Jameson. Ruth. Fromm. Kikoler. Borcherts. Murray. The names may not ring any bells. All are unknown or unpublished fiction writers struggling to find a foothold in an increasingly difficult industry. Despite all obstacles, these six writers have found an open door in the form of new technology: the podcast.
Beside a rosy fringe lamp, A.D. Jameson reads into the microphone in a dramatic voice, drowned out momentarily by the Blue Line El rumbling past the windows. It is a warm, gold-lit Saturday evening at the Green Lantern Gallery. Relics from the gallery’s last exhibit—a box of wine corks, an antique umbrella dangling from the red tile ceiling—give the space a hodgepodge, alternative edge.
It is the first annual Emerging Writer’s Festival. The six half-hour-long readings will be broadcast next month as a podcast through the Parlor reading series. “We’re on iTunes—yay!—since last week,” beams the Parlor’s co-editorial director, Joanna MacKenzie. She sits cross-legged behind the audience seating, an eclectic array of lawn, folding and dining-room chairs. ““Chicago is an old boys poetry town,” MacKenzie explains. “Poetry roots run deep. For new types of media [like podcasts] to break in is difficult… it’s a big hullabaloo.”
Launched last November, the Parlor features podcasts of local writers’ readings, recorded live at the Green Lantern the first Tuesday of every month. For the Emerging Writer’s Festival, all six readings will be made available, but only one writer will be invited back as a future, featured Parlor guest. “If you want to be a serious writer, the thought is you have to go to New York,” MacKenzie says. “Is it giving up if you stay here? The Parlor says, ‘No!’” (Laura Hawbaker)