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poet, writer, musician, actions/performances, U.S.A.
Eric Chaet performing
of his ´signs´
I was raised on the south side of Chicago, among people one step above poverty -the children and grandchildren of immigrants
from Europe. The largest congregation of Poles outside of Warsaw was one block away...My mother insisted on interesting me in art
and music, and my father sent me to Hebrew classes. The day I entered Harper High was the day it was integrated and I found myself in
the midst of race riots...
In 1963 I started studying literature at the University of Missouri in Columbia. In the summers I worked as a laborer, feeding hot corrugated
cardboard into a giant printer-slotter, then nights as a mail sorter...in the year I graduated, I won a poetry prize and was reading Walt Whitman´s
Leaves of Grass and Jesus´s Parables. I did nothing about the Indochina war except to avoid being drafted and a little picketing, while earning a Masters of Arts...and
a Masters of Philosophy in 1970 at the University of Kansas...
...I travelled for a couple of years around the US and into Mexico, Canada and Europe...
I wrote in notebooks...studied writers, artists and religious thinkers...
I considered myself a working artist who couldn´t afford to live otherwise, and who didn´t know
how to produce what would have good effects, or how to market it...
In 1974 I hitchhiked from Mexico to Toronto to typeset a book of poems: Old Buzzard of No-Man´s Land.
In 1975 I published Unraveling Smoke, a book of
hitchhiking stories, while I worked as a typist and lived in a garage. That book cost me $150, after sales -a
I then found a job as a writing consultant in the first Navajo-run school, Rough Rock, on the Reservation in Arizona...
In 1986, I began silkscreening posters on cloth. The texts express ideas such as Seek Truth, Develop Capacities or
Help One Another Succeed. One of my projects has been to distribute these ´signs´ around the globe.
I know of 1,450 that have been publicly posted in 32 US States and seven other countries. Over the years various people have donated materials towards this project.
While hitchhiking I met Jim Minnie and we wrote a series of brochures
(How to Change the Situation Immediately, Words Are Industrial Tools, Effective Logistics.
In 1994 I produced a second edition of the 96 page book,
How to Change the
World Forever for Better).
excerpts from Arts Dialogue, December 1997,
pages 12 - 13.
by Eric Chaet, The Turnaround Artist, 1998,
2 miles north of Plainfield, Wisconsin, U.S.A.,
400 sq. ft.
The signs are for sale at $25 each or five for $100 (unframed).|
How to Change the World Forever for Better costs $10.
Booklets of Creative Writing or of Poetry (currently 14 titles available) cost $5 each.
Contact: Eric Chaet, 1803 County ZZ, DePere WI 54115-9629, U.S.A.
State Street Chicago|
Beneath law, lie ocean, ape & dream
branches & leaves wrestle & dance with wind
roots reach elsewhere.
Broke-nose Chicago ascends the lumbering bus
jamming in aggravated swarms aboard
or slowly thoughtful in worn clothes
to feed the work addiction
morning & streetlamp night.
My grandmother on my father´s side
rode by horse back from Pharaoh to Novgorod
trained up to German coast
emerged from ocean by boat at Baltimore
& caught another connection thru doppler zones
to this city.
Trailing Assyria, caeser, czar of all
Odessa & Kiev, hasid & ritual butcher.
She met her man on day shift
& lived behind a store front near black Africans,
mafiosa & their wives and children,
Irish cop & bars & tenors
a stench of pig & steer massacres.
I am only trying for a straight account
of how I come to be walking up State
sucking Chicago´s rusty teat
dreaming and growing stronger.
From: Poems for Uprising Ypsilanti Marlon Gillespie, 1997.
Poems on other websites
"Self-Directed" at the Swiss site, Niederngasse:
"Gandhi & Chance" and "For Strangers" in English and Italian,
at Mefisto: http://www.thetarget.it/~mefisto/index.html
A Man Swerves His Car
The Players - Chicago, 2000
Gandhi & Chance
Stories on other websites
4 Guys, a Heap of Furniture, & a Highway
January, 2000 post card, showing "signs" displayed in Sweden and Australia,
at a Spanish- and English-language site:
Eric Chaet has material on more sites, email him for a list of these.
From: Artist Zero Hero,
collection of thoughts on art and poverty, 1998.
MASTERWORKS An occasional work of art is
snatched, nourished, & molded from out of the fury of
the evil & mad stampede--that clarifies what is in
the way of lives worth leading, &/or what resources
are available to break out of the stampede &/or into a
better life--&/or describes so precisely at least
some property of the better life, that one need never
again absolutely despair of its existence, no matter
what anyone &/or everyone says, or cunningly (or by
From: Ionization, A story, 1997.
...The driver of an 18-wheeler braked...in the brightening dawn. Crunch of tires on gravel, dust rising.
I ran for it. I climbed up, tried to get comfortable with my pack between my legs, & listened.
...He said he'd been a TV writer, dissident--silenced--then a movie stunt-man--in Prague.
On the side, Wocek said, he drove a truckload of milk in from the Austrian border, daily.
One day, he & his partner revved up the engine of the truck, climbed on top of the trailer, & lept over
the railing of a bridge into the Danube.
While they were swimming, border guards shot at them. The partner was killed.
Wocek said he was the first one to make it to Austria in fourteen years. Then he drove trucks in Austria,
Italy, & West Germany.
Eventually, he was driving a regular route from West Germany to Iran--learning nine languages--thru Turkey,
where he had to join convoys for safety against bandits...Til the Iran-Iraq war broke out. Then Wocek went to
New York, then on to a Czech refugee community in Los Angeles...
Wocek pulled to a stop by a camper in a ditch, its driver standing with snow falling on his disconsolate bald head.
Another truck driver provided a chain, & Wocek manipulated our giant truck, and pulled the camper up & out. After
returning the chain, he went over, & put his arm around the shoulders of the camper´s driver. "You should
have CB radio, mister, " I heard Wocek tell him, with utmost solemnity...
Excerpts from Arts Dialogue, December 1997,
pages 12 - 13.
- Song Lyric: Frozen River, Arts Dialogue, February 2000
- Artist Profile: Arts Dialogue, December 1997
- Book Reviewed: How to Change the World Forever, by Anneke Buys, Arts Dialogue, March 1995
- Letter: Arts Dialogue, December 1994
- Short Story: BAFA newsletter, June 1994
- Illustration: of one of his signs, BAFA newsletter, June 1994
- Letter: BAFA newsletter, September 1993
Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands