Spoken Word Paris and Paris Lit Up host expatriate writers, musicians, filmmakers, photographers and all other sorts at a broad range of Parisian events. I discovered this community while on sabbatical in 2012, and I’ve returned for varying lengths of time each year to participate.

Poems While You Wait is a group of Chicago writers and performance artists who write poems on demand at galleries and cultural events. Poems cost five dollars each, and all funds support a local publisher, Rose Metal Press. Some of my poems are available on the Tumblr page. Kathleen Rooney explains the group in an essay on the Poetry Foundation website.

Old Shoe is a five-piece Americana Roots Rock band based out of Chicago, Illinois. Made up of talented songwriters from across the country, hailing from as far away as Alaska, the band’s compositions paint a diverse landscape of American life. I participated in songwriting on Old Shoe’s third album, Family, which was named best of 2013 by Richard Milne, host of WXRT’s long-running program, Local Anesthetic.

Acme Hotel is an upcoming independent artist release by Old Shoe guitarist, Paul Priest. I wrote lyrics for some of the songs on this album, which will be released in 2016.

Founded by Dana NorrisStory Club Chicago is an intimate storytelling show that mixes the spontaneity of an open mic with the experience of live theater. I participated for several years as occasional featured performer. My favorite performances involved stories that were funny, local and told without a script in the style of The Moth theater.

The Friday Night Jam is a society of folks from all walks of life who meet weekly in Chicago’s south side to play music and commiserate. It was founded in 1976 by Chicago teacher, inventor and artist Viktor Simoneit and endures under the leadership of Viktor’s wife, Suzie. I learned my “cowboy chords” and found a strong community at the jam.