February 17, 2014

After Hours Release Party, February 16

After Hours: a Journal of Chicago Writing and Art has been around for about 14 years, & this was a reading to celebrate Issue #28, Winter 2014. Edited by Albert DeGenova & P. Hertel, it represents the eclectic mix of Chicago poets, photographers & painters. The reading was held at Calles y SueƱos, a store front performance space, gallery, community center at 1900 Carpenter St., Chicago, in the heart of Pilsen. The readers were those published in the current issue, or in the past.

Al DeGenova, who served as the host, read first, with “At the Ancient Pond” & “The Tides,” both in the the zine. David Matthews was next with his entry, the Chicago descriptive “Polish Bus Stop,” & another piece read from his phone, “Katzenjammers.” Jamie Wendt read about “Things You Saved For When I Got Older,” then a poem about a pigeon, “What a Refugee Leaves Behind.”

Melissa Walker’s piece in After Hours, “The Fall,” was an intense & tender meditation on Death, then the compelling “Rough Guide to Sacramento” & “Rough Guide to the Rain Forest.” My buddy Charlie Rossiter was up next with his poem from the mag, “Is It Love or Lies,” then a couple of pieces he has performed with the 3 Guys from Albany, his “cheap motel” poem & the sexy “I’m Yours.” Larry Janowski left us to read his published poem ourselves, instead read “24 Hours in the ER” & “Cane Mutiny.” Wilda Morris read “Mnemonic” (reconstructing memory), then the funny/sexy “The Bed,” & “50 Years After.”

Cherie Caswell Dost’s poems were Chicago tales, “For Vivian Maier, Dammit” & one about a polish house-painter. Robert Lawrence read the so-seasonal “Naked Trees in Winter” then an amusing poem about exchanging is body for a better one, as if it were “The Gift.” Tom Cosgrove wasn’t here, but his wife read his poem “Children Catching Fireflies.” Jennifer Finstrom’s poem from After Hours, “Obituary” was a compelling family tale about her grandfather, then read “Ariadne” & recited “Minotaur” from a series on the Cretan myths. Andrew Byrne read 3 memoirs from his childhood, “On Going to Mass to Serve Mass Winter Early Mornings,” “Geography” & “Paradise.”

A couple readers were not in the current issue but had been published in past issues of After Hours. Joe Weintraub read the hopeful “Sparrows in Early Spring.” Tom Roby read a cluster of poems in foreign settings such as the Italian Alps, the Cote d’Azur & Japan. The last of the open mic-ers, Dina Elenbogen is in the current issue, read her travel poem “On the Road” & some poems from a new poetry manuscript that she is working on.

The featured poet Jenene Ravesloot began her set with her poem from After Hours, “Alone.” The rest of her poems were an interesting variety of topics & style, many from a new manuscript on which she is working. For example, “It’s like…” was an imaginative list poem, while a bunch of other poems were what she termed her “noir poems,” such as “Elegy for a Roach,” “Flash,” “The Defectives,” & a poem as a made-up police blotter item. Others played with poetic forms: “Winter Ghazal Variation,” “River Sestina Variation” “Sonnet for a Winter Morning,” & “The Phone Rings Sestina Variation” (that sounded like a blending of a sestina with a phantoum). In between were a few Nature poems, such as “A Gift” & “Etude.” A touching childhood memoir poem, “Off to the George Diamond Steak House” was about having dinner there with her father.

It was quite an afternoon of poetry, veggies & chips & dip, & wine. If you want more information about this fine poetry & art journal from the mid-West, visit their website.  More pictures of the poets from the reading at my Flickr! site.

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