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Topic: Chicago Poetry Letters Section
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spacer.gif   CJ Laity Resigns as Chicago Poetry Critic: Concentrates on Publishing
Posted by : cj on Monday, February 11, 2013 - 02:10 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1058 Reads

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Dear Chicago Poetry Scene,

Three years ago, in my annual tongue-in-cheek "State of the Poetry Scene Address," I announced that on December 21, 2012 I would retire as critic for the Chicago Poetry Scene; and without any fanfare, that is exactly what I did. Let this letter now serve as the official announcement that I have indeed resigned from the role of poetry critic.
Note: Click Here to continue reading CJ Laity's resignation letter.

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spacer.gif   Sakura Publishing eXposed: Vanity Publishing Rears Its Ugly Head In Chicago
Posted by : cj on Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 07:23 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
8007 Reads

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Dear Chicago Poetry Scene,

Recently, it came to my attention that a new poetry publisher -- Sakura Publishing -- is in town offering contracts to commission books. They seem to have come out of nowhere, and they even had a table at this year's poetry fest, where they passed out bookmarks. I was surprised to learn that they even offered at least one local poet / friend of mine a publishing contract, based solely on the few minutes of poetry she read during the open mic at the fest.

You see, I like to believe I'm up on just about everything Chicago poetry, so I was a little miffed. Why had I not heard of Sakura? After a little snooping, I became even more baffled. Their Facebook page only gives a "Hermitage, PA" post office box as its address. So how did Sakura get a table at the poetry fest, I wondered, knowing how strict the fest is about only showcasing local publishers.

After stumbling upon their poorly designed official website that has the tone of a glee club and flashes a purple logo of a little girl in a short skirt getting blown around by the wind, I couldn't be more perplexed. Sakura didn't seem to be strictly a poetry publisher at all, but instead a publisher of all genres of writing. Check out this link showcasing one of their authors' dieting book. So, again, what were they doing with one of the rare and coveted tables at the poetry fest?

I browsed their site to learn some more about their authors, one of whom is Almney King, who the site describes as "a high school junior." I found a video of Almney reading poetry at Sakura's YouTube channel (which at the time had 3 subscribers), and in all fairness, she's a pretty good poet. On the other hand, one of their two listed Chicago poets, a man named Dan Picone, is hailed by Sakura as "one of the most prolific poets in America today." Here is a video of Dan reading his poetry. The other Chicago poet published by Sakura is Sharday Cage. Here is a video of Sharday delivering what seems to be a slam-worthy performance. I also watched a video of a man named Derek Vasconi, who calls himself the CEO of Sakura Publishing, giving a lecture at PENN State, and he seemed extremely non-threatening. In fact, all those involved with Sakura seemed to be nice people. That makes me feel sad, since I have to expose Sakura for the dishonest vanity publisher that it is, but nevertheless that's exactly what I intend to do.
Note: Click Here to read the entire eXposé.
NOW WITH A FILTHY MOUTHED RESPONSE FROM DEREK.

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spacer.gif   Letter To The Contemporary American Poetry Prize Contestants
Posted by : cj on Monday, March 26, 2012 - 01:11 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
994 Reads


Note: CJ Laity addresses the contestants for the first ever CAPP contest. Click here.

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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
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
2313 Reads


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

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spacer.gif   2011 Chicago Literary Hall Of Fame: aka, Dead Poets Society
Posted by : cj on Saturday, July 09, 2011 - 03:16 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1491 Reads

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Later this year, the self-proclaimed Chicago "Literary Hall of Fame" will for the second time celebrate the work of six dead people during another big, overpriced, megalomaniacal affair in which the Chicago Lit Scene's greatest seeker of financial dues, The Chicago Writers Association, carves in stone for us the names of six writers who we already know are important. I can save you the $45 or whatever outrageous amount of money they plan to solicit from you this year so that you can have the privilege of attending their gluttonous affair. I'll tell you right now who they have chosen as the 2011 "Inductees": Cyrus Colter (died in 2002); Theodore Dreiser (died in 1945); Harriet Monroe (died in 1936); Mike Royko (died in 1997); Carl Sandburg (died in 1967); and Ida B. Wells (died in 1931). These six inductees were chosen from 24 nominees, each and every one of them pushing up daisies. The writers who most recently lived that were nominated were Carolyn Rodgers and Kent Foreman (both of whom passed away in 2010). The committee of nominators who chose the names of the deceased 24 reflect the absurdity of this year's New City Lit 50 List, in that it consists of six white men, two white women and one man of African descent. These nine nominators then passed their 24 spirit names to five admittedly more diverse "Selectors" who then chose which six dead people would be honored this year. Whew! All of that just to tell us Carl Sandburg was a great Chicago writer.

In their mission statement, the great Hall (throw your money at them--they're a nonprofit!)--says "Our annual induction ceremony . . . will be an occasion for Chicago to crown past, present and future literary achievements." But of course, without one single living writer so much as nominated, all that is being honored by this power hungry behemoth are past, past and past literary achievements. Hey, I get what they're doing. It's as smart and as slimy as including the recognizable names of 34 "honorary committee" members on their website. They are concentrating on these dead names for the first few years because they believe that will give their fledgling Hall of Fame more credibility. Some day, when they've included just about every name of every great dead Chicago writer out there, they'll start sneaking in the name of a friend or two. And, oh boy, won't they be in charge then! What power they will have when they get to decide for us which living authors are worthy of praise, but most importantly, which ones are NOT.

My advice is, instead of wasting your money on some uppity organization's supermarket sushi and wine out of the box theatre presentation, spend the same amount of money buying one book written by each of the authors above--then celebrate their lives by actually reading their work.

My name is CJ Laity

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spacer.gif   Poets & Writers wants to give you money
Posted by : cj on Friday, June 10, 2011 - 06:00 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1176 Reads


Note: Poets & Writers is holding a meeting on June 16 to offer you the chance at some money. Click Here to read their letter.

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spacer.gif   NewCity Claims Only White People "Book" In Chicago's Lit Scene
Posted by : cj on Thursday, June 02, 2011 - 01:11 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
2298 Reads

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Dear Chicago Poetry Scene,

Once again (days before the Printers Row Lit Fest) it is that one week of the year during which anyone I know cares about what that little free magazine that you line your birdcages with, NewCity, has to say. I'm sure everyone on the "Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago 2011" list is fully deserving in their own way, and I'm not trying to take anything away from them, but come on: the list is a complete joke.
Note: .
Click here to continue reading this editorial. (Slightly rewritten again at 6:30 pm.)

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spacer.gif   Twitter's @MayorEmanuel Gives Money To Young Chicago Authors
Posted by : cj on Thursday, March 03, 2011 - 02:53 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1460 Reads


Note: On Wednesday, March 2nd Sinker and Emanuel met on The Roe Conn Show with Richard Roeper on WLS - 890 AM. Sinker announced that he had chosen Young Chicago Authors as the recipient of the donation.

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spacer.gif   Chicago Literary Hall Of Fame Says I Have A Stick Up My Ass
Posted by : cj on Wednesday, December 01, 2010 - 03:37 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
2558 Reads


Note: The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Executive Director, Donald Evans, goes ballistic when I suggest he lower the ticket price for next year's Induction Ceremony. Click here for the scoop.

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spacer.gif   Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Launches ChicagoPublishes
Posted by : cj on Friday, October 29, 2010 - 05:49 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1665 Reads

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Yes, it’s true. Chicago as a city is home to some of the finest artists in this country. Ah, but the City of Chicago itself--yeegads--it has a horrendous reputation for being anti-art. Many of us who were part of the poetry scene in the early 1990s can still remember when this city tried to shut down the Weeds open mic. because Gregorio Gomez didn’t have a “poetry permit.” In May of 2003, the Hot House (then on Balboa) featured a band that they shipped in from Cuba, and the City of Chicago raided the joint and closed it down, a few minutes before the show was to begin. In July of 2007, the Chicago police swarmed into the Zhou B. Art Center and kicked everyone out of the annual Printers Ball. In May of 2009, the city’s graffiti blasters trespassed on private property and painted over a gigantic piece of mural art that had been commissioned and paid for, because some bigoted Bridgeport alderman didn’t like it. And in December of 2009, a man named Chris Drew was arrested for attempting to sell one dollar pieces of art on State Street, and subsequently he was charged with a felony for audio taping his own arrest; this Chicago artist could spend a decade in prison and that’s how much the city really supports the arts!

Stories like these go on and on with no end in sight. They illustrate this city’s underlying hostility toward the art scene. The art scene scares the shit out of the City of Chicago. It’s not good for tourism. It’s not good for Olympic bids and whatnot. In fact, the city wants to establish something called a “promoter’s license” that would make it illegal for an unlicensed individual to host a literary event if there are more than 50 audience members in attendance. So! When the City of Chicago announces it “will provide Chicago’s thriving publishing industry with a new website” (as if we don’t already have dozens upon dozens of our own websites)--called ChicagoPublishes.com (sort of a city takeover of the already existing PublishChicago.com)--excuse me if I must take the news with a huge block of salt.

On Tuesday, November 9, 2010, the Chicago Cultural Center will launch its new website, with an event to be held at 4 PM. Of course, most of you will be in work at that time, but it’s the thought that counts, right? The event will feature The Paper Machete, hosted by Jonathan Messinger of TimeOut Chicago. There will be tea. The event will also serve as the launch party for a new section of the already existing city sponsored website ChicagoArtistsResource.org. “CAR-Literary” promises to include job postings, calls for submissions, links to resources, articles, essays and even a forum for “open” dialogue. Wow. This all sounds like your birthday has come early, doesn‘t it. But hold the phone for a minute. Let’s not forget that all of this razzle-dazzle is going to be published and edited by (drum roll please)--the government. In case it matters to you, that's the same government that is trying to throw Chris Drew in prison for attempting to sell a one dollar piece of art on State Street. If anyone is expecting anything more daring than, say, Southwest Airlines’ Spirit Magazine, they are deluding themselves. How long will it take before some independently run zine called Shit Fuck or something posts a call for submissions only to find itself deleted by the City of Chicago from Chicago’s “significant role in the rapidly changing national publishing landscape.” How many of the city’s “links to resources” will lead to anything even remotely associated to anything critical of the City of Chicago? Come on! I’m probably losing my link on that page right now!

Realistically, as city sponsored gentrification continues to cleanse Chicago of diversity and dissent, one has to wonder. Is this huge endeavor being set into motion to actually help Chicago’s literary scene as it already exists or is this an attempt to gain some control over one of the last remaining sub-cultures in Chicago that this city has yet to tame. Honestly. As artists, since when do we allow the government to decide for us who the “industry professionals” are? And should we participate in yet another attempt to establish a redundant yet just a bit safer “literary events calendar”? Here’s a question for the website editors. Does a “help fund Chris Drew's defense” poetry show get listed in your calendar? How about a Naked Biker Poetry Slam?

If the City of Chicago “enthusiastically supports” Chicago’s “vital publishing and literary community” (as Commissioner Lois Weisberg claims it does), it should prove it. For one thing, it could hold more than four book events a year in the Cultural Center’s Publishers’ Gallery; or instead, perhaps the city could allow taxpayers their own use of that Cultural Center, the building that they themselves fund--without having to pay rent. And garsh darnit, someone has to say it! If the City truly supports the literary scene, why doesn’t it take all that money that it is using in its attempt to control the literary scene with a website, and instead give the money to the actual publishers. I’d come out on a Tuesday at 4 PM for that launch party. Click here for my other editorial.

Silence kills slowly,

CJ Laity

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spacer.gif   Who Will Be The Next Mayor Of Chicago: ME, That's Who!
Posted by : cj on Thursday, September 09, 2010 - 06:49 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
4618 Reads


Note: The position of Mayor of Chicago is up for grabs and I am grabbing it. Click here to learn more.

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spacer.gif   Ten Reasons Why You MUST Boycott BP
Posted by : cj on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - 05:03 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
4018 Reads


Note: Click here for Laity's Ten Reasons Why You MUST Boycott BP letter.

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spacer.gif   Chicago Poetry Traffic: Ten Times E-poets; One Fourth Foundation
Posted by : cj on Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 05:23 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
7056 Reads


Note: New evidence has surfaced that shows that ChicagoPoetry.com enjoys ten times the internet traffic as e-poets.net, but only receives one fourth the traffic of Poetry Foundation's website. ChicagoPoetry analyzes its own statistics to discover its true place among the poetry giants of the World Wide Web. Click Here.

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spacer.gif   Is The Poetry Foundation A Threat To Chicago Poetry?
Posted by : cj on Tuesday, May 04, 2010 - 12:38 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
3675 Reads


Note: CJ Laity takes on The Poetry Foundation. It's about time! Click Here.

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spacer.gif   Spoon River Poetry Review's New Editor Seeks Riskier Poetics
Posted by : cj on Friday, March 19, 2010 - 11:25 AM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1494 Reads


Note: The new editor of Spoon River Poetry Review has sent out an open call for more diverse, edgier and riskier poetry. Here is a copy of the letter courtesy of ChicagoPoetry.com.

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spacer.gif   The Tenth Annual State of the Chicago Poetry Scene Address
Posted by : cj on Monday, December 21, 2009 - 12:15 AM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
2226 Reads


Note: CJ Laity gives his annual State of the Chicago Poetry Scene speech. Click here.

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spacer.gif   Young Chicago Authors Votes To Change Leadership
Posted by : cj on Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 11:51 AM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1506 Reads


Note: Last August, the Board of Directors decided to change YCA's organizational leadership.

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spacer.gif   Norman Porter / JJ Jameson Up For Parole?
Posted by : cj on Sunday, September 27, 2009 - 11:33 AM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1434 Reads


Note: I do not support the parole of Norman Porter. The Friends of Norman Porter are creating a fiction about this horrible man's life. The truth should be known.

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spacer.gif   About Elizabeth Alexander
Posted by : cj on Sunday, January 04, 2009 - 05:33 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
2210 Reads


Note: Here is some news about Elizabeth Alexander, the poet who has been chosen to be Obama's "inaugural poet." Now includes video of her performance.

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spacer.gif   In Memory Of E. Donald Two Rivers
Posted by : cj on Monday, December 29, 2008 - 02:17 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
4975 Reads


Note: In memory of E. Donald Two-Rivers, aka Eddie Two Rivers, aka Eddy Two Rivers

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spacer.gif   STUDS TERKEL PASSES AWAY
Posted by : cj on Friday, October 31, 2008 - 06:19 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1287 Reads


Note: Studs Terkel has passed away. "Curiosity did not kill this cat." Here are the details.

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spacer.gif   Chicago Publishers' Gallery at Cultural Center
Posted by : cj on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - 04:13 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1533 Reads


Note: The Chicago Cultural Center is opening up a "Publishers Gallery". Here is the scoop.

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spacer.gif   Chicago Poet Launches Mission To Korea
Posted by : cj on Thursday, July 31, 2008 - 10:44 AM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1195 Reads



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spacer.gif   A Few Words about Tour Guides
Posted by : cj on Monday, July 21, 2008 - 01:17 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1160 Reads



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spacer.gif   Legendary Chicago Poet Mark Perlberg Passes Aways
Posted by : cj on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - 12:49 PM
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  Chicago Poetry Letters Section
1907 Reads


Note: Former Executive Director of the Poetry Center of Chicago, Mark Perlberg has passed away. Here are the letters from Ron Offen and Paul Hoover.

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