three or four pieces. Keep that in mind as you prepare to submit. Know that if there isn’t a fit between us this time, it may not be about the writing, but rather the content as I want to keep it diverse. That may feel like bad news to you. But the good news is that there are many excellent literary pubs out there for you to try, and I’m urging you to submit whenever and wherever you can.

Putting yourself out there and letting go is, by itself, a potent and worthwhile experience, a big part of the creative process and what draws us back to the page and screen, again and again.