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Local Book Notes: Sex Workers, Praying Drunk & Rahm's Favorite Chicago Poem

"The prostitution debate will get nowhere as long as women who sell sex are seen as victims to be 'rescued', their views ignored, argues a former sex worker in this extract from her new book," the Guardian says.

Here's the Chicago part (links added):

"Awareness-raising about prostitution is not a value-neutral activity. Sex workers see a straight line between foundation dollars earmarked for advertisements such as those that appeared on Chicago buses - Get Rich. Work In Prostitution. Pimps Keep The Profits, And Prostituted Women Often Pay With Their Lives - and the allocation of resources to the Chicago police to arrest pimps in order to save women whom they call 'prostituted.'

"Inevitably, all of these women face arrest, no matter what they call them, a demonstration of the harm produced by awareness raising despite any good intentions.

"'On paper, sex workers are still not as likely to face felony charges as their patrons,' according to the Chicago Reporter, 'who can be charged with a felony on their first offense under the Illinois Safe Children's Act, which was enacted in 2010.'

"But when the paper examined felony arrest statistics they found, [the] data shows that prostitution-related felonies are being levied almost exclusively against sex workers. During the past four years, they made up 97% of the 1,266 prostitution-related felony convictions in Cook County. And the number only grew: felony convictions among sex workers increased by 68% between 2008 and 2011.

"This was when anti-prostitution groups such as the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation became active in the city, demanding johns pay."

Praying Drunk, Home Remedies
"Kyle Minor, author, most recently of the collection of short fiction Praying Drunk, and Angela Pneuman, author of the collection Home Remedies, will read from their work as part of this spring's Roosevelt University Reading Series at 5 p.m. Thursday in Roosevelt's Gage Gallery," the university says.

"Minor is the author of two collections of short fiction, Praying Drunk (2014) and In the Devil's Territory (2008). Recent work appears in print and online at The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, Salon, Esquire, The Iowa Review, Best American Mystery Stories, and Best American Nonrequired Reading. He lives in hotel rooms and on airplanes.

"Angela Pneuman, raised in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, teaches fiction writing at Stanford University. Her collection Home Remedies was hailed as 'call[ing] to mind Alice Munro' (San Francisco Chronicle), and her fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories (2004 & 2012), Ploughshares, Los Angeles Review, and many other literary magazines. She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, a Presidential Fellow at SUNY Albany, and the recipient of the first inaugural Alice Hoffman Prize from Ploughshares.

"Free and open to the public, the reading is presented by the MFA in Creative Writing Program, the University's literary magazine, Oyez Review, and the Department of Literature and Languages at Roosevelt University."

Rahm Picks A Poem
"In an effort to document the role of poetry in the lives of Chicagoans, the Favorite Poem Project and Chicago's own Poetry Foundation asked residents of Chicago to submit their favorite poems and why the poems have special meaning to them," the foundation says.

"From many submissions, the poems of five Chicagoans are featured, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Videos of the five Chicagoans reading their selected favorite poems and commentary will be featured in the Favorite Poem Project: Chicago initiative that will launch on Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m. at the Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street. A reception will follow the event. Because of limited space capacity, RSVPs are required to attend this event.

"With Favorite Poem Project: Chicago, the Poetry Foundation brings to our city poet Robert Pinsky's national initiative as U.S. Poet Laureate (1997-2000). Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project celebrates poetry as a vocal art. Pinsky will introduce the program.

"A favorite poem can be a talisman or mantra, a clue, landmark or guiding star, and dwells deep down in our psyches," said Poetry Foundation president Robert Polito. "The readings on the videos are investigative, probing, revelatory, and ultimately autobiographical and moving. Chicago possesses a rich poetry tradition, and we invite our fellow citizens to join us in launching this poetry initiative."

EVENT DETAILS: Friday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at The Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street.

RSVP: Ashley Sheehan, 312.799.8026


About The Favorite Poem Project
The Favorite Poem Project is dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry's role in Americans' lives. Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States, founded the Favorite Poem Project shortly after the Library of Congress appointed him to the post in 1997. During the one-year open call for submissions, 18,000 Americans wrote to the project volunteering to share their favorite poems - Americans from ages 5 to 97, from every state, of diverse occupations and backgrounds. From those letters emerged several enduring collections: Three anthologies and 50 mini-documentaries, which are available for viewing at


Trailer Time
The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters from the Art Institute of Chicago:


Comments welcome.


Posted on March 17, 2014

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PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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