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spacer.gif   Chicago Poetry Scene Mourns Loss Of Kent Foreman
Posted by : cj on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 05:27 PM
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Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines .
Only yesterday, Monday, November 29, the Guild Complex sent out the unfortunate email letting everyone know that the venue that has been hosting their Palabra Pura reading series, Decima Musa, was closing down and that the reading series would be temporarily suspended until they find a new location. At the bottom of that email was this link to their website where you can listen to excerpts from "Living History,” a tribute to Chicago poet Kent Foreman that they held on August 24 at the Jazz Showcase, when about a hundred people came out in the afternoon to hear readings by Regie Gibson, Roger Bonair-Agard, Marty McConnell as well as a lengthy set by Foreman himself. That performance would prove to be one of Kent Foreman’s last. Today, as if to seal the deal on a year that has witnessed the loss of one Chicago poet after another, Kent Foreman’s Facebook page is swarming with messages from loved ones saying their goodbyes, where Patricia Smith writes “Loving and missing you” and suggests Chicago should be renamed after him and Tyehimba Jess wishes him “peace.” After a year of battling lung cancer, Kent Foreman has passed away.

The poetry audio project reVerse calls Kent Foreman “a beat generation poet who helped pioneer the Chicago performance poetry scene.” In his long career as a poet, he performed onstage with the likes of Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka, was mentored by Oscar Brown, Jr., and has been a mentor to an entire generation of performance poets. Online, his work can be found here at e-poets as well as on YouTube performing for Words That Kill and HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. In June 2002, over one-hundred poets joined ChicagoPoetry.com in a boycott of a local arts festival after vendors associated with the festival slung racial slurs at Kent Foreman as he read his award winning poem Chicago on an outdoor stage in Wicker Park. As a result of the boycott, Kent’s photo appeared in a full page article in the Chicago Reader and also in a half page article in the Sun-Times, where they published the first 25 lines of his poem to show their support.

Kent Foreman’s gritty Chicago style of spoken-word poetry lives on in the work of the poets who he mentored, who have in turn passed the baton on to a new generation of performance poets. Presently, there is probably nowhere else where you are more likely to enjoy samples of Foremanesque poetry than at the Guild Complex’s presentation of Tour Guides, that opens this weekend at Chicago Center for the Performing Arts. If you would like to honor Foreman's legacy by supporting Tour Guides, click here to learn more about it.

Rest In Peace, Statesman, as your words live on.

--CJ Laity

**Memorial for Kent Foreman, Sun, January 16, 2011, 2:00pm – 4:30pm, Little Black Pearl, 1060 E. 47th St


 
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