To Bear What Must be Borne: Stories of Strength and Resilience

Strength is not merely defined by what we can carry, but also what we can let go. Resilience is not just withstanding turmoil, but rising above it to become the change we wish to see in the world. In today’s world, we all need a little strength and resilience, and sometimes it comes to us in unexpected ways. From the story of one woman’s struggle between her vulnerability and her conscience to the story of a pair of friends carrying each other during adversity, join us for four new stories at the Haymarket Pub and Brewery.

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The Storytellers

Deb Lewis

Deb's work has appeared in many journals, including Criminal Class Review, Gertrude, Susurrus, Invisible Cities Wiki, Outsider Ink (Artist Spotlight), Velvet Mafia, Blithe House Quarterly, F Magazine, Dyversity (UK), International Drummer, Sandmutopia Guardian, Bad Attitude, Hair Trigger, and he Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast anthology. Her unpublished novel, Hades Son, was a Project Queer Lit Top Three Finalist. She's won the Windy City Times—Pride Literary Supplement Prose Prize and been twice featured on the Printer’s Row After Dark stage. She’s an adjunct in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago and a teaching artist with the Goodman Theatre’s Education and Community Engagement Department. She is currently working on a collection of short stories featuring SM, leather, and romance.

Eric May

Eric Charles May is author of the novel Bedrock Faith, which was named a Notable African-American Title by Publishers Weekly. The 2015 recipient of the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, Eric is an associate professor in the fiction-writing program at Columbia College Chicago and a former reporter for The Washington Post. His short fiction has appeared in Criminal Class, Fish Stories, F, and We Speak Chicagoese. In addition to his writing for the Post, his nonfiction has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Sport Literate, and the 2nd Story anthology, Briefly Knocked Unconscious By A Low-Flying Duck.  

Jessica Young

Jessica Young has been published in several literary magazines and was a regular contributor to WBEZ. She has a degree in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and an MFA from Columbia College. Jessica’s a collective member at Chicago Women’s Health Center, and teaches yoga here in Chicago. Read more of her work at

Megan Stielstra

Megan Stielstra is the author of Once I Was Cool. Her work appears in The Best American Essays, New York Times, Guernica, The Rumpus, and on National Public Radio, and she performs regularly for 2nd Story and The Paper Machete live news magazine at The Green Mill. Her next collection, The Wrong Way To Save Your Life, is forthcoming summer 2017 from Harper Perennial.

Sarah Zematis

Sarah Zematis is a performer, writer, director & producer, as well as a proud company member of 2nd Story. She has worked throughout Chicago with companies such as Porchlight, Emerald City & Strawdog. She was featured in the Chicago cast of Listen to your Mother, a nationwide storytelling event, giving Motherhood a microphone. Check out her story “Crazy Lazy Eye” here. Some of her more interesting performance credits include being a maiden at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, singing with an Andrews Sisters trio at Green Dolphin Street, and giving voice to deaf actors at Centerlight Theatre. But, far and away, her favorite gig is being Mom to her Wee Three. Not only do they fill the days with fun – they make for some excellent story material! To hear more, check out her podcast stories that are available for your listening pleasure: "St. Baldricks", “SundaySundaySunday” and “Privacy Please” (on iTunes).

About the Neighborhood Series

There is nothing like listening to a good story with great company and sharing drinks and food around the table. For over 17 years, 2nd Story has been offering up just that at venues throughout Chicago and beyond. Instead of finding one single new home for ourselves, we are always on the lookout to sow seeds in a variety of neighborhoods across the city. In pursuit of our vision of fostering community through the experience of sharing stories, we will host shows, workshops, and other events in each neighborhood. If you have a favorite neighborhood venue that you think would be great for 2nd Story, we'd love to hear about it. Drop us a line at!