Wednesday, March 29, 2006

So What is Unique About Innovative Poetry in Chicago?

So What is Unique About Innovative Poetry in Chicago?

recently we have had some interesting posts here on this subject and I think that I would like to opine on this subject hoping for dialogue from poetic friends;

Experimental Poetry in the US has been for a long time made up of elitists trying to look common while remaining elitists. This is true for example of the Language Poets who were elitists but who through humor tried to remain close to regular folks. this normally did not work. I have been reading recently Saence a book of essays and Chaz Bernstein has a group of his gimmick poems inside the ones where he says something slogany next to something dire, you know " Fighting in Iraq-Take a Warm Bath".

So now that we have arrived in Chicago as a poetic center what is innovative about our poetic situation? Here are some things that I find interesting and would love to get comments;

Unique Chicago Things

1) lack of true elitism

While we have our poetic elitists especially those affiliated with the U of C even the most elite poets here are still accessable and because most of our magazines and small presses are new enterprises there is a pronounced lack of elitism here I noticed this at AWP poets as different as Simone Muench, Me and Arielle Greenberg were all accessable and their work is not filled with that sense of dramatic art that we find in so much New York writing.

2) Lack of taking things too seriously (Unless a New Yorker is in Town)

When it is just us most Chicago poets are interested and respectful and they are ready to not take anyone's work too seriously...

3) Fusion of many styles and schools

In Chicago we have a great fusion of poetic schools and styles just look at this list and what I think are their influences and ask if this would be possible anywhere else?

Kerri Sonnenberg-Stein, Waltrops, Hoover
Mark Tardi-Visual Art, Slavic Writing, Music, Math
John Tipton- Greek, Eliot, Working Class Work
Peter O'Leary-Byzantine Poetry, Duncan, Catholicism
Arielle Greenberg-Judaism, Motherhood, Kafka, Sound
Chris Glomski-Italian, Lit Crit, Lyric
Garin Cycoll-Geography, Olson, Middle Border

I could continue and list off twenty high quality poets here in Chicago who are all bringing different influences to bear on poetry here and cross pollinating.

4) here is the crux of the matter, Cross Pollination

In chicago because our community is smaller and we are not all pricks to one another as they can be in New York and SF we are able to cross pollinate each other and the fusion has created something new....

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Friday's Discrete Series

thanks to all who came..

Saturday, March 25, 2006

French-American poetry in April

In honor of the American National Poetry Month and the French Printemps des Poetes, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Chicago presents encounters, cross-cultural readings, lectures and translation seminars.

These events are dedicated to French and American contemporary poetry. We are lucky to have the participation of French poets: Jean-Michel Espitallier, Sabine Macher, Yves di Manno, Nicolas Pesques, and American poets Jerome Rothenberg, Cole Swensen, Guy Bennett and Simone Forti.

Chicago, April 10

all 8 poets present a Translation seminar *free*

2:30-4:30 p.m.

@ University of Chicago
Coulter Lounge
International House
1414 East 59th ST.

Music & Poetry 3 Arts *free*
co-sponsored by the Guild Complex and the Discrete Series

7:00-7:30 p.m. Reception

7:30-8:30 p.m. Concert: Cinq poemes des Jacques Dupin, by Betsy Jolas; soprano, Susan Klock; piano, Jean-Louis Hagenauer

8:40-9:30 p.m. Reading: Jerome Rothenberg/Yves di Manno & Simone Forti/Sabine Macher

@3 Arts
1300 N. Dearborn Parkway

Limited seating---RSVP required
call the Guild Complex at 1.877.394.5061 or

Friday, March 24, 2006

Discrete Series

Tonight at 7 p.m. at the SpareRoom

Brenda Hillman, Laura Sims and Anthony Hawley

$5 suggested

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I was fortunate, really blessed, to be able to get away and go to AWP in Austin. Cracked Slab Books, the press I do with Bill Allegrezza was able to launch our new title Edging by Michelle Noteboom at the conference.

AWP is an interesting event in many ways. Of course you have your poetic/prosaic big wigs, got to meet Christian Bok, and Joshua Clover. I also got to reconnect with friends like Liz Willis, Jen Hofer, Peter Gizzi and Brian Clements. I also was able to reconnect with other luminaries like Paul Hoover, Maxine Chernoff, Jennifer Moxley, Lee Ann Brown, Rachel Levitsky, and Dan Machlin.

Since I have been criticized by so many for being grumpy and negative I will get the criticisms out of the way before the good stuff, there are two; first off there was not a very strong presence of Texas poets and writers. At AWP in Chicago two years ago there were lots of us around I have to say in three days of sitting at our table we got only a few names from the Lone Star State.

A Second criticism is systemic. AWP tends to schedule pretty mainstream readings so many poets, prose people and non fiction people create their own readings around the conference.

Many of these are huge and interesting but they all conflict with one another. I think that AWP should try to coordinate these off sight readings and print or web print a schedule.


Since I was personing a booth I was only able to get to four sessions but they were really interesting.

American Poets in the 21st Century

1) Panelists: Peter Gizzi, Juliana Spahr, Karen Volkman, Joshua Clover, Traci Morris

I did not know what to expect in this session and I have to say that I was blown away.
Juliana Spahr read first from her new work Chillicothe. The poetry was such a departure for Juliana from Fuck you Aloha I love you. She has moved from a poet focused on innovation to a poet who is innovative and new and I have to say that I am looking forward to this book whenever it comes out then Karen Volkman read Karen is such an enigma she writes these formal verse poems, sonnets and alike and yet they are still innovative. Then the highlight of the session read, Traci Morris. her sound poetry and her commentary on African American modes of writing was so interesting I will be looking for her work in the future, Peter Gizzi read a letter that he sent to a colleague. Anyone who wants to know where the next member of that chain of innovators that starts with Pound and Black Mountain and alike is need look no further than Peter. then finally Josh Clover read. Josh is fancy people his glasses his reading style he is a rarity in a US poet a public intellectual.

This session was interesting because their was an interplay between all of these people i wish that they had recorded the session but I urge everyone to go out and buy Traci Morris' work she is a real star.

2) Enrique to Ricky Translations in Latin and Luso American poetry.

Since I have spent so much time on Brazilian translations this year I went to this session first off I discovered Host books a translation press which is very much of interest for what they publish in translation. the session was small but fruitful.

3) Holy Poetry batman

Panelists Stephanie Brown, Simone Muench, Tony Hoagland someothers.

This session was interesting for what was not said. Stephanie Brown talked about Doggerl and poetry that is innovative but bad, simone muench talked about CD Wright and the south and tone and voice and Tony Hoagland reminded me why I do not own any of his books but of the three Stephanie Brown was the most compelling she challenged poets and poetry to separate the mud from the water and in a way that was kind and clear I envy her tact.

4) U of California Reading

Anyone who says that the U of California Press is not the best poetry press in the USA is clearly living on another planet. In this reading Joshua Clover, Mei Mei Bersenbugge, Laura Mullin, and other poets simply blew the doors off. After the first session I was primed to hate Josh Clover , but I really loved his work so intelligent so erudite Mei Mei was incredible and Laura Mullin's new work is simply the best work Laura Mullin has published.

On the whole AWP was satiating good. Of course it was not as good as when we had it in Chicago but everything is better in Chicago... LOL but I came away from AWP with a new respect for people and poets and writers the work they do and the sacrifices made.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Chuck Stebelton and Susie Timmons

tonight at Danny's. 7 p.m. Of course we know Chuck can rock the microphone, but it's a rare pleasure to see/hear Susie read as she keeps a low profile here around town. I think it was Eileen Myles being quoted as saying that ST was, in her opinion, the most unsung/not given her due poet that started the whole "Neglectorino" stream on Silliman's blog and then the uber-list at the site for Philly Sound. See some of you there, I hope. And tell me about your AWPs why don't you.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Thanks to everyone who came out to last night's reading. I've never seen the Spareroom so packed! Jeff says all the bodies cut the echo and gave us a good recording too. Hope to have an equally impressive crowd on March 24 when Brenda Hillman, Laura Sims and Anthony Hawley take the stage.