Hi again – Ian Belknap, Founder and Overlord of WRITE CLUB here. As you may have heard, very shortly CHF will be taking your submissions for bout topics for our fast-approaching shows at the Poetry Foundation. In order for you to make the best and most mighty suggestions, which will ensure the most maximally awesome show possible, here’s a couple things to keep in mind:
·It’s gotta be conceptually meaty. We’re not looking for a chicken wing of an idea – we’re looking for a leg of mutton. There should be an audible Fwomp! when it hits the table. For instance, Fire vs. Ice—even though these are each literal, also have considerable associative depth—they serve as potent symbols with great meaning that transcends their literal reality, in a way that Staple vs. Paper Clip, for instance, cannot hope to.
·They need to be equally matched. If one of an opposing pair is meaty and has heft, but the other does not, there’s no way for it to be a fair fight.
·They cannot violate the (just-now-made-up) Principle of No Forgone Conclusions—if a bout is between an idea that, on the face of it, is awesome, and an idea that is bogus, which do you think is more likely to prevail? A writer/performer of great craft can overcome this, obviously, but we believe all combatants deserve a fair shake. So Comedy vs. Tragedy, for example, would constitute a more fair bout than Love vs. Hate. Make sense?
·It should ring familiar—there should be precedent in the general-knowledge mind of the reasonably well-educated person. Made-up malarkey has no place, but just because a phrase is well-known does not render it a good bout. So Klingons vs. Romulans, for example, would not meet the general familiarity standard, nor does Hell vs. High Water constitute a satisfying opposition.
·They do NOT have to constitute a diametric opposition—polar opposites are swell, but two contrasting ideas that have sufficient weight, that ring familiar, and that are equally matched work perfectly well. Rock vs. Roll is not an opposition, Lock vs. Key is not an opposition, but both examples can constitute a fully satisfying bout.
·It cannot violate the (again, just-now-made-up) Law of Granularity. Too much specificity can render a topic difficult to write upon well, so Roots vs. Branches offers both sufficient clarity AND sufficient openness to render it an excellent bout, whereas Birch vs. Elm would not.
·Lastly, it must adhere to the (last time, just-now-made-up) Principle of No Borderless Expanses. As noted above, a degree of openness is critical. However, too much openness leads to a writer driven mad by limitless possibility. As such, Land vs. Sea would represent a more robust bout than would say Here vs. There.
We, the combatants set to square off during WRITE CLUB’s CHF shows, thank you in advance for your worthy suggestions, and vow to fight like banshees for your entertainment and edification.
517: Sun, Nov. 4 6:00 - 7:30 PM 602: Wed, Nov. 7 7:30 - 9:00 PM
Tags: Write Club, Ian Belknap, literature, literary events Chicago, cultural events Chicago, Chicago Humanities Festival