Evanston writers, poets, podcasters share works in progress at Bookends & Beginnings


Ashley Capoot/The Daily Northwestern

Nina Barrett, the owner of Bookends & Beginnings, introduces a Tuesday event titled “Literary Appetizers: A Taste of Works in Progress.” The event featured 10 writers, poets and podcasters who shared their pieces they have not yet finished.

Ashley Capoot, Reporter

Evanston residents gathered in the back room of Bookends & Beginnings on Tuesday to enjoy wine and cheese and listen to a group of writers share their “literary appetizers,” or works in progress.

Pam Ferdinand, a writer who lives in Evanston, organized the event, “Literary Appetizers: A Taste of Works in Progress,” with Nina Barrett, who owns the bookstore. The event gave local writers, poets and podcasters an opportunity to share snippets of their pieces they have not yet finished. Ten writers spoke at the event, and they each had seven minutes to share whatever work they wanted.

Ferdinand kicked off the evening by sharing her own piece she’s in the process of writing: a novel about a plane crash.

She said the evening was inspiring, and she hopes to host similar events in the future.

“There are so many writers in Evanston,” Ferdinand said. “Writing itself is so lonely, and it’s fine to do a book tour or reading once you have a published work, but actually to be able share your work in progress and to know there’s other people out there doing the same thing as you is really inspiring and motivating.”

Emily Skwish, an Evanston children’s book author, read a segment of her work at the event. Though she usually writes stories for young audiences, she is currently working on a choose-your-own-adventure romance novel.

Skwish said she comes to Bookends & Beginnings almost every weekend, so she enjoyed sharing her work at the store. Her piece had the audience roaring with laughter.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to put this work out in front of people,” Skwish said. “It’s something that is completely unfinished.”

Skwish said this was the first time she had read any of her works aloud at an event. She said she decided to share her novel at Bookends & Beginnings to push herself to share her work with an adult audience.

Skwish said that the event was impactful for her because she was able to meet new writers and hear a diverse body of works.

“It’s been great to hear all these other people,” Skwish said. “I’m acquainted with a few of them but not everybody, so it’s really fun to hear what everyone does. I think the variety is what makes it so fun for everybody.”

Another Evanston writer, Patricia Skalka, said she came to the event to support her colleagues and the bookstore itself. She said events like this are special because they can’t be replicated online.

Skalka said she tries to go to as many readings as she can because learns from listening to other people’s work.

“It’s a literary community,” Skalka said. “We’re all in it together. It’s inspiring to hear other people read. If you’re just there for entertainment, it’s enjoyable. If you’re there as another writer, it really benefits you because it’s inspiring.”

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