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spacer.gif   Chicago Literary Hall Of Fames 2011
Posted by : cj on Sunday, October 10, 2010 - 03:36 PM
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Later this year, the self-proclaimed Chicago "Literary Hall of Fame" will for the second time celebrate the work of six dead people during another big, overpriced, megalomaniacal affair in which the Chicago Lit Scene's greatest seeker of financial dues, The Chicago Writers Association, carves in stone for us the names of six writers who we already know are important. I can save you the $45 or whatever outrageous amount of money they plan to solicit from you this year so that you can have the privilege of attending their gluttonous affair. I'll tell you right now who they have chosen as the 2011 "Inductees": Cyrus Colter (died in 2002); Theodore Dreiser (died in 1945); Harriet Monroe (died in 1936); Mike Royko (died in 1997); Carl Sandburg (died in 1967); and Ida B. Wells (died in 1931). These six inductees were chosen from 24 nominees, each and every one of them pushing up daisies. The writers who most recently lived that were nominated were Carolyn Rodgers and Kent Foreman (both of whom passed away in 2010). The committee of nominators who chose the names of the deceased 24 reflected the absurdity of this year's New City Lit 50 List, in that it consisted of six white men, two white women and one man of African descent. These six nominators then passed their 24 spirit names to five admittedly more diverse "Selectors" who then chose which six dead people would be honored this year. Whew! All of that just to tell us Carl Sandburg was a great Chicago writer.

In their mission statement, the great Hall (throw your money at them--they're a nonprofit!)--says "Our annual induction ceremony . . . will be an occasion for Chicago to crown past, present and future literary achievements." But of course, without having one single living writer even nominated, all that is being honored by this power hungry behemoth are past, past and past literary achievements. Hey, I get what they're doing. It's as smart and as slimy as including the recognizable names of 34 "honorary committee" members on their website. They are concentrating on these dead names for the first few years because they believe that will give their fledgling Hall of Fame more credibility. Some day, when they've included just about every name of every great dead Chicago writer out there, they'll start sneaking in the names of a friend or two. And, oh boy, won't they be in charge then! What power they will have when they get to decide for us which living authors are worthy of praise, but most importantly, which ones are NOT.

My advice is, instead of wasting your money on some uppity organization's supermarket sushi and wine out of the box theatre presentation, spend the same amount of money buying one book written by each of the authors above. And then celebrate their lives by actually reading their work.

My name is CJ Laity


 
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