The Furnace

One Writer. One Story. Read to completion (with vigor).

Chelsea Werner-Jatzke on Structuring a Story after a Song

by Anca Szilagyi

As we prepare for The Furnace Says Goodnight, Kyle Getz is interviewing Furnace contributors about their past performances. Next up is Chelsea Werner-Jatzke! Please join us at Hollow Earth Radio on Friday, December 2 at 8 pm for a special collaborative performance and party. Without further ado:

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Photo: Daniel Carrillo

KG: How did you approach the selection and presentation of your work given the Furnace’s format of both a live and radio audience?

CWJ: I started examining intersections of audio and literature in 2013 while I was a Jack Straw writer. It was during my year there that I wrote “Sweet Nothing” as part of what was originally going to be a collection of stories using the form of a mix tape. Like key changes in a song, I am concerned with how emphasis and stress change meaning. The song “Oh, Sweet Nothing” is a great example of this for being lyrically repetitive. I knew I wanted to present “Sweet Nothing” in The Furnace’s format because it would embody the two strong interests I had—to distribute “Sweet Nothing” in a pamphlet-esque format (the piece is a manifesto, the first piece of literature from this fictional cult) and to incorporate the song that I wrote the story to. I’m not sure many people make the connection to The Velvet Underground just reading the story, even though I feel it is overt since the characters are the main actors in the song lyrics and the structure follows the verse, chorus, and bridge structure of the song very closely. I was really excited by the idea of emphasizing the connection to the song by including the audio in the reading. The hope I had for the live and radio audience was that they would feel sort of indoctrinated into this cult. Ideally I would love for this cult to exist outside of my fiction and gain followers.

KG:Looking back on your experience with the Furnace, what stands out most to you?

CWJ: The willingness of the Furnace and Hollow Earth Radio to go the distance stands out to me. I love the design of the chapbook, on one page Corinne took a single sentence, “So we say: Oh sweet Nothing. We have nothing, nothing at all,” and visually layered and faded it in a way that I feel really captures the way the song works and specifically the effect of the audio alongside the reading I gave. Something that the Furnace reading made me more aware of and that I’m still working on (and will likely always be working on) is the performative aspect of not just readings, but also the act of writing.

Catherine Smyka on Getting Lost in the Moment

by Anca Szilagyi

As we prepare for The Furnace Says Goodnight, Kyle Getz is interviewing Furnace contributors about their past performances. Next up is Catherine Smyka! Please join us at Hollow Earth Radio on Friday, December 2 at 8 pm for a special collaborative performance and party. Without further ado:

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KG: How did you approach the selection and presentation of your work given the Furnace’s format of both a live and radio audience?

CS:I tried to find a story that folks could relate to. And my sound designer Stephen [Anunson] and I tried to find music that would take folks into their own memories. Their own first loves. Their own silly decisions. Their own experiences getting lost in the moment, forgetting common sense, and just going for it.

KG:Looking back on your experience with the Furnace, what stands out most to you?

CS:Hearing the story unfold all around me. I’ve done storytelling with The Moth for the last four years, and love the rush of speaking in front of a live audience. But when I heard the music and sounds accompany my story as I spoke the words out loud – it gave me the chance to experience the story all over again.

 

Christine Texeira on Getting the Right Mood

by Anca Szilagyi

ChristineTexeira (1)As we prepare for The Furnace Says Goodnight, Kyle Getz is interviewing Furnace contributors about their past performances. Next up is Christine Texeria! Please join us at Hollow Earth Radio on Friday, December 2 at 8 pm for a special collaborative performance and party. Without further ado:

KG: Your piece, “Immanent Ghosthood,” features a father and daughter playing Mortal Kombat together. Why was this the right game for your characters to play at this moment in their relationship and in your story?

CT: Elle, the character that I follow through many stories, is very young in “Immanent Ghosthood.” Elle’s relationship with her father is something that floats dimly through most of her life. His presence is more ghostly, not physical — really only present in memories of these younger moments. There is something aggressive in absence that I had trouble conveying in stories with an older Elle. So, I had to go back and really put the physical father on the page. I remembered playing Mortal Kombat at that age. I remembered the strange, terrified movements of the characters in the opening screens as you choose your fighter. It reminded me of that anxiety I knew the older Elle was feeling in her other stories. In some ways the two of them playing the game is too on the nose. But it’s all in the way Elle remembers it. It’s really an oblivious attempt at connection from her father, somehow kind. But as the narrator tells it, through Elle’s memory, it stretches and contorts to reflect their future relationship. I always feel a little meanness with this story. Like I’m trying to tell Elle something awful that she doesn’t need to know just yet.

KG: You mentioned before your reading that you learned sound editing to get the Mortal Kombat effects that played along with your work. What was the process like for you? Did you find any parallels to fiction editing?

CT: Doing the sound editing was an excited and frantic process. I can certainly find parallels to fiction writing. I had a vision of exactly what I wanted it to sound like in the end, then proceeded to fail immensely at reaching that goal. Over and over. Layering and stripping sounds, all trying to get to the right mood. I imagine this first experience with sound editing is similar to my first attempt at writing a story. It was what it was but I look back on it with immense confusion. Where did that come from?

Lacey Jane Henson on the Use of Sound Effects in Fiction Readings

by Anca Szilagyi

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As we prepare for The Furnace Says Goodnight, Kyle Getz is interviewing Furnace contributors about their past performances. Next is Lacey Jane Henson! Please join us at Hollow Earth Radio on Friday, December 2 at 8 pm for a special collaborative performance and party. Without further ado:

KG: You performed “Trigger” with added sound effects for The Furnace. Did you always imagine sound effects accompanying the piece as you wrote it? What was the process of developing the sound like?

LJH: I only imagined the sound effects after I got the invitation to read at The Furnace. I listen to a lot of radio, so I was kind of thinking of it like a radio play. I used the sound effects to help illustrate shifts in time and place, as well as for dramatic emphasis. First, I scored the story and edited it a bit, and then my friend Brian Cervino, who’s a musician, helped me bring the effects to life. I loved revisiting the story in this way, and was really happy with how the sound enhanced the performance.

KG: How did it feel to include other readers in your performance? How did change the work and the performance for you?

LJH: It was so much fun to have the other readers with me. I get a lot of stage fright, and having fellow performers up there with me really eliminated that. It was also so great to see my work actually performed by someone else–as fiction writers we rarely, if ever, get to have that experience.

Buffy Aakaash on Poetry & Theater

by Anca Szilagyi

buffyAs we prepare for The Furnace Says Goodnight, Kyle Getz is interviewing Furnace contributors about their past performances. Next up is Buffy Aakaash, whose radio play “Last Night at Manuela’s” was generously supported by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. Please join us at Hollow Earth Radio on Friday, December 2 at 8 pm for a special collaborative performance and party. Without further ado:

KG: You mentioned during your Q&A that you feel poetry and theatre share a metaphorical element. Can you talk about what this play, “Last Night at Manuela’s” represents to you?
BA: “Last Night at Manuela’s” was inspired by a poem I wrote called “Manuela’s Kitchen,” which was self-critical of my jaunts to Mexico, specifically one visit to a small palapa-style seafood restaurant run by an old woman named Manuela. Her son was a fisherman. Looking back on the experience I saw elements of myself as the annoying American tourist. But I also saw where beyond the clashing cultures there was a place we came together, and learned from each other. So, the poem was also in praise and in favor of a cultural intermingling that reveals the spirit that ties us all together, through laughter and sensual experience. I think that carried over nicely into the play. For the play to work, I had to find compassion for myself to avoid stereotyping the two main characters. So, the characters discovering and benefiting from an aspect of another culture they’d never experienced is an expression of self discovery in support of having compassion for oneself, and points to what can be learned when we step out of our cultural boxes.

KG: Looking back on your experience presenting your work at the Furnace, what stands out most to you?

BA: I could have done more to make “Manuela” into a radio play. I was concerned about maintaining the integrity of the stage play, but there are certain visual elements that needed to be understood. Fleshing out those visual aspects required the addition of either sounds or new lines for the characters. So, I guess what fascinated me most about the “Furnace” experience was the adaptation of a stage play for radio. It’s something I’d never had to do, but I enjoyed the challenge and the opportunity to think about the play in a new way. I also remember how I love working with actors on my own work, something that is generally frowned upon in the theater.

Brenda Miller on Bringing Multiple Voices to Life

by Anca Szilagyi

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As we prepare for The Furnace Says Goodnight, Kyle Getz is interviewing Furnace contributors about their past performances. Next up is Brenda Miller! Please join us at Hollow Earth Radio on Friday, December 2 at 8 pm for a special collaborative performance and party. Without further ado:

KG: At The Furnace, you invited several other readers to read your piece, “We Regret To Inform You,” along with you. During the Q&A, you mentioned this experience was “blowing your mind.” Reflecting back on your reading, which was over two years ago, how do you feel about that experience today?

BM: I still remember it quite fondly as one of the best ‘readings’ ever! Rarely does a writer have the opportunity to hear her words in someone else’s voice, so the performance of “We Regret to Inform You” (which was written in the form of rejection notes) really brought the piece to life in a way that no other medium could do. Since each ‘note’ was meant to have a slightly different voice, the essay was perfect for this kind of collaborative performance. I really enjoyed the camaraderie, and the thoughtful care each participant brought to the work. Thank you for having me a part of The Furnace.

 

Rae Diamond on the Musicality of Language

by Anca Szilagyi

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As we prepare for The Furnace Says Goodnight, Kyle Getz is interviewing Furnace contributors about their past performances. Next up is Rae Diamond! Please join us at Hollow Earth Radio on Friday, December 2 at 8 pm for a special collaborative performance and party. Without further ado:

KG: The sound that accompanied your piece, “Three Songs,” added a new level of depth, such as when you used the phrase “perfection of silence,” while a note played in the background. Can you describe your creative process and how you combine words and sound in your work?

RD: Words, sound and music are intrinsically interrelated in my mind. I explore this inherent interrelation by speaking and singing words slowly and repeatedly until I lose all sense of their meaning. I also consider the roots of words and the sounds of those ancient words-within-the-word. In addition to adding nuances of meaning, roots of words interest me because older languages were overtly musical – lilting with song-like shifts of pitch. The English language has traveled far from its musical roots, and I harbor a deep curiosity about creating a new experience of musicality in our language. I hear this potential as percussive and angular rather than the soothing lullaby quality of Old English. I seek a musical language of matured beauty.

KG: What experience did you want to create for the Furnace audience in person and on the radio with your piece?

RD: I wanted to cast a benevolent spell of understanding over the audience by immersing them in a soundscape that expressed deeper layers of the many strands of thought that interlaced through the essay. I wanted the listeners to be initially surprised and then comforted by the world the words and sounds wove, so that when the piece ended the “normal” world of straight speaking without sonic augmentation would feel strange, like stepping on dry land after spending some hours on a boat.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore on Vulnerability in Writing

by Anca Szilagyi

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As we prepare for The Furnace Says Goodnight, Kyle Getz is interviewing Furnace contributors about their past performances. First up is Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore! Please join us at Hollow Earth Radio on Friday, December 2 at 8 pm for a special collaborative performance and party. Without further ado:

KG: Before your reading, you said that you already liked the crowd because “the only terrible audience is the dead audience.” How did the live audience and radio broadcast of The Furnace influence your reading?

MBS: Yes, it was a lively audience, right from the beginning, which is not always the case. I always pause when audiences get particularly loud, to let everything sink in, but other than that it doesn’t change my delivery, I don’t think. But, it changes how I’m feeling—it makes me feel the resonance of my work, it gives me energy, so I’m not the only one producing the momentum. And then, afterwards, I feel enlivened instead of drained, which is how I feel when I read for an audience that doesn’t really respond. Sometimes a quiet audience is responding, and I find out afterwards, and that’s great too, but there’s nothing that beats the immediacy of interaction with a louder, more boisterous crowd.

KG: “The Freezer Door” ended with the idea of taking risks. When you share very personal stories, like you did at The Furnace, does this feel like a risk to you? Does it come naturally for you?

My goal with my writing is to be as vulnerable as possible. This helps me to feel like I can go on living, by telling everything, and not dying right then. That’s the fear, right, when you share something particularly vulnerable, that suddenly you won’t be able to go on living anymore. But for me it’s the opposite.  I need to be vulnerable in order to survive.

The Furnace Says Goodnight

by Anca Szilagyi

final-facebook-coverFriends! After a four-year run the Furnace will say goodnight. We are so grateful to the Seattle literary community. Join us on December 2nd, 8-10 pm at Hollow Earth Radio, 2018 A E Union St, or listen online live at hollowearthradio.org

Party Details:

A performance of a single story
-Furnace writers are at work writing individual pieces that Corinne and Anca will weave into a single story and performed by the writers below, who we know you love.

Music Performances:
– Previous collaborators perform music
WINDOWS95SECONDEDITION (as seen with Anastacia Renee Tolbert)
The Shtick Figures (as seen with Lisa Nicholas Ritscher)

Contributing Writers and Performers:
Chelsea Werner-Jatzke
Lacey Jane Henson
Jeanine Walker
Catherine Smyka
Rae Diamond
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Alan Sincic
Lisa Nicholas-Ritscher
Aaron Counts
Nancy Jooyoun Kim
Anastacia Tolbert
Buffy Aakaash
Christine Texiera

Corinne and Anca love you forever but we are in our 30s and need to finish our books.

The series often gave a platform to writers who were not yet properly recognized in Seattle who then went on to become mainstays at other literary events. The series also gave a few well-known area writers the opportunity to innovate how they perform their work. With a desire to create a larger literary community, The Furnace invited readers from outside Seattle, such as essayist Brenda Miller from Bellingham, Kathlene Postma from Portland and Alan Sincic from Florida. Hollow Earth’s broadcast of each event created a new accessibility to readings that some people might not be able to attend and reached listeners across the country.

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About The Furnace

The Furnace Reading Series is a quarterly event that highlights one prose writer at a time. The Furnace is performed in front of a live audience and broadcast online at Hollow Earth Radio in an effort to integrate an ever spreading community. To complete the experience, audience members can hold the story in their hands with a professionally designed chapbook of the performer’s work.

Furnace History
Anca Szilagyi: August 2012 More Like Home Than Home
Buffy Aakaash: October 2012 The Last Night at Manuela’s
Rae Diamond: January 2013 Three Songs
Kathlene Postma: May 2013 Fetch
Lacey Jane Henson: August 2013 Trigger
Catherine Smyka: October 2013 Don’t Mess With Straight Girls
Nancy Jooyoun Kim: February 2014 My Piles
Brenda Miller: May 2014 We Regret To Inform You
Chelsea Werner-Jatzke: August 2014 Sweet Nothing: A Manifesto
Aaron Counts: October 2014 What Happened to Peace?
Jeanine Walker: February 2015 Polarities
Lisa Nicholas-Ritscher: May 2015 Fake Books
Alan Sincic: August 2015 (in partnership with Big Fiction and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture) Sugar
Anastacia Tolbert: October 2015, The City
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore: February 2016, The Freezer Door
Christine Texeira: May 2016 Immanent Ghosthood

Excerpt from “Immanent Ghosthood” by Christine Texeira

by Anca Szilagyi

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The final reading of the Furnace’s fourth season is next week! We’re excited to feature fiction from Christine Texeira. Here’s a taste of “Immanent Ghosthood,” which tells the story of a young girl, her father, their game of Mortal Kombat, and the mysterious sense of loss that between them hums:

He drove slowly and lit a cigarette. Elle worried about what might seep into the car through the window he rolled down. But only the smoke went out. It was like his ghost, willfully blown out over the water. It sunk down to the bottom, back to where there was dry dirt and foundation stone, and then emerged again from the river. The smoke then in the watery form of a man, dripping from his white button-up, pens in his chest pocket leaking and mixing, his glasses large and impossible to see through. Elle watched this form of her father sink back behind the railings of the bridge, allowing her eyes to refocus and hear the heaving breaths of the real watery man beside her.

Join us May 18 at 7 pm at Hollow Earth Radio, 2018 A East Union Street, or tune in online at hollowearthradio.org.