There are many exciting writers both young and old busting out in Chicago these days and we were geeked to read an interview at the Orange Alert with one of the former, Tim Jones-Yelvington, who is up to many cool things, including as you may recall, what we can only assume was the highlight of his year thus far, appearing in our award-winning Fire Sale video. Narcissistic hype aside, we do hope you will take a look at the interview which we have quite generously excerpted below.
OA: What are your thoughts on the Chicago literary scene right now?
TJ: My experience at AWP in Denver really reinforced for me how awesome our community is -- how many great writers and small press publishers and literary magazines and reading series we've got -- but also how much we support one another and how much fun we have (ask around about Featherproof's lactilicious presentation at Another Chicago Magazine and Make Magazine's "Make me Another After Party.") Folks who have been around Chicago's "scene" longer than me tell me it's really flourished in the last year or two. I'm excited about Another Chicago Magazine's forthcoming all-Chicago issue, which I think has the potential to really document this amazing cultural moment in our city. I think one thing we need to remain conscious of moving forward, in addition to promoting Chicago's total domination over everything ever, is making sure Chicago's lit community remains broad-based and accessible. I think this is something Orange Alert has always prioritized -- it seems to me you use a wide range of writers for your readings, which I really respect. I feel like the particular small press/indie lit community I'm a part of in Chicago is fairly collegial and inviting, but also very young and very white and not at all representative of our city's demographics. We absolutely cannot say strong writers of color do not live and write in Chicago, and there are great projects, organizations and reading series like Proyecto Latina and Guild Complex that regularly highlight literature by writers of color. I think we can begin to think about how we interface with some of these folks.