I went to Chicago in May for two of my current vocations: poetry and fund raising.
First, on Sunday night, I returned to the Green Mill, birthplace of Poetry Slam, to feature at their famed weekly show. With it’s irreverent attitude toward slam as a competition, the Green Mill is one of my favorite venues to visit. The original notion of slam as a tongue-in-cheek contest is alive and well in Chicago.
Chicago poet J.W. Baz started out on improv comedy stages. To enjoy some free time, Baz took me to the best improv comedy event, Monday night at iO Chicago Theatre. I still can’t believe how fantastically entertaining the night was, or how talented the performers. When I wasn’t laughing, I was taking notes.
My Chicago time was full of close friend and brilliant poet Roger Bonair Agard. Although still a New Yorker at heart, Roger currently resides in Chicago. But, he will be back in New York next week, celebrating the release of his new book of poems, Gully. Read a review of Roger’s book in Muzzle Magazine. Yes, his tee shirt does say, “I kick it with Soccer Moms.”
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I worked with literary arts organization, 826 Chicago. Each national 826 organization has a store front with a fun theme for their products. 826 Seattle features space travel, while 826 Chicago features…SECRET AGENTS! Since I have no business giving away their top secret location, I will just share some interior pics.
As both a writer and a professional auctioneer, I’m in a unique place to help organizations like 826. (I also run the Raise-the-Paddle at the Seattle event.) Our goal for this first time event was $75,000, which we exceeded by almost $20,000. Organization founder Dave Eggers spoke, along with author Michael Chabon and musician Jeff Tweedy. The night was full of stunning moments.