Chicago Subtext: An Introduction

Ahem. I suppose introductions are in order.

It is said that
Chicago’s literary renaissance began in 1912 with the formation of
Poetry Magazine and ended in 1927 when, well, H. L. Mencken declared so.
Some say it has started again in recent years, and that perhaps may be
the case. But there is also a fairly good chance that what sparked and
fueled the declared renaissance and all that came before it (and the
hopeful suspicions of its return) never went anyplace but was and is
all that makes Chicago Chicago.

With a certain endearing self-made
quality, a cosmopolitan workability and accessible feasibility, with its chic herculean rising of sorts upon the back of
the Midwestern prairie, Chicago exists as a city which, for all its
changes and re-buildings, is forever unwilling to conceal its
victories, its roots, and those very roots wriggle to the surface in our
architecture, our streets, our neighborhoods, our lives, and to be
sure, our stories, both the ones we tell and the ones we find ourselves
compelled to enjoy.

Chicago bears these great roots and chooses to not
mask its ghosts (friendly and not) and yet, for as much as it is and we
are a past-anchored city, we are a forward-looking city, a city not
dwelling or resting on laurels, but moving forward in days,
in stories and in words.

At times our city’s literary communities
seem individually self-contained and divided by neighborhoods and
politics, and so while there is great value in our literary history as
it is recorded, there is equal responsibility upon us to understand our
present and thus, our future. And, with insight offered in the stories
our authors have told throughout our shared history, each through their
own filter, we see glimpses of what still stands, and a greater
understanding of all that which we accept and hope for our city now,
and, the commonalities which can be shared. Yet, literature (much less
literary historical context) often gets a bad rap as moody, or
too-serious, or worse, as dull, dusty and useless. Nonsense!

So, it is with an eye toward
both community-building within our city of readers and writers,
booksellers and book makers that my aim is to uncover and deliver all
the literary goods in and around Chicago here on Chicago Now’s Chicago Subtext.

if a little dab of snark is needed to accomplish that, well, then snark
I shall.

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  • I'm so glad this blog is here.

  • Thank you so much, Sarah. I really appreciate you saying so.

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