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Local Book Notes: Provocation & Witness

1. Split This Rock.

"The March 2014 issue of Poetry, now available online, presents 24 poems from 16 poets addressing history, society and current events, in a portfolio co-edited with Split This Rock, an organization that fosters a national network of socially engaged poets.

"Poetry can tell the true American story," says Split This Rock executive director Sarah Browning. "We chose these writers from an ever-growing list of poets of provocation and witness whom we wildly admire. Surely we are living in a golden age of American poetry. And at its glittering center, leading the way, are poets of conscience such as those gathered here."

"Joy Harjo, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dunya Mikhail and Anne Waldman are among the poets included in this special portfolio."

2. Economics For Humans.

"Is the economy a machine? Adam Smith created that metaphor and three centuries of economists and pundits have followed his lead. But not Julie A. Nelson, who argues that an economy is a society's beating heart. Human care and emotion, human relationships and morality are at the core of an economy, themes explored in her provocative and accessible Economics for Humans, our free e-book for March."

3. Story Week Memorial For David Hernandez.

"The Guild Literary Complex (the Guild) continues to highlight diverse and powerful voices in this year's Story Week through a collaboration with Columbia College Chicago's Department of Creative Writing.

"These events include a reading, conversation, and book signing with author Cristina Garcia on March 18; three linked programs at the recently renovated Humboldt Park Fieldhouse, including a panel discussion and our monthly Palabra Pura reading featuring novelist Valeria Luiselli on March 19; and a life tribute to poet, organizer, and community activator David Hernandez on March 20. All events are free and open to the public.

LITERARY ROCK & ROLL: a Tribute to David Hernandez with Street Sounds Thursday, March 20, 6 p.m. (doors at 5:30 p.m.) Metro, 3730 N. Clark St.

"Street Sounds, led by James Cornolo, performs in a night of music and poetry honoring the work of poet/bandleader David Hernandez (1946-2013). The evening includes readings of Hernandez's original poetry by special guests Achy Obejas (host), Eduardo Arocho, Marta Collazo, and Carlos Cumpián."

4. Greg Kot Turns It Up.

"Greg Kot, chief music critic for the Chicago Tribune for a quarter-century, has been called an 'able, engaging, and appreciative' writer by Slate, while The AV Club describes his books - including the highly praised new release I'll Take You There - as 'revealing' and 'invaluable.'

Now, for the first time, Kot's work at the Tribune is collected in a single e-book. TURN IT UP: A Guided Tour Through the Worlds of Pop, Rock, Rap and More (Agate Digital, 978-1-57284-471-1, $4.99) spans the past 13 years of Kot's career, and it's a fast-paced glimpse of music journalism can be practiced in the digital age.

"Turn It Up runs the gamut from album reviews to in-depth features on an eclectic range of musical artists and topics. The book gives equal attention to pop, rock, and hip-hop in three sprawling chapters before closing with a catch-all chapter that covers everything outside and in between: contemporary jazz, the resurgence of house music, portraits of record labels, and radical shifts affecting the 'music biz' in the new millennium."

5. Tribute To Leon Forrest.

"The Society of Midland Authors and the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame will present a tribute to the acclaimed Chicago novelist Leon Forrest on Tuesday, March 11, at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor, Chicago.

"Donald G. Evans will lead a panel discussion featuring Ronne Hartfield and Kathleen E. Bethel talking about Forrest's life and literature. The discussion begins at 7 p.m. A social hour with free appetizers and a cash bar begins at 6 p.m. No reservations are required for this free public event.

"Leon Forrest (1937-1997) is one of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame's newest inductees. He also served as president of the Society of Midland Authors. His stream-of-consciousness writing concerned the legacy of slavery and earned him a place on Chicago magazine's 'Most Important Chicagoans of the 20th Century.'

"His novels are set in a mythical Forrest County that closely resembles Chicago. His third novel, Two Wings to Veil My Face (1984), won the Society of Midland Authors Award for adult fiction, the DuSable Museum Certificate of Merit and Achievement in Fiction, the Carl Sandburg Award and the Friends of Literature Prize. His fourth book, Divine Days (1992), won the Chicago Sun-Times Book of the Year Award for local fiction.

"Forrest grew up on the South Side and went to school at Wendell Phillips, Hyde Park Academy and Wilson Junior College. He wrote and edited for several South Side community newspapers, and was a professor of English and African-American studies at Northwestern University for 24 years."

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"Mr. Forrest was perhaps best known for his last novel, Divine Days (1993), a 1,138-page narrative about seven days in 1966 on the South Side of Chicago," his New York Times obit says.

"In it he mixed several genres, including the parable, tall tale and philosophical argument, to evoke a world inhabited by everyone from politicians and preachers to retired redcaps.

"Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Stanley Crouch described Divine Days' as 'an adventurous masterwork that provides our literature with a signal moment.''

"Mr. Forrest, the reviewer wrote, developed ''an intricate antiphony between things specific to the South Side of Chicago and universal themes like transcendence, the irresponsible uses of the charismatic, the heartbreak of the doomed romance, the riotous absurdity of human circumstances and the reincarnation of individuals and eras.'''

*

See also: "Bound for Glory | More than anything, Leon Forrest wanted to be recognized as a great writer. Now, ravaged by cancer, he raced death to finish his final novel."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 4, 2014


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