Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

I am not a fiction enthusiast nor a wine connoisseur, so the genius of the name was absolutely lost on me. However, what was apparent upon stepping into Timothy’s Sports Bar on Wednesday night was the talent and creativity that flooded the bustling, cramped space. The evening began as writers filtered in and mingled with each other. A table off to the side provided a convenient showcase and marketplace for them to display and sell their published work. A lone microphone stood at the front of the room, ready to absorb and project the night’s mysteries.

The theme was noir, but it wasn’t all disgruntled detectives in grungy 1920s New York City. There were fatal twists on the classic “Snow White,” Las Vegas reimagined as hell, backroad mishaps and nefarious nannies to shape up the evening into one of thrills and suspense. Thirteen writers — perhaps the perfect number for such an occasion — dripped their words onto the captive audience like fresh blood off a butcher’s knife. Each person’s offering was limited to seven minutes, but somehow, all the necessary elements of a good story were present. Some read stories handcrafted for the event, others read previously published pieces and a few read chapters from their own books.

While writing a story is one thing, being able to read it to someone or — even more daunting — a crowd, is a whole other. Doing all of that requires what event organizer, Gary Zenker, calls “layered bravery.” Business writer by day, fiction author by night, Zenker insists that, “standing up and telling your story needs to be part of a writer’s craft.” To make sure his fellow writers have this opportunity, Zenker manages two of the three writers groups in the Greater Philadelphia area: the Main Line Writers Group and the Wilmington-Chadds Ford Writers Group. These two groups, as well as a third, the Brandywine Writers Group, were all represented at Timothy’s for the event. Together, they provide space for writers of all backgrounds and levels to exercise their creative muscles, fine-tune their work and receive valuable feedback from their peers. And, in a display of superior team working skills, all the members of the Main Line Writers Group contributed to a book titled, “Unclaimed Baggage.”

Given the daily deluge of attention-grabbing headlines and all of the information-rich news sources we have available today, it can seem a little irresponsible to spend time reading fiction for fun. Why would I read a story about zombies when I could catch up on the Mueller investigation? However, upon attending Noir at a Bar, I realized that just because it’s not on the front page of the New York Times, doesn’t mean that it’s not worthy of my attention. I found myself leaning in closer from my chair at every dramatic pause. Sudden twists in the plot elicited my audible gasp. The gory details of a character’s demise had my mind racing with visualizations of the scene. And, thanks to the loud trivia game being played just outside the door, I even learned that the only sports movie other than “Rocky” to win Best Picture is “Million Dollar Baby.”

Of his goals for the event, Zenker remarked, “we want everyone to have the best experience they can have ­ the audience and the writer.” From my perspective, Noir at a Bar certainly delivered. All three writers groups are open to the public and can be contacted via social media. Don’t be afraid, I hear they are always looking for new blood.

Olivia Bortner is a fourth-year student majoring in marketing.

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