Essay Fiesta (February)

Location + Time:
On February 17, 2014, I attended the monthly literary reading series Essay Fiesta, located at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. This event starts at 7 PM on every third Monday of the month.

Atmosphere + Feel:
The last time I went to Essay Fiesta at The Book Cellar, it was in the glorious tresses of a fall October and it was themed as mostly Halloween-esque. This time around, the bookstore was neutral in its theme but ever so vibrant, as always. Although not as many people were in attendance as last time around, most seats were filled and there was still a lot of energy in the room. Hosts Willy Nast and Karen Shimmin certainly did not fail in bringing the funny: they began with their unique Essay Fiesta theme song, Nast on an accordion, Shimmin singing and on a mini xylophone. Basically pure magic. One aspect about the reading series I appreciate is the charitable donations to 826CHI, a non-profit organization for children/young adults between the ages of 6-18 in support of the growth of their writing skills. What more could you want from a FREE event that also supports the excellence and success of our youth?

Performers + Quality:
When the clapping and excitement commenced, the six readers performed various real-life accounts of a particularly serious, sentimental, or humorous event in their lives. Both hosts performed as well, sharing stories that are always engaging. I appreciated how some of the performers took the time to consider their audience and engage/react to them, such as blurting out, “Everyone’s making faces!” which got a laugh out of the crowd. Simply put, Essay Fiesta is thoughtful, warm, and cozy, just like your favorite blanket. It is almost impossible to have a bad time here.

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Amanda Hanna

Amanda Hanna earned her Bachelor's Degree in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing, from DePaul University in June 2014. She plans to pursue her MA in Writing & Publishing, from DePaul, beginning in the fall of 2015. She was born in Chicago, but has lived in a variety of places throughout Southern California, such as Riverside, Orange County, and San Diego. Post high school, she attended a nineteen-day trip to Europe and visited Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, England, and France. On her free time, Amanda loves to draw and paint, attend symphonies and plays, peruse museums, visit farmers' markets, and, of course, read and write. One of her favorite collections of short stories is J.D. Salinger’s, 'Nine Stories'.

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