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Topic: Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
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Posted by : cj on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 12:03 AM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
5691 Reads

Note: Click on the headline for a reprint of the popular Third Coast Press article. Emily Calvo, Jose Bono, Charlie Newman, Jim Coppoc, Steven Schroeder, Michael Burke, and Arthur Holland, Sr. speak out about the re-selection of George W. Bush.

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Posted by : cj on Saturday, January 22, 2005 - 04:42 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
15038 Reads

Note: One of Chicago's most beloved poets, Carlos Cortez, has passed away. Click on the headline for the story, an obituary by Carlos Cumpian, a rememberance by Frank Varela, thoughts by Jose Bono, and a place to post your own thoughts.

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Posted by : cj on Thursday, January 20, 2005 - 02:50 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
4421 Reads

Note: The Guild Complex is announcing a fiction contest, and Stuart Dybek will be the judge. Click on the headline for all the details.

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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 09:50 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
4335 Reads

In Search of the Poetry Slam Shuffle

After years of failing at its own game, the Uptown Poetry Slam is getting major league serious about its attempt to take back the National Poetry Slam title in 2005. They are planning to use the momentum of a book release party (which will be catered, free and open to the public) to launch a series of aggressive poetry bouts, in a bid to find the strongest team of poets that exists in Chicago.

On Sunday, October 3, from 2 PM until 5 PM, the Green Mill (birthplace of the Poetry Slam) will be hosting the official book release party for "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Slam Poetry" (Penguin / Alpha Press), written by Marc K. Smith. A few fans got a sneak-preview of this book at the 2004 Chicago Poetry Fest, and now everyone can come on out for a special afternoon party for the official release of this major American title.

With more than two-thousand live performances to his credit, in such diverse venues as nightclubs, concert halls, libraries, universities, on city streets, even on top of freakin' hot dog stands, Marc K. Smith (otherwise known as the SlamPapi) still hangs on to his Chicago roots with an unyielding passion. He continues to personally hosts the Uptown Poetry Slam every Sunday night. Now, it appears that the father of Slam poetics has grown sick and tired of Chicago's dismal attempts to compete in the annual National Poetry Slam, and he's looking for some no-holds-barred poets to help win one for the Home Team. His new book is just the guide to help those who are serious about doing this for Chicago.

Smith's new book is a "how-to" bible, accompanied by two audio CDs. The book and CDs cover the roots of Slam poetry, the impact the Slam has had on modern day poetry, the future of the Slam, tips on how to Slam, inspirations to help you write and perform Slam poetry, and tools for organizing your own Poetry Slam. It will serve as a great reference for anyone who is also serious about making the 2005 Team Chicago one that can go all the way.

During the special afternoon party at the Mill, Smith will also present the first ever "Slam Jeopardy." Up to fifteen contestants will compete in a trivia contest based upon the new book, and the winners will stick around for a special evening face-off. The afternoon party is free and open to the public, and there will be refreshments provided by Susan O'Connell Catering and music by Strange Brothers plus One. The evening Slam that will follow starts at 7 PM; there will be the standard $6 cover for that one. The Green Mill is located at 4802 N. Broadway.

Probably the weirdest fact concerning the recent 2004 National Poetry Slam, was that a team from the Green Mill not only failed to make it to the finals, but didn't even represent in St. Louis at all.

Well, if Smith has his way, all that is about to change. It looks like this year, the Green Mill is getting a little more serious about shooting for the title in next year's National Poetry Slam, which will be happening in Albuquerque, New Mexico, August 2005. Smith is already beginning the process of seeking the most powerful team of four Chicago performance poets, with the "Team Chicago Slam Tournament" that is scheduled to begin on Sunday, September 26.

An open call has been sent out for poets to participate in preliminary bouts. Each bout will feature eight contestants; five of them may request reserved spots, three of the spots will only be made available on a first come first served basis to those who show up on the night of the bout. There will be one winner each month, all the way through May of 2005. Poets may reserve a spot by signing up at the Green Mill on any Sunday night during a slam, or by contacting the slam founder personally at his email address: With limited bouts, not everyone who wants one will get the reserved spots, so it would be wise to include your poetry bio. and also a letter explaining why you think you belong on the team. Members of the previous Green Mill slam teams are not eligible. That's right, the Green Mill is looking for a fresh team with some powerful new voices. They are looking for strong writing by poets who have an energetic performance style. This will be a great opportunity for the new crowd of performance poets to get into the action.

Winners of each preliminary bout will get (count it) twenty-five bucks. Whew. But more importantly, they will get the opportunity to compete in the semi-final bouts, held in June, 2005. The judges for all the bouts will consist of pre-selected as well as randomly chosen people.

Do you want to help Chicago take back the National Poetry Slam title? Well, it's about time. Here are the dates for the preliminary bouts, all of them Sundays: (2004) September 26, October 24, November 28, (2005) January 23, February 27, March 27, April 24 and May 22. If you lose in your first attempt, you may enter once again and give it another try, but if you lose twice, that's it kiddo. You will need at least three poems (no longer than three minutes each) to compete in the preliminary bouts.

Now, let's say you win. Well then, you go on to the semi-final bouts, which will be held in 2005 on June 5, 12, 19 and 26. There will be up to four poets competing in each semi-final bout. The two high scoring poets from each bout will go onto the Finals during a special show on July 10. And the winners of that slam will then go on to The National Poetry Slam in August.

Sounds tough? You bet it is. Better get your best work together and practice performing it at your local poetry venues, before you show for your bout. Get busy. Help win one for the Home Team.

--C. J. Laity, reporting the poetry news for ya'.

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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 09:40 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
4240 Reads

Kim BerezWell, the deadline has passed and all the votes have been counted three times to confirm the winners in the 2004 Readers' Choice Awards. Poems by thirteen Chicago artists were published in Letter eX for o­ne month, and our readers were allowed to vote to see which poet would receive the award of $200. We received a total of 256 votes, about two-thirds by e-mail, and another third by snail mail. It became apparent early in the contest that poems by two poets were being favored by our readership, and o­n any given day I could not keep track of which of these two poets were in the lead, the votes were coming in so fast. But it is o­nly the final count that matters, and the final count is: Kim Berez wins first place and gets the $200. She will receive her award certificate and will read her poetry at the Chicago Poetry Fest. Kim received a total of 62 votes. Erika Mikkalo wins a very close second place. She will receive her honorable mention certificate and she will read her poetry at the Chicago Poetry Fest. Erika received a total of 59 votes. The third place honorable mention goes to Kathy Kubik, who is invited to read o­ne of her poems in the Chicago Poetry Fest. She received a total of 28 votes. Click Here to review all the poems, which will be permanently archived in the Poetry section

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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 09:20 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
9677 Reads

Note: On October 17, 2003, Chicago Poet Felice Lichaw and five others died during a mysterious fire in the Cook County Administration Building in Chicago's Loop. Although there has been a lot of finger pointing, nobody is willing to take any blame.

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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 09:18 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
4710 Reads

Juried Reading Winners Take The Stage At The Public Library Poetry Fest During the Chicago Public Library's 5th Annual Poetry Fest at the Harold Washington Library on Saturday, April 17, it was announced that Chicago Poet Kristy Bowen was the recipient of the first place prize in the Poetry Center of Chicago's 10th Annual Juried Reading. Kristy's poem "Narrowing" was published in a chapbook, along with poetry by the other seven finalists, and she received $1000. Kristy holds an M.A. in English Literature from DePaul University, and her book The Archaeologist's Daughter is forthcoming from Moon Journal Press. National Poetry Month has been a big month for Kristy Bowen, who also appeared for at the Guild Complex presentation of Chicago Poetry Uncensored, during which she received an honorable mention in the 1st Annual Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Award. She was personally selected by Campbell McGrath to receive the Juried Reading prize.

The other winners in the Juried Reading were: Jason Bredle, who won $500 for 2nd place; Joanne Diaz, who won $250 for 3rd place; Kirsty Odelius, who received $50 and an honorable mention; Charlie Clark, Lorraine Harrell, Daniel B. Johnson and Kiki Petrosino, who each received $50 as finalists.

Chicago Poetry-Scene Heavyweight Ken Clarke Says Hello To ChicagoPoetry.comThe Juried Reading was one part of a day full of poetry readings, workshops and panel discussions, during a festival full of talented poets, but lacking in audience (and you can't blame that on the weather). Haki Madhubuti and Quraysh Ali Lansana started the day with readings of their new work. Haki read from Run Toward Fear which included excerpts from the forty steps to being a poet, including such gems as "marry someone with a job," and "read more poetry than you write." Quraysh read from his new book They Shall Run. It was very enlightening to hear Quraysh read his new poems in the thick dialect they are written in, as it is quite honestly one tough book to absorb for anyone unfamiliar with the specifics of Harriet Tubman. The poems were also enhanced by some history during his introductions to them.

Juried Reading Judge Simone Muench Reads During Richard Fammeree's Presentation of reVerse LIVEIn one of the library's multipurpose rooms, the editors of The Spoken Word Revolution, Mark Eleveld and Slampapi Marc Smith, were joined by Chicago Poet Tara Betts during a panel discussion about the Poetry Slam. Smith immediately abandoned his post at the panel table and took a seat within the audience as the discussion began. Though Smith's relaxed attitude was refreshing, and though his promise of a book due in June titled The Complete Idiot's Guide To The Poetry Slam was certainly news, and though the event offered a pretty effective argument for the merits of the Slam style of performance poetry--it would have been nice if an alternative viewpoint had been allowed into the panel. Because only pro-slam voices were allowed to sit on the panel, the hour was not so much a discussion, as it was a sales pitch for the $25 book.

The day also included some events that I missed, as they happened simultaneously, such as a feature by the Chicago Poetry Project, the Young Chicago Authors' Louder Than A Bomb event, a presentation by the Snow City Arts Foundation, and a performance poetry workshop held by Tara Betts. In the main lobby, small presses were showcased and were allowed to sell their books, including Bridge Magazine, Non-Fit Press, Puddin'head Press, A Small Garlic Press, Third World Press, among others.

Mark Strand Was One Of The Headliners During The Poetry FestAfter the Juried Reading in the main auditorium, just as the day's unbelievably low turnout for the under-publicized Poetry Fest was finally beginning to thicken, the audience was unfortunately subjected to yet another of Richard Fammeree's mish-mashes of poetry and music. I thought it was disappointing that the poetry fest didn't have enough faith in the spoken-word alone to headline some poetry giants a cappella to close off this event, without mixing in a couple more songs by Linnaeus, blasting techno-music so loud that you couldn't even hear Ken Clarke's poem, giving Mark Strand all of about seven minutes on stage (a fraction of what the flutist was allowed), and promising a performance by Elise Paschen without delivering it. But the reVerse Live climax did include some finely executed performances by Simone Muench, Marvin Tate, and Sherill Lamb, making it all worth while.

--C. J. Laity
Reporting the poetry news for ya'.

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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 09:07 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
11100 Reads

Note: C. J. Laity explores the life of Chicago Poet Quraysh Ali Lansana in this story based on an interview with the poet.

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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 07:16 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
7535 Reads

Note: John Sinclair has been in the public limelight for over thirty years. He has been a poet, a political activist, a Blues Scholar, and a radio DJ. He first gained notoriety in the late '60s when he founded the white panther party.

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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 07:10 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
14680 Reads

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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 07:05 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
4833 Reads


Listen To The Chicago PAW Reading At PoetryPoetry ** Chicago PAW Photo Gallery ** Bush Reads Poetry

British Police Create A Poetry RoadblockStory Updated March 3: 15,000 Poems To Congress: At noon on March 5th on Capitol Hill, three of America’s preeminent living poets (representing an extraordinary cross section of distinguished poets) presented approximately 15,000 anti-war poems to members of Congress. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) hosted the event with other members of the Progressive Caucus including Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA). The poems were presented by Pulitzer prize winner and Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets W.S. Merwin, Pulitzer prize winner Jorie Graham, author and poet Terry Tempest Williams and founding editor of Copper Canyon Press Sam Hamill.

Back in Chicago, a second Poets Against the War reading was held on Wednesday, March 5, 2003, 7-10 pm at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple at the corner of Lake and Kenilworth in downtown Oak Park. This one was co-sponsored by and the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Charlie Rossiter was be the host of the evening. An audio recording of the reading was made to be posted on

Chicago Poets Against The War Prepare To Wage Peace At The Launching PadReport from the February 12 reading: As Sam Hamill's anthology of 5,000 anti-war poems was once again turned away at the gates of the White House on Wednesday, February 12 commenced as Poets Against The War Day in America. While much of the country fearfully duct taped plastic over their windows and hid in their homes expecting the consequences of George Bush's personal crusade to knock on their door, thousands of brave American heros refused to be silenced and ignored wintery weather to attend over 160 poetry readings across the United States. (in conjunction with MOST and participated by sponsoring an all star poetry reading, featuring over 25 talented poets from across the State of Illinois (photo by Maggie Rubin); the reading was broadcast live on the internet and the entire reading was recorded for the feature on

Billy CollinsWe were not alone in our refusal to be silenced. The United States incumbent Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, has joined the Poetry Against the War (PAW) Movement started by Sam Hamill, and has publicly declared his opposition to war, saying he finds it increasingly difficult to keep politics out of his official job as literary advocate. Collins does not have a history of political activism, but he nevertheless defended a group of anti-war poets who last week were censored when first lady Laura Bush cancelled a symposium for fear that peace poetry would be recited in the White House. "If political protest is urgent, I don't think it needs to wait for an appropriate scene and setting and should be as disruptive as it wants to be," Collins said to The Associated Press. "I have tried to keep the West Wing and the East Wing of the White House as separate as possible because I support what Mrs. Bush has done for the causes of literacy and reading. But as this country is being pushed into a violent confrontation, I find it increasingly difficult to maintain that separation." A spokeswoman for the Library of Congress, which appointed Collins poet laureate, said that "Mr. Collins is free to express his own opinions on any subject." Other poets are joining the PAW project as well. South Dakota's poet laureate, David Allen Evans, said "I'm not speaking as a representative of the state, I'm speaking as a poet and private individual. I know it's an ambivalent situation and I hesitated to contribute to the (PAW) project, but I felt that I needed to say I wanted peace instead of war." New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka said he plans to send a statement to Hamill, possibly a poem about impeaching President Bush. "I see it as part of my job. The main task right now is stopping the war," said Baraka.

clickIt all started when Pushcart Prize winning poet Sam Hamill (the author of 13 volumes of verse and a self-described conscientious objector) was scheduled to attend a symposium titled "Poetry and the American Voice" at the White House, by special invitation from the First Lady, Laura Bush. Oops. Having recently been personally "nauseated" by George Bush's proposed "Shock and Awe" attack on Iraq, Hamill decided to use this once in a lifetime opportunity to reconstitute a Poets Against the War Movement, much like the one organized to speak out against the war in Vietnam. So he sent an open letter by e-mail to a few poets, asking them to speak up for the conscience of America and to make February 12 (the scheduled date for the symposium) a day of Poetry Against the War instead. He suggested the poets send him some anti-war poetry, and in return he promised to compile an anthology of their work, which he intended to have delivered to Laura Bush on the afternoon of February 12. But the e-mail quickly turned into a chain letter which spread across the world like wildfire. In four days, Sam Hamill received over 1900 submissions, including work by Hayden Carruth, Yusef Komunyakaa, Philip Levine, Grace Paley, Adrienne Rich, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and W.S. Merwin (who wrote "an incredible indictment of Bush"). Despite joyful, tearful, 18-hour days 60-year-old Hamill has been putting in, attempting to organize the submissions, it seems the White House has another plan for his anthology: Laura Bush's garbage can.

Catching wind of what was going on, First Lady Laura Bush attempted to silence these 1900 poets by indefinitely "postponing" The White House Symposium (which would have celebrated the notably political poets Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman), her official reason being because "some invited guests wanted to turn what is intended to be a literary event into a political forum." Mrs. Bush was obviously unaware that Walt Whitman once described the White House as "bought, sold...and filled with prostitutes" and throughout Langston Hughes' life he was visciously harassed by the FBI and by Joseph McCarthy. Hamill's defense to Laura Bush's reasoning is that "People have felt silenced, and we are providing a platform for poets to speak together." Former Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz responded to the events leading up to the cancellation by saying, "I think there was a general feeling that the current administration is not really a friend of the poetic community and that its program of attacking Iraq is contrary to the humanitarian position that is at the centre of the poetic impulse." Pulitzer Prize-winner Philip Levine, citing White House "lying" and "Orwellian euphemisms," said the event was cancelled before he could even turn down his invitation.

German Poets Brave A Snow Storm To Protest In MunichHamill (a Zen Buddhist who ran for the California State Assembly in 1968 on an anti-war, socialist ticket) reminds the poetry community of the irony of the situation: "We closed the Bush poetry symposium on Whitman by 'politicizing literature.'" He goes on to say, in the newspaper The Globe And Mail: "These people wouldn't let Walt Whitman within a mile of the White House -- the good gay gray poet! I don't believe anybody there has ever read Whitman." In the Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald (which called poetry the "first casualty of the war"), Todd Swift, the editor of the e-book 100 Poets Against the War, said: "The idea that you could have a non-political event celebrating the work of Walt absurd." In the St. Petersburg Times Chicago Poet Li-Young Lee said "It's impossible for poetry not to be political... The way I understand poetry, all poems are antiwar poems. I can be talking about potato chips or flowers, anything, but the underlying order of a poem, regardless of its subject, proposes universal harmony." Lee, who recently was featured at Chicago's St. Gregory Church, goes on to say, "What's so strange is that Laura Bush doesn't want these poets to use the forum for politics, but her negating them is itself a political act."

Most poets have expressed disappointment in Laura Bush's fear of peace poetry. For example, Connecticut's poet laureate, Marilyn Nelson, criticized the White House for trying to silence the voice of American artists. Nelson said she was looking forward to going to the White House, and she even commissioned a silk scarf with peace signs on it to wear to the affair. And former Poet Laureate Rita Dove, who declined her invitation to the White House, released a statement which read: "The abrupt cancellation of the symposium by the White House confirms my suspicion that the Bush administration is not interested in poetry when it refuses to remain in the ivory tower, and that this White House does not wish to open its doors to an 'American Voice' that does not echo the administration's misguided policies." Other poets have more radical views. At the Reuters website, Lawrence Ferlinghetti said the idea of inviting a group of poets to the White House as the administration prepares for war was naive in the first place. "The poet by definition is the bearer of freedom and love, and," Ferlinghetti points out, "by definition he has to be an enemy of the state and everything the state does, and one of its primary activities, which is war."

In the Seattle Times, Kevin Price, assistant professor of political science at the University of Washington, said of the incident, "Mini-showdowns over things like the poetry conference are a manifestation of the larger divisions in the political system."

More about "Uncle Sam" Hamill: Sam Hamill is the Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press, a nonprofit publisher of poetry founded in 1972, which has published such poets as Pablo Neruda and Carolyn Kizer. Hamill is also the author of two dozen volumes translated from ancient Greek, Latin, Estonian, Japanese, and Chinese. Hamill taught in prisons for fourteen years, in artist-in-residency programs for twenty years, and has worked extensively with battered women and children. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Fund, the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission, and two Washington Governor's Arts Awards. Click here to watch videos of Hamill reading his translations.

--Story ByC. J. Laity

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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 06:53 PM
  Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines
8730 Reads

(The following is the complete, unedited "author's version" of the "Two-Rivers Tape" transcript. It appears here uncensored, and contains some language not intended for those under the age of 17. Although based on a true story, all incriminating statements are pure fiction and some of the incidents described have been fictionalized. Don't drink and drive.)

E. Donald Two Rivers passed away on December 27, 2008. Click Here.


Story by C. J. Laity


"Racism my friend?" Eddy said, as Sergio splashed two more shots of Jose Cuervo into our glasses. "It's for people who are narrow. The sight of a sweetly fleshed thigh, regardless of color, removes all thoughts of hate, unless of course you be a rapist. But my daddy said to me, 'Don't you never let a little color come between you and a good time. Remember where you come from and you'll do just fine.'" We clicked our shot glasses together and toasted sweetly fleshed thighs and then we dumped the brown juice down our throats. "Come on," he said, "I know where we can shoot some pool."

I pulled out my wallet, but Sergio shouted at me, "Get the fuck outta here! That's Eddy Two-Rivers. You think I'm going to charge a famous poet for drinkin' with me?"


That night was suppose to be a "men's night out" with notable Chicago poets Marvin Tate, Tom Mladic, Gregorio Gomez, the old Native American poet E. Donald Two-Rivers (Eddy) and myself. We were all suppose to meet at Weeds and then go from there for a night of drinking and debauchery. I picked up Eddy in my car, and, as we arrived at Weeds, we soon realized it would be only the two of us. Gregorio was nowhere to be found, and a call to Marvin revealed he was staying home with his wife (though we suspected an orgy was more likely than not), and since Tom was to have arrived with Marvin, well, that was that.

Earlier, I was telling my girlfriend how Eddy, one of the kindest, gentlest of men on the face of the earth, is, however, a totally bitter, angry drunk. He ends up talking a bunch of shit when he's trashed, but then he denies it all later when he sobers up. So, before I left to pick Eddy up, I got the bright idea to bring along a cd burner and some extra disks and batteries, all with the capability of recording up to twelve hours of audio. I kept the recorder running in my jacket pocket throughout the entire evening, thinking it might be funny to whip it out at some later date when Eddy claimed he didn't say this or that. The evening took a few wrong turns, and the things Eddy told me that night had an unexpected, personal flavor to them, so I never mentioned to him the fact that I had it all documented.

Most of the audio I captured turned out to be nothing but completely inaudible bar noises, but there were a few long segments during which my device managed to pick up quite clearly Eddy's voice on that night. The following is a word for word transcription of that audio. I've taken the liberty to add, from memory, a few details and descriptions, in order to accurately recreate these moments.



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  eX-ceptional 150
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