6×6: A Light in the Dark features local writers

Local literary event fills Volume One Gallery

More stories from Rebecca Mennecke


Photo by Sam Farley

The room was overflowing with those from the literary community and beyond.

Twinkling Christmas lights and decorative trees adorned the interior of The Local Store; the scent of fresh pine hung sweetly in the air as individuals brushed through the door, bringing a wisp of brisk winter air inside with them. The Local Store employees pulled up chairs to compensate for the lack of room — a full house in the Volume One gallery.

The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild and Volume One teamed up for the fourth 6×6 Reading Series event which featured six writers and allowed them each six minutes to read their literary work. Once writers read their work, they are not permitted to participate in the event again.

“Everyone gets to be a star for one night,” said BJ Hollars, the executive director of the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild and English professor at UW-Eau Claire.

Ted Simpson, a former UW-Eau Claire student and 1987 graduate of economics, political science and history, said this opportunity allows for new and diverse work.  

“They bring together a wide variety of creatives with lots of different perspectives,” Simpson said. “It’s fun to see what people do with the themes.”

For this series, the writing theme was “A Light in the Dark.”

The six readers were Karen Loeb, Wilma Clark, Sandy Wagner, Frank Fucile, Lindsey Brandrup and Andrew Patrie. Each author took on the challenge of tailoring their writing to this theme.

Simpson said these writing exercises always pop.

“There’s always a surprise — something unexpected,” Simpson said.

Hollars said the 6×6 event started up while he sought to further the literary community of Eau Claire in a new way. After talking it over with others, he worked to transform the idea of the event into a reality.

“The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild is continually looking for ways to partner with people with great ideas,” Hollars said.

One such partner came in the form of Jan Carroll, who ran the 6×6 event with the CVWG, Hollars said.

“I’m sort of just the comic relief at this point,” Hollars chuckled.

A wide variety of individuals attended the event — from students in Hollars’ introduction to creative writing course to former professors of UW-Eau Claire.

Emily Linzmeyer, a fourth-year psychology student at UW-Eau Claire, said these events are important to the Eau Claire community because they support local writers.

“I would say people are focused on the work, but there is a kind of happy vibe — a fun vibe  — about it,” Simpson said. “It’s a social event — seeing other people who write.”

Kayla Harle, a second-year business finance student at UW-Eau Claire, agreed. She added that the environment of the event felt comforting.

“It’s definitely warm, welcoming to people who are into writing,” Harle said.

Although the event attracted many from the writing community, Hollars said the event draws in people from all backgrounds.

“It’s not just for writers,” Hollars said. “It’s for everyone.”

The next literary event that CVWG promotes is their Words & Waffles: A Night of Poetry event, which is 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 6 at SHIFT Cyclery & Coffee Bar. It will feature Chippewa Valley Technical College and UW-Eau Claire students and their literary work.

Mennecke can be reached at [email protected]