anthology Bare-Knuckled Lit: The Best of WRITE CLUB

Put 'Em Up: WRITE CLUB Throws Down with Their First Anthology, Bare-Knuckled Lit: The Best of WRITE CLUB

Thursday, February 05, 2015 Cora

The live lit phenomenon WRITE CLUB has collected twenty-four of their most stirring, irreverent, and punchy essays into a book, Bare-Knuckled Lit: The Best of WRITE CLUB. Edited by Lindsay Muscato and founder Ian Belknap with a foreword by Samantha Irby, the book is inspiration and motivation for writers who like to perform their work and a great night in for readers everywhere.

WRITE CLUB is the most competitive reading series in the country. “As a writer, performer, and audience member, WRITE CLUB is the confluence of all the aspects of art making that I love,” explains Belknap. “The plant-your-feet-and-counterpunch swagger of stand up; the take-no-prisoners elegance of lively minds attacking a topic; the brevity and brutality of a fight; the urgency of battling not only an opponent, but also the clock; the realness of the stakes.” As a writer who loves to perform her work (and is insanely competitive), just thinking about that gets my adrenaline pumping. It has tapped the primal instincts of writers everywhere, from the monthly show in Chicago at The Hideout to shows in Atlanta, LA, San Francisco, and more cities joining all the time. WRITE CLUB pits two writers against each other to defend sides of an argument. Belknap aims for a fair fight, saying he won’t pair “a proven gladiator [with] an untested noob”. Writers are assigned a topic three weeks in advance, opposing notions such as Rough vs Smooth, Prose vs Poetry, and Fate vs Free Will. When the clock starts, they have seven minutes to sway the audience. The audience decides the winner. In a rare case it’s too close to call, there’s an immediate do-over of crowd applause. “We thirst for brutal clarity of victors and losers,” Belknap says. The prize money goes to a charity of the winner’s choice.
Muscato and Belknap at The Hideout, Chicago Source: Write Club Website Belknap said the book accomplished many objectives. First, they wanted to introduce people to the show if they haven’t seen it. Second, they wanted to showcase the tone and style of the essays at the shows which he says are “dizzying in their variety”. He also wanted to represent the cities WRITE CLUB is in. Muscato and Belknap sought out bouts that were evenly matched. At the end of each chapter/bout, readers get to vote for their winner. Just reading the energy is infectious. The book really captures the “velocity and punch” of a show. It’s plain to see why the book has been so well received; it’s new and exciting. If you didn’t know an opportunity like this existed, but have been searching for it, this brave new world is enticing. As with many blood sports, the best way to gauge if WRITE CLUB is for you is to see a show.
“There have been people stoked to do it in theory then get a little freaked out by the bloodthirsty nature of the show in practice,” shares Belknap. “It is not for everyone.” What’s clear? First rule about WRITE CLUB: Bring it. For more about WRITE CLUB, visit writeclubnation.com For the book, visit The Book Cellar.

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