The Rock River Literary Series Is a Good Thing About Rockford Poetry
Rockford, Illinois is the butt of many jokes at the expense of the national media. The third fattest, seventh most violent and uneducated, third most miserable city in America, and civil-minded groups have no real plan to reverse these trends except to acknowledge the positive, like Cheap trick, and ignore whatever problems caused the city to make these lists in the first place. This Pollyana approach has been mocked by almost everyone, except for a privileged few who benefit from dipping their fat snouts in the public trough and filling their guts. For them any initiative that puts public funds into a project they benefit from is golden and should be accepted by everyone else. Except in most cases, minorities, the poor, and anyone else who doesn't bear a striking resemblance to them doesn't benefit at all.
However, a lot of good projects and organizations that fly under the radar, or would never receive a second of attention from these civic goalies are doing great work that is recognized on a national level, but ignored in Rockford. One of these organizations is Zombie Logic Press. They were referred to as "America's most dangerous literary press" by NPR in their Winter Books Series, but local recognition has been hard to find for this maverick publisher. The Rock River Literary Series is an attempt to discover and publish the most promising writers in Rockford. The third book in the series, The Blood Dark Sea, was released in May, and a book release party is scheduled for June 11 at JR Kortman Gallery on Main Street. At that reading, all previous authors in the series will read, including Jesus Correa, C.J. Campbell, and Dennis Gulling.
Rockford is a proud city with a history that many are proud of, including being a leader in trade unions and socialist politicians, including one of America's first Socialist mayors, but Rockford took a tragic turn for racism and urban blight in the late 1960's when the school board reacted to the bussing phenomenon by segregating the city in a way that has never been addressed to this day. Although many long to move into the future, the scions of many of these racist dynasties still exert a great deal of control and sit like vultures on property that rots and decays, blighting many neighborhoods where younger, more future-minded entrepeneurs would like to innovate, revitalize, and bring the city back from the dead.
Many cities encourage their leaders in the arts and culture community to lead the way in revamping blighted neighborhoods, but in Rockford it's actively discouraged. A renowned dance director who was brought in from Houston was recently relieved of his position for presenting the Nutcracker with a Black cast, even though most who had seen it believed it was the best performance ever. Hopefully literary presses like Zombie Logic Press will succeed in getting the word out nationally that the entire city is not fat, stupid, and racist, but they won't be getting any help locally in doing it.