Story Night @ Riley’s: Fear and Resolutions

February 3rd, 2015

Greg Siegle - compressedWe never know where the stories are going to take us at Riley’s Pour House.

This year’s first story night (January 27) featured a number of strong storytelling debuts as well as the return of one of 2014’s All Star champions. The theme was “Resolutions,” and although all of the stories addressed the topic, many also touched on the nature of fear and anxiety.

Among those storytellers making a Riley’s-Story-Night debut was Greg Siegle, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Psychiatry who spends his days studying the dynamics of depression and anxiety. He’s a gifted storyteller with an intense rapid-fire wit that made his story one of the highlights of the evening. Centering on his desire to lower the intensity of his life, or (in his words) “turn it down to simmer,” his story veered through a variety of fascinating experiences. I won’t give any more away. You can hear the story for yourself by clicking the player at the bottom of this page.

Margee Kerr - compressedAlso making a Riley’s debut was Margee Kerr, a sociologist who studies fear for a living. On her website she writes:

Ever wonder why we’re afraid of spiders and clowns? Zombies and ghosts? And why so many of us love the thrill of a roller-coaster or jump off a steep cliff? Well I have, and I’ve made it my goal to find the answers.

Margee’s story centered on researching a book about fear, travelling around the world and visiting places like the Suicide Forest in Japan — all in an attempt to probe the nature of unthinkable things. It was a fascinating tale, one that I hope to share with you soon.

Valerie Mason - compressedValerie Mason, who followed Margee, opened her story with an account of a time when she “looked death in the eye.” Thirty years ago, she had a knife held to her throat, and ever since she has learned to savor the joys of everyday life.

Fittingly, her resolution is to seek out new experiences, to read the great writers and to muster the courage to perform at Riley’s on Open-Mic Night, a resolution that should be a little easier to keep after taking the Story-Night Stage.

stephanie new cmprssdAs mentioned earlier, our night of resolutions also featured the return of 2014’s storytelling trophy winner Stephanie Wytovich, whose poetry collection Mourning Jewelry is currently on the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award®.

Currently serving as the Graduate Admissions Counselor for the MFA in Creative Writing at Carlow University, Stephanie now lives close enough to Carnegie to become a regular at Riley’s.

For her resolution story, Stephanie spoke about her resolve to convey a sense of fear in her poems. Along the way she told about her inspiration for a new poem titled “Stalk, Stalk, Pray,” written to offer a glimpse into the minds of serial killers. Concluding with a reading of her poem, Stephanie’s presentation provided an interesting glimpse into one of the up-and-coming talents in the world of dark poetry.

You can hear the story that won Stephanie the 2014 Story Night prize by clicking here.

For Craig Siegle’s tale about resolving to turn his life “down to summer,” please click on the link below. Either way, enjoy . . . and we’ll hope to see you on Tuesday, February 24, when the storytelling theme will be Love. Get those Valentine stories ready . . . and scop on!


Image Credits: Greg Siegle, Margee Kerr, Valerie Mason, and Stephanie Wytovich — photos copyright © 2015 by The 21st-Century Scop.

  1. This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 at 8:25 pm and is filed under 21st-Century Scop. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.


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