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July 2009 Archives

Poetry for Now

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Illinois All-Stars and Nuestra Mezcla: The Voices of the Future

7 p.m. July 29----
My interest in poetry was reborn earlier this year in part by the suicide of Nicholas Hughes, the son of writers Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Plath also checked out by putting her head in an oven.

When Nicholas was in his 20s, Hughes told him this: "The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt....And the only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all."

That's poetry to live by.
Then I picked up an anthology of poems by St. Louis native Frederick Seidel, who writes in measured but wonderfully cockeyed steps.
Earlier this month, before the finals of the 12th Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.
at the Chicago Theater, I had middle school students from the Chicago writers group Nuestra Mezcla ("Our Mix") interview the Illinois All-Stars, a group of writers age 17-19 who emerged from Young Chicago Authors in Wicker Park,
The half-hour backstage session was riveting.
Listeners hung on to every word........

My Favorite Merle Haggard Song

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merle.JPG America's greatest roots musician.

5:40 p.m. July 16----

Merle Haggard.
On the road again, just nine months after undergoing surgery for lung cancer.
He is standing at center stage in the 300-seat Northern Lights showroom at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee. He wears a black cowboy hat and black fringe jacket with white cowboy boots. He is 72 years old. His face is as ruffled as a 48-starred Old Glory.
According to a New York Times report, this is the first tour of Haggard's career that he has performed without smoking tobacco or marijuana. It is Wednesday, July 15 and Haggard is opening for Loretta Lynn, another country legend. During a break between songs he tells the sellout audience that he has conferred with Lynn for the first time in a long while. They don't see each other much. Time is a crap shoot......

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.


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