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dateline: Chicago, January 2006

e-poets' on-going coverage of literature and new media arts, the January 2006 Newswire...

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Brenda Cárdenas presents interlingual poetry at Tianguis Bookstore, 7 January 2006

Back in autumn, Brenda Cárdenas participated in a panel and reading as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, that featured her new chapbook, Tongues of Brick and Stone. The event was quite a success, and the buzz after the reading was very positive. Cárdenas enjoyed a great reception afterward among her friends and fellow writers.

The author is on sabbatical from the Chicago City Colleges, and has moved up to Milwaukee to be near family for the duration. But on Saturday, 7 January at 3:00 PM, she will return to Pilsen, Chicago for an encore reading at a new bookstore that seems tailor-made for her literature.

Chicago's Hispanic writers are strong, and the city has an active literary readership for both English and Spanish texts. So it should come as no surprise that Cárdenas's colleague and fellow poet Irasema Salinas is taking the next step in literary marketing by opening Tianguis Bookstore. It's a modest venue, actually residing inside Café Mestizo on 18th Street, but it's a start. The new store opened on 19 December 2005, and specializes in Latino literature both in Spanish and in English. The name "Tianguis" descends from the Nahuatl word tianquiztli, which is a kind of traveling marketplace or peddlers' market among the indignenous people of Mexico.

Similar enterprises do exist in other cities, such as the Tia Chucha Centro Cultural in Los Angeles, which offers an extensive collection of books for sale and programs for artists and audiences. And there are certainly Spanish language bookshops around Chicago. But this intercultural blend of café and bookstall is new to the city. proudly welcomes Tianguis Books, and wishes the enterprise much success.

Poetry reading by Brenda Cárdenas at Tianguis Bookstore, located inside of Café Mestizo, 1646 W 18th Street, Chicago (Pilsen/Little Village neighborhood; about a block west of Ashland and steps from the CTA/Blue line, 18th street station). The event is free and will be held on Saturday, 7 January, 2006 at 3:00 PM. Follow the story on Tianguis Bookstore on their website, or preview some of the poetry and spoken word of Brenda Cárdenas in The Book of Voices.

sources: Brenda Cárdenas; La Raza

New York poetry workshop:
Giving Life to Words

On 22 January, David Vincenti will lead workshop day called Giving Life to Words. The day is actually a series of three different workshops: one on writing, one on performing, and one on publishing. If you are interested in taking three classes with three very good teaching artists for the low price of $50, contact David Vincenti for further information.

Contact David Vincenti, host of the DeBaun Series, Hoboken NJ, by e-mail


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Seattle: Real to Reel

The Seattle Poetry Fest rocks onward with their Real to Reel series, featuring three great performers with a special poetry video feature. Due to a double booking of the space last month, the poetry video feature from December is slated to run again in January.

Jessica Star Rockers is the editor and publisher of the literary magazine the strange fruit. Currently, she is completing an unpublished essay collection titled new christ hipster. Rita Banerjee, a second-year MFA Poetry student at the UW is currently serving as the Writer-in-Residence for the Powerful Writers/Pipeline Project programs. And Andrew C. Gottlieb also received his MFA from the UW in 2000 where he taught creative writing. Recently he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His newest chapbook of poems, Halflives, has just been released New Michigan Press, 2005.

Pennsylvania, written and directed by Canadian poet Hilary Peach, is a wry outsider's looking at American working class life, with rhythmic imagery and understated humor. It comes to us fresh from November's Visible Verse film festival in Vancouver, BC.

Reel to Real, Wednesday, 11 January at On the House, 1205 E. Pike Street in Capitol Hill, Seattle. For more about the poets and program, visit the sponsoring organization.

SlamNation! now on DVD

Paul Devlin's watershed film, SlamNation!, is now on DVD. Nathan Rabin of The Onion writes, "SlamNation is as much about cutthroat competition and unforgettable characters as it is about poetry, and that's ultimately what makes it entertaining." Two different editions are available. The Home Edition is for private viewing and video collectors interested in slam poetry. The Community Edition of the SlamNation DVD includes public performance rights for screenings at high schools, libraries and community centers.

SlamNation! is essential viewing for anyone studying the slam movement just as it was finding its place among poets and audiences across the US. Viewers can watch excerpted poems in their entirety, during the movie or from a list. Also included are Deleted Scenes, Chapter Selection, Additional Poems not seen in the movie, Commentary Track from director Paul Devlin, slam champ Taylor Mali, slam founder Marc Smith, and more.

Pick up the Home Edition, or the Community & Public Performance Edition. Or visit the SlamNation! site, where Paul Devlin's pilot show, Slammin'!, is also available on DVD.


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Ygdrasil: new issue online

Those literati who were online in the early days have sort of faded back into the mists of the web. And most web publishers from those days assimilated into other online vetures, morphed into entirely new projects and identities, or are simply gone.

Klaus Gerken, however, has endured. And his journal, Ydrasil: A Journal of the Poetic Arts continues in much the same way it always has, as a spare, uncluttered online collection of new, original, worthwhile writing. When the December 2005 issue of Ygdrasil, went live, it was like a flash from the past, and in a good way. The editor's handiwork is present in this collection of fine writing. It's good to see that, in a blog-dominated web littered with un-considered/-edited texts, an editor is indeed a valuable element of the publishing chain.

The current issue takes an existentialist tack somewhat, posing questions about poetry itself. Featured writers include Graham Tiler ("The Death of Poetry"), Anthony Liccione, Kimberly D. Duncan, Katherine L. Holmes, Vincent Spada, and extended contributions by Rizwan Saeed Ahmed. Klaus Gerken adds his own comment in "what is poetry?".


Visit Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts, edited and published by Klaus J. Gerken.


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buzz: I Will Bear This Scar

Identity work is pretty much stock-in-trade among poets, and has been for a while. But this doesn't keep good poets from finding fresh and inspiring turns in the literary mechanisms of self-exploration. Far from narcissistic, I Will Bear This Scar: poems of childless women is showing signs of being such a breakout book. Mature, sensitive writing respects the reader and doesn't talk down, while the poetry projects an earnest interest in healing and communicating. The book explores the emotional gamut that women face when they are childless, whether that is by choice, circumstance, miscarriage, or abortion.

Click to iUniverse for more info on the book and how to purchase. iUniverse is a print-on-demand press that enables authors to publish work for particular audiences.

Trigilio scores award

Tony Trigilio wrote to us, "Just to let you know, I received an email [22 November] saying my poetry manuscript, 'The Lama's English Lessons,' won the Three Candles Press first book award.

"Three Candles produces a journal/webzine, and just started doing full-length books and anthologies. Mine will be among the first 3 books it publishes. Right now, I'm told it's coming out Fall '06..."

Congratulations, Tony!


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Brandie Madrid at Funky Buddha
30 January

For a few years now, Brandie Madrid has been the musical highlight of many Chicago poetry open mics. She's made Mental Graffiti her Monday evening home, so the Funky Buddha crowd will certainly hear a familiar voice. But in case you've not heard this outstanding singer, it's a great place to get acquainted, and enjoy the warm blues that Brandie sings from her original repertoire. Extract a bit of the world-weariness and cool from Portishead, then mix in a slightly down home flavor, and you'll be in the neighborhood. To be sure, there'll be a few straight-up poems and maybe a cover tune here or there. But Ms. Madrid commands respect among all who take the mic in the Funky Buddha and many other venues, and that rep' rides on her strength as a vocalist and lyricist. The poets know, she's definitely an artist to watch...


Brandie is featured 30 January in Mental Graffiti, at the Funky Buddha, 728 W Grand Avenue (River West district), Chicago. Show begins at 8:00 PM, doors open earlier. Open mic sign-up. $5 cover. This is a 21-and-over venue. Mental Graffiti convenes weekly each Monday evening.

Tom Roby and his "Poetry Wheel"
21 January, at Gale House, Oak Park

What is a poetry wheel? Tom Roby, the fellow who coined it, explains thus: "The Wheel starts with a kick-off poem by the lead poet. Then one of the other poets reads a poem that spins off the initial poem. The process continues, wending its way through unplanned creative waters, as the poets spontaneously create the group Poetry Wheel by improvising their selections as the performance progresses. Could it be a streak of road poems? Love lyrics? Wvery Wheel is different, so drop in and see what evolves!"

So, not quite improv theater, but hardly a planned event. Roby will share this particular poetry wheel night with Larry Janowski, a favorite at Molly Malone's First Mondays, and with Maureen Flannery.

Tom Roby publishes and performs his poetry in a variety of venues in Chicago. His latest publication is Griever's Circuit, poems on the death of his wife. Roby is also president of the Poets' Club of Cicago and runs their annual sonnet contest.

Larry Janowski's poetry has been published in TriQuarterly, Rhino, Court Green, and other journals around the country. He is a regular contributor to the Oak Park journal After Hours and is the author of two chapbooks.

Maureen Flannery's work has appeared in forty anthologies and more than 100 literary reviews. Her book of poetry, Ancestors in the Landscape: Poems of a Rancher's Daughter, was nominated for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.

source: Charlie Rossiter

Unity Temple's Gale House open mic night and coffeehouse, Saturday 21 January, 124 N Kenilworth, Oak Park (near west Chicago suburbs). Sign-in begins at 7:30 PM, with open mic at 8:00 PM. Featured poets start at 9:00 PM. Open mic performers have a 5 minute limit regardless of genre. Recommended donation of $3 to $5 at the door. Hosted by Charlie Rossiter and sponsored by the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation on the third Saturday of each month. Call 708-660-9376 for more info.

Discrete Series, 20 January

The Discrete Reading Series presents former co-host Jesse Seldess celebrating the release of his first book of poetry, Who Opens (Da Crouton Press, 2005) and Chicago poet Michael Robins. The program starts Friday 20 January at 7:00 PM, in the SpareRoom, 2416 W. North Avenue, Chicago (west of Bucktown).

James McManus at the Poetry Center
15 January

McManus' books include Physical and Positively Fifth Street (nonfiction); Great America and Antonio Salazar is Dead (poetry). His work appears in The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, GQ, Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, and Poetry. McManus is the poker columnist for The New York Times, and currently teaches the literature of poker at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Poetry Center of Chicago will present award-winning writer James McManus at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, February 15 in The Ballroom of the School of the Art Institute, 112 South Michigan Avenue. A question-and-answer session will follow the reading, and McManus will be available to sign books.

source: Poetry Center of Chicago

12 January: Kevin Coval in Oak Park

Kevin Coval continues his long march in behalf of Slingshots - a hip-hop poetica, on Thursday 12 January, at 7:30 PM in Barbara's Bookstore, 1100 Lake Street, Oak Park. (west Chicago suburbs). The book is also available from and EM Press.

Molly Malone's on 9 January:
Lucy Anderton

Nina Corwin and Al DeGenova host the monthly readings at Molly Malone's Open Mic, and invite you to one of the most respected poetry venues in suburban Chicago. On Monday, 9 January, and hear featured poet Lucy Anderton.

Lucy Anderton is the 2005/2006 artist-in-residence for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Auvillar, France. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College and she held the 2005 Emerging Writer position at Randolph-Macon Woman's College where she had the students holding hard-boiled eggs for a cold minute. In 2000, 2001 and 2002 she was on the Chicago Wicker Park Slam Team; she was the 2003 Open Grand Slam champion at the Taos Poetry Circus. She is also the 2000 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic award winner. Anderton's work has appeared in The Iowa Review, American Letters & Commentary, AGNI Online, ACM: Another Chicago Magazine, Rhino Poetry Magazine and After Hours, amongst others. On top of all this, and in spite of being an adopted daughter of Chicago, she is a hard-core White Sox fan.

At Molly Malone's Irish Pub, 7652 Madison Street, Forest Park, IL (near west Chicago suburbs). Phone 708-366-8073. Guests are invited to donate, "$5 if you can, $3 if you can't." Poetry and fiction at Molly's is the second Monday of every month. Sign-up begins at 7:00 PM, followed a half-hour later by open mic and featured readings. Readers can audition Anderton's poetry in the Book of Voices.

Dollar Store Series for January 2006

This month the Dollar Store Series features fiction writer Gretchen Kalwinski, playwright and poet Chris Bower and the hilarious memoirist and hip-hop thinker Mickey Hess (Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory). As always, the show is co-hosted by Jonathan Messinger and comedian Jeremy Sosenko.

Photos of past shows are on flickr site. And, if you'd like, check out the new audio segment on the Dollar Store Series website. Each month, the hosts will upload one story for your listening pleasure.

The Dollar Store Reading Series, featuring Gretchen Kalwinski, Mickey Hess, and Chris Bower. At The Hideout 1354 W. Wabansia (east of Bucktown and the Kennedy Expressway; just off Elston Avenue). Friday, 6 January at 7:00 PM; $1 suggested donation. For more info, click through to the series website.

Poetry Center's annual juried reading
deadline is 10 February 2006

The guidelines for the 12th Annual Juried Reading and Awards are now available at the Poetry Center website. Billy Collins is this year's final judge. The competition is open to poets from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Eight finalists will be selected to read at a Poetry Center event. Prizes to be awarded: $1,500 first prize, $500 second prize, $250 third prize and $50 each to the remaining five finalists. One poem by each finalist will be published in a chapbook and on The Poetry Center website.

source: Poetry Center of Chicago

Reflections of Herself: 4 January

Reflections of Herself is a chilled-out, monthly performance event where you can read, speak, sing, scream, yell, whisper or dance a story, poem, song, or monologue. Organized by the Center on Halsted by and for young women.

Reflections of Herself is on Wednesday, 4 January, from 5:30-8:00 PM. For more information, please contact MC Nikki Patin, at 773-472-6469, ext. 227. The program is located at 2869 N. Lincoln (Lakeview). Reflections of Herself Open Mic is the first Wednesday of every month. The Young Women's Program convenes every Wednesday for young women & women-identified women (13-24), from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM. MC Nikki says, "Donations are welcome, but you're much more valuable than bring you!"

Homolatté for January 2006

Check out Chicago's weekly LGBT/Q coffeehouse for the latest in queer music and spoken word. This months' schedule for Homolatté includes:

4 January: J.T. Newman (words) / Brianna Lane (music)

11 January: Corey Black / Russel Brown O'Brien

16 January: Julie Caffey / Mara Levi

25 January: Lars von Keitz hosts monthly LGBT/Q open mic

Homolatté queer words and music, weekly on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 PM at Marrakech Expresso, 4747 N Damen Avenue (just south of Lawrence Avenue, Ravenswood neighborhood), Chicago. Phone 773-271-4541. Admission is free, though the host, Scott Free, invites guests to donate $5; all collections go the featured artists and only the artists. Full program listing is available at

The Café for January 2006

MC Charlie Newman rocks the house on Tuesday nights every week at The Café, home to one of Chicago's liveliest poetry open mics. This month's featured readings include:

  • 10 January: Todd Heldt
  • 17 January: CJ Laity
  • 24 January: Dina Stengel
  • 31 January 31: First Poetry Wheel Night - bring lots of poems

The Café, 5115 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago (Lincoln Square/Bowmanville neighborhoods). Open mike poetry with featured writer every Tuesday from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM. For more info on the venue and MC, click through to Unit N or


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links we like

Some links to poetry with a kick...

Poetry Crimes by the Red Room Organisation in Australia, an irreverent but sharp group of writers... Poetry fans who tune into the "Love Jones" end of the dial may want to listen to Vocalized Ink, where there's a whole lot of sweet talk going on, produced by the House of RA... Poet, author, and "all around nice guy" Benjamin Hughes has put together some of his poetry in text and sound for your perusal... And e-poets Group contributor Laura Winton is having a good time with her new Fluffy Singler site. She's also revived her lit' journal, Karawane, online. Go, Laura!

And last, but certainly not least, we've just added some stuff to our own Plain Text section... Fortner Anderson's review of the Red Primer Festival in Ontario, an interview with VJ SOLU on recent activity in video art in Europe and elsewhere, and a rather piquant idea from Jason Davis, on poetry passports that we feel deserves some broad attention... Enjoy!

As always, we thank you for reading our monthly update, and also thank those who keep it supplied with news, announcements, leads, commentary, and positive buzz.

- Kurt Heintz, founder
e-poets network, Chicago

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