Baring it All

24 Feb, 2013

by Jenna Kashou

As an artist, putting your work out there can be as scary as standing on stage naked in front of a crowded auditorium. After all, as a writer, most of my work is done in private and a great deal of it formulates quietly in my own head. Luckily, there are groups in Milwaukee like the  Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) who recognize that creativity can sometimes be an isolating activity.

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I met MARN’s Operations Director Maggie Sasso at Gallery Night and convinced her that the Pfister could be a creative wellspring for writers involved with MARN. And just like that, the next monthly meeting of Writer’s Wednesday took place at the Pfister.

Writer’s Wednesday is group of people from Milwaukee’s literary community that “share their work and engage in critical discourse in a creatively nurturing environment.” Nurturing is the key word there. The delightful artist and storyteller Anja Notanja Seiger leads the group and provides thoughtful and constructive feedback, while making sure that all feel at ease and supported when sharing work.

Frog-throated and shaky-kneed, I shared an unpublished story, along with some of my favorite excerpts from Pfister stories. After each compliment, I countered with a “Yes, but do you think I need more of this…or that?”  To my relief, the other creative professionals in the room assured me I was being too critical of myself. And this is where the creative process really begins, with discourse and editing. This is what writers like me crave to be their best.

There were writers of all kind – poets, jingle writers, fiction writers and storytellers. Of the dozen partipants, more than half shared some form work, even if it was nothing but a work in progress or a recounting of dreams.

Anja was the last to share. She recited a love letter written to the Milwaukee arts groups, as part of MARN’s new campaign, I Heart Art.  Her coffee colored curls peeked out under her mustard wool cloche hat. Though minute in stature, she commanded our attention with her confident, erect posture like a solider , flowery language and clever puns, carefully woven into a story about young bride. She couldn’t help but give in to the chorus of giggles as people slowly grasped her jokes and allusions peppered throughout the letter. After a round of hearty applause, many of us were likely left thinking the same thing, “Yeah, why couldn’t I think of that!?” That’s the beauty of creativity – it’s a totally unique to each creator.


Donations and submissions are still being collected at MARN’s website for the I Heart Art campaign. If you do heart the arts in Milwaukee, be sure to show it! Sometimes a little push and reassurance is all you need.




About the author

Jenna Kashou

A Milwaukee native and freelance writer, Kashou has published in local publications such as Milwaukee Magazine, M Magazine and the Shepherd Express. Find her weekly adventures of city life as's ‘Girl About Town.’ Kashou earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in mass communications and Spanish, and a graduate certificate in digital storytelling from Marquette University. By day, she is a grant writer for Radio Milwaukee and has worked in the nonprofit sector in arts and education for 10 years. In her spare time, she enjoys dabbling in everything from being a DJ and photography to do-it-yourself deco, yoga and rock climbing.

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