Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski is reading this Monday, March 23 at 5 pm at the Gage Gallery as part of our Spring Reading Series. Mr. Galaviz-Budziszewski is a Chicago born and raised writer. His short stories have been published in many literary magazines including Ploughshares and TriQuarterly, and his collection “Painted Stories” was published in 2014 by McSweeney’s. His writing is based on growing up in the Pilsen neighborhood. He still lives in Chicago, where he works as a high school counselor for students with disabilities. Here are a few facts to get to know him better…
Five Facts for your Friday about Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski:
- Growing up on the South Side in Pilsen, the city line of Chicago seemed a lifetime away. He used to call Chicago, “Oz”. One of his first long-term forays into the city led him to Harold Washington College, which led him to meet a writing workshop professor who encouraged him to apply to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he eventually attended.
- Writing about Pilsen wasn’t part of his plan. When he was attending Iowa, he was working on a memoir but realized his story was really fictionalized stories about Pilsen, no matter how difficult they were to write. He said, “When I first started writing stories, I was terrified of writing about Pilsen…Thinking about Pilsen is so emotional for me, but I realized that tapping into those feelings brings out better stories, and it just happens that this is where it’s at for me, in terms of emotion.”
- He published the stories about Pilsen in many top literary magazines—Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, Indiana Review and others— but failed to sell them as a collection. He doesn’t write with publication in mind, “…It’s a more satisfying outcome, when I can write something that sounds so good out loud, or bring a tear to my own eye—rather than ‘I need to send this out as soon as possible.’” Which is why his friend from the Iowa Workshop, Peter Orner, submitted his stories without his knowledge to McSweeney’s founder Dave Eggers, who loved and published “Painted Cities”.
- He doesn’t believe in ‘Writers’ block’, but instead thinks that is where some of the best writing comes from. He said, “The addictive quality of writing is getting to that point where things are just coming out. That’s the wonderful feeling I look for, and you never know when it’s coming next. That’s why I don’t really believe in writer’s block. Writer’s block is a refusal to let yourself get lost in the woods.”
- Before publishing “Painted Cities”, he added the hyphenated Galaviz—his mother’s maiden name—to his name. “I’m writing strictly Latino stories, but my name doesn’t look in the slightest Latino,” he said. “So I threw in ‘Galaviz’ as an homage to my mother and to acknowledge where I came from, which was this biracial, bicultural family.”
Bonus Fact: As a child, his nickname was “Ali”, given to him by his father after winning a bet on the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974.
Be sure to stop by the Gage Gallery this Monday, March 23 at 5 pm for the reading, refreshments being served at 4:30 pm.
Facts compiled from:
Cassandra Morrison is a MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at Roosevelt University and serves as a reader/editor for issue 42 of Oyez Review