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spacer.gif   The Twelfth Annual State Of The Chicago Poetry Scene Address
Posted by : cj on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 02:08 PM
Chicago Poetry Letters Section .
My fellow poets, I will make this year's annual address as brief as possible,

I am honored to report that the Chicago Poetry Scene has never been better. At the moment we have two equally powerful sub-scenes in Chicago: the performance scene and the lit scene. The performance scene thrives due to the tireless efforts of poets such as Marc Smith, Marty McConnell, Kevin Coval, Robbie Q. Telfer, Emily Calvo, Billy Tuggle, CC Carter, Gregorio Gomez, Kimberly Dixon and too many others to name drop. Likewise, the lit scene flourishes due to the equally dedicated energies of poets such as Larry Sawyer, Lindsay Hunter, Joel Craig, William Allegrezza, Jennifer Karmin, Al DeGenova, Victor David Giron, Jacob Knabb, Ralph Hamilton as well as countless others. Over the last couple of years, I've been delighted to witness these two sub-scenes working together (as opposed to against each other) to create the wonderful, thriving Chicago Poetry Scene that is the envy of the poetry world today. From Louder Than A Bomb (the annual youth competition and the film) to the annual Printers Ball, from the weekly Uptown Poetry Slam to the bilingual events of the Guild Complex, from big name poets appearing for our universities to the numerous weekly and monthly poetry series and open mics that are open to all: Chicago, without a doubt, remains the Poetry Capital of the World.

Make no mistake. The year 2011 was a huge one for Chicago poets on both sides of this imaginary page vs. stage fence. During 2011 Chicago celebrated Another Chicago Magazine's 50th issue as well as the Poetry Slam's 25th year. The Chicago Public Library held its 11th annual Poetry Fest (look for the 12th one on April 28, 2012) and the Poetry Foundation celebrated the opening of their multi-million dollar home for poetry. The year 2011 was the year of the poets! Poets across the country helped Occupy Wall Street and poets across the world helped to overthrow oppressive governments. Hell, even Barack Obama held a poetry reading in 2011.

What about It's been taking a break lately, right? Now, I could linger on how that small group of amateur poets from that local open mic "collective" continues to steal my ideas, most recently even resorting to naming their events--verbatim--after events that I have held in the past (Night of the Living Poets, Not Your Usual Suspects, etc.), but I prefer to concentrate on the positive aspects of my own contribution to the Chicago Poetry Scene. is about to enter its thirteenth year of reporting the Chicago poetry news. I was blogging about Chicago poetry on the internet before blogging even had a name. Admittedly, this past year has been a laid back one for, but don't sweat it. I am personally doing fine and am blessed with good health and peace of mind. But the world wide web has changed a lot over the last decade. There was a time when was, pretty much, the only source where you could get up to date information about the happenings of our poetry scene. It was with thousands of hours of volunteer work that I kept the site updated all those years. But now we have all sorts of social networks and other ways of communicating information online. The landscape has changed, as I predicted it would. Sometimes I feel like a privately owned video retailer competing with the likes of Netflix and the red boxes.

As a result, I found the opportunity in 2011 to do some things for myself. I even wrote a novel called Point Nemo that I'm extremely proud of. I was able to actually make a little money and do a bit of traveling in 2011. I thank you for your patience as I got some much needed rest and relaxation. But have no fear. Mr. Chicago Poetry is still here. I'm rethinking my plans to end in December of 2012, as announced two years back. I'll let you know when the time comes if and when I'll ever pull the plug on what I've created. Meanwhile, I'm coming up with new ideas in order to keep fresh and important. One of the ideas I've come up with is a new poetry contest that I intend to spice up a bit before the April deadline. In 2012, I plan on writing some long overdue book and performance reviews, and I don't plan to be all nicety-nice about it, either. Don't worry. The Chicago Poetry Scene is not going anywhere and neither are my opinions about it.

So . . . I hereby declare 2012 The Year Of The Poetic Awakening!

That's it: short and sweet. That's all I have to say. So stay cool and keep up the hard work, poets!

Yours in poetry,

CJ Laity

Note: Publisher CJ Laity delivers his Twelfth Annual Address to the Chicago Poetry Scene. Click Here to read the address.

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