dateline: Chicago, March-April 2004
Celebrations all around...
The next few weeks will be big for those wishing to celebrate poetry and creative writing in Chicago. This Newswire edition has birthdays, symposia, and the requisite release parties of new journals. We are also on the eve of the festive (or do you say "dreaded"?) National Poetry Month. Hold on, folks... This is going to be quite a busy season!
One birthday, two parties
Nina Corwin writes to us, "Just when you think I'd be old enough to let birthdays pass with a minimum of fuss and bother, I find myself
with two poetry features on the very week of the poor worn out occassion. So why not mention it and make it one more reason it would be especially good to see you at either event." And we agree heartily: There is no better way to celebrate a great writer than to join her at a reading and celebrate her accomplishments. This past year has been a particularly successful one for Corwin. She's enjoyed a good season as a host for the monthly River Oak Arts poetry open mic, and she's earned publishing slots in Spoon River, Nimrod, Poetry East, Flyway, Comstock and Louisville Reviews, among others.
The first chance to celebrate is on Tuesday, March 23, 7:30 PM at the Tallgrass Writers Authors Series. See it upstairs at the Red Lion Pub, 2446 N Lincoln Ave, in the DePaul neighborhood of Chicago. Ms. Corwin will be doing a performance and will follow up with a discussion about the "performance" in performance writing. Writers who are just starting their craft may wish to attend this event in particular.
The second fête will be Friday, March 26 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
at the East Pilsen Open Mic at Kristoffer's Cafe, 1733 South Halsted Street, where Corwin will be co-featuring with Joanna Marshall.
Congratulations! It's a magazine:
Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Chicago during the last weekend of March, we have March Madness for the literati. Here's an excellent way to go indulge the madness starting early in AWP's agenda: Celebrate the first issue of COURT GREEN, a new
poetry annual published through Columbia College Chicago.
The party will feature readings by Court Green contributors, including
Aliki Barnstone, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Annie Finch, Chris Green, Jana
Harris, Larry Janowski, Joy Katz, Daniel Nester, and Rachel Zucker,
each of whom will read their poems from the first issue. The press statement continues by saying, "There will also be a chance to mingle, buy copies of the journal, eat and drink and generally be merry." Dig that general merriment! And since it's edited by Arielle Greenberg, e-poets contributor Tony Trigilio, and David Trinidad, expecations for this journal -- and not just the party -- are way more than generally positive.
Court Green launch party and reading
Thursday, March 25, from 6:15 to 8:00 PM
(after the last AWP panel and before the keynote address)
Columbia College's C-33 Gallery
33 E. Congress Street on the corner of Wabash
For more info, call 312-344-8138.
Bridge, ACM, and even more readings, celebrations
If you're a lit' enthusiast who's gotta have their dose of post modernism, have we got a lead for you... Check into the celebrations assembled for AWP by Bridge Magazine and ACM - Another Chicago Magazine on Friday, March 26. All festivities take place in the Bridge space at 119 N. Peoria #3D, Chicago, in the West Loop (Westgate Mills) district.
At 4:30 PM, enjoy a free reading with Robert Dana, Robin Hemley, Dick Terrill, Amina Cain, Antonia Logue, Bin Ramke and Bob Perlman.
The featured reading at 8:00 PM has MC Jessa Crispin aka Bookslut, with Pushcart Prize-winner Shelley Jackson (see e-poets' review of her collection The Melancholy of Anatomy) , Nin Andrew, Blithe House Quarterly's editor Aldo Alvarez (see Blithe's announcement below), Rachel Tucker and others.
Wanna dance? Deconstruct? Do both? Stick around to enjoy it all at the ACM/Bridge After-Party, immediately after the mid-evening reading. The tables will be under the guidance of DJ Margaret Noble. Leave $10 at the door. You'll get two free drink tickets, yummy hors d'oeuvres, and memorable conversation with some great writers.
To view the worlds of this event's sponsors, simply click into
ELO Web Fair in Chicago
As if things hadn't warmed up enough with the above two events, The Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) is back in town for AWP. They are offering a "Web Fair", an extended presentation showing what ELO like us to do best: "Read the Web."
And they mean for us to really read. The discussions on ELO's schedule are led and presented by some of the top practicing artists and critics in the field such as Talan Memmott (Writer; editor
of Beehive), Thom Swiss (Editor of the Iowa Review Web), Stephanie
Strickland (True North), Deena Larsen (Marble Springs), Rob
Swigart (Down Time), Scott Rettberg (The Unknown), Marjorie
Coverley Luesebrink (Califia; president of ELO), and Chicago's own Joseph Tabbi
(editor of ebr--electronic book review). All of the Web
Fair panels will be held on Saturday, March 27. Here's what you can look forward to:
- The State of Web E-Literature
- The Space Between Print and Page
- The Bottom Drawer: Writers and Their Work
- Electronic Communities and Curricula
- Electronic Reading featuring Ed Falco, Stephanie Strickland, and
For complete information on these panels, go to
the AWP website
and download the conference program.
meanwhile in Wicker Park...
We got word from Richard Fox that he will be reading at Myopic Bookstore on Sunday, March 28, 2004 at 7:00 PM. We clicked through to the Myopic poetry series page and were impressed by their line-up. Fox has earned some of the top grants than an Illinois author can get, including a City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs project in 2001, and a Full Fellowship in Poetry from the Illinois Arts Council in 2000.
This reporter enjoyed auditioning Fox's audiopoetry a couple years ago. Fox's art is delicate at times, so you ought to clear your auditioning space (and your mind) of distractions. To make the recordings, Fox allied himself with talents from the NeoFuturists (ever a hotbed for fresh writing and performing) and the Experimental Sound Studio. The quality definitely came through. Fox's style in audiopoetry is composed and literary without being ponderous, a precise balance of form and content.
Women Out Loud: enduring voices
While we're on the subject of "newer school" poets, many Chicagoans remember that the Women Out Loud revue was instigated and MC'd in part by Krystal Ashe and Lucy Anderton. Even though both women have moved from Chicago, that has not been an excuse for this esteemed monthly show to fall into disarray. Instead, the show has enjoyed continued support from core MCs and contributing poets such as Tara Betts, Kelly Tsai, and Kay Barrett, and from poet/video artist Katherinne Bardales.
Once part of the Freshpoetry complex of reading series put together by Ashe and others, Women Out Loud has since had to find new digs. Those who wish to follow the continuing evolution of this show, open mic, and featured artists will want to check it out next time, Tuesday, March 30th, at the Sun Fish Café, 1741 N Western Avenue, in Bucktown, Chicago. The show runs from 7:00 to 10:00-PM. Regular attendees should donate $5, while open mic participants should leave $3 at the door.
Women Out Loud will continue hereafter on the last Tuesday of the month. This venue rightfully bills itself as Chicago's longest-running women's open mic, and with the talents at its helm today that title will be secure for a long time. Anyone wishing to reach the show's producers in advance should contact Tara Betts.
A new tribe of writers has gathered in Chicago: the self-publishers. Brent Ritzel et al hatched the organization this past winter, and the tribe have since been actively hosting readings and other gatherings where alternative press writers and publishers can meet, interact, and enjoy each others' publications online, in print, or on mic.
According to Ritzel, a zine guide for Tail Spins Magazine, the Chicago SPEC (Self Publishers' Event Council) derives a lot of its energy from the zine culture of Chicago, and it can trace its heritage back to the Underground Press Conferences held at DePaul University in the late 1990s. Today, zine activity is largely online, and self-publishing through conventional websites and blogs is a common endeavor. That has grown the zine marketplace much more than the base of traditional print-based zines have diminished.
What's been lacking, in spite of the growth in zine production, is a cultural and critical milieu to advance the self-publishing craft. Typically, zine publishers have had to subscribe to a lot of other publications and emulate the best examples that arrived in their mail, or wait until another confab like the Underground Press Conference came along before they could do any direct networking. SPEC aims to break that necessity by taking direct action: convene the independent and self-publishers in Chicago, and so create a place to share and learn. Further, the organization embraces activism when it declares in its website's banner, "SPEC Chicago represents the belief that it is essential for media to be accountable and accessible to their communities -- and that when they are not, the people have an obligation to take back what is theirs: the press, the airwaves, the dialog and the controls."
Since SPEC Chicago is about a kind of publishing, though not necessarily about any particular genre, the SPEC readings cover a lot of latitude in form and style. This writer enjoyed participating in a SPEC event at DePaul University on 2 March, and appreciated the mix of talents who stepped up to the mic, such as Jeremy Bushnell of Imaginary Year, Matt Fagan of Meniscus, and Mitchell Szczepanczyk of Chicago Media Action. Fiction tended to rule the evening, but poetry was welcome, as were politics, non-fiction narrative, and discussions of media ecologies.
SPEC echoes the variety of their readings' content through a variety of venues. DePaul University has been but one stop on their circuit which includes Uncle Fun's shop (an antique toy and novelty store) and Ann Sather's Restaurant (a Swedish diner) in Lakeview, the Independent Video Alliance in Rogers Park (a media center), and Mojoe's Café and Lounge in Roscoe Village. The body politic of the SPEC is young, generally early 20s through early 50s, centered around 30 years old or younger; solidly left of center and progressive in politics; very literate, skeptical and critical, celebrating irony and twisted humor (one SPEC member has nicknamed himself "The Ludic Kid"); and, finally, not the least bit afraid of speaking their mind. The tribe is still sort of finding its collective vision, but is definitely zeroing in upon a cause for free discourse and media populism.
SPEC has a few events lined up in the weeks ahead. Check them out for yourself...
Saturday, April 10 at 7:30 PM
at Mojoe's Cafe Lounge in Roscoe Village
2256 W Roscoe, Chicago
Hosted by Andrew Mall (Living Proof zine), this event's theme is "Breakups & Ex's". Readers include Anna Weiler, Larry O. Dean, and Leonard Pierce.
Friday, April 16, evening
at Ann Sather, 929 W Belmont, Chicago
SPEC Chicago co-sponsors Gapers' Block Party II with the popular local web magazine. This huge knockout dragout party
will feature more readings by Larry O. Dean, Wendy McClure, Emerson Dameron (Kazoo zine), Aaron Cynic (Diatribe zine), Keight Sandler (Backstabber & I, Objector zines)
Alicia Dorr (Random Life In Progress zine, Zine Guide)
Brent Ritzel, Michelle Aiello (Inidgo zine), and others to be announced.
Saturday, April 17 at 6:30 PM
at the Independent Media Center
218 W Main St, Suite 110, Urbana, IL
SPEC Chicago breaks out of the city limits for a roadtrip show.
Homolatté for April 2004
The Homolatté series convenes weekly for queer words and music, MC'd by Scott Free. A staple for those who enjoy a laid-back evening without the tedium of an open mic, Homolatté is a warm, social place to make friends and enjoy queer performing artists from Chicago and around the country. Scott Free also is the annual organizer for the Old Town School of Folk Music's Queer Is Folk festival.
Take a seat at 8:00 PM on a Thursday at the No Exit Café, 6970 N Glenwood, Chicago and enjoy the following artists:
April 1: Tom Erge and Angie Maloney,
with guest host Lars Von Keitz
April 8: Rick Reed and Venus Zarris
April 15: Kay Barrett and Ripley Caine
April 22: Marcus Waller, Darrell David & Aimee Cousino
Apr 29: Sven Soderberg & Christopher Becerra
and now... more good, wholesome queerness for spring
Blithe House Quarterly: a site for gay short fiction announced its spring 2004 edition (Volume 8, Number 2) featuring Sandra L. Beck, Stefanie Dunning, Drew Gummerson,
Bethany Harvey, Trebor Healey, Reed Hearne, Martin Hyatt, Buzz Mauro,
Dawn Paul, and Patrick Roscoe. Blithe House is edited by Diana Day and Jarrett Walker, and published by Aldo Alvarez.
Gay & Lesbian On Line says, "Setting the quality bar [for gay and lesbian writing] is the phenomenal site Blithe House Quarterly. It's awash in awards and rightly so. Of all gay and lesbian sites, Blithe House is the golden child, the one to be entered in the Literature Olympics... Be skeptical and go see the site!"
new media and lit': city or country
Project planners might have tried avoiding a conflict of agendas on the weekend of April 2, 2004, when not one but two new media and literature symposia will convene in northern Illinois. The accidental effect may be an embarrassment of riches for anyone wishing to explore new media literatures, as attendees could easily mix and match programs by spending one day in the country and the other in the city, enjoying the best of both.
country symposium: NIU's Midwest Conference on Language, Literature, and Media
Due west of Chicago on the Illinois Prairie, the town DeKalb is home to Northern Illinois University. Small town, big school. Residing auspiciously at the end of Illinois' "technology corridor", NIU is addressing issues of literature, technology, and their interactions in the humanities. The Midwest Conference on Language, Literature, and Media (MCLLM) is organized through NIU's Department of English. It's NIU's annual venue for discussions on media as they relate to literature, and April 2004 will be this symposium's 11th anniversary. Between the two symposia on this weekend, this one is oriented more toward scholars and university faculty.
Friday's keynote speakers include Tom Shippey, St. Louis University, on "Adapting Middle-earth: Tolkien, the Books and the Movies"; Thom Swiss, University of Iowa, on
"Literature and 21st Century Media", and Haj Ross, University of North Texas on "The Shape of Meaning." On Saturday, 3 April, this writer will present a paper on "Hypertribes: Poets and Aesthetic Boundaries in the New Media Environment" as part of a special new media panel.
The NIU program is quite broad, including discussions ranging from Elizabeth Bishop to Peter Greenaway, from linguistics to film history to technology to drama. Registration can be done by phone by calling 800-345-9472, or online through the conference website, where full program details can also be found. Registration by fax, mail, and by walk-up/on-site form is also possible. The registration fee is $60 after March 19. A special dinner buffet on the evening of April 3, after the conference, is $20 more.
city symposium: The Guild's "Click to Enter"
In the city of Chicago, there is the Guild Complex's tenth Women's Writers' Conference, called "Click to Enter", a rich 2-day celebration of women in new media arts and literature. This project is a both a performance showcase and a networking opportunity. Between the two, it is probably better suited to the well-read layperson than the scholar.
On Friday, April 2, the keynote artist will be novelist Larissa Lai, who will read from her second novel, Salt Fish Girl, which was short-listed for the Sunburst Award, and the Tiptree Award, which is given for science fiction and fantasy that explores and expands ideas of gender. Bridging the evening into new media, co-keynote Alexis O'Hara will perform. O'Hara is a Montreal poet and performance artist who uses a loop pedal to layer repetitive phrases and sampled sounds into her work. She infuses her poetry with humor, biting commentary, strange beats and unusual melodies. Krista Franklin, a poet and visual now residing in Chicago, will open the evening. Franklin has been working on an extended project centered on the legendary guitarist Jimmy Hendrix using sound equipment to manipulate her voice. This event will be at the Catalyst Ranch, 656 W. Randolph St (West Loop), Chicago, at 7:30 PM. Admission is $10 presale, or $15 at the door. Student admission is $7 presale or $10 at the door.
Then on Saturday, April 3, there will be workshops and labs, featuring the guest artists from the previous evening's show, and others such as Mary Anne Mohanraj, leading a workshop on short speculative fiction, and Claire Stewart, with a hands-on introduction to blogging. Some sessions will be repeated, so attendees can catch a workshop they may have missed by
Workshops take place at the Paul V. Galvin Library, at the Illinois Institute of Technology, 35 W. 33rd St., Chicago. Registration on-site begins at 10:00 AM.
Admission is $75 for non-members, $50 for members, $40 for students. Those who attend the full conference (both days) qualify for a discount:
$85 for non-members, $55 for Guild members. Click to the Guild's website for full details.
in the "Alright! No excuses!" category
As if you didn't have enough lit' to ponder in Chicago these next few weeks, there is even more on the docket from the venerable Chicago Public Library. Book mark their calendar for the latest news on their extensive programs, particularly StoryWeek, the CPL's collaboration with Columbia College. Coming the weekend of April 2 is the Mother of All Slam Poetry Gatherings, the Slam Masters' Meeting in Chicago. Like we said, no excuses. Now, go out there, listen, watch, and read!
More news and bulletins as they arrive... Thanks!
- Kurt Heintz, founder
e-poets network, Chicago
previous newswire editions: