Rane Arroyo – November 15, 1954 – May 7, 2010
“It is only after a lifetime of poems, of difficult work, that a man or woman can be judged a prophet.”
Rane Arroyo was born in Chicago to Puerto Rican parents, and began as a performance artist in Chicago galleries before beginning to write poetry, which eventually yielded Columbus’s Orphans, Pale Ramon and Home Movies of the Narcissus, among other titles. He wrote 10 poetry books, more than a dozen plays and a short story collection.
A beloved teacher, writer, and scholar, Arroyo overturned assumptions and stereotypes about homosexuality and Latinos, helping define both literary canons. Among his many awards, Arroyo’s work received the John Ciardi Poetry Prize, the Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize, an Ohio Arts Council Award for Excellence in Poetry, a Pushcart Prize and the Hart Crane Poetry Prize.
Though for more than a decade Arroyo lived in Ohio, where he was a professor of creative writing at the University of Toledo, he considered Chicago his home more than any other. In an interview with Cervena Barva Press, Arroyo said that he “actually lived in three Chicagos.” The first was an entirely Spanish-speaking Chicago neighborhood, the second the western suburb to where his family relocated, and the third the Chicago that welcomed him as “prodigal son returned.” As a young artist exploring Chicago’s 80s art scene, Arroyo read in “parking lots and discos.” He earned his bachelor’s degree from Elmhurst College.
Seven Kitchens Press recently announced the formation of the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Prize.
Floyd Dell (June 28, 1887 – July 23, 1969)
Chicago became for
him the symbol of that real world. It was no longer a place of refuge—it was a
test, a challenge. He would go there not as a moonstruck dreamer, but as a
realist, able to face the hard facts of life. (from The Briary-Bush)
was born in Barry, IL and after attending high school in Iowa moved to Chicago
in 1908, where he remained until moving to New York City in 1913. Having been
brought up in poverty, he took an early interest in politics and social change
and by the age of 16 had joined the Socialist Party. This would pave the way
for a string of jobs writing and promoting for Socialist publications such as The Tri-City Worker and The Masses. While a supporter of
Socialism, he did not limit himself or his career to mere political constraints.
He eventually took a job with The Chicago
Evening Post and by 1911 was the editor of its Friday Literary Review, a nationally distributed weekly supplement
that helped enhanced the reputation of Chicago’s literary renaissance. During
this period he would become an unequivocally prominent figure in the literary
movement that would in later years be deemed American Modernism. He advocated
the work of such modernist icons as Jack London, Upton Sinclair and George
Bernard Shaw, all the while slowly honing his own literary gifts. He is perhaps
best remembered for his first novel, the 1920 bestselling Moon-Calf, and later with the 1928 Broadway hit play Little Accident. Along with his novels (11
of them) and plays (12), he was also an influential critic, essayist and poet
of reasonable distinction. He also wrote an autobiography, Homecoming, in 1930. He is remembered today as a heavily
influential figure in early American Modernism, Socialism, and as an usher for
the exodus of new literary voices in the Midwest to settle in the great cities
of the east like New York. According to author R. Craig Sautter, who helped
compile a 1996 collection of his essays from the Friday Literary Review, Dell was "one of the most flamboyant,
versatile and influential American Men of Letters of the first third of the
Alice Judson Hayes (1922-Oct, 13, 2006)
I am grateful to the house itself for its smell and taste and texture and for the views out of its windows and for its nurturing spirit.
Upton Sinclair (Sept. 20, 1878-Nov. 25, 1968)
Human beings suffer agonies, and their sad fates become legends; poets write verses about them and playwrights compose dramas, and the remembrance of past grief becomes a source of present pleasure - such is the strange alchemy of the spirit.
Though he had a strong career writing films upon the request of Charlie Chaplain, Sinclair was praised for his strong, political works of writing. His best selling novel, The Jungle, was the product of seven weeks of undercover work in Chicago’s meatpacking plants. After the success, Sinclair attempted to run for office in California twice but was unsuccessful. His political passion, however, shone through in his writing. Sinclair was originally born in Baltimore, Maryland, but then moved to New York with his family. He would sell jokes and magazine articles to pay for his education. He was drawn to Chicago after reading of the meatpacking strikes in Chicago. His novel is said to have influenced President Theodore Roosevelt into creating the Food and Drug Administration.