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spacer.gif   NINE LIVES OF CHICAGO POETRY: TIA CHUCHA'S POETS
Posted by : cj on Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - 07:27 PM
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Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines

Dream Of A Word
The Tia Chucha Press Poetry Anthology
Edited by Quraysh Ali Lansana and Toni Asante Lightfoot
Tia Chucha Press
Reviewed by C. J. Laity


On Tuesday, September 19, 2006, Tia Chucha Press celebrated the release of its new anthology, Dream of a Word, with a powerful poetry reading at the beautiful Art Institute Ballroom at 112 S. Michigan. The event featured local poets Mary Hawley, Zada Johnson, Mike Puican, Dwight Okita, cin salach, and Michael Warr, with book editors Toni Asante Lightfoot reading from work by anthology poets who have "joined the great ancestors" and Quraysh Ali Lansana hosting.

Dream of a Word is a remarkable collection that contains samples of socially conscious poetry from the authors Tia Chucha Press has published over the last seventeen years, from its Chicago days with work by Patricia Smith, Rohan Preston, Sterling Plumpp, Marvin Tate, Carlos Cumpian, and Tony Fitzpatrick, to its L.A. days with work by international poets such as Elizabeth Alexander, Kyoko Mori, Diane Glancy, Melvin Dixon, and Nick Carbo, among many others.

Workers later found Margarito's body
wedged in the entrails
of a sluice gate.
They delivered it to town,
tomato capital of the world,
awakened now, suddenly,
to the tyranny of indifference.


(from "Tomatoes" by Luis J. Rodriguez)

Tia Chucha Press has published some of the most important poets of our day, not only from Chicago but also from across the country. Some of the best work from Tia Chucha's three-dozen titles is featured within the covers of this book. This book is even more important because it has a higher aim than just being a "best of" collection. With the fine editing and the inclusion of study questions as the final chapter, this is an appropriate volume for upper level high school teachers or college instructors to use in their classrooms, especially for courses concentrating on the civil rights movement, ethnic studies, political debate, social issues, poetry as therapy, and / or family relationships.

My Dad and every other
19-year old
On this ship
Wanted only to be beyond
The bloodshed,
The blank, dead faces.


(from "On The Fourth Of July" by Tony FitzPatrick)

Tia Chucha Press should be commended for remaining successful without selling out to pop culture, and it is fitting that the Poetry Center should recognize this. Indeed, as this book's introduction points out, a quarter of Tia Chucha Press's poets are first generation American writers (what other press can boast this). Yet despite the oftentimes-controversial points of view in this volume, the poetry remains universal and highly personal.

I can only blame me for not striking
out against the way people come
to love me, despite my need to be
in the lonely room in East Baltimore
where I grew up. In a full house,
alone. I have to go back there
and find the talisman that has
made me a prisoner of love,
against the wishes of my dreams
at night, all gone in the bones.


(from "Little Girls, 1993" by Afaa M. Weaver)

The poems in Dream of a Word are assorted by themes and sub-themes rather than by author. This allows for interesting comparisons and contrasts of styles, when a series of different poets presents work about their fathers, or going to church, or the blues, for example. I won't go into detail about these styles, because there are dozens of poets featured in this book, which makes it difficult to concentrate on any one of them in great detail. Suffice it to say, Dream of a Word is a virtual bonanza of modern styles, ranging from the slam scene to the academic scene, from an eclectic group of poets from various ethnic and social backgrounds.

to all our poetry,
our art reflects
the fusing of our languages,
we feel alive


(from "We Are A People Quite Integral" by Ricardo Sanchez)

Some other highlights from this anthology include "Dancing In Your Mother's Skin" by Jean Howard, "Disorganization" by Michael R. Brown, "Gutters" by Josie Raney, "Exquisite Minority" by Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton, "Scattering Dreams" by Angela Shannon, "Song For the Nineties" by John Sheehan, and "Workers" by David Hernandez. It's also a joy to be able to see so many of the classic performance poems from various Chicago authors stand their ground next to the work of nationally well-known authors.

The tabloids could run
full color action shots
of the poor guy's torso
teetering back and forth
doing that crazy circumstance dance


(from "Boy Sneezes, Head Explodes" by Patricia Smith)

The book release reading for Dream of a Word was an exciting and important event for the Poetry Center of Chicago to co-sponsor. Executive Director Lisa Buscani has been doing a good job bringing the Poetry Center up to speed with modern times while maintaining diversity in its programming, as some of the upcoming features, including Jimmy Santiago Baca and Diane di Prima, illustrate.

--CJ Laity

To order your copy of the important new anthology Dream of a Word, click here.

To learn more about the publisher, click here.

To learn more about The Poetry Center of Chicago, click here.

Go back to the other Nine Lives



**We hope you found the information on this page useful. ChicagoPoetry.com needs your help. We are holding a fundraising drive in order to stay online. There are two ways that you can help:
Click here to offer a financial gift or click here to order the new book by ChicagoPoetry.com Press.




Note: Here is a review of Tia Chucha Press' new anthology, Dream of a Word.

 
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