© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Willoughby's Nicolette Polek Returns with 'Imaginary Museums'

 Nicolette Polek is the award-winning author of "Imaginary Museums" [Jordan Castro]
Nicolette Polek is the award-winning author of "Imaginary Museums"

Nicolette Polek grew up in Willoughby, Ohio, the daughter of immigrant parents.

Her mother worked at the Mentor Public Library and Polek spent a lot of time there as a child.

Years later, her new book of short fiction, "Imaginary Museums," is now on the library's shelves.

Polek recently won the 2019 Rona Jaffe Award for promising women writers.

In addition to spending time with her mom at the library, the two would go to nearby bookstores on the weekend.

"Which meant Barnes and Noble and Borders at that time," Polek said. "When I was a teenager I went to Loganberry [Books], and that was my first independent bookstore and that was incredibly different."

Polek was taken by Loganberry's unique nature and focus on local topics.

"You don't really get that when you're at Borders and Barnes and Noble. Each experience is kind of the same," she said. Independent bookstores are "such intersections of the local interests in each bookstore, too, which is really interesting and amazing."

"Imaginary Museums" is a collection of short fiction, very short, as most of Polek's stories are less than five pages. Some are only a few paragraphs.

"A lot of these stories, most of them, had been started about five years ago. Something that I do with my writing is I put it away over a couple of months. Then when I return back to them, I do a lot of editing and I do a lot of cutting. So some of these stories ended up going from 12 pages to two paragraphs," she said.

Polek said she liked to travel to the Cinematheque at the Cleveland Instiute of Art while a student at Andrews Osborne Academy in Willoughby.

For a time she thought she wanted to be a filmmaker, but her introverted nature led her to write instead.

"That's such an easy way to make a movie in a way," she joked.

Winning the Rona Jaffe award now allows Polek to focus on finishing her first novel.

"I'm working right now on a novel about the late Marta Becket. She was a dancer and she started the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley, [California]," she said. 

After that, next on Polek's writing table is a nonfiction work based on her parents' experience in the former Czechoslovakia.

Polek has a book signing at Loganberry Books in Cleveland's Larchmere nieghborhood Wednesday at 7 p.m.



Dave DeOreo is coordinating producer for Ideastream Public Media’s arts and culture team.