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dateline: Chicago, March 2004

Poetry radio revival

Michael Watson is recognized in Chicago as an accomplished performance poet and writer. But one of his more public enterprises for a while has been his Wordslingers radio program, featured on WLUW, 88.7 FM, independent community radio originating at Loyola University and heard throughout most of Chicago's north side and immediate suburbs.

The program was once a mainstay on Saturday mornings for the hard-core, local spoken word enthusiast. As Watson says, "Wordslingers is all about opening up another avenue for poets to speak their minds, espouse their theories and most importantly bring the literary thunder!" Or, as the station bills it, showcasing "poets just off the streets and out of the slams."

In recent years, Watson was semi-retired from the radio, turned his on-air time over to guest hosts. Yours truly was a guest on both phases of the program, under Watson's direct stewardship and that of his colleagues. While the show has a 5-year history, Watson has been on-air for only 3-1/2 years. Nevertheless, it has remained a touchstone for spoken word artists and audiences in Chicago. With Watson back at the mic, the ecumenical direction of the program continues, surveying more than one slice of Chicago's diverse spoken word body politic.

Listen to Wordslingers on WLUW, 88.7-FM from 9:00 to 10:00 PM on the first and third Sundays of the month.

More Dave Awl news

Dave Awl is definitely turning out the talent on his stage, with the Partly Dave Show. On Wednesday, March 11th, he's introducing a new review called, "The Way of the Worrier". Stories of worry, anxiety, and insecurity... perfectly keeping with the Chicago's gray season between winter and spring, and just in time to prepare Federal taxes.

Andy Bayiates, Dan Kaufman, Gregg Shapiro, Venus Zarris, and Partly Dave regular contributor Christopher Piatt will be on the mic with stories. Music will be by Analog Radio. The program is half cabaret and half Stories on Stage-format show, rendered by accomplished local authors. Check it out at No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood, in Chicago near the Morse station on the Red Line in Rogers Park. Admission is pay-what-you-can and pay-when-you-leave.

New Skool Poetics is da bomb!

Spoken word on audio CD is about to get a local boost thanks to New Skool Poetics: Spoken Word from Chicago. New Skool's official CD release show will benefit Young Chicago Authors. It will be held on Saturday, March 13th, at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark (at North Ave). Doors will open at 6:30-PM, and the event will launch at 7:00. Admission will be $10 for most, except for students who get a discount admission of $5... gotta keep the young people in mind!

An earlier program this winter at the Loop Theater, curated and co-MC'd by New Skool mastermind Kevin Coval, attracted an enthusiastic S.R.O. audience to witness the Who's Who of Chicago's Generation 1.0 through 3.0 spoken wordsters, rappers, ranters, post-mod' poets, and hip-hop storytellers. Framed unofficially as a local reply to Def Poetry Jam, the revue spanned generations and aesthetics of hip-hop-oriented spoken word. In doing so, it broadly underscored the emerging traditions and homages that the current generation feels are significant as they, some of the youngest spoken word artists of Chicago, embark on their own spoken/lit' careers. Instead of drawing inspiration from pop media, they demonstrate critical regard for present and active artists in the city, and those who have roots here. is proud to see representation in the current program by Marlon Esguerra, Tara Betts, Nikki Patin, and Marvin Tate, artists who've supported our spoken word efforts online. There are more featured performances by Denizen Kane, Kevin Coval, Leo Guevara, Triple Blak, avery r. young, Anna West, Mental Graffiti's new MC Dan Sullivan, Ugochi, Krista Franklin, Dynamic Vibrations and others.

The CD release comes as a warm-up to the following week's even larger event, Louder Than A Bomb, The 4th Annual Chicago Teen Poetry Festival. If the drama and tension in last year's slams at Louder Than A Bomb It was any indication, this will be an exciting year as well. This event will also be held at The Chicago Historical Society, from March 19th through the 21st. Further information is online through Young Chicago Authors and New Skool Poetics.

More news as it comes in... Thanks!

- Kurt Heintz, founder
e-poets network, Chicago

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