2012 is now kicking rocks and what a year for poetry in Chicago it was. As my year as “best” poet in Chicago ends (according to the Reader), I wish the new hopeful all the very best. Of course, there can be no “best” poet, no matter the locale, and I am just thankful that a few more readers took notice of my work. In addition, it was a huge honor to be invited to my alma mater, Wright State University, to read my poetry for Gary Pacernick and his assembled graduate students in Ohio. I traveled, read, and generally stood in awe of the number of poets in existence in Chicago and nationwide and was even able to avoid any use of the word yolo.
Poetry is in no danger. There is certainly no dearth of poetry in the United States but with so much sometimes the experience of being a poet writing in times like these is truly daunting. The Chicago School of Poetics offered its first master class in 2012, with poet Ron Silliman, who commented later “This is what a school truly should be – think of Black Mountain College – beyond all the boundaries & borders.” Stay tuned for additional announcements about upcoming master class instructors.
Although the apocalypse was not an option, the Myopic Poetry Series saw a full year with the poets Vyt Bakaitis, Kimberly Lyons, Elizabeth Robinson, Toby Altman, Joel Lewis, the Russian poets Dina Gatina, Lev Oborin, Alla Gorbunova, and Ksenia Marennikova, and also Christopher Hund, Jared Stanley, Catherine Theis, Debrah Morkun, Don Share, Mark Goldstein, Camille Martin, Philip Good, David Trinidad, Jen Karmin, and Bernadette Mayer to name just a few. I was also able to book Quraysh Ali Lansana and John Yau for 2013. I’m going into my eighth year as curator and I’m still as excited to host, as well as attend as a member of the audience. I was pleased to write an entry on Chicago poets and fiction writers for Ploughshares magazine and generally worked to near collapse on another manuscript that will be published by BlazeVox in 2013. (About which Andrei Codrescu writes “Larry's poetry gives me the best kind of vertigo: the kind where you're afraid of falling, but when you do you fall into a soft, meaty, sensual, smart ravine that shakes you pretty good, but instead of killing you it turns you into a Thinking Cocktail. What a scary and fine artist Mr. Sawyer is!”)
I still believe Chicago is the nexus for poetry in the U.S., and it’s a happy exhaustion I’m feeling but I must be forgetting something.