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spacer.gif   What I Hear About The Chicago Poetry Scene
Posted by : cj on Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - 01:44 PM
Poetry Gossip: Click On Headlines .
Hey poets, sorry I haven't delivered a column in a while. I was literally living in the woods surrounded by four crazy dogs, packs of yalping coyotes, three horses and gazillion stars aplenty. But now I'm back in the Windy City and I have found all the wonderful poetry information that you sent to my box. Thank you for helping me keep my ear to the poetry rail. I've been reporting about the Chicago Poetry Scene for a long, long time and I hear about everything. I siphoned through it all, and here is what I hear.

I hear a lot of poetry venues and poets are suffering loss because of the economy. Every time I turn around I hear of a venue closing or a poet losing funding. That's why it is important for poets to stick together and support each other even if we don't always see eye to eye. For example, recently the Outspoken Festival that was planned for September 25 was canceled because reportedly the grants for it didn't materialize. I think the worst of the horror stories that I've heard concerns a publish on demand queen who lost her book deal, lost her "official blog" status and lost her position on New City's Top 50 List; oh, but wait, that was due to her unneighborly attitude, so never mind. Well, anyway, here's your chance to help save one of Chicago's longest running poetry venues. On Tuesday, October 12, from 7 to 11 PM, you can help support the Heartland Cafe, 7000 N Glenwood, during a benefit there for only $10. From what I understand, it may be closing down if it doesn't get the support it needs, and that would be a true loss.

I hear that Caffeine Theatre is seeking original poetry for what they are calling the “Old Father William’s Frabjous and Curious Poetry Contest.” Submissions may include any size or style of poem, as long as it is inspired in some way by the life or work of Lewis Carroll, or speaks in conversation with that life or work. Nonsense poems, mock epics, and poems exploring symbolic logic are especially encouraged. Winners will be posted and podcast on Caffeine’s website, and performed at a Lewis Carroll Coffeehouse at the end of November. Email poem(s) and a 3 to 5 sentence description of relation to Lewis Carroll to with “Old Father William” in the subject heading. Deadline is Halloween.

I hear that Miguel del Valle is running for Mayor of Chicago and that he is more likely to support the arts than Big Brother Rahm, so if you're not planning on voting for me, you should totally check out my man Miguel.

I hear that the POW-WOW Tuesday series is the most authentic alternative reading series in Chicago. Let's just say it's the real deal and it fills in a big hole in the literary landscape. It happens every Tuesday at Jeffrey Pub, 7104 S Jeffrey, with food served at 7:30 and open mic and features starting at 8:30. There is a $5 cover. Check out this line up: on October 12, Breast Cancer Awareness Week will be recognized with African drumming with Yaounde Olu along with poetry readings; on October 19, the one and only Brook Blander will make her POW-WOW debut; and on October 26, legendary performance artist Tina M. Howell will be the feature. So get your ass down to the Southside and support a genuine African American performance poetry series.

I hear that on Wednesday, October 6, at 7 PM, Chicago's most popular experimental poetry series, Series A, will present Donora Hillard, Julia Miller and Eric Gelehrter at Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell.

I hear Chicago's most inspired poetry / variety series, Encyclopedia Show is back, this time on a Thursday, October 7, starting at 7:30 PM, at Vittum Theatre, 1012 N. Noble St. This month's theme is "Civil Wars" and will feature Diana Slickman, Dave Isaacson, Kristiana Rae Colón, Andi Kauth, John Szymansk, Tre Iosbaker, Andy Junk and Jasper Wong, with an incredible line-up of hosts and regulars including Robbie Q Telfer, Shanny Jean Maney, Tim Stafford, Joel Chmara, Lindsay Hunter and Emily Rose. I hear that they have a new "fact checker" named Ian Belknap. What happened to Kurt? I've heard nothing about his departure as fact checker, but of course the last time I tried to touch base with him on Facebook to see what's up with the Guild Complex, he instantly blocked me, so what do you expect? I do however hear that Edward Thomas-Herrera will be joining in on the fun, and I hear that the cover has been raised to $8 but, fuck it, look at the line-up: it's worth it.

I hear The Humboldt Park Boathouse will be hosting some upcoming events, including a reading by Erika Mikkalo on Friday, October 8, at 7 PM (with Open mic starting at 7:15), and a game of "Prairie Prose" an all ages event in which participants write Haiku on Saturday, September 4th at 1 PM. Click here to learn more about the boathouse.

I hear there's a poetry "set" every second Friday (next one is on October 8) from 7:30 to 10 PM at Livin Clean, 1539 S. Pulaski, 773-521-9150, with free food for a $5 cover.

I also hear there is going to be a free speech open mic poetry event at Quaker House, 5615 S. Woodlawn, on Friday, October 8, from 8:30 to 10:30 PM, with a $3 cover.

I hear that The Venus Collective will present their 8th annual "Just Be Soul Revival" (an evening of performing and visual arts to celebrate women) on Saturday, October 9, 8:30 PM, at Living Room Lounge, 1100 W. Cermak. A $7 cover benefits Rape Victim Advocates and the event will feature spoken word and visual installations from Nikki Patin, La Pixie, BollyRitmo, Bag Wis Collective, Brooke Bartlett, Sam Kirk, The Universal Ninjas, and comedian Gwen La Roka. Poetry can make something happen!

I hear that The FM Supreme Project EP Release Party will happen on Tuesday, October 12, from 7:30 to 11 PM at The Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont. Twenty-one year old Nigerian MC Jessica Disu aka FM Supreme is a writer, poet and hip hop youth activist who has been independently producing her own recordings since she was 15. The program is $12 and 17 and over.

I hear that Neighborhood Writing Alliance participants will read pieces inspired by their experience in the garden at Timuel D. Black Edible Arts Garden, 5710 S. Woodlawn Ave, on Wednesday, October 13, from 6 to 7:30 PM. This event is open to the public and you may eat the art.

I hear the Danny's Reading Series, 1951 W. Dickens, will feature Julia Story (that's a good name for a writer, huh) and Marc Rahe on Wednesday, October 13, 7:30 PM.

I hear the Green Lantern venue at 2542 W. Chicago Ave has become one of the hottest spots in town to check out performance art and other events. On Thursday, October 14, at 7 PM, Chris Mazza will be reading and answering questions.

I hear that on Tuesday, October 19, at 7 PM, Women and Children First Bookstore will present a film screening of Living Downstream, based on the acclaimed book by Illinois native, ecologist, and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber. It happens at Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Avenue. Tickets can be purchased for $10 at the bookstore or online by clicking here.

I hear one of the editors of Triggerfish Critical Review, that is, Milwaukee poetry scener Greg Grummer, will lead October's Rhino Poetry Workshop on Sunday, October 24th, from 1:30 to 4:30 PM, at Evanston Public Library, Church & Orrington in Evanston, Room 108. Grummer will discuss whether or not the internet has changed the way poetry is submitted, presented and written. Bring 17 or more copies (2 page limit) of work you want critiqued. This is an amazing value at a $5 to $10 donation.

I hear that the TallGrass Writers series will present the author of Happenstance, Catherine Fitzpatrick, on Tuesday, October 26, at 7:30 PM, at The Bourgeois Pig, 738 W Fullerton, for $6, with open mic. I hear that Fitzpatrick was in New York City during the September 11 disaster and that she reported on it extensively.

I hear on Friday, October 29 at 7 PM, Book Cellar at 4736 N. Lincoln Ave will present Chicago-based, clever estrogen during the fourth-annual Witty Women Writer's Night, featuring Stacey Ballis (Good Enough To Eat), Claire Zulkey (An Off Year), Wendy McClure (The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie), and Jen Lancaster (My Fair Lazy).

I hear the Nature Writing Group will meet on Halloween, Sunday, October 31, from 11 AM until 1 PM at North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski Ave. Do you like or want to learn about writing about nature? Contact Elaine Wagner at 847-864-3898 for more info.

And don't forget the big Halloween poetry extravaganza on Saturday, October 23, at Cafe Ballou, 939 N. Western, starting around 7 PM (get there early, space is limited). I hear that I will be hosting it. I'm psyched!!

Finally, I hear the Chicago Poetry Scene is stronger and cooler than ever. Let's keep rolling because this has definitely been the Year of Making It Happen Together.

Peace out,

CJ Laity

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