You give a poet a bucket of worms, he’ll probably put the whole bucket on the end of the hook.
Born and raised in Chicago’s Little Village and then Cicero, Blei, armed with an English degree from Illinois State University, began his writing career at the City News Bureau. After a time as a successful free-lance journalist, Blei began incorporating journalistic tidbits into fiction, and in the end produced 17 books, including his Chicago trilogy of Neighborhood,Chi Town and The Ghost of Sandburg’s Phizzog. In those works, Blei pays homage to Chicago’s great literary culture, writing about the likes of Mike Royko, Studs Terkel and Carl Sandburg. Blei’s short stories, poems and essays were as distinguished as his novels, finding publication in some of the most respected literary outlets, such as The New Yorker,Utne Reader and Tri-Quarterly, as well as newspapers that included the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. Blei was as much associated with Door County, WI as with Chicago, having moved to Ellison Bay in 1968. For 40 years, he was Writer-in-Residence at The Clearing Folk School, and there he became a beloved teacher, editor, publisher and mainstay guest on Wisconsin Public Radio. He received the Gordon MacQuarrie Award from the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters; Pushcart Press Award in fiction; and the Bradley Major Achievement Award from the Council of Wisconsin Writers.