Three Humorous Writers Read at the Writers Aloud Series
By Carolyn Roberts
“I’ve got to ask you,” says the Sean Connery look-alike play actor of SNL’s skit on Celebrity Jeopardy, “I’ve got to ask you about The Penis Mightier.” Will Ferrell, who plays the part of Alex Trebek answers, “No, no, no, no! That’s The Pen Is Mightier!” And so, an old cliché, reused, reworked, receives a new look through humor.
Literature: SOl/PEN Writers Aloud Readings w/Anne Nicolai, Carol Merchison and John Simonds. Wed, Feb 1, 4-5pm. Café Santa Ana, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A. 70 pesos
Anne Nicolai, Carol Merchasin and John Simonds, Sol’s three new writers, do more than rework old clichés; they make new combinations of words and phrases, which may one day become the famous, funny quotes of the future. They will share their humorous way of seeing things on February 1, from 4 to 5pm in the comfortable coffeehouse setting of the Santa Ana Restaurant of the Biblioteca.
Merchasin, Simonds and Nicolai, are number seven of the SOL/PEN Writers Aloud series, which takes place twice monthly from November through mid-March. Proceeds from the readings benefit both the Biblioteca and the scholarship fund of the San Miguel de Allende chapter of PEN—an international organization advocating for issues involving freedom of speech and the press, and providing advocacy for writers in repressive societies.
The readings are co-sponsored by Sol: English Writing in Mexico, a thrice-yearly on-line literary magazine from which the readers in the series are drawn. (www.solliterarymagazine.com) Going into its sixth issue (March 2012) Sol was nominated as one of the best new on-line magazines of 2010, when it had produced only two issues. A hard copy of selections from the magazine will be available this spring.
Nineteen writers will participate in the series, including Tony Cohan, Lynda Schor, C.M. Mayo, Carl Selph, Gerard Helferich, and others. The 70-peso admission charge includes a 35-peso credit toward a beverage in the restaurant.
Nicolai fought the urge to declare herself an English Lit major. What a cop-out, she says, “to pursue a career in something that came naturally” to her, so she studied Music and then International Business, accounting and economics. Nicolai is one of Sol: English Writing in Mexico magazine’s newest writers. She has been an Associate Editor with the magazine since the March, 2011, issue. “For me,” says Nicolai, “humor is easiest when I’m poking fun at myself because I’ve done some incredibly naïve and stupid things, and fresh material seems to keep on happening. What’s funny is that I haven’t died yet, and I haven’t been banished to Antarctica.” So what is her biggest influence? “David Sedaris,” she says. “Hands down. Sedaris can make me laugh until I’m wiping mascara from my knees.” Dr. Seuss is also a key influence. “His work comes from a joyfully liberated place.”
Merchasin is a recovering lawyer, speaker and author and is currently working on her book How it Goes in Mexico – a compilation of personal essays about the small moments that make a day, define a life, and build relationships in San Miguel de Allende. Merchasin loves the process of writing, even when it isn’t working. “I love working on the resolution of problems with words.” According to Merchasin, “We can see things as awful or we can see things as empty space with a possibility of humor. We can see ourselves as terribly important or just part of a frail humanity. I try to choose the latter.” Anne Lamott, says Merchasin, is her favorite writer. “She helps me remember there is humor in the small, ordinary, messy moments of life.”
Simonds is new to the writing craft. “It came to me, in a dream” he says of his innate ability to be a writer, “after a couple of Margaritas at Harry’s Bar in 2010.” Retired from a career as a consultant in the field of Human Resource Management, he attended a writing workshop in 2010 and “spent the ensuing year developing his nascent writing talent.” Simonds gets his ideas from having a “quirky personality and quirky friends.” Not to mention a checkered past. He takes his inspiration from E.B.White—especially The Death of a Pig—with Woody Allen in close second.
Sacha Guitry, film director, actor, playwright, and screenwriter, once said, “You can pretend to be serious; you can’t pretend to be witty.” Nicolai, Merchasin, and Simonds may sometimes pretend to be serious, but they are, for the most part, witty, no pretending.
Carolyn Roberts writes fiction and non-fiction and is Chief Assistant Editor for Sol: English Writing in Mexico