On Tuesday, May 4, at 7 PM, the Gerber Hart Library (which is developing a reputation as Chicago's cool gay library), at 1127 West Granville, will present a Lambda Literary Awards Reading, featuring four of this yearís nominees for outstanding work: J.E. Knowles, Kristin Naca, Tracey Richardson and Deborah B. Gould.
Also on Tuesday, May 4, at 7:30 PM, The Hopleaf at 5148 N Clark St will present readings by John Beer, Connor Coyne, Gina DiPonio, Jett McAllister, & Daryl Murphy.
On Wednesday, May 5, at 8 PM, the Rec Room Series at Black Rock Bar, 3614 N. Damen, will present a show called "The Underdog" curated by Gretchen Kalwinski. In honor of Cinco de May, comedians, fiction writers, and musicians will perform brief underdog-themed works.
Across town on May 5, at 7 PM, the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave, will present a Series A reading at 7 PM featuring Susan Slaviero, Heather Momyer and Garin Cycholl (that cool guy who read in the recent poetry cram).
The next Encyclopedia Show at Vittum Theatre, 1012 N. Noble, will have a "Wyoming" theme on Wednesday, May 5, 7:30 PM. It will feature Bill Ayers, Diana Slickman, Kelly Tsai, Adam Hart, avery r. young and many other cool special guests. Hey, I coulda swore I suggested Buffalo Bill as a sub-topic. Where's my free ticket?
The next Future Perfect event at Katerina's Street of Dreams, 1920 W. Irving Park, will be on Thursday, May 6, at 7:30 PM, and will feature poets from the anthology "Where We Find Ourselves: Jewish Women Around the World Write About Home." Bring money.
On Saturday, May 8, at 8:30 PM, the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N State St, will present the Chicago premiere of "Ferlinghetti" -- a new documentary about the legendary Beat poet. It's ten bucks.
But how are you going to see the movie if you are at The Mother of All Poetry Crams open mic event at Cafe Ballou, 939 N. Western Ave, 7 to 9 PM? Guess you'll have to wait until it comes out on video.
Hey Chicago Poetry fans,
I was out of town for a week and when I got back there was a sheet-load of cool poetry news on my desk. So here we go and feel free to click on the links.
Two cool words. Jack Hirschman. Thanks to Neighborhood Writing Alliance, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Mess Hall, Guild Complex, Curbstone Press and City Lights Books, Jack Hirschman is visiting Chicago. He will be participating in the Neighborhood Writing Alliance workshop at the King Branch Library, 3436 South King Drive, on Monday, May 3, at 4 PM. And later that day he will be appearing with Kevin Coval and poets from the Louder Than A Bomb youth poetry festival at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 South Halsted, at 7:30 PM. And then on Tuesday, May 4 at 7:30 PM at Mess Hall, 6932 N. Glenwood, hear Jack Hirschman read from and discuss his work. Pot luck dinner precedes the reading/discussion.
Poet Gertrude Rubin will turn 89 on May 9. Cool, huh? Here's what I found on my desk from Beth Staas, president of Poets and Patrons: "Although Gert is still in the nursing home, she hopes to go home on May 1st. She had been sent there after a nasty fall in the bathroom, landing face forward on the tub, causing considerable bruising. But she's recovered nicely and they're working to enhance her strength through exercise. Meanwhile, her daughter, Bonnie, is putting together a memento to present on her birthday. Bonnie is asking for any feedback that might be included: vignettes and anecdotes to please, surprise and delight. If that includes a poem, all the better. Of course, you must be aware that Bonnie may or may not choose everything, depending on the focus she has established. If you want to submit something, be sure to do it promptly. Send it to Bonnie Baron, 6072 Del Cerro Blvd., San Diego, CA 92120.
On Monday, May 10, 8 PM, at the Tonic Room, 2447 North Halsted, Fast Geek Press will presents a release party for John Franklin Dandridge's chapbook Further Down Rd. which is described as "an examination of an artistís relationships, rivalries and exaggerated perception of the future painted on the geographical canvas of Chicagoís Bucktown neighborhood."
The next Quickies! event will be on Tuesday, May 11, at 7:30 PM, at The Innertown Pub, 1935 West Thomas, and will feature Sara Levine, Matt Trupia, Jonathan Messinger, Natalie Edwards, Amanda Marbais, Barry Graham and Sam Pink each doing a really quick reading of flash fiction.
On Sunday, May 16, from 6 to 8 PM, Cole's Bar, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave, will host a book release party for Jennifer Karmin's Aaaaaaaaaaalice (Flim Forum Press). The event will also feature Joel Craig, Kathleen Duffy, Krista Franklin, Chris Glomski, Laura Goldstein, Lisa Janssen & John Keene. It's free but 21 and over. Hey! I just checked my mail and guess what. I gots me a comp. copy of this cool book courtesy of the press. I guess I'll just have to review it soon, huh.
On Sunday, May 23, at 2 PM, Fine Arts Building, 410 South Michigan Ave, will host an "art song" event by Singers On New Ground, a Chicago organization that is dedicated to the performance of American Contemporary Art Song. According to the press release "an 'art song' is poetry that is set to music . . .a beautiful collaboration between the poet, composer, singer, and instrumentalist. This concert is especially unique because it features a set of works by poet Jill McDonough that was entered into a contest held by Memorious.org online literary journal. The winner of the contest had poems set by composer Randall West and performed by Chicago musicians. The editor and founder R. Morgan Frank will give a pre-concert lecture at 1:15. The concert will also feature art songs set on poems by Carl Sandburg and Billy Collins."
On Wednesday, May 26, starting at 5:30 PM, the Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington St, will host a benefit for the Journal of Ordinary Thought with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and a dialogue between critically-acclaimed novelist and poet Achy Obejas and Tony Sarabia. Tickets can be obtained by making a donation here.
On Thursday, May 27, at 7 PM, Women & Children First, 5233 North Clark St, will present "Help for Haiti: A Reading by 7th Graders from Helen C. Peirce Elementary School." When the tragic January 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, the images of the disaster profoundly affected the 7th grade students of Helen C. Peirce Elementary School's Room 301. While working in collaboration with Free Street Theater and its Act/Write residency program, the students were asked to choose a topic they wanted to explore through writing. The students chose to write about the Haitian crisis and asked if they could do a fundraiser to help. On May 27 the bookstore will present the creative visions and voices of Room 301 for a special reading and fundraiser, benefiting continued recovery efforts in Haiti. Now that's cool.
Psst. Carlos Cortez's birthday observation is planned for the weekend of August 13 thru 14.
Word is that the Guild Complex is still cool after all these years. On Wednesday, May 19, at 7:30 PM, the Guild Complex's Palabra Pura series will present Levi Romero and Javier Villasenor at Decima Musa, 1901 S. Loomis Ave.
But that's not all. The Guild Complex is now accepting entries for the annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Awards with a $500 cash prize. Entries need to be postmarked by May 27 and you must be available to read at the Chopin Theatre, 1534 W. Division, in late June. Click here for all the details.
Mmmmm. Natalie Merchant? Isn't she the lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs or something? Didn't know she was a poet. Don't have much to say about that. Perhaps some day the Poetry Center will start hosting cool poetry readings again. I dunno.
Oh, yeah. If I don't say it, who will? The Poetry Foundation is spending over twenty million dollars on a poetry venue in the upscale River North neighborhood, scheduled to open in June 2011. Must be nice not to have to struggle. The rich foundation says their new "home for poetry" will be "one of only a few public spaces in the nation built exclusively for the advancement of poetry." Poetry? Really? What kind of poetry? Sure, they trick us into thinking they support a wide range of poetry styles by including a bit of our info in an email blast from time to time (but not on their website of course), and they try to be hip by throwing a Printers Ball shindig once a year (when they're not being shut down by the police) during which we're expected to give away our valuable products for free (but hey, free beer), but the ultimate mission of this behemoth not for profit is to support mainstream, safe, nonpolitical, academic dust. They've been doing it for nearly a hundred years now and they ain't about to change. So don't get a woody yet over some fancy-schmancy house that is really designed to reverse all of the hard grassroots work of the performance poets of Chicago. Sure, I'll go there if something cool is happening, but I'll go there knowing that all the shiny marble, Lysol and uppity attitude is actually taking poetry out of the community, so that a multi-million dollar foundation can serve it up to rich folks. Why doesn't Poetry Magazine get some guts and plant poetry where it will make a difference, like Englewood? Pull the curtain back on that Wizard of Oz and you'll see the great big Wal-Mart of Chicago Poetry. Like I said, must be nice not to have to struggle, but I propose that it is within the struggle that poetry finds its soul.
Yours in poetry,