Posted by Meghan McGrath -- 3/22/2012 -- Discussion (0)
It’s not often enough that nineteenth-century British poetry meets the amplified accordion, or that gender-conscious comics art takes on William Blake. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate our relationship with everyone’s favorite Swedenborgian printmaker/visionary/poet—and the good folks at Poetry have agreed to help.
Next Thursday, March 29 at 7pm, the Poetry Foundation will host “Billy Blake and the Vagabonds” in the first floor performance space of their building at 61 W. Superior. Doors will open at 6pm, and attendance is limited to the first 125 guests. All attendees will receive a complimentary issue Poetry magazine and a limited edition prayer card designed by local artist Edie Fake.
Chicago songwriters Reid Coker and Kennedy Greenrod will join forces with Saleem Dhamee, Jason Labross, Alan Scalpone, and Seth Vanek to bring you a nineteenth-century song cycle “drawing from folk, pop, country, and gospel music to New Orleans drum line with a Bo Diddely beat.” “Billy Blake, he’s the words, and we’re the vagabonds,” explained Greenrod.
The songs will retain Blake’s original language, but run through the paces of a twenty-first century band—guitars, bass, male and female vocals, a stripped-down drum kit, and occasional accordion. “There’ll be some real rockers in the set, but also some quiet, pretty ones too,” Greenrod told us.
“One of the things that we are really happy about is that the songs sound totally contemporary and not at all stilted or archaic. I think Blake was just so wildly ahead of his time, which is why it works.”
The group will draw from two of Blake’s best-known collections, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. “Some of the Songs of Experience are more appealing, because they’re darker and more strange, but some of the Songs of Innocence are really beautiful,” said Greenrod. “I think a lot of songwriters find it difficult to write pieces that are positive and hopeful—it’s much easier to be dark and gloomy—but Blake managed to do it. I love ‘The Divine Image’…I was brought up atheist, but this is a very beautiful tribute. He addresses so many of the faces of the Christian God—vengeful, loving, perverse.”
Both songwriters have had an active presence in the Chicago music scene for several years, Greenrod with “The Thin Man” and Coker with “The Judy Green.” This is their first collaborative project. “There are songs that spoke to Reid which I hadn’t really looked at,” said Greenrod. “He tackled ‘The Tyger,’ which I was happy about. I wasn’t going to touch that…and his version of ‘The Tyger’ is awesome, just really beautiful.”
The group has plans for a second album of “Billy Blake,” to be recorded with Jim Becker of Califone. “We’d like to take this as far as we can. Reid and I are going to talk to a lot of literature departments, to see if they’d be interested in having us come perform.” A release party for the first album is scheduled for July 20, 2012, at The Hideout.
Interested in RSVPing for Thursday’s event? Click here!
(Image from Edie Fake’s William Blake Prayer Card, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation)
Posted by Claire Glass -- 3/19/2012 -- Discussion (0)
Posted by Danielle Chapman -- 9/13/2011 -- Discussion (0)
The Ruth Lilly Fellowship is one of the largest awards offered to aspiring poets in the United States. The $15,000 scholarship prize is intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry. Last week the Poetry Foundation announced the 2011 recipients the fellowship. The winners are comprised of five young but accomplished poets from various backgrounds and all different corners of the United States.More >>
Posted by Danielle Chapman -- 9/6/2011 -- Discussion (0)
There are so many great Chicago events to feature this week that we can’t pick just one. The following are two great literary events happening this week, and we encourage you to head to our Chicago Literary Events Calendar to read about even more!
Tomorrow: Collection and Cocktails–A Poetry Foundation Library Open House
The Poetry Foundation will host an open house to celebrate the expanded hours and programs of its library tomorrow, September 7th, from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM at 61 West Superior Street. Festivities include poetry fortune telling, poetry recording sessions, a scavenger hunt, and readings of favorite poems from the library collection by local poets Phil Jenks, Jennifer Karmin, Quraysh Lansana, Dolly Lemke, Anthony Madrid, Mike Puican, Kathleen Rooney, and Robbie Telfer.More >>
Posted by Danielle Chapman -- 6/28/2011 -- Discussion (0)
One of last weekend’s many readers to grace the stage of the new Poetry Foundation building was Kay Ryan, former U.S. Poet Laureate, and winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and in 2011, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her most recent collection, The Best of It. Her reading was both uproariously funny and room-chillingly beautiful.More >>
Posted by Danielle Chapman -- 6/22/2011 -- Discussion (0)
If you’ve been keeping an eye on Chicago’s literary scene lately, you know that the Poetry Foundation has been constructing a new building dedicated entirely to poetry for some time now. At long last, the building is ready, and this weekend they will host an Open House with a sold-out, all-star roster of free readings, panel discussions, and signings with twelve of poetry’s biggest names.More >>
Posted by Danielle Chapman -- 5/11/2011 -- Discussion (0)
Since 1966, the American Society of Magazine Editors’ awards for print journalism have been presented to leaders in the print world and are today considered to be most prestigious awards in the magazine industry. On Monday, it was announced that Poetry magazine, a Chicago publisher since 1912, was awarded the National Magazine Award for “General Excellence, Print” in the “Literary, Political and Professional Magazines” category.
Poetry beat out fellow literary innovators Lapham’s Quarterly, The Paris Review, The Sun, and Virginia Quarterly Review. The awards were announced at a presentation in New York City on May 8th with National Geographic named Magazine of the Year. The awards are known as the Ellies for the Alexander Calder stabile “Elephant” given to each winner. This year’s ceremony was hosted by news anchor Katie Couric and was attended by over 700 magazine editors and publishers. Click here for the full list of winners.
Poetry magazine is published by the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation, which will be moving into its new home, with many grand opening festivities open to the public, on June 25–as well as a big centennial celebration for the mag in 2012. So, mark your calendars, and get ready to celebrate the poetry in our midst! For more on the award, the magazine, and the Foundation, visit the Poetry Foundation online.
Posted by Chicago Publishes -- 3/11/2011 -- Discussion (0)
On being a publisher of poetry, President of the Poetry Foundation, John Barr, says, “It’s sort of like building a fusion reactor: hard metal on the outside, but holding in its heart the very sun.” As the inaugural guest in our feature, “Ask a Publisher,” Barr answered questions about the future of publishing, where the business world and publishing intersect, and Chicago as a publishing home.More >>
Posted by Danielle Chapman -- 2/21/2011 -- Discussion (0)
As part of the Poetry Foundation’s “Poetry Off the Shelf” series, multimedia pioneer Edwin Torres presents “Performance Poetry in the Age of Language,” a reading beyond text. He has been presenting his energetic blend of poetry, performance, music, dance, and visual art since the late 1980s. His unique performance poetry, born at New York City’s Nuyorican Poets Café, and midwifed by the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, his is now coming to Chicago. The reading is immediately followed by a reception at Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper Arts, where his new book, Yes Thing No Thing, will be on display.
The event is co-sponsored with Poetry, the Columbia College English Department, and the Center for Book & Paper Arts. It will take this Thursday, February 24th, 6 pm, at Columbia College Chicago’s Stage Two, 618 South Michigan Avenue, Second Floor. Admission is free.
To add this event to your Google calendar, visit our Chicago Literary Events Calendar.
Posted by Danielle Chapman -- 12/21/2010 -- Discussion (0)
“I think the lesson here is that there are a lot of treasures in the world of communications, print and book arts that we’ve forgotten about,” says Bill Moran, artistic director of the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum. The museum, located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, was recently featured in the documentary Typeface, produced by Kartemquin Films.More >>