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spacer.gif   The Chicago Poetry Week In Review
Posted by : cj on Monday, November 16, 2009 - 02:41 PM
Poetry Gossip: Click On Headlines .
Just when I thought I could take a break, a real crapload of poetry gossip found its way onto my desk. So, here we go.

On Tuesday, November 17, the Literary Gangs of Chicago (or is it Cabinet of Curiosities) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cafe, 220 East Chicago Ave, will present Chicago Slam Works and Young Chicago Authors, starting around 6 or 6:30 PM, hosted by Cassie Sparkman. This event is free and will happen on the third Tuesday of every month, and will feature Quimby's Bookstore on December 15.

Also on Tuesday, November 17, 7:30 PM, Robert Pinsky (holy smoke), Lake Forest Academy Cressey Center, 1500 West Kennedy Road, Lake Forest, IL, free.

Then, on Wednesday, November 18, at 7:30 PM, Danny's Taverrn, 1951 W. Dickens, will present Kiki Petrosino and Judith Goldman. It's a bar so be at least 21 please.

On the other side of town, on Wednesday, November 18, at Black Star Projected, 3509 S. King Drive, Suite 2B, 6 to 8 PM, Fred Hampton Jr. will discuss the 40th anniversary of his father's death.

On Thursday, November 19, 6 PM, there will be a Poetry Wheel sponsored by the Poets Club of Chicago at Sulzer Library, 4455 North Lincoln Ave, free. A Poetry Wheel is basically Six Degrees of Tom Roby. Go, join the circle, and bring lots of poetry so you can find one to read that is inspired by the one you just heard.

Or, on Thursday, November 19, at Silver Room, 1442 N. Milwaukee Ave, you can check out an open mic story night hosted by Cara Brigandi. Arrive early to get your name in the hat; approximately 20 people will be chosen at random to tell a 5-minute story. Refreshments will be served. $5.

Ever since Irv Kupcinet and Studs Terkel passed away, the name Rick Kogan keeps popping up, sort of as the city's official lit-guy. I once saw Rick Kogan in a panel and he shared a story about how he once sat on Nelson Algren's lap when he was a child. On Thursday, November 19, from 5 to 7 PM, the public is invited to an opening reception for the Sidewalks: Photographs by Charles Osgood & Stories by Rick Kogan exhibition at Chicago Tourism Center Gallery, 72 E. Randolph St. And then on Friday, November 20 at 12:15 PM, Osgood and Kogan host a gallery conversation about their adventures working on the Sidewalks column. And on December 18, January 15, and February 19 at 12:15 PM., join Kogan at the gallery for a series of lunchtime discussions inspired by Sidewalks, including conversations with some of the people featured in the columns. Admission is free. For more information, visit

On Friday, November 20, from 6 to 7 PM, Columbia College Quincy Young Center, 623 S. Wabash, will present Family Business. Poetry as Resistance with Ismail Khalidi and Kevin Coval as part of The Silvertongue and Verbatim Reading Series, with open mic. Ismail khalidi is a poet and playwright born in Beirut and raised in Chicago. His play Tennis in Nablus has received several awards, including two from the Kennedy Center and will receive its premiere at the Alliance Theatre in Feb. 2010. His other plays include Truth Serum Blues (produced at Pangea World Theater, Minneapolis); Foot; Odd Territory and Final Status. He is a 2009-2010 Emerging Artists Fellow at the New York Theatre Workshop. His writing has been published in Mizna and American Theatre. He lives in New York. Aaaaand, we all know who Kevin Coval is, right?

Also on Friday, November 20, from 7 to 9:30 PM, there will be a Poetry & Spoken Word Night at Regina's Place, 3608 W. Wrightwood. This is the second time I'm hearing about this venue. I believe this is where Vito Carli did his Halloween reading, although I'm quite sure he listed it as an address across the street from there. This one features a very impressive line-up, with Luis Valadez, Carla Evonne Glowacki, Regina Henderson, Terry Jacobus, and Iman John-Hassan Jor'dan, with an open mic. on the optional theme of Thanksgiving. Luis Valadez says: "I've been doing venues lately where the audience and I are separated, so I'm really looking forward to being close with the crowd on this night. I expect the energy to be freeing." I guess you'll have to check it out to see what it's all about.

And finally, on Sunday, November 22, Another Chicago Magazine will be holding a Salon at 8 PM, with Damian Rogers, Aaron Burch, Erika Mikkalo and others. Fred Sasaki is going to do an "IPod Set" (whatever that is).

Hey, did I ever tell you how Fred Sasaki treated me during the recent Printers Ball? I didn't want to talk about it before, because I didn't want to spoil the experience for all the poets who read in my event, but now that it's over, here's what happened. Fred Sasaki, the guy in charge of putting together the Ball, asked me to send him a proposal for a poetry open mic for the Ball. So I spent all sorts of time thinking up a great idea for an all night "Printers' Pageant" that would give one representative from each featured publication five minutes on the stage. I wrote it all down and sent it to him. He said we're on. I was truly excited, so excited that I didn't even send a proposal to the Printers Row Book Fair because I figured the Ball would be my big summer event. But then I didn't hear from him for, like, forever. Eventually, I got in touch with him and I said, hey, the Ball is a few weeks away, better tell me the logistics so that I can start putting this thing together. He wrote back and said, don't worry, we have a room reserved for you and someone from Columbia College will get in touch. When the CC contact finally did get in touch, I found out my proposal had been thrown in the trash and that I would have one hour—the first hour of the Ball—on the stage. So I'm like, okay, I'm a professional, I'll go with the flow, but I couldn't do the big poetry pageant I planned in a single hour, especially not the first hour of the Ball, before anyone is even there yet, so I turned it into a mini-cram and invited fourteen great poets to read and I promoted the heck out of it. When I gave Fred Sasaki the details, Sasaki wrote back and told me that I was featuring too many poets. Huh? I wrote back and explained to him what a cram is all about. We then went back and fourth about a half dozen times about whether I could or couldn't get the poets in the building before the show began, when the doors wouldn't even be opened yet. Things started getting a little nutty because Sasaki imagined the poets and their friends would cause some type chaos if they were let in before the doors were officially open (if you were at the event and saw who was featured you know how ridiculous that notion was). Then, this is true: Sasaki called me on the telephone and threatened to have security throw me out of the place if there was any "trouble". I asked what the hell he was talking about. He said he had heard that I had been engaging in an argument with Kristy Bowen through our blogs. I asked him what the hell does Poetry Magazine care about what I write on my blog. He then seemed to agree that a multi-million dollar foundation shouldn't be getting involved in the petty local politics of the poetry scene, so I figured we could just move forward. But then he emailed me at midnight and requested that I delete a notice I posted at some obscure blog that nobody was even reading anyway. The notice in question was merely my promise that I wasn't planning to cause any "trouble" at the Ball. Fed up with all the strings that were attached to this opportunity, I said no, I wouldn't delete anything, and I told him that he was overreacting, that there wasn't going to be any trouble at the Ball, that we are all basically just a bunch of nerds bitching at each other on our blogs. He got pissed at me and in retaliation he had the Poetry Foundation declare Kristy Bowen's blog the "official" blog of the Ball, when up until that point Bowen was planning to boycott it. Then, in a notice he sent to everyone on Facebook, Fred Sasaki thanked Kristy for "pulling the curtain back" (wait, did Poetry Magazine just insult me). This act of Poetry Magazine taking sides in a petty dispute empowered every goofball with a blog and a bunch of nasty people did a bunch of nutty things, including creating a fake site claiming to be the "official" CJ Laity page with a photo of a naked man on a toilet and another photo of a severed cow's penis (it said "CJ Laity likes women: NOT" and other homophobic remarks). Believe me, I couldn't make stuff like this up if I wanted to. By that point, I was so sorry that I trusted Poetry Magazine's invitation to host an open mic. that I can't even describe it. I have hosted shows for the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Public Library, the Society of Professional Journalists and for many, many other organizations, and I have never, ever been treated so unprofessionally and with such disrespect. I was tempted to cancel my event, but since I am a professional, the show went on. When I finally got to the Ball, a half hour early, the doors were wide open, not locked, and there was no security ominously lurking around policing people's poetry blogs. Of course I didn't cause any trouble; however, get this, there was a representative from the "official" Printers Ball blog passing out slanderous fliers about me that encouraged people to boycott and even went as far as to accuse me of "impersonating a rape victim" (how sick is that). That was the thanks I got for organizing and hosting a fabulous event for the Poetry Foundation. But hey, other than that, the Ball was a really cool party, so I hosted my show like a professional and then I hung around all night with all my friends. But I gotta tell ya', he may be in with that academic self-proclaimed in crowd that has been trying to dominate things around town, but to this poet, Fred Sasaki is nothing but a co-co puff!

Anyway, don't let that stop you from going to the ACM Salon, doors open at 7 PM, $10 (wow), only 65 people will be invited (double wow) and it's at someone's house so email jacobsknabb at gmail dot com if you want to attend.

And don't forget, on Monday. November 30, at Weeds, 1555 N. Dayton, the best "off the wall" poem will win $50. Sign up begins at 9 and show starts at 10 PM.

Only one week left to CLICK HERE TO CRAM IT.

Never silent,

CJ Laity

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