It was inside the Magpie Taproom near Dundas and Bathurst Streets on Jan. 30 where the first Speakeasy Reading Series of 2014 was hosted by Guelph-Humber’s Master of Creative Writing program.
Eufemia Fantetti stood on a tiny corner stage next to an old piano, antique lamps and trinkets decorated the walls while a single spotlight projected colour-changing light on the scene.
Fantetti read an excerpt from her book of collected short stories, A Recipe For Disaster & Other Unlikely Tales of Love.
The excerpt she read was not about easy subject matter, though. For example, “Punch Drunk” is a short story about loss, longing and love between a father and son.
But Speakeasy provides a warm environment.
“It helps to build community and provides an opportunity for current students, past alumni and other featured writers to showcase their talents,” said Meaghan Strimas, the fine art program’s administrator.
The Speakeasy series usually features one first year student, one second year student, one alumnus, and a featured writer. Only two writers could make it to this Speakeasy, Fantetti and Leanne Milech, a student in the program.
Fantetti is an alumna and co-founded the Speakeasy Reading Series in September 2010 with Ayelet Tsabari, while they both attended the Creative Writing MFA program. “An audience gives you an immediate gauge on whether the work is working or not,” she said.
Alexa Enemark, 26, event organizer for Speakeasy and first year student in the MFA program, expressed an outlook similar to Fantetti’s.
“Fiction writers want to hear if their beats are falling where they want them to, if people are being affected at the right moments,” said Enemark.
“Reading is a really good process and it’s necessary that writers know how to do it,” she said.
However, some writers can find presenting their work excruciating.
“I think a lot of writers are introverted and shy so it’s very nerve-wracking,” said Danica Fogarty, 26, event organizer for Speakeasy and second year student in the MFA program.
Fogarty read her poetry at Speakeasy last year.
“(Speakeasy) is a really safe space with your friends and your schoolmates. It’s pretty comfortable in that way,” she said.
Although a writer’s primary goal is to create written work for others to read, performing their work can add extra layers to a story.
“There’s something about the energy that (a writer) can put behind (reading their work) and the feeling they can bring to each word,” said Strimas. “It can be amazing.”