Hey Chicago poets. There is so much happening on the Chicago Poetry Scene, we can barely keep up, but let's give it a try:
Say, I should mention "A Night of Sight & Sound With Saul Williams," that will take place at Kinetic Playground, 1113 W. Lawrence Ave, from 6 PM until Midnight, starting on Sunday, March 27. This Lethal Poetry event full of poetry, hip-hop and art will be a multidisciplinary art exhibition and concert designed to support local art community and raise funds for local non-profits. It is being billed as "one crazy multi-sensory experience" Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here and there will also be an after party for $7.
Speaking of Lethal Poetry and Kinetic Playground. The Mojdeh Project will have a party at Kinetic Playground for the release of not one but two CDs on Wednesday, February 24 from 8 PM until Midnight. It's only $5 and will feature a bunch of special guests.
Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary season from February 19 through March 6, with over 650 Chicago-area youth representing 60 teams performing for a projected audience of over 6,500 people. Hot dog! The festival includes preliminary bouts and "college slams" at various Columbia College campuses every day from February 22 thru February 28, with a semi-final show at Steppenwolf Theater on March 1st, with the finals at The Vic Theater on Saturday, March 6. The complete schedule of bouts and related events in pdf format can be found here. For more information about the schedule or how to get tickets, contact that bad-ass Robbie Q. Telfer at email@example.com
Monday, February 22, Weeds, 1555 N. Dayton, will up the ante for its "Off The Wall" poetry contest to $100. Did Sergio win the lottery or some sheet? That's right, the pot has doubled, so bring your craziest, possibly most offensive poem and sign up after 9 PM for the 10 PM contest.
On Tuesday, February 23, Safe Smiles at Trace, 3714 N Clark St, will be hosting "The Full Circle Tour" featuring Eric Breland and Andi Kauth from 10 PM until 1 AM. There is a $3 cover for this 21 and over open mic show. Andi came out and read for me in the basement of some hotel years ago: she's way cool.
Finally, Sunday, February 28 will be a day for two poetry workshops, both offered for a measly $5 to $10 donation. From 1:30 to 3:30 PM, there will be a Vox Ferus poetry-publishing workshop called "Getting Ink" with leader Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz. Topics discussed will include research resources and techniques, cover letter development, and how to select poems for submission. Poets working in all styles are welcome, including humorous work, traditional forms, and performance-focused writing. To find out the secret location and to reserve your spot in the workshop, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
But this is Chicago, the world's most thriving poetry town, so you do have workshop options for that day. On Sunday, February 28, from 1:30 to 4:30 PM, The Rhino Workshop will be led by Michael Meyerhofer, at Evanston Public Library, Room 108, Church & Orrington in Evanston. Michael says: "Even in contemporary free verse, scansion can be a simple, quick way to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of a line by comparing the number of stressed versus unstressed syllables, a kind of diagnostic EKG machine for poetry. We'll discuss some basic strategies for packing more punch into each line of verse." Bring 15 or more copies (no longer than two pages) of work you want critiqued. $5-$10 donation appreciated.
On Monday, February 15, Mental Graffiti returns to Butterfly Social Club, 722 W. Grand, with special guest Kent Foreman, an open mic and a slam from 8 to 10 PM. It's $5 and 21 and up please. Kent hasn't been around the scene for a while so it should be a real treat.
On Wednesday, February 17, at Decima Musa, 1901 S. Loomis, the Guild Complex will present a free, all ages, bilingual Latino Palabra Pura reading featuring Elizabeth Marino and Roberto Harrison. That one goes down from 7 to 9 PM. I had a dream the other night that the Guild Complex was teaming up with Cave Canem to sponsor some events. Hope it comes true.
Or, if you are downtown on February 17, you can check out the Oyez Review Reading from 5 to 6 PM at Roosevelt University, Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave, featuring poetry, fiction and nonfiction by John F. Buckley, Alexander York, Lydia Cesarz, Don Peteroy, Meghan Cadwallader, and more. Refreshments will be served.
But, wait, there's more. The rescheduled Revolving Door Reading Series is finally here, with features Allison Gruber, Donna Pecore, Luis Humberto Valadez, and Sid Yiddish at Red Kiva, 1108 West Randolph St, also on Wednesday, February 17, starting at 7:30 PM.
I heard it through the grapevine that Jennifer Karmin is back in town and she will be one of the many poets and performers appearing for "Links To Haiti," a benefit at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, that will take place on Thursday, February 18 from 7:30 to 10:30 PM. There will be Haitian and Moroccan music and dancing, a silent auction, food and drinks. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here. All money goes to Partners in Health.
Also on Thursday, February 18, the Words That Kill series will be celebrating African-American Heritage Month at Lilly's Bar, 2513 N. Lincoln Ave, from 7 to 9 PM. The poetry vs. comedy "omni-slam" will feature Javon Johnson, Blackout, Kevin Bam Smith, John Paul Davis and an encore by that old-schooler Kent Foreman. Performers are encouraged to bring props, costumes, and other theatrics. It's $5 or canned goods and it's 21 and over. The winner of the omni-slam will get to see Saul Williams for free on March 27.
On Saturday, February 20, at 8 PM, there will be another benefit for Haiti at Bronzeville Visitors Information Center, 411 E. 35th St, with performances by Precise, Lid Law, J. Hill and P1, and music by Dj Kmax and The Collards. Art by Nicole Malcolm will lso be raffled off.
Also on February 20, there will be a free "North Austin Poetry Slam" at the public library at 5724 West North Ave at 2:30 PM.
And of course February 20 is the third Saturday of the month, so get ready for the Coffeehouse event at Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, with open mic and feature Michael Koehler, starting around 7:30 PM. A $3 to $5 donation is asked.
On Sunday, February 21, from 7 to 10 PM, Gregory Lion Pickett will be the feature for the Uptown Poetry Slam at the Green Mill, 4802 North Broadway. Gregory will be leaving for England soon so this is one of your last chances to see him before he comes back with one of those accents.
What's this crazy sheet that I hear about a free Patti Smith reading at Harold Washington Library on Sunday, February 21. Yep! It's true. The doors to the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at 400 South State Street will open at 1:30 PM and it's first come first served, so be prepared for some freaky madness.
If that isn't enough poetry shenanigans for one day, Myopic Books, 1564 North Milwaukee Ave, will present a free reading by Aldo Alvarez on February 21 at 7 PM.