Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Poets! Don't miss this opportunity to work on your poems.

The Practice of Poetry

Led by Beatriz Gartler. Eight sessions, 10 am - noon.
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Saturdays, February 24 - April 14
10 am - noon

Cost and Registration Information

Early Registration Price (January 9 at 10 am – January 26 at 4 pm): $250
Regular Registration Price (January 26 at 4 pm – first day of class): $275
Members, seniors, and students get a 10% discount.

Seminar Description

Like any form of art, poetry requires practice. It needs curiosity, determination, a willingness to learn from others, and an open mind. In this workshop we will learn from published poets and each other. Writing is a solitary act but working with others helps us master the elements of language—to feel the line, the image, the metaphor, the play of sound. Eight sessions.
Beatriz Badikian-Gartler has been teaching writing and literature for over thirty years in the Chicago area and elsewhere. She’s the author of two poetry volumes, a novel, and numerous essays and reviews.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


See the World, Write the Story: Crafting the Travel Essay

Led by Beatriz Gartler. Six sessions, 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Thursdays, September 28 - November 2
5:45 - 7:45 pm

Cost and Registration Information

Early Registration Price (by September 1): $210
Regular Price (after September 1): $231

Seminar Description

The world is becoming smaller and smaller; more people traverse the globe today than ever before. From spending a weekend in a nearby town to flying clear across to the other side of the world, we move around with relative ease and a great deal of delight (or despair). Writing about our experiences can prolong the excitement and sense of wonder that the journey brought us. We can also, in this way, share it with others. Sometimes our audiences may recognize familiar places and names, other times they may have never been there but will visit, if nothing else, vicariously through our writing. Six sessions.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


This past week David and I attended the Traverse City Film Festival in Traverse City (of course), Michigan. I was very impressed with the city itself: friendly beaches, fun downtown streets, loads of cafes and restaurants, and the lake. The gorgeous, blue lake. We had some great meals and saw nine films. Here they are in chronological order:

I, Daniel Blake: one of my favorites, an English film about the difficulties of the working poor to get unemployment benefits, health insurance, a decent job. The acting was superb, the plot very moving. I recommend it.

The Salesman: an excellent Iranian film by the director of A Separation, this is David's favorite. Another terrific acting job with thriller qualities about a couple of actors who suffer a big trauma. The wife is attacked in her own apartment and the husband is obsessed with finding out who did it, more for him than for her I believe.

Things to come: a French film with Isabelle Huppert about the passing of life and the coming of death. I think of it as a film about nothing but still enjoyed it. David liked Huppert.

The Distinguished Citizen: an Argentine film about a writer who hasn't lived in Argentina for forty years but writes about his hometown. One day he decides to return when he's invited and all hell breaks loose. Funny and tragic.

Afterimage: a Polish film about the painter Wladyslaw Strzeminski directed by Andrzej Wajda (his last film). I liked it a lot because I enjoy history and, especially that time of history in Europe - the 1950s. There are some unbelievably sad scenes like when the painter licks a plate of soup after the landlady has thrown the soup into the pot because he can't pay. Hunger is the saddest thing.

Cause of death: unknown: a documentary by a Norwegian filmmaker about her sister who died from use of antipsychotic drugs. This is a powerful critique of the pharma industry, their methods, their lack of integrity, and their love of profit. I highly recommend it.

The Young Karl Marx: a German-Belgian-French co-production about the early years of Marx when he met Engels culminating with the writing of the Communist Manifesto. I enjoyed the biographical nature of this film. Very well acted.

The Hippopotamus: an English comedy about a famous poet who goes on a quest to find out if a young man in the country is really a miracle-worker. Very funny. Good lines.

At the end of the tunnel: an Argentine film about a group of people who dig a tunnel to a bank vault next door to a house occupied by a paralyzed man who likes to tinker with computers. Not for the faint of heart.

Friday, July 14, 2017


     Yesterday was the first time in my year-long interpreting experience that I had to tell a woman she probably has breast cancer.

     She listened, nodded, and then started to cry. Quietly.

     The doctor handed her a tissue and said: We know this is too much to handle right now but you are in a good place here and we will take care of you (or something like that).


Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Are you looking for a writing group to share your work and get feedback?

Join us! We meet every two weeks. Our next meeting will be August 14 at 4 pm at Colectivo cafe on the corner of Clark and Deming. Amazing new cafe: we can sit inside or outside (if it's not raining).

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Flash fiction

            You’re listening to the radio while you shave. You like to listen to the news in the morning while you shower, shave, get dressed, get ready to go to work. To that excruciatingly boring job you’ve been going to for the last 23 years. Faithfully. Never missed a day except for one week when they took out your gallbladder. Every day, five days a week, fifty weeks a year. The other two you have vacation but you seldom go anywhere, preferring to stay home and clean the gutters, sweep the garage, rearrange your tools, paint the banisters and window casements.
            You’re listening to the radio like every morning when the announcer says a fire has destroyed the corporate offices of Longman and Schuler. The fire started early this morning, sometime between 4 and 5 a.m.  Startled you cut yourself. What do you do now? Call somebody? Your supervisor? The announcer goes on to say that there isn’t any news yet how it started. What’s your supervisor’s home phone number? You always said I should keep it in my wallet but never got around to it.
            You’re listening to the radio when you realize you have no job to go to this morning. After 23 years of mornings and afternoons at the office, your day is free, open in front of you with innumerable possibilities. What should I do? You ask yourself and then decide, suddenly, to do nothing.
            You will not call your supervisor. You will not go to the office to see what happened. You will not finish shaving. You will not get dressed. You will go back to bed and sleep until you can’t sleep anymore. Then you’ll get up again, have breakfast or lunch (depending on the time) and you’ll read the newspaper in your pajamas. You’ll do nothing for the first time in 23 years.

            It pays to listen to the radio.

Friday, September 2, 2016

You're moving into a new house: Flash fiction


            You’re moving into a new house. Not your idea really. More like your wife’s. She nagged and nagged til you gave in. You’re such a softie. At work, at home, on the train, at the gym. You’re the nice guy.
            You’re moving into a new house tomorrow. Still have to finish packing. A bunch of boxes sits on the floor in the attic. They’re empty. You are in the middle. You have to figure out what to take to the new home, what to toss out in the trash. It’s so hard to choose. You’d like to take everything but your wife said “there is no room for all that junk, just pick a few things and throw out the rest.” And you said, “ok dear.”  
            You’re moving into a new house where there is no room for too many memories. You look around and start from the corner bookcase stuffed with yellowing books from high school and college, even your term papers. I guess I can toss that stuff you think. And begin to page through papers and books. Suddenly you hear your wife’s voice. “Dinner is ready! Are you up there?” You don’t answer. “Dinner is ready,” she repeats. “Come down right now.” Dinner is ready? you ask yourself. What time is it? How long have I been up here?

            You’re moving into a new house tomorrow morning and at this pace you won’t be done til next year. Still haven’t decided what to take and what to pitch. So hard to stuff your life in a big, black trash bin in the alley. “I hope you’re done with all that.” She places a steaming plate of spaghetti with red sauce in front of you. You stare at the spaghetti silently. Then say “Sure, I’m done.  I’m all done.”