The Furnace

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

Night-long Conversations and Getting “Deep” with Jeanine Walker

by Anca Szilagyi

In anticipation of our event featuring Jeanine Walker’s play “Polarities: A Verbatim Play in One Act,” I asked Jeanine a couple questions about eavesdropping and how memories are shaped over time. Join us live at the Hollow Earth Radio performance space on February 18 at 7 pm PDT or tune in online!

AS: Prior to “Polarities,” were you in the habit of transcribing dialogue, whether your own or eavesdropped? What kinds of things caught your teenage ear?

JW: I think I might have. I don’t have any other examples of it anymore, but I was really into conversation—a lot. My best friend (Minal, who’s mentioned in the play) and I used to have night-long conversations, which we taped with a little black tape recorder. We believed in our minds and recorded ourselves talking so that we wouldn’t miss whatever improvised idea arose from the collision of our words in the conversation. Nowadays, I love parties, mingling, and talking to people I’ve just met—a lot. Back then, I was really the opposite. I detested small talk, which I saw as useless, meaningless conversation, and I wanted to get “deep” with people as soon as possible. The kind of conversations I got into or paid attention to when I overheard them were inevitably ones that explored ideas. I always put it back into my writing.

AS: What was it like, coming back to this conversation, 22 years later? Had your memory of the scene transformed for you, over time? 

JW: It’s been a bit of a journey, I’d say. My brother and I grew up in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and now we both live in Seattle. It was interesting to read through it together for the first time several weeks ago. We couldn’t stop laughing. I think that was because we find parts of what we were saying funny, but even more than that, I think we laughed from the memory, and an overall appreciation for the people we were to each other then. Our parents divorced when I was 10 and Chris was 12; our older brother, Joe, was 15 and quickly got a part-time job and moved on to college, so he was taking care of himself. For Chris and me, our life with our parents was pretty tumultuous for a while, and we had to rely a lot on each other. Though we had separate friends and separate interests, we were kind of each other’s best friends, too. It was interesting to read this over with him and remember the ways in which, as teenagers, we were creative together and how we shaped our friendship, in particular how jokes (some of which we still tell) developed and stayed with us. Being reminded of this time has led me to explore that early relationship more deeply in some recent poems and an essay about some of the hidden benefits of divorce—namely, for me, a life-long close relationship with my brother. He’s awesome, I love him very much, and I feel grateful that we ended up living so close. Well, okay—I’m the younger sister—he moved to Seattle first. I followed. :-)


Excerpt from “Polarities” by Jeanine Walker

by Anca Szilagyi

Jeanine Walker

Jeanine Walker

We’re only two weeks away from our event featuring “Polarities” by Jeanine Walker! Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:

I’m no mood to eat a pocket.

I don’t feel like eating a pocket. Who wants to eat a pocket?

Join us live at Hollow Earth Radio or tune in online at on February 18, 7 pm PDT. As always, the event is free and chapbooks of “Polarities” will be available for $2.

February 18: Jeanine Walker

by Anca Szilagyi


Join us February 18, 7-8 pm for Jeanine Walker’s play “Polarities”, the first Furnace of 2015!

Teen siblings swat at flies, greet annoying classmates, drink milkshakes, and philosophize one night in 1993 at a Friendly’s in south central Pennsylvania. This encounter, transcribed verbatim by Jeanine Walker and her brother over twenty years ago will be brought to life with the aid of  multiple performers (yes, including the original brother) and live sound effects.

Jeanine Walker is the host of Cheap Wine & Poetry and Cheap Beer & Prose at Hugo House. Her poetry has been published in Cimarron ReviewCream City ReviewNarrativePageBoyWeb Conjunctions, and other journals. She has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston and for the past five years has been the manager of the Writers in the Schools Program at Seattle Arts & Lectures. Front woman of the Drop Shadows, she is co-founder of Buddy & Buddy Productions and host of Mixed Bag, their live, webcast variety show.

Join us live at the Hollow Earth Radio performance space, 2018 A E Union Street, or tune in at at 7 pm PST.

Connect to the event on Facebook.

Excerpt from “What Happened to Peace?” by Aaron Counts

by Anca Szilagyi

We’re excited to see Aaron Counts perform his story “What Happened to Peace?” with sound design by his son! Here’s a little taste of what’s in store this Wednesday night at 7:

 I watched each car inch forward towards the corner, where the man met the eyes of each driver with a wide smile and a nod. On corners like this, I usually sat comfortably anonymous behind the heavy tint on my windows, but this time I rolled down my window to get a better look.

See you at Hollow Earth Radio, 2018 A E Union Street, or tune in to at 7 pm PDT this Wednesday, October 22!

October 22: Aaron Counts

by Anca Szilagyi

10687125_912243298805357_1105335823175289808_n (1)
Please save the date for our fall 2014 event! On October 22 at 7 pm, Aaron Counts will read his story “What Happened to Peace” at the Hollow Earth Radio Performance Space, 2018 A E Union Street.

A chance encounter between a commuter and a panhandler takes a startling turn in Counts’ story “What Happened to Peace.” Aaron Counts  was recently selected by 4Culture to be a lead engagement artist for their Creative Alternatives pilot. He has written and read with professors, prisoners, dropouts & scholars. He is the co-author of the book length curriculum Reclaiming Black Manhood, and lecturer on the subject of race and social justice. Aaron is an artist-in-residence with the Writers-in-the-Schools program, and the lead artist with King County’s Creative Alternatives Program, which uses art to reduce the number of kids we lock away in detention. Aaron’s writing has recently appeared in Specter Magazine, Bestiary, Aldebaran Review and Rufous City Review, though his first publication was on an old Kenmore refrigerator on 7th Street in Yakima. He holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia.

Connect to the event on Facebook.

Excerpt from “Sweet Nothing” by Chelsea Werner-Jatzke

by Anca Szilagyi

Our third season kicks off next Thursday, August 21 with Chelsea Werner-Jatzke‘s Velvet Underground-inspired “Sweet Nothing,” a manifesto pamphlet about a fictional cult. Here’s a little taste of what you’re in for next week.

“Without choice the writer received, through their arrest records and interviews, over the course of two weeks, the truth presented here to guide all of us, alone.”
“So we say: Oh Sweet Nothing. We have nothing, nothing at all.”

Join us at Hollow Earth Radio’s performance space at 2018 E Union Street, or tune-in live here, on August 21, 7-8 pm PST!

August 21: Chelsea Werner-Jatzke

by Anca Szilagyi

10447836_869885856374435_4005484198034646084_nThe Furnace will launch its third (!) season with Chelsea Werner-Jatzke‘s “Sweet Nothing” on Thursday, August 21, 7-8 pm at the Hollow Earth Radio Performance Space, 2018 A East Union Street. Inspired by the Velvet Underground, “Sweet Nothing” is the chilling story of a fictional cult, told in the form of a manifesto pamphlet.

Werner-Jatzke was a 2013 Jack Straw Writer, is a 2014 EDGE Artist Trust Graduate, and a Ragdale Foundation Resident. She is co-founder of Till, an annual writing retreat at Smoke Farm in Arlington, WA and her work is actively appearing all over the place, near and far, such as: SpringGun Press, Pif, Psychopomp, Beecher’s Magazine, Pacifica Literary Review, and Extract(s).

Join us live at Hollow Earth or tune in online.

Connect to the event on Facebook.

City Arts Previews Brenda Miller’s Reading

by Anca Szilagyi

Brenda Miller is coming down from Bellingham tomorrow for your listening pleasure. Here is a lovely write up in City Arts 

Aside from her six Pushcart Prize-winning essays, her work as the editor in chief at The Bellingham Review and her day (and night) job of teaching creative non-fiction at Western Washington University, Miller is famous for coining the widely used term “the hermit crab essay.” – See more at:

See you tomorrow at 7 pm at Hollow Earth Radio, 2018 A E Union Street, or at

Excerpt from “We Regret to Inform You” by Brenda Miller

by Anca Szilagyi

We’re getting excited about Brenda Miller’s performance of  “We Regret to Inform You”! Originally published in The Sun, this memoir-in-rejection-letters explores the many “nos” we encounter in our lives and how we find or create for ourselves a yes. As a special touch, we’ve invited previous Furnace contributors such as Catherine Smyka and Nancy Kim as well as performers like Elissa Ball to participate in the reading of this piece.

Here’s a taste:

April 12, 1970
Dear Young Artist:
Thank you for your attempt to draw a tree. We appreciate your efforts, especially the way you sat patiently on the sidewalk, gazing at that tree for an hour before setting pen to paper, and the many quick strokes of charcoal you executed with enthusiasm. But your smudges look nothing like a tree. In fact, they look like nothing at all, and the pleasure and pride you take in the work are not enough to redeem it. We are pleased to offer you remedial training in the arts, but we cannot accept your “drawing” for display.
With Regret and best wishes,
The Art Class
Andasol Avenue Elementary School

See you Friday, May 9!

May 9: Brenda Miller

by Anca Szilagyi


On Friday, May 9, at 7 pm, Brenda Miller, hero of the essay, will read “We Regret to Inform You”, a memoir told through rejection letters that explores the many “nos” we encounter in our lives and how we find or create for ourselves a yes.

Brenda is the author of  five books including Season of the Body as well as the co-author of Tell it Slant: Creating, Refining, and Publishing Creative Nonfiction. The recipient of six Pushcart prizes, Miller is a Professor of English and Director of Graduate Studies at Western Washington University and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of The Bellingham Review.

Join us live at the Hollow Earth Radio performance space at 2018 A East Union Street or tune in at

Connect with the event on Facebook


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 441 other followers