From page to stage at Bucktown fest

With her pink hair and school-girl smile, you wouldn't think that Andi Kauth has anything figured out. Within minutes of taking the stage, though, the performance poet made it clear that she knows almost everything about being nineteen and standing on the cusp of adulthood.

Kauth was one of the many performance poets who showcased their work last weekend at the 22nd annual Bucktown Art Festival, which ran Saturday and Sunday last weekend on Oakley, Lyndale, and Belden. In addition to poetry, the festival featured local dance ensembles, theater and independent film.

Kauth's voice reveled in itself, sounding so big and full of passion that at times it seemed to rip open into vivid descriptions of memories, crafting images of scraped knees and childhood friends into effective motifs. Kauth's childhood was often brought to parallel her adult experiences of strong, unabashed love in such a way that one watching can almost remember what it was like to be underage and over your head in love. At this point, one should retire to the beer tent.

If the performances didn't catch your eye, there were well over 150 other artist booths for browsing. Booths lined the streets showcasing painters whose styles ranged from impressionist to Warhol-esque. Local photographers showed collections focused on Chicago buildings and landscapes. Artists displayed traditional precious stones and metal pieces, as well as edgier ones made from copper telephone wires.

Following Kauth was friend and fellow performance poet, Billy Tuggle. Tuggle's poems are unique in uniting urban language with sci-fi centric themes. Tuggle is brilliantly imaginative, creating an alternate universe whether he is reflecting on the meaning of dreadlocks or falling for an attractive girl at the bar.

The audience visibly enjoyed Tuggle's compelling meter and stage presence. Some tapped their fee to his fast yet steady rhythm, while others bobbed their heads as if to say, "I didn't know poetry could be this cool."