Back in the 1980s, my brother Jerry told me about a writer’s group that met every third Tuesday in Beverly at 107th and Hale. So I joined the group because I really enjoyed writing and reading my works for this group motivated me to write. I met a lot of interesting people and I always looked forward to every meeting.
One of the poets, introduced me to her sister who just by chance had married a Mexican whose last name was Navarrete, just like one of my aunts in Mexico. The poet’s sister just happened to be a commercial artist. Eventually, she drew a caricature of me for my comedian’s business card. I remember that she was afraid to show it to me because I might think that she was making fun of me. I really loved it! It was exactly what I wanted. I was always proud of my business card.
Elizabeth-Anne Vanek was the president of the group and she was a published poet. She was the heart, soul, and muse of the group. Without her, the group would have disintegrated. I also met Marc Smith before he became famous for his poetry slams at the Green Mill. He came to many meetings and would read his latest poetry for us.
I also remember Frida who came to every meeting religiously and listened to everyone’s work patiently and then commented with objective criticism. She was a writer who didn’t actually write anything. She couldn’t write anymore. Her muse had abandoned her.
I also brought my friend Tony Trendl from the Marquette Park Track Club for a couple of meetings. I must admit that I did the most writing in my life while I belonged to this group. It was then that I started writing for The Finish Line and the Illinois Runner. However, I never published any of my short stories that I read to the group. My writing improved immensely while I was a member of the Writer’s Desk.
And in another one of those cosmic coincidences that frequently occur to me. I now live right down the block from where the Writer’s Desk used to meet!