In The Frunchroom: RHYTHM

As we mentioned, this edition of The Frunchroom features two educator/poets from Avalon Park—pure serendipity but a happenstance sure to bring a deep resonance to the evening as Rhonda Gholston rounds out our lineup for July 21st.

me againRhondapreferably known as RHYTHM, is a mother, Chicago Public School art teacher and visual performing artist.  She is a member of the performing artist group P.O.E.T.R.E.E. Chicago and has been performing her poetry for the last 17 years. P.O.E.T.R.E.E. presently has one album and one mixtape, respectively titled Positive Pollution and The Group Who Sat By The Door.  Those albums were created to combat the negative messages translated through present day hip hop.

RHYTHM’s main goal as a human being is to teach the children the truth and that is the journey her life has taken. RHYTHM and P.O.E.T.R.E.E. have also conducted artistic expression and anger management workshops that target at-risk youthimplementing literacy through the arts as a means of violence prevention and to obtain knowledge of self and history.

RHYTHM will read a poem and a story that encapsulates “a day in the life of South Side RHYTHM,” which is about her day and night living on the 111th & Peoria. See you on July 21st at 730pm at Beverly Woods.

Need a reminder about The Frunchroom? RSVP on our Facebook event. And be sure to follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.

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In the Frunchroom: Peter Nickeas

nickeaseReaders at The Frunchroom range from artists to business owners, from poets to reporters. Peter Nickeas is in that last category.

When asked to describe himself and his work, Peter says:

I cover breaking news and violence for the Chicago Tribune, where I have worked for almost five years. I live in Norwood Park with my wife and two dogs. I find joy in spending time outside with my wife, growing things and tending to our garden. 

You can read Peter’s work in the Tribune here and hear his story on July 21st at Beverly Woods at 730pm.

Need a reminder about The Frunchroom? RSVP on our Facebook event. And be sure to follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.


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In the Frunchroom: Bill Leslie

In each edition of The Frunchroom, we try to showcase many aspects of the South Side. But we also love telling stories about the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood where we live. On July 21st, Bill Leslie brings us just such a story – one steeped in his own upbringing.

LeslieBill has spent his entire life in the City of Chicago, except for a four-year stint at the University of Illinois in Champaign, which at the time was just considered a part of Chicago’s far south side.  He has moved all the way from St. Margaret of Scotland to St. Barnabas to St. John Fisher.  He has been published in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Reader, and was a weekly football correspondent for the Beverly Review in 1973, keeping the public informed on the exploits of his football team, the mighty 7th and 8th grade Buckeyes of St. Barnabas.

At Quigley Preparatory Seminary South, the image of Barbara Eden in her “I Dream of Jeannie” costume kept him from ever seriously considering a vocation as a Catholic priest. Yet after four years at the U of I, Bill thirsted for more Catholic education and attended DePaul Law School. He also studied improv comedy through the Second City, and once wrote a much better ending to a Saturday Night Live skit.

Bill then became a Senior Assistant Attorney General and realized his life-long ambition of marrying a Mother McAuley girl.  Along the way, he coached many youth sports teams, in baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball.  He is currently lawyering at Scannell and Associates on Western Avenue in Beverly.  Bill and his beautiful wife Marianne reside with three of their four kids in Beverly – one is off the payroll, thank God.

Bill will read a hyperlocal story – set on the square city block that comprises Sutherland Public School– about his adventures as a kid playing various forms of baseball there.

Need a reminder about The Frunchroom? RSVP on our Facebook event. And be sure to follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.

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In the Frunchroom: Kelly Norman Ellis

Other than stories by and about the South Side, we don’t do themes at The Frunchroom. But sometimes – more through happenstance than intention – we end up with motifs. Last time, we had two authors from Englewood. For the next Frunchroom on July 21st, we have two educators from the Avalon Park neighborhood. The first is Kelly Norman Ellis.

kellynormanellisKelly is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Chicago State University. She is Chairperson of the department of English, Foreign Languages and Literatures and the director of the MFA in Creative Writing program at CSU.

Kelly is also a poet whose work has appeared in Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry; Spirit and Flame; Boomer Girls; Essence Magazine; Obsidian; Calyx; The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South; PMS: Poem, Memoir, Story; Sou’wester;  Crab Orchard Review;  and Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action Writing. Her first collection of poetry Tougaloo Blues was published by Third World Press in 2003. She is co-editor with M.L. Hunter of Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on HIV/AIDS (Third World Press) and her second collection of poetry, Offerings of Desire (Willow Books), was published in 2012.  That same year Essence Magazine voted her one of their 40 favorite poets.

She lives in Avalon Park on Chicago’s South Side with her partner Kevin and their daughter Naomi Zora. Her piece will be about the experience of teaching at Chicago State University and the students she meets there. Please join us at Beverly Woods on July 21st at 730pm to hear Kelly and four other great readers at The Frunchroom.

Need a reminder about The Frunchroom? RSVP on our Facebook event page. And be sure to follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.

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In the Frunchroom: Leah Chibe

We’re a week away from our next event at Beverly Woods. Our friends at The Alliance are hard at work creating great art for the space, Lizzy and Jane are cooking up cocktail recipes and our readers are crafting thoughtful, funny and sharp essays about the South Side. Get caught up on what to expect July 21st as we introduce you to our first reader.

leahchibeLeah Chibe is a full-time parent/housewife with many interests and many strong opinions. She grew up in northern Michigan, loving the snow and dreading tourist season. When she went to Valparaiso University to major in geography, she met and fell in love with both her future husband (a native South Sider) and, later, the city of Chicago. After a short stay in Colorado, they realized they needed to be back in Chicago and spent a few years in Bridgeport before moving to Beverly before their first child was born. They now have three children who attend Sutherland: a nearly 10 year old girl, a 7 year old boy, and a nearly 6 year old girl.

Leah’s interests include photography, baroque choral singing, travel, language learning, and yelling about sports. She has been interested in alcoholic beverages since she first started getting the rye-soaked cherries from her grandfather’s Manhattans, and has been homebrewing beer alongside her husband Russ for 12 years.

Her opinions are generally strongest when they concern sports, feminism, Chicago Public Schools, and/or alcoholic beverages. To those ends, she’ll be reading a piece about sexism and beer at The Frunchroom on July 21st at 730pm.

Need a reminder about The Frunchroom? RSVP on our Facebook event. And be sure to follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.

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Volume VI of The Frunchroom: Moving to the Woods edition

New to The Frunchroom? Read a bit about what we’re all about.

If you follow us on Twitter, we’ve been teasing some big news for weeks. We’re really excited to finally reveal it now: With our July show, we begin a new chapter with a move to Beverly Woods Restaurant for future editions of our stories by, about and of the South Side of Chicago.

The next show will be 730pm on Thursday, July 21st at Beverly Woods (11532 S Western Ave.)

Frunchroovol_v6 (1)The Frunchroom continues to be produced in partnership with The Beverly Area Arts Alliance, the organization responsible for local arts events like The Beverly Art Walk, the Farmers Market Uprising Takeover and Local Art on Tap.

Longtime fans know that since we started, we’ve been given a warm and welcoming home at O’Rourke’s Office. But with our ever-increasing audience size (thanks!), a larger venue became a necessity. Sure, we loved being able to say it was a standing-room-only show. But we also know more of you might like to sit during the event.

The challenge was finding another place in the neighborhood that was bigger, but had a similar vibe – a sense of sitting around after dinner telling stories with friends and family. We’ve found that with Beverly Woods and the McGann family.

A neighborhood institution since 1954, Beverly Woods Restaurant will host Frunchroom events in its Caravan Room, which will feature retro-inspired, arts-driven decor created by Alliance members. In addition, Alliance board member and Horse Thief Hollow manager Lizzy Benner will guest bartend at Beverly Woods serving cocktails influenced by the South Side literary series.

One other small change: To further support the work of the Alliance and the Frunchroom expansion efforts, we’ll now ask for a five dollar donation at the door.

We’ve been free since we started and I still want this to be accessible for everyone. We want to continue to expand and do more for the neighborhood. As you know, we usually pass the hat during the show. Asking at the door keeps us from having to interrupt the flow of the readers to do it.

What expansion plans are we looking at for the future? Our next priority is finally launching a podcast. From there, I could see us doing additional themed events and incorporating music. It’s important to me that we keep what makes The Frunchroom great while reclaiming what it means to be of, by and about the South Side for the larger city.

With all that out of the way, the readers for July’s show are:

Leah Chibe 
Opinionated South Side beer drinker

Kelly Norman Ellis
Teacher, mother, poet, South Sider, southern woman 

Bill Leslie
Lawyer, catcher for the Ridge Beverly Minor League Champion Redlegs (1969-1970)

Peter Nickeas
Chicago Tribune reporter

Mother, art teacher, vegan, performing artist

For more on our move to Beverly Woods and our July show, read this article from DNA Info Chicago. Bios on our readers coming soon. See you on July 21st.

Press for our July event:

DNAInfo Chicago: The Frunchroom reading series moving to Beverly Woods Restaurant
Beverly Review: Frunchroom set for Beverly Woods

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Everything you need to know for the 1st anniversary Frunchroom show

Is it that spring has finally arrived? Is it our lineup of talented readers? Perhaps it’s because it’s our first anniversary show? Whatever the reason there’s a hum in the air about tonight’s Frunchroom.

Fuchroom_vol5Here’s everything you need to know. Even if you’ve been to The Frunchroom before, read on for updated info on where to park and where to eat.

Who are the readers?

Tim Baffoe
Sports columnist, high school teacher, pizza driver, Ginger

Elaine Hegwood Bowen

Bill Savage
Editor, writer, Northwestern professor

Angel Simmons
Author, speaker, ccolumnist, co-host of Do Not Submit – Englewood

Carrie Williams
Editor, Tribune Content Agency; Writer, Daily Southtown

What’s the time? 730pm

Where’s the place? O’Rourke’s Office (11064 S. Western Ave.)

Is it free? It is! But if you want to bring a few dollars to donate to the Beverly Area Arts Alliance (see why below) then everyone will think you’re smart and good-looking and generous.

Are there seats? Yes, but it’s limited. So get there early. Otherwise, wear shoes for standing.

Where do I park? Very important update: DO NOT park in the Leona’s lots. You can either use the lot at the muffler shop just north of O’Rourke’s or the lot just west of Waldo Cooney’s on 111th. Or there’s usually street parking available on Western or 111th.

How do I get there via transit? Take Metra’s Rock Island line to 111th St. Walk west toward Longwood then up the hill and keep going until you hit Western Avenue. Make a right and you’re there.

Where can I eat? Get to O’Rourke’s early and order in from Waldo Cooney’s or Barracco’s on 111th and you can get a 20% discount, plus they deliver right to the bar. Manzo’s Burgers is also nearby. If you don’t mind a walk there’s Home Run Inn Pizza up the street or Horse Thief Hollow for an after-show meal.

What are the stories like? Some are sincere, some are tongue-in-cheek. One may be a call-to-action, another might make you think. One might be historical, one might make you remember a place you haven’t been since childhood. Basically, like having a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in a while. You can listen to stories from our first event here.

Who’s helping you with this? I’m producing this in partnership with The Beverly Area Arts Alliance (or The Alliance, for short). They’re a great non-profit and you should check out some of their other upcoming events including tomorrow’s Earth Day celebration at Horse Thief Hollow: enjoy live music from 6-8pm. Anyone who rides a bike to HTH and posts a photo of it in front of the restaurant to the HTH Facebook page will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate. Plus, the next Beverly Art Walk will be October 1st so save that date!

A big thanks to Monica Wilczak, Sal Campbell, David Barsotti, Chris Wilczak and Lizzy Benner who’ve given this event material, financial and moral support. And a huge thanks to O’Rourke’s Office for hosting us. (Thank them by purchasing beverages and tipping profusely.)

And, of course, huge thanks to all our readers and, in advance, to you for coming.

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