Well, poetry fans, the summer slow down is slowing down and the Chicago Poetry Scene is getting back to business full force.
Last year, right about this time, The Guardian of the U.K. listed ChicagoPoetry.com in its Top Ten Free Things To Do In Chicago article (click to read it), and that's not surprising. This influential website that has been blogging before blogging had a name, has consistently listed free poetry events for going on eleven years now, and that's why it is the world's most trusted place to get information and opinions about what's happening in Chicago's poetry scene. So, here are my current top picks of FREE things to do (okay, some of them may have covers).
Oh, first off heads up everyone. Get out your calendar right now and reserve this date. ChicagoPoetry.com's poetry series at Cafe Ballou, 939 N. Western Ave, will be back in October for a special event called "Night of the Living Poets" to happen on the evening of Saturday, October 23, featuring some of the best poets in Chicago, including Lorraine Harrell, Sheila A. Donovan, Donna Pecore, Jacqueline Harris, Cheyenne Demus, Cathleen Schandelmeier, GPA, Anna Husain, Marianne Schaeffer, Tim Doyle, Pete Dederick, Pamela Miller, Terry Jacobus, Robin Fine, Andrea L. Change, Jacqui Wolk, Josephine Lipuma, Jose Bono, Beatriz Badikian, Luis Pelayo and more, who will share their scariest, creepiest, weirdest or funniest poetry (perhaps in costume) for what promises to be the all time liveliest Halloween poetry event. I'm still looking for some men to level out the playing field. If you are a "Living Poet" please contact me. Did I mention the event will be FREE and open to the public?
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But on Saturday, October 16, at 10 AM, The Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies, 60 W. Walton St., is happy to present its first Shakespeare Project of Chicago staged reading of the 2010-11 season: Measure for Measure, followed by a discussion with the director and cast. This program is FREE and open to the public; no tickets required.
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Vox Ferus After Dark is a dynamic writing workshop designed to build a community of writers and performers interested in improving their own craft by investing in and exploring the work of others as well as their own. Each workshop includes analysis, critique, and development of new writing. All are welcome, but pre-registration is required as space is limited. Workshops take place in various locations, usually on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month, and are facilitated by Marty McConnell and occasional guest poets. Donations are requested, on a pay-what-you-will basis. To RSVP or for more information, please email voxferus (at) gmail (dot) com. The next workshop is on Friday, September 10.
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New poetry venue alert! Pressure Billiards and Cafe, at 6318 North Clark St, is launching an open mic every third Thursday, welcoming poetry, short stories, musicians and comedians, with a focus on supporting the poets and writers of Chicago with a safe, fun environment to perform in. It starts around 8:30 PM, with no cover. They will operate in two rounds with one to two poems per performance, so poets will have the opportunity to perform up to four poems throughout the evening. Pretty cool, huh?
Finally, here's an opportunity. Dave Connell, a senior undergraduate philosophy major and public policy minor at De Paul University has been awarded the McCormick Tribune Stipend for his work with Tamms Year Ten and he would love to have some poets deliver readings about prison reform at Tamms CC during an event at De Paul in late October. If this sounds like you would fit the bill, contact him at dcarpenterconnell(at)gmail(dot)com for more information.
Do you have an announcement that you would like me to consider for a future column? Feel FREE to send it to publisher(at)chicagopoetry(dot)com and if you want information about more events, go to the real ChicagoPoetryCalendar.com, read everything, and start marking your calendars.
On Friday, September 17, from 7 to 9 PM, Nancy Bechtol presents a new photo / video installation featuring the portraits of Lee Groban, author of the longest poem in the world. It happens at 4ART Inc at Zhou B. Center, 1029 West 35th Street #403 and it is FREE.
On Saturday, September 18, from 6 to 8 PM, Vito Carli will host another FREE event at Café Mestizo, 1738 W. 18th Street, this time featuring Elizabeth Marino, Jenene Ravesloot, Tom Roby and more.
On Monday, September 20, 7:30 to 10 PM, the place to be will be the Butterfly Social Club, 722 W Grand, for the first slam of the year. If you want to try to make it to "Finals" you are free to begin your journey. Six spots are available for the slam and there will be an open mic. with featured poet Alice Shindelar from Minneapolis. Not free though. It's five bucks, worth it, and 21 or over.
On Tuesday, September 21, at 7 PM, The Silver Tongue Series will present a benefit at 731 S. Plymouth Court, featuring Adam Lizakowski, Abigail Sheaffer, Benicia Blue, Lauryn Allison Lewis, Samantha Skinner and Sandra Lee Ernsberger. There will be cake. Since it's a benefit, I'm not sure how "free" this one is but it's for a worthy cause.
On Wednesday, September 22, from 7:30 to 9 PM, the Danny's Reading Series is back at 1951 W. Dickens, featuring Adam Novy and Roddy Lumsden of London. I think it's free.
Check this one out! Word is Nuyuorican poet Roberto Plena Irizarry will be performing with Nikki Patin for a FREE, all ages event on Thursday, September 23, 7:30 PM, at Ponce Restaurant, 4322 W. Fullerton, with open mic.
Or check out "Without A Mic" a FREE, all ages open mic that happens on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month at Let Them Eat Chocolate, 5306 N Damen Ave. The next one is September 23 from 6:30 to 9 PM.
On Sunday, September 26, from noon until 2 PM, Marcia Pradzinski and Gail Goepfert, both members of the Northbrook chapter of the Illinois State Poetry Society, will be featured poets at Brewed Awakening, 19 West Quincy in Westmont. There is a $5 cover, with refreshments and an open mic.
On Wednesday, September 29, from 5:30 to 7 PM, Chicago's favorite feminist poet and publisher, Becca Klaver, will be joined by Jaswinder Bolina, author of Carrier Wave, the winner of the 2006 Colorado Prize for Poetry, for a FREE reading at Sherwood Conservatory, 1312 S. Michigan Ave.
And right after that, on Wednesday, September 29, 7 PM, Silver Tongue will merge with The Encyclopedia Show right down the street at The Conaway Center, 1104 S Wabash Ave, during which Columbia College faculty and students will define "BEARS" in hilarious and raucous fashion, using poetry, film, music, and more. It is FREE and open to the public.
I hear the next Windy City Story Slam will be a "perverse" one on Saturday, October 2, 9:30 PM at the Viaduct Theatre. That's all I know about it and I don't think it's free.