Laura in Writing CenterPecha Kucha sounds like something you’d catch in Pokemon Go or a trip to Tijuana, but it’s actually the Figge Art Museum’s monthly event wherein speakers speak on any subject for 400 seconds, with 20 slides timed at 20 seconds per slide.

It’s a fun event and a chance to hear about diverse things — hobbies, nonprofit causes, poetry and fiction, etc. There are also $5 burger baskets that night. It is a great event.

This Thursday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Laura Winton will be kuchaing your attention with her pecha, and this past Monday, as she was live streaming Bernie Sanders’ speech at the DNC, she took some time out to live answer some questions I had for her about the event. Read some more, learn some more, check out the gig!

Q: What’s the name of your presentation, and what is it about?
A: My presentation is a short story/creative non-fiction piece called “Words in My/Her Mouth” and I describe it as a postmodern meditation on my mother’s life, on writing, and on traveling.

Q: What inspired it, and what led you to put it together?
A: I wrote it on the plane coming back from seeing my father a couple of years ago.  My mother died in 2009 and I write about her pretty frequently now. For Pecha Kucha, I am using quite a few pictures of my mother, with a few other pictures that I hope go along with the narration as well.

Q: I had to do a lot of Pecha Kucha (Pecha Kuchii?) when I was at grad school at USC. But most people have no idea what a Pecha Kucha is. Have you ever done anything like this before? Describe what it’s like for people who haven’t and who have no idea what a Pecha Kucha is.
A: This will be my fourth year doing Pecha Kucha,  In 2014 I did a scene from a version of Antigone that I was directing at Scott Community College.  Last year I believe I did my final Master’s project that I did at NYU and I handed out things for members of the audience to jump up and say randomly while I was presenting.  That was really fun and I may do that again.  I have also been collecting airsick bags for years (clean ones) to use in a performance and they might make an appearance. I have also performed at the Walker Art Center (with writer/poet/avant-gardist David Antin in the audience, whom I love!) and the Weisman Museum in Minneapolis.  I love doing performances in museums!

PechaKucha is a little more challenging than just reading poetry.  No matter how much you rehearse, you always end up behind or ahead of your slide timings.  So for my work, I try to keep it as flexible as possible so that my slides don’t have to correspond exactly to my text, but even with a creative writing piece, that is still difficult.

Q: What’s your arts background?
A: I have an extensive art and performing background.  I have performed as poetry at open mics and cabarets in Minneapolis, Chicago and New York, fringe festivals in Minneapolis and Kansas City, and at conferences in London, New York, Charleston, and Ann Arbor.
I also publish the journal Karawane: Or, the Temporary Death of the Bruitist, a journal of avant-garde/experimental performance texts including poetry, performance art, music scores, and theatre pieces, for which I received a grant from Quad City Arts to publish a Quad City issue in 2017.  So I am trying to hit as many open mics and similar events as possible in the next few months.

Q: What can people who come to the event expect to take away from it?
A: I love the diversity of the event.  In the last few years, I have seen more people talking about nonprofits, about veterans, doing creative projects, etc.  Not everyone who gets up there is a professional speaker, so they are nervous, but they get up there and present their ideas anyway.  I just really think it is a wonderful event!

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: The $5 burger baskets are really great too! It’s air-conditioned, it’s a good excuse to go see the current exhibit at the Figge, and it’s just an all-around good time.
So there you have it folks – burgers, air-conditioning and fine art and storytelling. Can you beat it? Well, you can try. But why bother? Just come out and enjoy it. See you Thursday!

Figge Art Museum
225 W 2nd St, Davenport, Iowa 52801

I will be presenting a piece entitled Words In My/Her Mouth, a postmodern reflection about my mother and about traveling.
Hope you can come. The event is free and open to everyone.

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.