New at the WSSD Gallery: The Enigma of Arrival, Prints by Amanda Wieczorek

Looking closely you will discover that each moment is not fragile and fleeting as you once had thought. You will discover that each moment is lasting and something you will long for. You will ache for it. There is a cyclical logic to this universe – every beginning is a sequel.

The Enigma of Arrival, one part of a trilogy featuring image/text prints by Michigan based artist, Amanda Wieczorek, explores the pertinent obscurities of the human condition. Each image & text pairing presents an intriguing dichotomy between the individual and the universal. The small typed blocks of verse communicate a singular voice, illustrating a private, informal reflection on the fleeting natures of consciousness, memory and experience. The accompanying images, visually dominated by imagery of circles – a primordial symbol of time experienced through life and death, are quiet. These orbs appear in some as immense celestial planets, eclipsing each other, or hang singularly in black, vast space. Others occupy ethereal water worlds as micro-cellular globules. Images and text combine to appear as pages within a larger book – a fragmentary narrative exploring the self, experienced as an intimate dialog between the narrator (presumably the artist) and viewer.


When reflection sets in it does not disappear. We are strangers to ourselves. Something is always missing. The night sky, in its boundless space, spreads silence further than any of us. Fiction is no stranger than truth.

Wieczorek’s complex layering of material and color demonstrates her incredible craft. Her prints parallel the delicate handcrafted pages extracted from medieval Books of Hours, combining text and detailed, though often minimal, imagery. These illuminated manuscripts were customarily used as private objects of devotion, calling attention to the object quality of the work. The Enigma of Arrival is a body of work  best enjoyed in person to appreciate the quiet, yet powerful relationship between object and image experienced through an intimate dialog between narrator and viewer.

Check out The Enigma of Arrival at the Westside School for the Desperate now through mid-June.

Pressed 4 Ca$h: Four sensational representatives from the local scene perform to support Desperate Press

Spare some change, get some change! The West Side School for the Desperate is holding its 2nd annual fundraiser show to benefit our newest & most exciting venture, Desperate Press! Beyond that, this show is also a unique opportunity for us to switch it up and bring you four of Chicago’s best and brightest talents from four different scenes. Featured sets by

PAUL KARNER – musician. You may know him as the sultry doorman of Cole’s Bar, but did you also know that Paul Karner is a prolific guitarist and activist? Karner is the frontman to Ragged Claws and the former frontman of Braille. He also is the founder of Carrefour Collaborative, a non-profit organization to benefit the young musicians of Haiti. His songs have been featured on Daytrotter and in the Fey 7” Series along such giants as Bon Iver and Thao Nguyen. Karner’s got a big heart, and an even bigger… guitar case. What did you think I was going to say?

CHRIS TERRY – fiction writer. Coming all the way from Columbia College, you may know Chris Terry as the bamf prez of the Black Student Union, but he’s also a co-founder of the Neutron Bomb punk rock reading series. Let’s see how his punk sensibilities translate to the DIY aesthetic of the West Side!

BEN CLARK – poet. Ben Clark will also be repping the wizard-like beard community of Chicago. Clark is an MFA candidate in creative writing at SAIC, the author of “Reasons to Leave the Slaughter,” and a certified Write Bloody Artist. A prolific national touring sensation, this will be Clark’s first reading back in Chicago from his stint in Texas!

KEITH ECKER – essayist. Ecker is the curator of one of Chicago’s most unique reading series, Essay Fiesta! He has a reputation for transforming the non-fiction genre into side-splitting and sagacious performance. Ecker is also a veteran of Chicago’s improv comedy scene with credentials from both Second City and Improv Olympics. Not to mention he’s an incredibly snappy dresser.

plus a sorbet of even more local talent!

If you’re still not convinced that this is going to be a mind-blowing unison of nerdy badassery, please note that by attending this event, you’ll be benefitting Desperate Press, a new small press geared for young & emerging artists. Your generosity will help fund future projects including two manuscript contests, one for poets under 30 and another for poets under 20, in addition to The Desperate Reader, an anthology of core desperado poets.

YOU GOT TOLD! Announcing a new quarterly storytelling collab

MOTHERGIRL and West Side School for the Desperate present:

You Got Told: An Evening of Storytelling on the theme of “NO MANNERS”

We invite YOU to submit your story in response to the theme to be performed/displayed. ALL modes of artistic production are welcome (and encouraged!).

Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view.

To submit please check out the submission form below and email all necessary information to by FEBRUARY 7th.

Don’t feel like submitting? That’s cool! Come check out the show MARCH 1st at the West Side School for the Desperate (3608 W. Wrightwood). $5 suggested donation.

REMEMBER: art is never complete without its audience!

You Got Told is a quarterly collaboration at the WSSD with theatre duo MOTHERGIRL. For more info, visit the official facebook event.

Bad News Bible Church is back in 2012 with Robert Brown!

Lovers, heathens, poets and writers of all kinds – Bad News Bible Church open mic & reading series is back in 2012 featuring the extraordinary Robert Brown.

Bad News Bible Church is a monthly open-mic and reading series based out of the West Side School for the Desperate radical arts collective. Every third Saturday we bring together writers & performers from all different backgrounds to share their work and celebrate the work of a fellow community builder.

This month’s feature is poet Robert Brown. Since moving to Chicago just last year, Brown has taken the poetry scene by storm, placing 2nd overall in the Louder Than A Bomb College Indy Slam in 2011. Brown also coaches the Kansas City, MO Brave New Voices team.

$5 suggested donation, 18+. Doors are at 8pm, show at 8:30. Sign-up is limited, so show up early if you want a spot!

Desperate Press: Announcing a new small press

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and all non-binary folks of any age: We’re pleased to announce that we’ll be bringing you a new small press, Desperate Press, in February 2012!

We’ve been working on this one for a while now. Our one-year anniversary is approaching in a few months, and we wanted to bring something new and big to the table. Desperate Press is an independent publisher of young and emerging artists and poets. We have a few releases lined up for early next year (and two manuscript contests, one for poets under 30 and another for those under 20); first and foremost is The Desperate Reader, an anthology of core Desperado poets: Nate Olison, Stephanie Lane Sutton, Kevin Kern, Stevie Edwards, Zachary Green, Jacob Mays, Howard Friedman, Katie Spero, Josh Gaines, Nick Narbutas, and Sarah Jedd. It will also feature visual art from our artist-in-residence, Julia Victor.

For more info and a sneak peak of The Desperate Reader, visit/subscribe to the official Desperate Press facebook page.

Bad News Bible Church prepares to usher in the Apocalypse.

Bad News Bible Church open mic & reading series is BACK for volume five, featuring Stevie Edwards!


Stevie Edwards is a poet, editor, and a certified BAMF. She currently is an MFA student in Poetry at the prestigious Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Muzzle Magazine ( She is currently a Pushcart Prize nominee for her poems “Three Rachels” and “For My Brother on His Sixteenth Birthday” out of Orange Quarterly.

We are very excited to have her back at the West Side School (so excited, in fact, that her bio gets a second paragraph). From the on-set she’s been a staple at our shows and workshops, and her chapbook, “Pain Needs to Remember,” was released here in March 2011 (and which you will be able to buy from our merch table!). Her first full-length book, “Good Grief,” is set to be released by Write Bloody in March 2012. We can’t think of a more appropriate or more impressive feature to finish off BNBC’s 2011 season!


Bad News Bible Church is an open mic & reading series open to all types of performance. Doors at 8pm, show at 8:30. 18+, $5 suggested donation at the door. Please do not BYOB and support your favorite local DIY arts space!

Videos from The Last Nerve are up!

We are still very humbled to have been able to host this wonderful tour with poet-gods Mindy Nettifee and Rachel McKibbens. They rocked it at our venue on October 10th.

You can see all the videos and more on our YouTube page!