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Regarding Lawrence Bommer’s too short “review” of Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s presentation of Words on Fire [Section Two, March 17], I find it highly inappropriate that the show was reviewed using an argument about what was NOT included in it. Bommer complains about the “absence of gay-themed works” in this multimedia performance piece, which is based upon the poetry of many contemporary writers, and which is (does Bommer even know) part of an arts-exchange program which is designed to bring theater and poetry to children. The producer, Eric Rosen, the fine cast of actors, and all the poets involved put their hearts and souls into it in order to present it to the younger generation, and I don’t think they deserve the forced implementation of ANY sexual lifestyle. Besides, how does Bommer know the sexual orientation of all the poets involved, anyway; his assumptions do not belong in a publication as critical as the Reader.
It is sad and unprofessional that Bommer took the opportunity of reviewing this production as a means to sneak in a plug for his friends “Robert Klein Engler and Greg Shapiro.” I could list over a hundred Chicago poets who “should” have been included, though I wouldn’t be so narrow-minded as to classify them by sexual preference–but the play was only an hour long! And as far as having to represent the gay community in everything, the next time Bommer writes a review of a gay-themed show for the Reader or any of the gay publications he also works for, he should question why no heterosexuals are represented.
Publisher of ChicagoPoetry.com
Lawrence Bommer replies:
I simply wondered why the show, which was conceived as a tribute to the diversity of Chicago poetry, excluded a group of creative Chicagoans who were conspicuous in their absence.