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spacer.gif   Guild Complex: B.Y.O.P. (Bring Your Own People)
Posted by : cj on Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 09:53 AM
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Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines .
On Wednesday, May 26. 2010, Chicago's Guild Literary Complex held an event at California Clipper called Bring Your Own People (B.Y.O.P), curated by Kurt Heintz and co-hosted by the Guild's Managing Director, Kimberly Dixon. I decided to check it out, even though there was a big Chicago Slam Works launch event happening simultaneously at Chopin Theater, where Marc Smith performed, perhaps for the first time since his catastrophic bicycle accident that left him hospitalized with head injuries. But you can't be in two places at the same time, right? As it happened, I ran into Kent Foreman, who was full of energy and making plans to record some of his poetry, despite being diagnosed with lung cancer. A bunch of others squeezed into the Clipper's back room for the reading and discussion as well.



B.Y.O.P is a classy affair with plenty of free food and a cash bar. It is a literary "mash up" that the Guild will continue to throw together from time to time. The event basically gives other Chicago area reading series an opportunity to network and to get to know each other. The May 26 event was especially significant because two of the featured venues, The Encyclopedia Show and the Reconstruction Room series, often hold their events on the same night, the first Wednesday of the month, making it extremely difficult to otherwise support each other. The third guest for the evening was RHINO, a 34 year old publication based out of Evanston that holds monthly readings and workshops.



Representatives from each reading series talked about their events, read some of their own work and participated in a question and answer session. The evening turned into a rompous, rip-roaring good time, as there was a lot of humor in the work that was presented. Shanny Magnuson performed a hilarious preview of the upcoming Circus themed Encyclopedia Show, about a trapeze artist swinging from a hot air balloon. Allison Gruber read an equally creative and entertaining piece of prose about smoking marijuana for the first time. And Ralph Hamilton read a poem written by Virginia Shank that was in the voice of Wile E. Coyote.



Through B.Y.O.P. we learned about the inner workings of these reading series. After Jacob Saenz did a reading, Hamilton spoke in depth about the editorial process of RHINO. Gruber spoke about the faith it takes having guest curators who choose their own themes. Patrick Carberry spoke about the history of the Encyclopedia Show, which recently moved from Chopin Theater to Vittum Theater in order to have more room.



The idea of B.Y.O.P is to get local poets and poetry organizers to talk to each other, and it works. Too often we have misconceptions about each other or hold unfounded prejudices regarding what poets, whom we've never even met, are doing with poetry. Without fail, when we meet each other and talk to each other, we discover that we are more similar than we are different and that we are all working toward the same goal. The Guild Complex has been creating venues to bring poets closer together for decades, and it is inspiring to see that they are still at it.



The next B.Y.O.P event will happen in July and will feature three different reading series. Since the event is free and open to the public, there really is no excuse not to participate. It's one thing to support your local poetry venues on your blog or through your email blast, but in order to keep these venues alive, we need to support them by actually showing up to their events. B.Y.O.P comes highly recommended by ChicagoPoetry.com.



(Photos and comments by CJ Laity)




Note: On Wednesday, May 26, the Guild Literary Complex held an event called Bring Your Own People at the California Clipper, and ChicagoPoetry.com was there to cover the event. Click here for the story.

 
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