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spacer.gif   DANNY'S TAVERN READING SERIES WALKS THE WALK
Posted by : cj on Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - 10:33 PM
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Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines .
Good Vibrations In The Back Room Of Danny's


On Wednesday, December 12, 2007, Danny's Tavern, 1951 W Dickens in Bucktown, hosted its final poetry reading for the year. Danny's is a remarkable little dive that has survived the changes in the neighborhood and still proudly displays its Schliltz sign after all these years. Poetry night is also drink special night; so combine that with the zero-dollar cover charge for the reading and what you get is a wonderful poetry hour that features two established wordsmiths every month.

The readings are held in the cozy back room. While the readings take place something remarkable happens, something that is very rare in the poetry scene. Nary a sound can be heard, not even from the bar in front. I would have to rate this as one of the most respectful poetry venues I have ever been to. When the artist is at the microphone it is all about the artist. With the lights dimmed except for the artist's page, the mood of Danny's allows the listener to be engulfed by the words. The vibes are good. The back room is also very comfortable, with circular couches and stools that can be moved around to accommodate the audience.

Even though the place was packed with literary fans for the December reading, I overheard one spectator remarking that he was surprised because there is usually even more people in attendance. What an absolutely fabulous poetry venue!

The first feature for the night was Zachary Schomburg, who is widely published and is the author of The Man Suit, which was a finalist for the Slope Prize. I found Schomburg's work to be rich with imagery and humor. I was particularly impressed with how effective his work was at conjuring what my own book calls a disconotic state. For example, when he was describing a bird I was first presented with the image of it having no eyes and no beak, but then when Schomburg compared the heart beating out of the split open chest to a fluttering moth, I was able to clearly feel what he was talking about with my mind's body.

I guess Schomburg writes prose poems; that is, if prose poems exist in the shape of a corkscrew. His puns are at first hilarious but like an unexpected echo they linger as disturbing. If you told me yesterday that my disbelief would be suspended by a poem that not only personifies a "lung" and a "haircut" but also casts them into a relationship, I would have said you're bonkers; but Schomburg offered me even this, one of the strangest mind's eye images of my life. And while I was having a chuckle in the back room of Danny's as Schomburg read I wondered if he wasn't actually talking about the end of the world.

The second feature was award winning poet Christian Hawkey, author of The Book of Funnels and Citizen Of. Hawkey's work can be found in such publications as American Poetry Review and Denver Quarterly. Hawkey also took me to some amazing places, although his approach was more mesmerizing and subtle.

The most striking moment of his reading was when I found myself sinking in the ocean, down to the bottom, where the bones of an ancient hand waved a tiny flag under the mud. His soft reading voice unrolled like a long magic carpet as his stream of consciousness orbited in a state of reverie. It's as if Hawkey breaks everything down into base elements and then puts it back together in a different order. We start at point A and end up at point B that somehow is point A even though it is different. Hawkey's reading was flawless and served as a fitting end to the Danny's Tavern 2007 season.

The next Danny's reading is scheduled for Wednesday, January 30, 2008. I can never keep track of when this reading takes place. It's so hip you have to be in the loop if you want the scoop but you can always check out their website for the poop.

--CJ Laity




Note: ChicagoPoetry.com visits Danny's Tavern in Bucktown for the final poetry reading of the 2007 reading series. Here is Laity's full report.

 
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