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poetry items for february 16, 2014

*Kevin Young is coming to Tribune Tower at 435 N Michigan Avenue on March 23 at 7 pm. Tickets are 17$ there and 15$ in advance. Young will discuss his forthcoming book, Book of Hours with Rick Kogan. The book deals with the loss of Young’s father.

Young is the author of seven books of poetry including Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Poets for which he won the 2012 American Book Award ; For the Confederate Dead (2007); Black Maria (2005); Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003); To Repel Ghosts (Zoland Books, 2001); and Most Way Home (1995), selected for the National Poetry Series and winner of the Zacharis First Books Award from Ploughshares.

** I saw a strange flier on the wall at the Skylark, a watering hole in Pilsen, Chicago. The flier did not give many details, but it suggested that poets that want to read their work live should call 1-410-533-9407. I may try to go to one of these mysterious poetry gatherings and report on what I saw here.

*** Speaking of mysterious poetry gatherings, I finally went to a Poetry Brothel last night (despite the snow) so I could check out the proceedings first hand. The entrance fee was 10 dollars (5 if you dress like a Victorian) and it all took place on the 2nd floor of Schuba’s on Southport.

The show seemed like it was patterned after a Victorian variety show (even though some people were dressed like they were from later periods) hosted a top hat wearing emcee named the good doctor. Some of the featured performers included Lula Houp-Carou (she did a burlesque dance using a hula hoop), Black-eyed Susan (she assumed a tough madam persona), Nat Lowe (he did a poem with a werewolf theme), Vivian Nightwood (I assume that was not her birth name), a magician and ditzy showgirl combo (at least that was her on-stage persona) named Pinch and Squeal, Serafina LaCroix, Cecille Noctourne and Durham Prime (I’m not sure if I got the last person's name right). All in all the show exceeded my expectations and it was quite entertaining plus intellectually stimulating.

Samples of works by many of the people in the show as well as pics are included in the Poetry Bordello Black Book which is on sale at their shows for 5 dollars; I learned in the book that both Black-eyed Susan and Vivian Nightwood are admirers of one of my favorite contemporary poets, Anne Carson.

On the side viewers can use purchase tokens and get a private reading with one of the poets hence the name "poetry bordello." The private readings provide a chance for a viewer to hear an author read their own work in one on one setting (they also take customer requests) and the readings are much more intimate than what you would get at a regular poetry event. I opted to get readings from Vivian Nightwood (who is slightly more intellectual and academic than some of the others) who read me a lovely rendition of “O, Lucky Pushpin!”, as well as Serafina LaCroix , a French Creole singer/poet who had a flapper like costume on (she also read well).

You can visit the Poetry Bordello’s web site at Their next show is on March 17.

Chicago poet Kathleen Rooney did a very revealing piece on the Poetry Bordello which appears on the poetry foundation web site at

****There’s not one, not two, but three worthwhile poetry events going on tomorrow night in the Chicago Area. Here’s the fliers. Unfortunately two of the shows overlap in time.

1) February 17 - 8pm
Waiting4theBus Reading: Virginia Bell & Valerie Wallace
Jaks Tap Restaurant Bar at 901 w Jackson
open mic sign up is at 7:30 - 5 minutes or 3 poems

come hang out with super cool poetry kids for a special President’s day show.
our them is...Presidents living or dead or How Grover Cleveland saved the world.

themes are only suggestions, like dreams are only sometimes reality

There is good food at Jaks, come early have dinner.
there are many fine beers to choose from,
beer is the new wine.
Sign up is at &:30 pm
showtime is 8-10 pm
we do suggest a donation for the feature but otherwise it's a free thing.

2) Mental Graffiti
Open mic. Plus the slam. Plus... booze?

Hosted by Emily Rose and Tim Cook.
Cole's Bar
2338 N Milwaukee Ave
doors@730, show@8

21+, Free show, but Donations are what keep this show running!
This month, we are bringing you one of our best. He a visual artist, a musician, an organizer, an editor, a badass AND a kind soul. It's Reggie "RJ El" Eldridge. (This is when you cheer madly)

About your feature:
Reggie Eldridge, aka RJ El, is not easily defined. In a world of increasing specialization, he is a true renaissance man, guided by a deeply philosophical approach to a variety of media and fields.

A member of Chicago’s Real Talk Live ensemble, he has toured the United States and beyond as a performance and slam poet since 2006, including four consecutive years as a finalist in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam. His work has appeared in print, on stages, on bathroom stalls, and in various dreams. He made a national television appearance debut in Season 3 of the hit TVOne series, Verses and Flow (2013).

3.) At Weeds Lounge
1555 N. Dayton
Chicago, IL

Starts at 10pm
Admission: Free
Parking: Free
Early sign up required

Hosted by the most interesting man alive:
Gregorio Gomez

Featured poets:

Este Stevie Cologne, Chelsea Fiddyment, Rob Hendler, Elizabeth Harper, Chuck Kramer, Leonardo Leon, Nora Leon, Emilio Maldonado, Teresa Magana, Pablo Ramirez, Joffre name a few.

Come down and join us!

"I don't have dirty thoughts...I have unapologetically normal thoughts which happen to be intensely erotic..."

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