Pen Name: None
Born: 1970 in Dayton, Ohio
I have been living in Chicago for 11 years after moving here from Dayton, Ohio. During that time I have curated the poetry reading series at Myopic Books, edited an online magazine called milk (www.milkmag.org), and am now co-director of The Chicago School of Poetics (www.chicagoschoolofpoetics.com). I live in the Rogers Park neighborhood and I'm an active participant in many poetry circles around town--attending readings and peformances at Columbia, SAIC, and various galleries. I've read my own work at Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Quimby's, Poetry Center of Chicago, the Hideout, Myopic Books, and in the Danny's Tavern Reading Series and the Red Rover Reading Series.
Biographical and Professional Information
Larry Sawyer is the author of Vertigo Diary (BlazeVox) and also Unable to Fully California (Otoliths Press). Larry has curated the Myopic Books Poetry Series in Wicker Park, Chicago since 2005. He also edits the online magazine milk with Lina Ramona Vitkauskas and is a past editor of Nexus literary magazine. He recently blogged about Chicago literature for Ploughshares (http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/literary-boroughs-32-chicago/). He was also chosen as Best Poet by The Chicago Reader in its 2012 Best of Chicago Readers’ Poll.
Poetry, essays, and reviews have been published in: Action Yes, The Argotist (UK), Arthur, Boston Review, The Chicago Tribune, Coconut, Court Green, Exquisite Corpse, Forklift Ohio, Jacket, Matter, The Miami Sun Post, Moria, The National Poetry Review, Otoliths (Australia), Paper Tiger (Australia), The Prague Literary Review (Czech Republic), Skanky Possum, The Tiny, Toronto Quarterly, Van Gogh’s Ear (France), Vanitas, Verse Daily, VLAK (Czech Republic), Ygdrasil, and elsewhere.
About Vertigo Diary: Larry’s poetry gives me the best kind of vertigo: the kind where you’re afraid of falling, but when you do you fall into a soft, meaty, sensual, smart ravine that shakes you pretty good, but instead of killing you it turns you into a Thinking Cocktail. What a scary and fine artist Mr. Sawyer is! —Andrei Codrescu, author of So Recently Rent a World (Coffee House Press)
Sawyer’s Vertigo Diary speaks from a three-fold poetics of self-consciousness, critique and humor so that we chuckle at and choke on our collective shortcomings. This book contains so many thrilling moments of high altitude lyricism that are skillfully balanced by an urbane desire to “progress beyond the / Need to fill our silences with such idiot carcasses.” In the end, Sawyer’s woozy and exquisite poems are shadow messages from the other side of ourselves, messages that unshackle language and let it loose in a dynamic field of play. When I hear these messages, I feel a rare sense of freedom; that is, “To their telegrams I respond / with a ponderous liberty.” —Nathan Hoks, author of The Narrow Circle (Penguin)
The secret love-child of Frank O'Hara and Paul Éluard, Vertigo Diary is a swirling romp into the city—through the mundane to the Pentagon to the not-so-probable. Sawyer's latest maps a world filled with beauty and longing, where the political, pop culture, and literary history meet in “our own private Pompeii.” —Megan Kaminski, author of Desiring Map (Coconut Books)
Larry Sawyer’s Vertigo Diary is a fine 21st century example of the poetry of the American Urban Sublime. More Ben Katchor’s Julius Knipl than Nelson Algren’s Frankie Machine, the author serves up a “moment salad” of incidentals in our day world and his sharp ear gets the real news down sans air quotes. Humane and wry, the book reads like the serial composition playing in my head—you just can’t tell what is awaiting you past the next period, comma or enjambment. Dialectic bebop. —Joel Lewis, author of Surrender When Leaving Coach (Hanging Loose Press)
In Vertigo Diary, Larry Sawyer gives us poems that are rich in idiosyncratic imagery and elusive, quotable metaphor (“Why was each moment such a miniature Troy?”). Sawyer’s exuberant sensibility has led him to confident lyric expression whose finest moments are beyond context. —Tony Towle, author of Winter Journey (Hanging Loose Press)
About Unable to Fully California: I fell in love with your “blue fruit” and “inescapable tomorrow,” also what seems like renunciation not of sentimentality but of cliché …I like even the quasi-Romantic dislocations here: “There is a beauty to ice / only a statue understands.” I’m not a statue, so I only partially understand, but that should be more than enough for Sawyer’s uncanny picnic on no grass … [Unable to Fully California] seemed as real as the Bronx, and I couldn’t stop thinking: I am so lucky that this poetry is so good. —David Shapiro, author of New and Selected Poems (Overlook Press)
Unable to Fully California, Otoliths, 2010
Vertigo Diary, BlazeVox, 2013
Titles for Purchase and at Your Library
Unable to Fully California
Release Date: 2010-09-01
Release Date: 2013-03-28
- Best Poet in Chicago, 2012, Chicago Reader Poll, Best of Chicago Awards, '
Speaking Engagements and Upcoming Appearances
Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)
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