CHF 2014: Journeys

Words with Friends: Stephin Merritt

We need more than two letters to define the fabulous and multi-faceted career of Stephin Merritt. Best known as the voice and songwriting talent behind The Magnetic Fields, Merritt has just penned 101 Two-Letter Words, a collection of poems for each of the 101 two-character phrases permissible in Scrabble. The book, illustrated with cartoons by the incomparable Roz Chast, is a witty resource for language aficionados and Words with Friends addicts everywhere. Along with Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! host Peter Sagal, Merritt joins us for an evening of wordy wonders—and maybe the largest-ever Scrabble game.

“He doesn’t want to stay up all night drinking beer with other bands. But he’s always the first to bring cognac and discuss Henry James.”—Daniel Handler a.k.a. Lemony Snicket

Want to see him sing? Purchase tickets for Stephin Merritt performing a rare, intimate full length solo concert on Saturday, November 8 at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Photograph of Stephin Merritt by Marcelo Krasilcic

Speakers and Performers

Stephin Merritt

Stephin Merritt releases albums under the band names the Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes. Merritt has written and recorded ten Magnetic Fields albums, including, 69 Love Songs and Love at the Bottom of the Sea. Merritt composed original music and lyrics for several music theater pieces, including an off-Broadway stage musical of Neil Gaiman's novel Coraline, for which he received an Obie Award. Merritt scored the Academy Award-nominated film Pieces of April. 101 Two-Letter Words is his first book. 

Peter Sagal

Peter Sagal hosts the Peabody Award winning NPR game show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! He is the author of numerous plays that have been performed in theaters around the country and abroad, including Long Wharf Theater, Actors Theater of Louisville, Seattle Repertory, and Florida Stage. He has also written several screenplays including Cuba Mine, an original screenplay that became, without his knowledge, the basis for Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. In 2007, Harper Collins published Peter's first book, The Book of Vice: Naughty Things and How to Do Them, a series of essays about bad behavior.

CHF Suggests      Related links and resources for further study

Leaders And Thinkers

The House of Tomorrow
Stephin Merritt's official website

Good Reads

Stephin Merritt Masters Scrabble Poetry in 101 Two-Letter Words
Stephin Merritt: Make Mine Dry
Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt Pens Scrabble-Themed Poetry Book

Online Resources

The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt On World Cafe