Greetings, CHF loyalist! My name is Ian Belknap, and I’m the Founder and Overlord of WRITE CLUB. Which is likely a thing you’ve not heard of and do not know. I’m here to change that. First the basics:
WRITE CLUB is quite simply a literary event that takes the form of a battle. The format is this:
Three Bouts of
Two Opposing Writers/Two Opposing Ideas (assigned in advance – Fire vs. Ice, for example, or Fate vs. Free Will)They get seven minutes each to read their original piece on their theme
Audience selects a winner in each bout
Cut of proceeds get donated to charities of the victors’ choosing
The tagline for WRITE CLUB:
Literature as blood sport. Prize money to charity.
Find out more here: writeclubrules.com
The show’s been running on a monthly basis in Chicago since 2010, and has since spread to four other U.S. cities (Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Athens, GA) and we launch in Toronto in October. We have interest in many other cities, as well.
Here’s how WRITE CLUB is a Trojan horse: the façade – the planking that makes the mane and flanks and so forth – is the rhetoric of combat; the structure of competition; the brash and belligerent style of it; and the gladiatorial who-lives-who-dies power wielded by its audience. It is also high-velocity, whip-smart entertainment with a wide appeal. This is its trick – this is how it’s spreading so fast despite its lack of any kind of marketing except for word of mouth and free social media.
But underlying this readily visible skin – the soldiers crouched in the belly of this horse, if you will, and the reason I believe that WRITE CLUB has been invited to perform as part of CHF – lies the real cunning of its design, the awesome and improbable-looking Leonardo gears that make it run. What WRITE CLUB really is: a battle between ideas; a forum in which we all get reminded that ideas are worth fighting for; and that conviction is something you build through effort and thought; and an arena in which to grapple with belief.
Likewise, the charitable donations that WRITE CLUB makes (a few thousand bucks so far – a drop in bucket, maybe, but for an all-volunteer army, it’s pretty great) embed the proceedings in a climate more meaningful than a mere popularity contest. To belabor the metaphor – this spirit of giving that underlies WRITE CLUB, this is our secret weapon – we are each of us fighting in a heightened and even ridiculous arena, but we do so for a cause.
We’re pleased to be included in the Chicago Humanities Festival this year, and hope to see you at the show.
602: Wed, Nov. 7 7:30 - 9:00 PM
Tags: Ian Belknap, Write Club, Chicago, literature, hideout chicago, literature as blood sport, Chicago Humanities Festival