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spacer.gif   Meet CJ Laity
Posted by : cj on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 11:40 AM
Exciting New Book Now Available .
Learn About CJ Laity's New Book

Learn About Poetry Cram Magazine.

Check Out CJ's Chicago Poetry Calendar

For the past two decades, C. J. Laity has been a motivating force in Chicago's Poetry Scene, helping to shape it into what it is today. He attended Columbia College from 1983 to 1987, where he studied poetry under Elaine Equi and fiction under Larry Heinneman, and where he helped inspire the formation of the English Department that exists today. In the late 80s and early 90s he organized The Living Artists Society, a poetry series that held themed readings at such venues as Lower Links, Cabaret Voltaire, Crash Palace, The Borderline and HotHouse. From 1991 until 1995 he served as an editor for the orginal Letter eX Poetry News Magazine. He also served as the poetry host for the Underground Press Conference. Throughout the 1990s, and into the new millennium, Laity served as the Poetry Coordinator for the Bucktown Arts Fest, where he established what became known as "Chicago's Largest Poetry Reading." In 2002, Laity led the largest poetry boycott Chicago has ever known, which led to the creation of The Chicago Poetry Fest. The Chicago Poetry Fest has been held at such venues as Weeds, Truman College, Lincoln Square, Blue Line Studio, Hyatt Regency and Mercury Cafe.

Over the years, C. J. Laity has been involved with too many poetry-related venues and publications to list here. A few are listed below.

Major Projects

Host of the Poetry Cram at the Poetry Fest at Harold Washington Library three years in a row.

Host of the 2005 Chicago Blues Poetry Showcase, part of the Chicago Blues Festival in Grant Park, sponsored by Chicago Mayor Daley's Office of Special Events. Came "highly recommended" by the Chicago Reader.

Host of Chicago Poetry Showcase, part of Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair, five years in a row.

Publisher of since January 2000. is one of America's most popular poetry themed websites; it receives over 500,000 visitors every year.

Founder and organizer of The Chicago Poetry Fest, an event held every year on the last weekend of August.

Sponsor of the Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Award for Poetry.

Chicago Poetry TV.

Co-sponsor of Poetry World Radio.

Recent Publications

Point Nemo, a fiction novel available on

Disco Hypnotic, a full length book on alternative psychology.

No Hope, No Fear, a full length book of poetry.

License To Quill, a chapbook of poetry.

Fupped Uck, a chapbook.

Various poetry related articles in Third Coast Press, a monthly free progressive newspaper.

Poetry in two issues of After Hours Magazine. Also featured interviewee in After Hours Magazine.

Poetry Published in Power Lines (Tia Chucha Press).

Fiction published in Things That Go Bump In The Night (Outrider Press ).

Poetry Published in Take Two: They're Small (Outrider Press).

Poetry Published in Poetry For Peace (The Peace Museum)

Upcoming poetry video published at Unlikely Stories.

Poetry Events

Organized and hosted Chicago Poetry in the Bottle at the Empty Bottle

Organized a National Poetry Month celebration for the Guild Complex at Beat Kitchen and also at Chopin Theater

Created The Chicago Poetry Cram, that has been held at The Cafe in Lincoln Square and at Gallery Cabaret in Bucktown.

Organized and hosted the Wicker Park Poetry Invasion, an outdoor reading featuring 100 poets who read at the corner of Wolcott and Division in protest of gentrification.

Recent Features

Has been a featured poet at:

Improv Olympics "Under the Influence" Series

Panelist at Columbia College's Portfolio Center

Around the Coyote

Poetry in the Branches: Chicago Public Library

Works of Art on CAN TV

WLUW Radio

WZRD Radio

The Peace Fest

The HotHouse 2004 Election Night Party

The Hyde Park Poetry Fest

The Unity Cafe in Oak Park

Guild Complex

The Poetry Center of Chicago Live From Mars


C. J. Laity is a "fixture in the city's poetry scene."

--Chicago Tribune sits on the broad shoulders of its founder C. J. Laity, and on any day the website can be counted on to do the work its creator intends--to inform anyone who clicks and cares about the vitality, diversity, and controversy of the Chicago poetry scene.

--Larry Janowski, After Hours Magazine A leviathan of all things poetry, CJ Laity's site is a masterpiece of poetry, links, gossip and more.

--milk magazine

We are lucky to have such an active and supportive poetry world here in Chicago. And lucky to have our C.J.

--Emily S. Cook, Events Producer, Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair

cj [is] a hardworking mf with a good heart

--Marvin Tate, Author of Schoolyard of Broken Dreams.

I am a fan of [Laity's] work and admire [his] reputation in the poetry world.

--Jim DeRogatis of WXRT's "Sound Opinions"

[C. J. Laity] had a lot to do with bringing the poetry to the people . . . [C. J.] provides opportunities for us to say what is happening around us and that is the true history. The greatness of a nation can always be measured by the depth of its poetry and people, like [C. J. Laity] . . .

--E. Donald Two-Rivers, American Book Award Recipient

C. J. Laity at the Wicker Park Invasion
Photo by Richard M. Rubin: C. J. Laity leads a poetic invasion of Wicker Park.

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