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Larry Sawyer
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The Chicago School of Poetics survived the “terrible two’s!” According to WebMD, this is a milestone in our cognitive development, even if it feels like we’re sometimes running out of energy. At age three, kids tend to let their imaginations run absolutely wild, and we’re no different. That’s why you should join us for our current master class with CAConrad on Saturday, October 18! Your writing will absolutely benefit from a jolt of imagination with CAConrad as your guide. Plus, educators get a 20% discount! Description: Study with CAConrad in this one-day online class, RADICAL INSISTENCE: A (Soma)tic Poetry Workshop.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Now in its second successful year, The Chicago School of Poetics (CSoP) is kicking off 2014 with truly unique online course offerings and amazing opportunities to work with leading international poets in an intimate and collaborative setting. From the comfort of your home or a nearby café, you can participate in courses using our innovative and user-friendly program—choose face-to-face, real-time video or simply listen in. Join an international conversation—courses have included students from Morocco, Canada, and Australia, as well as from the United States. This is a friendly environment for anyone who is looking to refine their work and connect... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Perhaps the archetypal “feel-good” family situational comedy, the television show Leave it to Beaver first aired on April 23, 1957 and provided viewers with a peek into the inner melodramatic turmoil of the Cleaver family at 485 Grant Avenue in Mayfield. Few at the time knew that “beaver cleaver” was a euphemism for a penis but the show’s writers didn’t stop there. (An early episode found June asking Eddie Haskell about his rubbers.) The most famous double entendre from the show dialogue surely must have been a concerned June Cleaver scolding “Ward, weren’t you a little hard on the Beaver... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
You might not think of this 1981 dab of pop schmaltz served up by the Philly duo Hall & Oates when you think about the National Security Agency but the song makes a point. Other than its obvious message about stepping out on a lover and the mayhem that ensues, in the context of our Chicago 100,000 Poets for Change event tonight it’s being used to spread a message that as our local, state, and federal governments become less and less transparent in their activities they are spending huge sums of money in their efforts to watch us. (Recent headlines... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
For decades Andrei Codrescu has seen many roles: cultural commentator, witness to the fall of the Soviet Union and communism in Romania, erstwhile comedian, filmmaker, respected literary editor, and educator but he's always primarily been a poet. When speaking of memory or social history, it's difficult to assume now that a collective we exists let alone for younger generations to understand older and vice versa. There is a certain randomness to memory. Codrescu opens his new and selected with a short aside on the ever-changing nature of the pronoun "I" and how over his years spent in America that "I"... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
I was recently marveling over this poem by Dylan Thomas, “Who are you who is born in the next room...” (published in 1945) from a series of pattern poems called Vision and Prayer because of what it does or enacts so successfully, and in doing so, how it transcends its arbitrary form. I don’t have the entire series in front of me, so it may be that this particular shape has some relevance that isn’t obvious when it’s viewed out of context because apparently these shapes form a series. What seems most interesting to me is how this writing works... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Two of my favorite poets. Thanks for the kind words!
photo (c)Lawrence Schwartzwald How does not having a physical school benefit your students and classes? The online classes simply allow us to invite students into our community no matter where they’re living. With a laptop, students could take a class at home, in a café, or sitting in a car. Anywhere with Wi-Fi really. We’ve had students from Canada, Morocco, and the Philippines in addition to students right here in Chicago. What have you noticed that has changed in Chicago’s poetry scene over the years? There are more reading series, more journals. It’s a destination for poetry now. There has... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
In writing about themes including the sleaziness of the film industry, war in Afghanistan, the gutter nature of politics, and the absurdity of American life, my book Unable to Fully California seats itself squarely in a tradition of the American grotesque. Of course, Flannery O’Connor once famously stated that the problem for a serious writer of the grotesque is “one of finding something that is not grotesque.” But to point at the existence of the grotesque as observer, i.e. include it as subject matter, creates a critical distancing from it and implies that the observer is not a part of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Given the difficulty Americans seem to have finding any common ground on the question of gun control, unsurprisingly, as a poet, I hear a particular poem rise up in my memory to provide a quiet but definitive answer. In fact, this particular poem is known for its haunting quality and its orchestral force that contradicts its seeming simplicity. I’m writing about Emily Dickinson’s “My Life It Stood – A Loaded Gun (764).” No one would turn to the poetry of Emily Dickinson to find solutions to the current American gun control issue, which is why the possibility intrigues me. (If... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
[Happy birthday, Guillaume Apollinaire, 1880–1918] André Breton's agenda to destroy bourgeois forms of consciousness with the exploration of desire as "a theatre of provocations" is possibly most apparent and memorable in his poem from 1931, "Free Union." In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images on Facebook I came upon a request made by Mark Lamoureux for surrealist love poems for a wedding ceremony and saw a comment by Noah Eli Gordon that Mark ought not to choose "Free Union" because it objectifies women. I would submit that "Everything tends to make us believe that there exists a certain point... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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Aug 25, 2013