A review from many years ago...

Back in 1991, I worked with Chicago poet Michele Fitzsimmons to create a theater piece based on her poetry. My piano/keyboard accompaniment was improvised to her picturesque poems. The following review was in the Chicago Tribune.

Poetry Takes A Seductive, Feisty Turn In A Poet`s `Sirens`

June 08, 1991 By Sid Smith, Entertainment writer.

Poetry has been on a frisky roll in this city for some years, mostly in the form of live recitations in high-speed meets at select clubs and watering spots.

One of the movement`s more seductive practitioners, Michele Fitzsimmons, is offering a one-woman show performing her poems in what amounts to a cabaret in verse. Titled ``Sirens`` and now at Live Bait Theatre, it`s just one more instance of a curious comeback of an art form abandoned only to resurface with newfound fun and topicality, bringing forth a new group of interesting young artists in the process.

Fitzsimmons` appeal begins on that most mundane but memorable of levels: sex. Hers is a deliberately erotic poetry, sly, slinky, unabashedly smooth. Her whole act on the surface is a satiny come-on to the audience, from her curvaceous moves and appearance to her sexy black evening wear.

All but the curved finger and moist lips of a nightclub chanteuse are on view; Fitzsimmons` recitations are often smoky, nearly-sung bistro ballads. But ``Sirens,`` subtitled ``A Chronicle of Love, Sex, Death and War,`` only looks sexy; underneath it is a pensive, personal, cheeky look at love and modern times, complete with a nasty putdown of George Bush and an unequivocal slap at Persian Gulf war euphoria: "We were on the winning side, and it was truly entertaining, Our wars were now fun.``

Throughout there`s a feisty, feminist sense of identity and sexual awakening, in the dozen or so pieces that move smoothly one from the next, often without even a title or introduction.

Backed by spartan, evocative accompaniment by Paul Cienniwa, whose music helps underscore the edgy, arid, itchy core to Fitzsimmons` writing, ``Sirens`` is an engaging, though modest, outing of a budding revival.

2 comments

  • Mary Collins

    Mary Collins

    Is there a recording of this? I'd love to see [and hear!] it.

    Is there a recording of this? I'd love to see [and hear!] it.

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