Bayo Ojikutu Reads Monday, February 2 at the Gage Gallery!

Bayo Ojikutu is reading at the Gage Gallery on February 2 at 5:00 pm as part of the Spring Reading Series. Mr. Ojikutu joins Roosevelt University, teaching a novel writing workshop in Roosevelt’s MFA program this spring, and we’re very excited about welcoming him to campus. Here are a few facts to get to know him a bit better before Monday’s reading…

Five Facts for your Friday about Bayo Ojikutu:

  1. Ojikutu’s debut novel 47th Street Black was released in 2003 and won both the Washington Fiction Prize and the Great American Book award. His short fiction has appeared nationwide in various places, including the anthology Chicago Noir and Shadow Show, an anthology celebrating Ray Bradbury’s work.
  2. Although he finds he is the most productive writing in an office, he says the subway throughout the city provides great inspiration for writing. “Stay on these trains in this city, end-to-end, north-to-west, south-to-east, ride with eyes open, there and back again, and you will see things for what they are. Blinking and shining and flinching and blue and bruised and blitzed and sagging and brilliant and swinging low and ever bombastic.”
  3. Ojikutu is Chicago born and raised, and sets both of his novels in the Southside neighborhood. Free Burning is based in the neighborhood Four Corners, “People like to think of places like Four Corners as hell, it isn’t hell. It’s part of our real world.”
  4. The work of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are cited as some early inspiration for his work. He also says that maybe inappropriately, his parents would take him to see Richard Pryor’s films and comedy, and they had a great deal of influence as he grew up. “Maybe they plugged our ears … during certain segments, but that was my exposure to the aesthetically illicit. Pryor was huge for me in terms of gaining confidence in a distinctive voice.”
  5. He has taught at the University of Chicago and DePaul University, and finds that teaching effects his interaction with his everyday reading and writing. “I find it difficult to read anything these days without scribbling in the margins and engaging some back and forth with the writer in my mind, as if they are among my workshop students. ‘Salman, be respectful of your colleagues here in the circle, man.’ ‘You too, Zadie, and stay in your seat back there, Jonathan. I can see you, you know?’ Just joking. I’d never speak to my students like that.”

Bonus Fact: If he had to choose another profession, he would be a big band leader, “Playing swing tunes so hard folks had no choice but to keep dancing, even after the ditties started to bop.”

Be sure to stop by the Gage Gallery this Monday, February 2 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.

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Spring Reading Series Dates:

Just a quick update as Roosevelt University’s Spring Reading Series dates and readers have been announced. Check out the exciting lineup and stay tuned for upcoming blogs about each reader and details about the events:

Bayo Ojikutu, Monday, February 2, The Gage Gallery (80 South Michigan) at 5 p.m.

Rebecca Curtis, Monday, February 23

Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski, Monday, March 23

Jessica Hopper, Wednesday, April 15

Graduate Reading, Monday, April 27

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Tim Kinsella Reading Tuesday, November 18 at the Gage Gallery.

Tim Kinsella is all over the Internet. When doing research for our blog, I found myself engrossed with articles and interviews written about him from Spin, The Chicagoist, Chicago Magazine, The A.V. Club, Bookslut and many many more—so I can’t wait to meet him at the reading. Because one of the LEAST kept secrets about Mr. Kinsella is that he’s somewhat of a rock star, there are multiple reasons to be excited about his reading on Tuesday, November 18 at the Gage Gallery, including but not limited to his fiction, his music and his role as managing editor of Featherproof books.

Five Facts for your Friday about Tim Kinsella:

  1. Kinsella’s musical career began with the much loved, Cap’n Jazz band in the 90’s. He has also been a member of Owls, Make Believe, and Joan of Arc. He’s released three solo albums and worked on many collaborations. He just returned from touring with Joan of Arc in October. His first book, The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense, was also published in 2011.
  1. His latest book, Let Go and Go On and On and On is based on the on the life of Laurie Bird, actress and photographer known for Two-Lane Blacktop and Annie Hall. Drawn to Two Lane Blacktop, Mr. Kinsella said, “It also represents the introduction of a specific cultural moment–the lingering of the hippy lifestyle after the death of the hippy optimism. Personally I’m still a little bit working through that myself.”
  1. He said that the revision process for this book took about 8 years, during which he toured with his band, taught creative writing classes at the Graham School, bartended, made a movie and released a plethora of music.
  1. Kinsella is from Chicago, and still bartends at the Rainbo Club in the Ukrainian Village on occasion. His father was a bartender, as well.
  1. He’s taken over as the managing editor of the Chicago publishing house, Featherproof Press, which published his first book, The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense. He took over in July and has moved the offices onto Roosevelt’s campus, more specifically into MFA Director, Christian TeBordo’s office. Featherproof boasts a proud catalog of books they have published. Mr. Kinsella said of his new position, “There’s this part of me that would be perfectly content to never see my own name on an object in the world, but I really enjoy the process of creating things. I like seeing someone’s imagination become a material object for other people to access. I’m deeply invested in that process.”

Bonus fact: By their own admission on their website, Featherproof is here to publish books written by their friends and by friends of their friends…so come to the reading and become Mr. Kinsella’s friend.

The reading will begin at 5 pm, with refreshments served at 4:30 pm at the Gage Gallery.

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.

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Get to know Lori Rader-Day for the reading Tuesday!

Lori Rader-Day is reading this Tuesday, November 4 at 5 pm at the Gage Gallery. Ms. Rader-Day is a Roosevelt University MFA graduate, so we are particularly excited about her success and reading. Here a few facts to help you get to know her a little better before the reading Tuesday…

Five Facts for your Friday about Lori Rader-Day

  1. New York Times bestselling author, Jodi Piccoult, picked Ms. Rader-Day’s short story for Good Housekeeping’s first short story contest in 2010. Lori Rader-Day’s first published book, The Black Hour, was published by the Seventh Street Press in 2014. She is also the recipient of the Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction from The Madison Review, and has had stories published by TimeOut Chicago, Crab Orchard Review, and others.
  2. She grew up in central Indiana, but has lived in Chicago for a decade now and has become a staple in the literary community. She is the vice president of the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, a member of Sisters in Crime Chicagoland and the International Thriller Writers, was a member of the 2014 debut author class on the Debutante Ball blog, and frequently teaches students through StoryStudio Chicago.
  3. She finished the first draft of her second book, Little Pretty Things, in August. She wanted to finish it “before anything anyone says about my first book (good or bad) burrows into my brain and stops me cold.”
  4. She wrote the equivalent of two books during her three years at Roosevelt, and still wishes she had written more. “The best stuff I learned at Roosevelt had to do with discipline…You’ll never be sorry for writing more than you were assigned to write.”
  5. She wrote The Black Hour while working a full-time job. She is the Office of Communications Director at Northwestern University. She said that she “wrote the first draft between January 2010 and July 2011—and then spent another year revising and getting it right.” Sometimes writing during lunch breaks, before work or even 10,000 words on a cruise in the Caribbean because “That’s vacation to me—having time to write.”

Bonus fact: Ms. Rader-Day found her soundtrack to her second book in Lorde’s “Buzzcut Season”. She acknowledges that this makes her seem that she’s a teenage girl, but alas, she’s not, but admits that “I’m writing about some, and also some women who used to be teen girls and aren’t quite done with it.”

Be sure to stop by the Gage Gallery Tuesday, November 4 at 5 pm for the reading, refreshments being served at 4:30 pm.

One last fun fact, TUESDAY IS ELECTION DAY! Go vote. Only those with “I Voted” stickers will be allowed into the reading. (Not really, but maybe…)

Facts compiled from:

And a lovely email interview with Ms. Rader-Day.

Cassandra Morrison is a MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at Roosevelt University and serves as a reader/editor for issue 42 of Oyez Review.

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Lori Rader-Day reads next in the Reading Series on November 4 at the Gage Gallery. Stay tuned for more information about the Roosevelt MFA alum!

LRD Flyer

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Valeria Luiselli reading on Wednesday, October 15.

Valeria Luiselli is reading at the Gage Gallery on October 15 at 5:00 pm in collaboration with MAKE Literary Productions’ Lit & Luz Festival. We’re excited to welcome Ms. Luiselli, so here are a few facts to get to know her a bit better before Wednesday’s reading…

Five Facts for your Friday about Valeria Luiselli:

  1. Luiselli was just named one of the “5 under 35” by the National Book Foundation.
  2. She wrote a ballet libretto for the British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, which was performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center in 2010.
  3. She was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Africa, after traveling to India and Western Europe during her life, she now lives in New York City, teaching creative writing at Columbia University and pursuing a PhD in comparative literature. She first learned to speak in Spanish, but she learned to read and write in English.
  4. Faces in the Crowd was started in English and then predominantly written in Spanish, and finally translated back to English. “When I’m working on a book I always write, almost simultaneously, in two languages, and I always read in three or four different languages, until I reach a point where I have to just commit to one language,” Luiselli said.
  5. She writes both fiction and non-fiction, and published two books at one time this year, Faces in the Crowd, a novel, and Sidewalks, a collection of essays.

Bonus Fact: While she was “pregnant and drunk on prenatal hormones,” as she describes it, she planted a tree in Mexico City next to a historic building, a tree that will grow to be huge. The two can’t coexist, so she’s convinced that if the tree keeps growing, and she is found out, she’ll be “imprisoned for harming the Mexican architectural patrimony.”

Be sure to stop by the Gage Gallery this Wednesday, October 15 at 5 pm for the reading, refreshments being served at 4:30 pm.

Facts complied from interviews found on:

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Five Facts about Salvador Plascencia

Salvador Plascencia is reading at the Gage Gallery on Monday, September 29 at 5:00 pm, and we’re very excited, so we’ve compiled a quick fact sheet to help you get to know Mr. Plascencia a little bit better:

Five Facts for your Friday about Salvador Plascencia

1. Guadalajara, Mexico was his hometown but he now lives in Los Angeles, California. He has said that as long as he is writing he will be in Los Angeles.

2. George Saunders was his mentor.
George Saunders was his teacher and mentor at Syracuse University where he received his MFA. Plascencia credits much of his unique character development to Saunders.
“He’s my teacher. I can’t say anything better than him. It’s the sophistication of not having a type of character but a really well-rounded, tough, shy, aggressive — everything that’s possible in a single character in a multi-dimensionality. That was the big George lesson. You don’t need to put up these characters that are archetypes. You need to break them down.”

3. Some readers thought he had included a code in his table of contents. He didn’t.
In People of Paper, the table of contents has various numbers of dots next to the chapter numbers. After publication many speculated that in true meta-fiction experimental fashion, it was a code. It was not. The dots signify the number of narrators in the chapter.

4. McSweeney’s published People of Paper in 2005 after rejections from most of the other major publishing houses.
Plascencia said that all the other major publishing houses rejected his book because they were afraid it wouldn’t sell. “What’s strange is that the companies that have the resources to take the risks don’t take them. Those who take them are some little independent like McSweeney’s. They take something on when they have very few resources.”

5. El Monte, one of the settings in People of Paper, was supposed to read like a love story to his hometown.
“Growing up, I loved my neighborhood, I loved my friends, I loved the community, and in a way I wanted to pay tribute to that, to El Monte. In a way it was always seen. It was on Cops a lot, it was a James Ellroy crime novel, but that wasn’t my El Monte.”

Bonus Fact: Check out the acknowledgements page at the end of People of Paper for a special thank you to someone important to the Roosevelt MFA Department.

Be sure to stop by Monday, September 29 at the Gage Gallery, 18 Michigan Avenue, refreshments being served at 4:30 pm, reading will begin at 5:00 pm.

These quotes came from a Bookslut Interview June 2006 by Angela Stubbs

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Don’t forget, you still have 6 days to submit your work for Oyez Review 42! Hurry!


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Roosevelt’s Reading Series for Fall is announced!

The seasons are changing, and one of our favorite things about Fall is the kick-off of the Roosevelt Reading Series! Each year the MFA program brings in writers that we feel are making a difference in the literary world. The series showcases authors reading their work in a relaxed environment for the public to meet some literary notables. The reading series has delivered, once again, a great lineup:

Salvador Plascencia, novelist, September 29
Salvador Plascencia was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He graduated with his MFA in fiction from Syracuse University. The recipient of a National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts Award in Fiction in 1996 and the Peter Neagoe Prize for Fiction in 2000. In 2001 he was awarded the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, its first fellow in fiction. His first published fiction appeared McSweeney’s Issue 12. McSweeney’s also published his first novel, People of Paper, in 2005. He now resides in Los Angeles, California.

Valeria Luiselli, novelist and essayist, October 15
Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Africa. Her novels and essays have been translated into many languages and her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s. Some of her recent projects include a ballet libretto for the choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center in 2010; a pedestrian sound installation for the Serpentine Gallery in London; and a novella in installments for workers in a juice factory in Mexico. She lives in New York City.This event is presented in conjunction with MAKE Literary Productions’s Lit & Luz Festival.

Lori Rader-Day, novelist, November 4
Lori Rader-Day is a graduate of the Roosevelt University MFA program and is the author of the mystery The Black Hour (Seventh Street Books, 2014). She was born and raised in central Indiana, and now lives in Chicago. Her fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, The Madison Review, and others.

Tim Kinsella, novelist and featherproof books editor, November 18
Tim Kinsella has an MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His first novel, The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense was published in 2011. He also is the CEO of featherproof books, which is an independent book publisher housed at Roosevelt University.

MFA Fall Graduates, December 1
Roosevelt University’s Fall MFA graduates will read from their works in celebration of their commencement.

The readings are held at The Gage Gallery at 18 S. Michigan Ave. and are free and open to the public. Readings are from 5:00-6:00 p.m., and refreshments begin at 4:30 p.m.

This semester we’re also excited that Roosevelt’s St. Clair Drake Center is hosting the essayist Ta-Nahisi Coates, October 9. Ta-Nehisi Coates is the senior editor and writer for the Atlantic and journalist-in-residence, School of Journalism, City University of New York, will discuss “The Case for Reparations.” Coates has been called “the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation.” The free event will begin at 5 p.m. in the Auditorium Library.

Stay tuned for more updates on the writers before their readings, and for other great opportunities we find around campus and around town.

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Submissions Now Open!

Readers and Writers:

Submissions are now open for Vol. 42 of Oyez Review, which will be published early in 2015. We’re seeking original, unpublished work: Literary fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and artwork.

Our Submittable page is here. Our complete submission guidelines can be found here.

Happy writing, y’all. Let’s do this.

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