Lits and giggles
Loads of local lit-related goodies all over the Web of late, so here are a few:
• One good reason to brave the storms and head to Looptopia: Jennifer Karmin. Loads of poets claim to be political or activist, but few have the clarity of thought that Karmin has. The curator of the Red Rover Reading Series and founder of the public art project Anti-Gravity Surprise collected submissions for "4,000 WORDS 4,000 DEAD," about as ambitious an anti-war poem as I've ever encountered. It's a companion piece to her 2004 poem, "Revolutionary Optimism," which was based on confessions from Iraqi prisoners, sympathy cards and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. If you can't make it out tonight, check out the interview with Karmin at the Ploughshares blog conducted by fellow Chicago poet Kathleen Rooney.
• One good reason to procrastinate at work: Keir Graff. The Chicago-based American Library Association's review journal, Booklist, published its first-ever short story this week. Graff, the mag's online senior editor, wrote a story called "Reading Is My Business," a hard-boiled tale about life as a book critic. I'll cop to my membership in a choir to which Graff is preaching here, but any story with a line like, "I told a dirty joke to Laverne Lively, our romance reviewer, and got a drink thrown in my face for my trouble," has to have wider appeal. And for more of Graff, read the story he published with us last fall.
• One good reason to think about the suburbs: John McNally. The author of The Book of Ralph and America's Report Card has started up a blog about the old days of Burbank, Illinois (where he grew up, where Ralph is set, and where he's conducted numerous readings in an Italian beef joint). The blog hits just about the perfect tone, not too saccharine in its nostalgia and generous enough in its emotions that you don't have to be from Burbank to enjoy it. One thing McNally is surely not nostalgic for is his high-school hair (at right).