dateline: Chicago, April 2005
"April is the cruelist month..." Well, maybe not, judging by some of the events of March. April promises good readings, much e-lit', and more. It's otherwise known as poetry month, after all.
review of the 2005 Festival voix d’ameriques
Fortner Anderson offers us a special three-part report on the Festival voix d’ameriques, one of the highlights of Canada's yearly spoken word calendar. The article has special coverage of Sheri-D Wilson, Lillian Allen, Norman Nawrocki, and many others. Anderson is now also one of the latest artists featured in the Book of Voices.
Ken Hunt passes on 21 March
A forceful and vibrant young poet passed away in March: Ken Hunt. Known coast to coast in American slam poetry, Hunt was found unconscious on 19 March on Chicago's 18th Street on the evening of 19 March, shortly after leaving an anti-war demonstration. He was taken immediately to Stroger Cook County Hospital. He was kept on life support until 21 March, and died soon after it was removed with the consent of his family. Concerns circulated that Hunt may have been stalked or bashed, owing to some evidence of brain trauma. But an autopsy later determined that his death was caused by a seizure. He was 34 years old.
On 3 April, over forty people gathered at the Texas Ballroom on south Archer Avenue, on Chicago's near southwest side, to pay respects to Hunt. They celebrated his life, art, and causes. Well over a dozen artists, activists, and good friends offered tributes to him in an afternoon that had humor, some laughs, bittersweet remembrances, more than a few moist eyes. Admiration and praise for Ken Hunt were common themes, as was a recognition of his generosity. Hunt's few possessions beyond his copious journals, notes, and other papers were set out on a table. Recordings, chapbooks, backstage passes, and other souvenirs were fondly taken up by guests as they pleased. Guests came from as far as Boston and San Francisco to share their stories about Ken.
Other tributes to Hunt arrived through this and other websites. Local musician Shelley Miller said of him, "Ken and I performed a couple shows together. I remember his kindness...and his incendiary guitar-feedback-performance art piece at one of the Halsted Clark 3 benefits that just slayed me." More remembrances came in from Jess Kalinowsky, Victor Infante, and Phil West.
The artists' memorial for Ken Hunt was organized by Jennie Mutation and Liberté unLocked, two close friends of Hunt who collaborated with him in genderqueer activism. Hunt had taken the gender-neutral name of "Sketch" in recent months, to signify his experimentation with gender identity. Further assistance for the memorial and MC duties was handled by Fausto Fernos, another good friend of Hunt's who knew him well before Hunt arrived in Chicago. Fernos recorded the event and plans to offer audio clips of it online through his website Feast of Fools.
The memorial organizers released an official obituary for Ken Hunt (Sketch). It gloriously illustrates the range of creative activities that Hunt engaged, and includes an e-mail address for posting remembrances. A peaceful gathering and outdoor memorial for Ken Hunt is planned for Saturday, 9 April at Waldheim Cemetary, west of Chicago, at the Haymarket Memorial.
- Kurt Heintz
an alias among poets:
Three Chicago writers presented their collage poetry experiment in a special reading on 26 March. Daniel Borzutzky of Wright College, John Beer of the University of Chicago, and Mark Booth of the School of the Art Institute read an ensemble piece that, superficially at least, resembled a group peformance as is done in slam poetry, but without the slam aesthetic per se. Audience members from the city could hear familiar geography among the contributors' passages, as place names punctuated and seguéd the narrative from scene to scene. The writing team is considering making a recording of the piece in a format like a radio play, employing audio collage in their process. But they also wanted to continue evolving the text before committing. The group were up 'til the wee hours the night before the reading finessing their collage poem down to 40 minutes from its original 3 hours. It's a voluminous work.
Chicago was further represented at the Conference by Kurt Heintz, on a panel about détournement shared with Ben Basan from the University of Iowa. Heintz's presentation discussed his practice in collaging performance poetry with music and media on stage, and cited détournement in his past work with the Loofah Method. (See the Videotheque to view "Vogue with the War Dead".) Basan discussed examples of "uncreative" détournement, i.e. that which appropriates or mimics its object of critique so closely that it may be mistaken for the original. Other kinds of uncreative works extract the content from the context of an object so much that it puts the object in a new light. The artist's strategy in uncreative work is to do as little artistic embellishment as possible, and thereby allow the détourned object do the talking on its own, a subtle tactic if ever there was.
Being a technique, collage may seem apolitical. But political interests were foremost on the minds of many Conference attendees. In collage, the artist expropriates the image of the object he critiques. When politicians engage in an economy of images, such images naturally become barter material among collage artists. Poets who use new media are in the thick of collage practices by definition. They must juxtapose image, sound, and language creatively, and almost inevitably borrow from something in their environment to do it. The conference was a feast of ideas for anyone seeking peer experiences in combining elements across media.
The confernce paid much attention to the legalities of appropriation and expropriation, fair use and consent, media rights and rights management. But a rebellious undercurrent was also present, aimed against a litigious society that imposes unfair restrictions on the free use of images, sounds, and texts. There were guerilla efforts here. Off-campus, a man picketed an Iowa City gallery with a sign saying, "No collage!", but he required anyone stopping for a snapshot of him to write and sign a contract outlining his rights to the photo and those of the photographer, as well as specifying the usage of the photo itself.
There were also debates about the meaning of collage, whether the term applied only to the literal, physical application of media, or whether it also included a broader, metaphorical meaning in light of the functions "cut, copy, paste" in so much software today. Most seemed sided with the metaphorical and were willing to stretch the meaning, but a few purists held out.
|in e-lit' and new media poetry...|
Four ELO Board Members, Thom Swiss, Nick Montfort, Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Bill Seaman will appear at the 2005 Boston Cyberarts Festival.
ELO President Thom Swiss will join photographer/new media artist Jane D. Marsching to present Boston University's annual "Word and Image" lecture, May 4, 2005, at 7:00 PM, at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University.
Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, ELO's co-vice presidents, will read at "Re: Writing--Writers, Computers, and Networks," April 25 in Providence, Rhode Island, and April 26 at the Boston Public Library. For more information on this event, visit the corresponding website.
"The Thoughtbody Environment," an installation by ELO board member and artist Bill Seaman and scientist Otto Rössler, is the centerpiece of a series of exhibitions taking place in the Genzyme and Vertex buildings at Boston Cyberarts at Kendall Square in Cambridge. The exhibition runs April 22-May 8.
Information on all of these and more than 70 other events is available at the festival's website, bostoncyberarts.org. The website contains a complete database of festival events, which can be searched by date, venue, location, and art form. The website also contains an online gallery, HyperArtSpace, and APropos, a database and registry for artists' proposals. For more information, call 617-524-8495 or email email@example.com.
- courtesy eliterature.org
The KQED Digital Storytelling Initiative (DSI) is pleased to once again host a gathering of Bay Area Digital Storytellers. In collaboration with The Digital Storytelling Festival (DSF), The Digital Storytelling Association (DSA), BAVC's Digital Storytelling Institute, and the the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS), we invite you to an evening of community, friendship,and stories.
This is a gathering to hang out with like minds and kinds. Look to participate in lively, small group discussions (education, community, biz, youth, art) on the vast subject of digital storytelling and to view a few stories.
If you have a digital story you would like to submit for inclusion in the showcase, please contact Leslie Rule or Denise Atchley. All Digital Storytellers (newbies, neophytes, enthusiasts, potential enthusiasts and practitioners) from the Bay Area and beyond are welcome to attend. Please RSVP by April 4 to Denise Atchley at 415-285-8955.
The event is at KQED, 2601 Mariposa Street, San Francisco. Saturday, April 9, 2005 6:00PM - 8:00PM. While KQED will provide light refreshments, feel free to bring something. Click to for more.
Penn Kemp, Canadian spoken word artist, participated in a Celebration of World Poetry Day, on 21 March. Her poetry materialized in several ways that day, online at on her own website, and in an interview that aired live on CHRW radio, 94.9-FM London, Ontario. Poets organizing on the 21st declared the day World Poetry Day and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Kemp's Poem for Peace has already been translated into 100 languages and read at sites around the globe. One of her many translators is Birgitta Jonsdottir.
Birgitta Jonsdottir is a performance poet from Reyjavik, Iceland, and is a longtime correspondent with this website. Lately, her translation work has been not just between languages, but also between art forms. Her most recent work is a translation of her own poetry to video. Collaborating with Jim Wrathall, a
Rather than take center focus, Jonsdottir respectfully yeilds the screen to contemplative images that set the drama of the catastrophe against the cosmos. Jonsdottir selected and developed the images for the video, which were then composed by Wrathall. You will want RealPlayer 10 and a broadband connection (i.e. cable modem, LAN, or DSL) to see it best. The video was practical for these far-flung partners only because of the internet.
|in Chicago's lit/arts community...|
Youth from Chicago’s Arab, Puerto Rican and Cambodian communities are steppin’ to the mic to share their stories about who they are and how they continue to shape their identities. Using hip hop, spoken word, multimedia and visual art, these young artists will express their unique perspectives on their world. They will explore the influence of traditional cultural practices on the creation of new ones, the challenges they face in combating stereotypes, and their dreams for the future. Join us for a dynamic cross-cultural presentation of unyielding spirit through diverse narratives and dialogue.
The event includes performances, community presentations and a community dialogue and discussion Session. Tasty food will also be served for lunch. Guests may RSVP by phoning 312-665–7474 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Teachers can receive 3 Continued Professional Development Units (CPDUs) for attending this Cultural Connections event.
Mixin‚ It Up: Voices, Stories and Perspectives Co-presented by the Arab American Action Network, Cambodian Association of Illinois, and the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. Saturday, April 30th, 1:00-4:00 PM at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture 3015 W. Division Street, (the big building with the orange roof in Humboldt Park) Chicago, IL. Fee: $15 general admission, $10 for teachers and students $5 for members of the Arab, Cambodian, and Puerto Rican communities of Chicago. Sponsored by the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change at The Field Museum.
An institution among progressives in the arts, the Chicago Labor and Arts Festival is organized this year under the theme, "Fighting for our lives - the health care crisis in Illinois." It is also a tribute to the Festival's inspiration and advocate, the late Carlos Cortez, whose art and poetry throughout his long life bore faithful and longstanding testimony to the plight of working people.
The Festival convenes poets, labor activists, and musicians for a full day of conferences, conversations, and concerts. Scheduled artists and bands include: Anna Fermin's Trigger Gospel, Abstract Giants, Treologic, Bucky Halker, Marc Smith, Nina Corwin and Serendipity, the Unite! Here Choir, Michael Reyes, and (quite likely the very best lefty rock and roll party band in Chicago) The Amoreys. From hiphop to Big Shoulders poetry, the Festival has it covered.
Saturday, 30 April, 2005 at the Unite Here Hall, 333 S Ashland Ave, Chicago (near West Side). Conference, concert, and reception begins at 2:00 PM; admission $25. See the concert only from 6:00 PM onward for $10. For more info, visit chicagolaborarts.org or phone 773-227-6117. Tickets are available through the Guild Complex website. This event is presented by The Guild Complex, Unite Here!, and SEIU.
Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein is the author of nine books of poetry and literary criticism. Notable among these is American Ghost Roses, as well as the collections Chance Ransom and Bruised Paradise, all published by University of Illinois Press. Along with poet G. E. Murray, he edited Illinois Voices (University of Illinois), the definitive anthology of twentieth-century Illinois poetry. He is Caterpillar Professor of English at Bradley University.
Kevin Stein reads Thursday, April 28, 6:00 PM, at the Columbia College Concert Hall, 1014 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago (South Loop). The reading is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Columbia College Chicago Library and the English Department of Columbia College Chicago.
Three great new writers for this month's reading...
Justin Lacour's chapbook, "Mr. Gravity's Blue Holiday," was selected by John Ashbery for the 2004 Philbrick Poetry Prize in Providence. Recent work's appeared in Conjunctions and Bombay Gin. He works for kulturevulture.org, an on-line poetry journal and at a children's bookstore.
Amy England's book "The Flute Ship Castricum" was published by Tupelo Press in 2001. Another book, "Victory and Her Opposites: A Guide" is due out from the same press. Her work has appeared in such places as New American Writing, TriQuarterly, Fence, McSweeney's, and Best American Poetry. She teaches creative writing at the School for the Art Institute of Chicago.
Gabriel Gudding is the author of A Defense of Poetry (Pitt Poetry Series, 2002). Recent work appears in New American Writing, Lit, L'Bourgeoizine, and the anthology Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (Scribner). He teaches at Illinois State University and his second manuscript, rhode island notebook, has been solicited by a publisher near you. He is translating, with Kasia Jakubiak, the work of the experimental Polish poet Miron Bialoszewski.
The Danny’s Reading Series, Wednesday, April 20th, 7:30 PM (21 and over/please bring ID) at Danny’s Tavern, located at 1951 W. Dickens (near the intersection of Armitage and Damen). Phone 773-489-6457. Next reading, Wednesday May 11th: Ken Babstock, Suzanne Buffam, Peter Markus.
The Columbia College Chicago Citywide Undergraduate Poetry Festival brings together 11 poets from Chicago-area colleges and universities to read their work. This year's schools include Columbia College Chicago, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago State University, DePaul University, Loyola University, National-Louis University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, University of Illinois-Chicago, and University of Chicago. A reception follows the reading.
Sixth annual Collumbia College Chicago Citywide Undergraduate Poetry Festival. Thursday, 7 April at 5:30 PM, Columbia College Concert Hall, 1014 S Michigan Avenue (South Loop). The reading is free and open to the public. For more information, call Tony Trigilio, (312) 344-8138.
Often humorous, always poignant, here's a strong voice, you do not want to miss... Monday, April 11, visiting from St. Louis, MO, award-winning poet and editor of River Styx, Richard Newman.
Richard Newman is the author of the poetry collection Borrowed Towns (Word Press, 2005), as well as several chapbooks, including Greatest Hits (Pudding House, 2002), Tastes Like Chicken and Other Meditations (Snark Publishing, 2004), and Monster Gallery: 19 Terrifying and Amazing Monster Sonnets! (Snark Publishing, 2005). His poems, stories, and essays, have most recently appeared in American Literary Review, Boulevard, Crab Orchard Review, 5AM, The Laurel Review, Meridian, Southern Poetry Review, StoryQuarterly, The Sun, and many other periodicals and anthologies. He has twice won first place in The Wednesday Club of Saint Louis Poetry Contest and was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at Sewanee Writers Conference. He received his MFA from Spalding University. For the last ten years he has served as editor of River Styx magazine and co-directed the River Styx at Duff¹s Reading Series. He also teaches at St. Louis Community College and in the St. Louis Regional OASIS program, and he reviews books for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
At Molly Malone's Irish Pub, 7652 Madison Street, Forest Park, IL (near-west Chicago suburbs) Phone 708-366-8073. Donations accepted, $5 to $3 recommended. The evening's schedule is: 7:00, open mic sign-up begins; 7:30, open mic; 8:30, featured reader. Co-hosted by Nina Corwin and Al de Genova. Poetry/fiction at Molly's is the second Monday of every month. Coming up... May 9, Erika Mikkalo; and on June 13, Mike Puican.
Outspoken and powerful, a teacher and practicing artist, Kevin Coval has done more in recent years to elevate streetside and streetwise poetry in Chicago than anyone else. He is a mastermind behind last month's Louder Than A Bomb, a Chicago bridgebuilder to HBO's Def Poetry, and organizer of countless readings beyond the academy that have, nevertheless, given people much raw material for dissertations. With strong hiphop presence, Coval breaks open passion and progressive politics against the granite and steel edges of our Big Shoulders skyline. What we want to know is, where does a skinny guy like him get all that energy? (Relax. We know already: Poetry is his life.) See him and be convinced yourself at any of Coval's readings and performances in the days ahead:
Monday April 11
Mental Graffiti at the Funky Buddha Lounge
728 W. Grand, Chicago; near Grand/Halsted/Milwaukee. Doors @ 7:30, $5, open mic.
Tuesday April 12
Harold Washington Cultural Center, osted by Triple Blak and Red Storm with Brenda Matthews, Mreld, Ugly, Cherisse Scott, Orron, Khar
4701 S. King Drive, Chicago. 7pm. $10.
Wednesday April 13
Writer’s Week, 1pm at Fremd High School
1000 South Quentin Road, Palatine, IL
Wednesday April 13
Appearing at Durty Nellie's
180 N. Smith Palatine, IL. Phone 847-358-9150. Show at 6:30 pm. $3-$5.
Friday & Saturday April 15-16
at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa
check local listings on campus
Monday April 18
"Knowhutimean?!" is a 75 minute collection of songs, short scenes, poems and monolouges written and performed by hip hop playwright Idris Goodwin and HBO Def Poet Kevin Coval. Backed by the turntable wizardry of Dj Itch 13, Coval and Goodwin speak on hip hop's influence through out their experiences as disillusioned suburbanites, educators and artists. Using wicked humor and brutal honesty Goodwin and Coval pay tribute to and occasionaly poke fun at the music and culture that continues to shape them. It premiered in August 2003 at Freestreet Theater and also ran in The Rhinoceros Theater Festival that same year in Chicago.
University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Allen Hall Main Lounge at 8:00 pm.
Within the context of Hip-Hop’s consciousness, a movement is forging, shaping our current existence and the future of a generation torn by one of society’s most dangerous entities…media. From Planet Rock to 1-2 Step, youth search for a representational voice in Hip Hop. Explore the transitional journey of a young man named Balance on his quest to find self while struggling to unveil the true source of this universal battle for our minds. This interdisciplinary production aims at shedding some insight into some of life’s larger battles.
This program is recommended for audiences 12-years-old or older. The performance will last about 1 hour and 30 minutes, and is followed by a discussion. Performances are on:
Thursday May 12th, 10:00 AM
Friday May 13th, 10:00 AM & 6:00 PM
Saturday May 14th, 1:00 PM & 6:00 PM
More info is available online by clicking to KuumbaLynx online, or by calling 773-550-3849 or 773-550-4229. All events take place at Truman College, 1145 W Wilson Avenue, Novar Hall Theatre room 3426. Truman College is in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. Tickets are $10, or $5 for school matinees. Group Rates available.
"Come to the riveting, mesmerizing Pilsen open mic, poetry, spoken word, standup, performance art, music, puppetry, and film at Kristoffer's Café hosted by Vittorio (what is he doing on stage?) Carli." And a multifaceted scene it is. Carli's inquiring mind has created his ever-evolving celebrity interview site, at , and collects the creative from all quarters of the city.
Back in March, Elizabeth Marino and Wordslingers radio host Michael Watson were featured. Coming on 8 April, there is music by Golden Elvis and poetry by the incomparable Buddha. Then on 29 April, hear poetry by Academy of American Poets Prize Winner Dawn Tefft, and see performance by former Big Smith member Nicole Garneau as she continues her march to create an original performance work for every day of 2005. Upcoming featured artists include Dan Cleary, Richard Theodore, Lee Kitzis, and Starwallpaper's Kim Berez.
At Kristoffer's Cafe, 1733 S Halsted, Chicago (Pilsen East district). Phone 312-829-4150, or visit the Kristoffer’s Café Site. Shows are on the second and last Friday of every month, from 7:00 to9:00 PM. Note: The dates for the show may change to the first and first Friday in May.
To celebrate National Poetry Month, the Edgebrook Branch Library will host a poetry reading with David Novak. Novak has published five books of poetry including The Requiem, an epic in the traditions of Dante and Spenser, and Against Holy War, poems published in response to the events of 9/11. He has been a featured presenter at the Chicago Public Library's Poetry Fest, and during the Grammy Association's "A Day in the Arts" at Warrent Township High in Gurnee. He is also the author of eleven verse plays. Novak will read sonnets from his book, Sonnets.
At the CPL Edgebrook Branch , Saturday, 16 April at 2:00 PM. 5331 W Devon Avenue, Chicago. For more info, call 312-744-8313. For info on the whole Chicago Public Library system, and to see other CPL special readings, click to the CPL homepage.
Some web links we've tripped across lately that may happily distract you...
Of course, since it's National Poetry Month, we have to give you something to get you started. Or you could read Charles Bernstein's 1999 tome against National Poetry Month. It's up to you.
[Editorial stuff:] Frankly, we like people who like to read and think, so we're sympathetic with Bernstein. Now, if only he'd consider listening the same way we do, which is like his reading and thinking. Like so many authors of privilege, he appears to confuse poetry that's spoken with poetry that's simple or vanilla or (wince) nice. We suspect he's heard of Laurie Anderson's line, "Get ready for some difficult music," but has he really heard its irony on all the levels? Was it accessible? Yes. But subtle and intelligent? Oh, very yes, Chuck. Now, we hear your own spin of irony and admire the fire in your work. But, could you just lighten up? Nobody is asking you to be a poevangelist. Meanwhile, we'll keep waving our celebratory poetry and spoken word flags every April, to the tune of "Proud Mary", remembering Tina Turner's warm-up, "And we never, ever like to do it nice and easy!" [end of Editorial]
With LGBT/Q Pride coming in June, we're getting a long-range radar fix on places to connect with it online, but off the mainstream in a good way... Check out Queer Is Folk, Out Music, Windy City Radio, and Unbound Books. And if you're still desperately seeking Susan (Sontag, that is), we have found an interesting and amusing, if late, obituary for her by Terry Castle for the London Review of Books.
Then to France for some sweet verbal technique by Serge D. Is it net.art or just groovy text and tunes? We don't worry it either way... we just like it.
A recent show by EyeWash, called Chroma-Motion 3 at the Remote Lounge in New York City, brought forward a flock of links from participating artists... video artists Pete "Weety" Shapiro and Feedbuck, Jeremy Slate, Adam Kendall, and Holly Daggers... from the dance world, there are BellyQueen, The Perks, and Forward Motion Theater. Members of the The Metropolitan Opera Ballet also were part of the show.
Finally, for those who absolutely have golden handcuffs keeping them at their day job, here's a little something that showed up in VJ land from Reflecmedia.com. Yes, now you, too, can take a little virtuality with you wherever you go, with a portable chromakey set-up. For those who only have to look like they're having a good time at the beach...
It's been a hell of a month, and not too figuratively meant as "hell." But we're grateful to our readers and friends for their support, continuing supply of leads and hard news, and respectful insights. You have our thanks. Click the "contact us" link below if you have news tips or bulletins you'd like to share with us.
- Kurt Heintz, founder
e-poets network, Chicago
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