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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

Anja Notanja Sieger clacks away in The Pfister Hotel.

Sieger reflects on first month as Pfister Narrator


After a year of serving as the Pfister Narrator, I passed the typewriter to Anja Notanja Sieger in early May.

The role of the Pfister Narrator is to serve as a writer-in-residence for the hotel. The year-long position – it was six months prior to my tenure – provides a committee-selected, local writer spending about 10 hours a week interviewing hotel guests and writing about the experience in The Pfister blog.

The Narrator position has also been held by Julie Ferris, Stacie Michelle Williams, Dasha Kelly, Ed Makowski and Jenna Kashou. It's a wonderful opportunity for people who like to meet new people and write their stories.

Sieger, who is the seventh Pfister Narrator, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking and creative writing from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2009.

She is the founder of La Prosette, a one-woman typewriter service in which people hire her to write poetry, a love letter, an insult letter, a letter of recommendation, a short story or a letter from a pet.

Sieger is also an Artist in Residence at In Tandem Theatre and a Writer in Residence at Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee.

I tried to give her a little time to settle in before asking a few questions.

OnMilwaukee.com: What unique approach or activities do you bring to the Narrator position?

Anja Notanja Sieger: As a performance writer I am used to fulfilling letter and poetry requests on the spot for strangers. During my time at the hotel I want to have specific days where I type live requests from a typewriter on postcards so that people can send them to loved ones back home. I also want to host story slams, literary readings and a Clackathon where seven or eight people at typewriters improvise and perform live poetry and stories based off of audience requests. Sort of like Comedy Sportz or Second City, only the participants are goofy writers rather than goofy actors.

OMC: What do you like the most about the position so far?

ANS: The opulence. Watching seagulls dive off of the courthouse from the 23rd floor. I like feeling like I have the divine permission to go up and ask deep questions of any stranger I see. I liked it the other day when the pianist played "Pure Imagination," from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." I love all the paintings, especially the one with the basket of kittens. I even like that terrifying painting of an angel and a baby having a passionate kiss.

OMC: Blu or Lobby Bar?

ANS: Blu is stunning, but I generally find myself roving the lobby most of the time when I'm by myself.

OMC: Would you like to live in the hotel if you could? Ever imagine you do?

ANS: Yes. How can we make this happen? Like Cinderella, I would love to sleep in the kitchen near the oven where it smells good. I'd even accept a scullery closet! The position is clearly not complete without at least my own hammock.

OMC: Who is one of the most interesting people you have met at The Pfister so far?

ANS: All the staff members, by far. Dimarco the doorman, who knows about secret underground tunnels, Roc the concierge who always brings up his alleged hour and a half conversation on international politics with Margaret Thatcher, even Arturo who works at the Mason Street Grill, who just walked up and informed me "I am the legend become flesh," before disappearing towards the kitchens.


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