Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rockford Poetry Is Alive Again

Suddenly the poetry scene in Rockford is alive again. With the hosting of the prestigious Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam, and the Wednesday night event planned at CNVR to discuss poetry and hold an open mic reading, the long dormant poetry scene seems to be awaking from hibernation.

Will it last? There have been short-lived attempts to create a poetry revival before, including the Bookworm Cafe, The Poetic Justice League, and a successful, well-attended series of reading at Cafe Esperanto in the early 1990's, but for some reason no one was able to maintain the energy level of the first couple of events.

Rockford poetry was front and center on NPR this winter when Jesus Correa's first book of poetry, Iced Cream, was featured on NPR's Winter Book Series. 

Iced Cream, by Jesus Abraham Correa VII, Zombie Logic Press 2014
One of the stalwarts of the Rockford poetry scene is Zombie Logic Press, in business since 1997. Recently they have begun publishing books exclusively by Rockford writers, and plan to publish books by Dennis Gulling and David Pedersen in the coming year. 

Other reasons for optimism in the Rockford poetry scene are young poets like Emily Sipiora, and the ferocious voice of Xen Kingsley, but ultimately it is always the audience that is the essential ingredient in creating a maintaining a vital literary scene. So, how can the literary community best foster interest in those who are not so inclined to attend literary events or buy the books local authors write? These are the eternal questions that plague anyone trying to sell people what they don't seem to want. I wish I could trust in the cliche answer that education is the key to creating new readers, but how can that be done when the teachers themselves are reading at a remedial level?

Is all lost for the poetry scene? Maybe not. In a forsaken literary outpost like Rockford there will always be those who make a valiant attempt to raise up the standard of literacy for others to see, but that struggle will almost always seem like a losing battle, and we'll lose most of our promising writers, like David Ensminger, to other places, but those who stay behind have always been a brave and noble bunch, even if their efforts have largely been in vain. I recommend Wednesday night at CNVR for those who'd like to get the ball rolling again, and Zombie Logic Press for those who want to see how it is already done.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Outsider Poetry Depot To Open In Rockford

The Outsider Poetry Depot opened today in Rockford, Illinois to an assembled crowd on hand that had camped out overnight waiting for doorbuster deals on haikus, narrative, and confessional poems by Outsider Poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg.

"The response from the community has been very heartening," stated Vaultonburg, who has been writing poetry since he was sixteen, and had the idea to open a storefront to sell individual poems in a dream. "At first I thought maybe another Portillo's location had opened up, or maybe I had forgotten it was Black Friday, so I was shocked when I learned they were here for poetry." 

Chad Onderdonk was first in line. He had camped out overnight specifically for one poem he had read in Zombie Logic Review. "I knew there was a going to be a lot of competition for this poem, so I got here early," Onderdonk said. 

Vaultonburg, a notoriously late riser, did not realize the crowd had gathered, and did not open the doors of The Outsider Poetry Depot until three in the afternoon, but it didn't matter, as the crown had begun to entertain themselves, playing hacky sack and selling homemade tuna fish sandwiches. True to his word, Chad Onderdonk was right there when the door opened and bought this poem for $1.99:


You were our first lesson
In rage and greed,
Possibly love.
Our smiling guardian
Put the stick
In our small hands,
Blindfolded us,
And whispered
Unspeakable treasures
Awaited us when we
Destroyed you.
Spun around and
Drunken with images
Of unimaginable trinkets
We became whirling dervishes
Of lust and anger,
Whacking and thumping away
At your broken smile
Way past nap time,
Until frustrated with
Our lack of killer instinct,
Our teacher sawed you
In half, spilling
Far less enticing bounty
Than we had dreamed of.
Some rushed forward and
Grabbed and devoured,
Others stood back and 
Cried over the carnage.
Either way we all learned
Who we would become that day.
-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

After Onderdonk made his purchase, the line moved in an orderly and steady fashion as Vaultonburg served poems of all lengths and subject matter to a grateful and informed audience willing to show their gratitude by giving him United States currency, or in one case a corned beef sandwich. Asked if The Outsider Poetry Depot would become an ongoing part of the burgeoning Downtown community Vaultonburg just sort of yawned and said he thought he might be out of poetry and have to think of 
something else to do.  

Rockford CSI

An ant crawled 
Into the bottle of Grolsch 
I left on the counter last night 
And drowned like an American 
Tourist in a Dutch brothel. 
I notified the Coroner’s Office 
And they have deemed it 
Death by misadventure 
Though no one is sure 
Who to notify. 

The Outsider Poetry Depot

Buy this Rockford poem for only .99. Act now, supplies dwindling. Or come on down to the Outsider Poetry Depot for all your poetry needs today.