this Todd-lin' town ...

Went to the Cafe last wk. to catch Todd Heldt's feature. Todd's a good writer -- a rarity indeed in this time & place. 50-some yrs. ago Algren wrote, "giants lived here once" & I'd swear those old Giants (Wright, Lindsay, et al) have been supplanted by a smarmy lot of quasipostmodern hackademics & an even smarmier lot of slam-influenced/so-called 'performance poets.'

Nonetheless, Todd's an exception to these smarmy lots. Several months ago (& in the company of some other fine writers), we featured together on a now defunct WZRD poetry show & at the DvA Gallery. He writes from the gut & knows & loves the language & I think those are pretty much the essential components of any good writer. At this event, he read a longer piece of what I would still define as "sudden" fiction -- short, Minot-esque anecdotes strung in and out of sequence resulting in a particularly moving finish.

Todd has been taken to the mat a bit recently, if only because he hasn't been afraid to air his opinions on the racketeerish hucksterism in this monster called 'American Letters' -- particularly here in Chicago -- where said hucksterism appears much more than it is at the hands of its one or two megalomaniac practitioners. Admittedly, it saddens me to witness such divisiveness among so-called 'artists,' but I suppose we all have egos & maybe sometimes we allow this fault to impede our better selves.

In spite of this particular evening's performance being only partially functional (there was a holiday party, unbeknownst to anyone involved with the regular reading series), it was a good reading by a good writer. Several other good writers were in attendance, & for a few moments I felt a humbling, profound (if not inflated) sense of community.