Thursday, March 24, 2005

POET VERY MAUDIT. Here's an amazing story: a Massachusetts murderer, apprehended after 20 years on the lam, had used his years of freedom to establish himself as a poet in Chicago.

What a cover! Norman Porter operated under the nom de plume J. J. Jameson -- which of course was the name of Spider-Man's boss, though I like to believe that it was meant, at least subconsciously, as an echo of Gulley Jimson. As described by friends and witnesses, Jameson seems to have found the transition from killer to poet rather natural: elder statesman of Chicago's poetry scene -- a garrulous curmudgeon, the guy with the exaggerated Maine accent shouting from the audience for others to "Shut up and read the [expletive] poem!"...

He would wear a summer-weight suit and a bow tie in July, a second-hand fedora tilted atop his head. He was the Bug House Square re-enactor, the artist-provocateur, the hand-to-mouth handyman...

...said David Gecic, a longtime friend who published a book of poetry written by Porter using the Jameson alias... "He was a great, caring guy -- occasionally very generous. His faults were drinking and extreme anger when he saw injustice."
Heckler, drunkard, dandy, hothead -- sounds like a lot of writers I know. Actually he sounds a little like me. Dust for prints!

The Chicago Poetry News, which recently made Jameson Poet of ther Month, has updated their page on him: "He has been one of Chicago's most beloved anti-war poets. And now we find out he's really NORMAN PORTER!!! He recently did a huge feature at Coffee Chicago despite having shoulder surgery a few days before; even Marc Smith showed up for that one..." That's one of the things I like about Chicawgo -- they take life in stride.

Funny old world.

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