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February 2003

By Carol Jean Carlson

        Our February meeting will reprise last year's very successful evening of poetry.
        Mike Kadela, George David Miller and Regie Gibson will be the poets reading from their work. All are published by EM Press, owned and operated by SMA members, Mike Eleveld and Ron Maruszak.
        Mike Kadela was born on the east side of Joliet and attended DePaul University. He has held a series of very odd jobs ranging from cleaning dead chickens to scouting movie locations for feature films.
        In 2000, he represented the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge at the National Poetry Slam in Providence, R.I. His first book, published in 2001, was 1 Hundred Hiccups. Kadela currently resides in Chicago.
        George David Miller began his literary career in 1982 with the publishing of his first poem, "A Saint to Himself." Professor of philosophy at Lewis University in Romeoville, he is the author of a number of works on philosophy, most recently (2002) Peace, Value, and Wisdom. Miller previously taught at the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University, Loyola University of Chicago and Northern Illinois University.
        In 1997, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selected Miller as Illinois Professor of the Year. He had stepped away from poetry until 2001, when his book Children of Kosen-Rufu was published.
        Regie Gibson, poet, songwriter and author, has performed and lectured at schools, universities and theaters over two continents and in seven countries, most recently in Havana, Cuba.
        Regie and his work appear in the New Line Cinema film love jones, which is based largely on events in his life.
        Regie is the 1998 National Poetry Slam Individual Champion. The Chicago Tribune honored him as an Artist of the Year in 1998 for his poetry. He's regularly featured on National Public Radio. His first full-length book of poetry, Storms Beneath The Skin, was released in 2001.

By Richard Frisbie

        Having obtained an introduction to a New York children's book editor, Jan Spivey Gilchrist decided to go there to display samples of her artwork.
        That meant loading a van with full-size paintings and driving to New York with her husband. An underling at the publishing house didn't want to admit them, but Gilchrist talked her way in – with the paintings – and went home with her first contract to illustrate a book.
        The daughter of a Baptist preacher, she honed her communication skills as a member of a large family.
        She said, "When you grow up as one of 14 kids, you don't have a lot of trouble getting on with people."
        She also talked her way into the hearts of the audience at the January SMA meeting in the Chicago Athletic Assn.with a warm and funny presentation, telling of her childhood as an invalid, "the little girl who sat on the front porch and drew" the life around her.
        Her springboard was For the Love of the Game: Michael Jordan and Me, a new book, the 27th she has illustrated for her writer friend, Eloise Greenfield.
        But the game Gilchrist loves is illustrating and writing. She read from one of the books she has both written and illustrated, Indigo and Moonlight Gold.
        It's a deceptively simple and moving tale of a little girl relishing a summer evening on the porch with her mother.
        Gilchrist has won a long list of prestigious awards for her illustrations. Her paintings have been exhibited in galleries throughout North America.


Tom Frisbie has been appointed by the president and board of SMA to serve as membership secretary.

Leads Bird Count
        When Chicago area birdwatchers gathered on the Chicago lakefront to participate in the traditional Christmas bird count, their leader was Joel Greenberg.
        An environmental consultant, Greenberg is author of A Natural History of the Chicago Region.
        The Chicago Sun-Times noted that the annual bird count, conducted around the world by volunteers, gives ornithologists an estimate of the rise and fall of bird populations.
        There were few crows this year, probably because of West Nile virus, but the group was cheered by seeing two unusual species, a loon and a ring-necked duck.

That's Show Business
        Maurice Possley usually covers criminal justice news for the Chicago Tribune. Recently, he's turned into a highly specialized TV critic, writing special reports on a new reality TV series, High School Reunion.
        That's because his handsome 28-year-old son, Dan, is one of the alumni of Oak Park-River Forest High School, Class of 1992, who got together in a mansion on the Hawaiian island of Maui last summer while TV cameras recorded all.
        Being a reporter, Possley couldn't help developing a scoop. It turned out that to liven up the show the producers had slipped in four ringers, former students who actually were from the Class of 1991 or 1993, but were believed to be especially colorful for one reason or another.
Reversing Biggest Error
        CBS has outbid rivals for screen rights to Scott Turow's new book, Reversible Errors.
        Turow has been participating vigorously in the heated debate over former Illinois Governor George Ryan's decision to commute the death sentences of all the prisoners on his state's Death Row.
        Writing in The New Yorker, The New York Times op-ed page ( and no doubt elsewhere), Turow explained his conversion. A former prosecutor who believed execution could sometimes be appropriate, he became an opponent of the death penalty.
        Government, he says, just isn't smart enough to get it right.

Required Reading
        Tom Frisbie will speak Feb. 3 at the University of Illinois in Springfield about his book, Victims of Justice, written with Randy Garrett. The book is required reading there for certain courses.
        He learned recently that it's required reading also for courses at Northwestern University, home of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.
        The center's investigations have freed several men condemned to death but later found through its efforts to be innocent.
        Frisbie's book tells the story of the murder of Jeanine Nicarico, the wrongful convictions that followed it and the eventual triumph of truth.

Yo-Yo Award
        Stuart Meck is celebrating having an award yanked back.
        He was scheduled to receive a Professional Achievement award from Professional Builder magazine at the National Association of Homebuilders annual convention.
        Meck had led the American Planning Association's Growing Smart Project, which developed a pracical guide for updating planning and zoning regulations, striking a balance between fighting urban sprawl and meeting demand for new housing.
        Already, 14 states have used the guide. But news of the award infuriated so many of the magazine's readers that the editor had to cancel it.
        Putting the whole story on their Web site, A.P.A. apparently took the view that the furor showed they must have done something right.
        The original letter from Professional Builder praised Meck's team for creating "practical tools to help residential developers work with legislators and zoning officials to combat urban sprawl while still meeting consumer demand and need for new housing."

Books on Front Page
        When the Chicago Tribune decided to devote the front page of the Sunday book section to Chicago writers, it said nice things about Steve Monroe and Dempsey J. Travis.
        Monroe's novel, '46, Chicago, combines a compelling mystery and sharp prose with unusual moral complexity...a page-turner with genuine moral and intellectual depth."
        Travis is praised for two books. An American Story in Red White and Blue is an illustrated history of the meaning of race in American history.
        Norman Granz: The White Moses of Black Jazz profiles 14 great musicians and tells how Granz helped desegregate the jazz scene.
        Illustrations include such ironic items as FBI files on Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.
        "Travis is a writer to spend time with," the Tribune says.
        "The accumulated wisdom of many years of research and writing informs his work, and in a city where the politics of race seep into every aspect of life, that wisdom is much needed."


        Richard Bales is the author of The Great Chicago Fire and the Myth of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow. (MacFarland), The book has received rave reviews.
         Lonnie Bunch, president of the Chicago Historical Society, called it "spectacular." Mary Dempsey, commissioner of the Chicago Public Library, rated it a favorite book on Chicago.
        The book concentrates on two things that previous fire books have not: one, the cause of the fire, and two, the inquiry into the cause of the fire that the Chicago Board of Police and Fire Commissioners held in late 1871.


        The Society of Midland Authors expresses condolences to Bernard J. Brommel, a former president, on the death of his wife.

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