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spacer.gif   In Defense Of The Guild Complex's Tour Guides
Posted by : cj on Saturday, December 11, 2010 - 12:07 AM
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Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .
I just got back from the Guild Complex’s presentation of Tour Guides, a wonderful hybrid performance of poetry and theater, and I simply feel the need to defend it from a lazy, damaging and might I say completely bitchy review of it, written by some rookie Chicago Tribune staff reporter named Nina Metz. I don’t know much about this person who has only been fulltime on the staff of the Trib since mid-September, but judging by the quality of the writing in her article, she shouldn’t be allowed to review anything even vaguely related to literature. That the respectable Tribune would send such a closed minded reporter to express her biased, borderline racist opinions about such a gutsy, provocative and socially conscious performance, a performance that was presented by a struggling non-profit that certainly could have used the ten warm bodies that her dim-witted article sent away--well, that is quite frankly inexcusable. The Guild Complex exists to fill in what is missing in Chicago’s literary scene, not to examine “what neighborhood economic shifts mean” (wow, that would make for an exciting play, yawn), and since there is no shortage of gentrification in Chicago, I’d say what is missing are the voices from the victims of that gentrification. Furthermore, I found no clichés at all in Tour Guides (I dare her to name one cliché in all the poetry presented), and the Tribune ought to be utterly ashamed of itself for publishing such a misleading blurb that unfairly cuts down months of hard work by nearly a dozen of Chicago’s most talented poets. Reading Nina Metz’s smug review, one would think Tour Guides is nothing but “gratuitous snickering at Lincoln Park” when in actuality, out of the entire hour of spoken word performances, there were perhaps four measly lines on that particular subject.

So here’s the real scoop on Tour Guides. Seven poets use nothing but their words, facial expressions, and body language (with minimal props and lighting) to tell the true stories of various Chicago neighborhoods. Their stories are relentlessly honest, unapologetic, and if you’ve lived in Chicago for any length of time, they are your stories as well. You will recognize them. You will say, I was there and I have seen that. The strongest aspect of this presentation is by far the writing. The brilliant writing is not only filled with vivid metaphors but it is also very daring. It’s not pc to write about how “you can’t take your white folks everywhere” but let's face it, that hits the nail on the head. And when you include lines about a neighborhood going from “Jewville to Jamba Juice” you are taking a huge risk, but let's be honest, these are brutal truths about Chicago. Tour Guides is one of the most gutsy plays I have ever seen. The topics in Tour Guides range from drive-by shootings, to permit parking, to the double meaning of the cost of living, to pizza, to churches, to the blues, to sports, to parades, to the ghost bike at Western and Augusta and to everything else Chicago. Tour Guides is a powerful and emotional experience. It’s an eye opener and I give it two really, really big quills up.

--CJ Laity


Tour Guides Director Coya Paz has pointed out: "Nina Metz has been reviewing for the Trib for years, and was/is the head critic at New City as well."

I admit, I don't read New City (don't know too many who do), but that really surprises me based upon the poor quality of the writing in Metz's review of Tour Guides. If you click here you will see a note dated September 27, 2010, welcoming Metz as a full time staff member of the Trib, and that makes her a rookie in my book, regardless of how much freelancing she's done. When it says "Tribune reporter" next to her name, she is actually speaking for that publication, and more than a lazy snipe of a review is expected of her.


 
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