Sex, Money, Poetry | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Sex, Money, Poetry

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To the editors:

Regarding February 28 City Scenes: superpoets vs. the money-go-round, I must ask Gabriele Strohschen to get off her high horse long enough to give a poet the "freedom of choice" to read about his "hard penis" if he so chooses. Gabriele said she was disappointed to find sex poems being read at the Borderline upon her return from East Germany. Oh, come on! Is she trying to tell us that sex poems were never read there when she was the cohost? The show she was referring to was the Living Artists Society's presentation of "SEX III: FREE SEX," which was presented free of charge. I have been curating my poetry series, the LAS, for over a year now. Need I remind Gabriele that her fellow "Uberlyriker" Anthony Aguilera was a feature in the original "SEX" at Club Lower Links, and that superpoets Larry Winfield and Tina Wright were features in my presentation of "SEX II: THE SEQUEL" at the HotHouse, which consequently received a favorable review by Stephen Seddom in Chicago's most respected poetry newsmagazine, the Letter eX? What really pisses me off about Gabriele's constant comparison of her journey to Berlin with my sex show (which, by the way, wasn't limited to Reader coverage) is that I hosted that evening at the Borderline as a favor to Jose Chavez, who too was going to East Germany. I worked hard putting that show together. I packed the house. There were 23 readers, including such poetic greats as Kim Berez and Michael Warr. I even managed to shut the audience up long enough to hear the poetry. The show was an ultimate success. Yet Gabriele walked in, heard the word "sex" and immediately tagged it as something bad. Aren't sex poems always read at the Borderline? And wasn't the Borderline a big help in sending the Berlin Poets off? Would Gabriele even be here on earth if it wasn't for sex?

Gabriele also criticized the fact that poetry shows cost money these days. She is saying it is OK to pay $10 for a benefit sending Chicago poets to Germany to read, but it is not OK to pay $5 to actually hear some poetry right here in our hometown. She says emcees are "raking it in." That statement makes me laugh. As a poetry emcee, I know that half the time I don't even break even after buying flyers, distributing them, doing a press release, paying performers and giving the club a cut, even when I charge $5 at the door. I would never have been able to feature such literary talents as Larry Heinemann, Barry Silesky and David Hernandez in my series if I didn't charge. To be honest, by my experience, not that many people show up for a free show half the time. A cover charge legitimizes it and assures me that the audience is there to hear the poetry. And as far as Gabriele's comment about "creeping commercialism" goes, I suggest she read Barry Cassilly's comments in the eX-OUT section of February's Letter eX.

C.J. Laity

N. Greenview

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