A thorough Midwesterner, Larry Janowski grew up on the South Side of Chicago, went away to a “blue collar prep school” in Wisconsin, returned home for college at UIC, and went to grad school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and seminary at Dubuque, Iowa. After living and working for almost 30 years in southeastern Wisconsin, Larry returned to Chicago in 1995, when he began teaching at Wilbur Wright Community College, and during those same years, his writing moved solidly from short fiction to poetry.
The city of Chicago has become essential to his poetry, Janowski says, sometimes as the subject, but often as a presence. “It’s always there, sometimes barging in, often kind of looking on, and always watching out for bullshit.”
“I also tend to write about being male in a culture filled with assumptions and expectations of men. Men want to be known for their successes, but it is our vulnerabilities that interest me. And with all people, I’m in a constant quest for spiritual meaning, for some heartbeat everyone shares. A poem, a good one, can allow you to see you are not alone–and that goes for the poet as well as the reader of the poem.”
Of Larry’s 2003 chapbook, Celibate Dazzled (Franciscan University of Stuebenville), Edward Hirsch says it is “firmly planted on the earth, but also saturated with a noble spirit. It has a wondrous quality of dazzled purity,” and on ChicagoPoetry.com, C.J. Laity says “Janowski’s spiritual verse . . . can be looked at as an incomplete documentation of the temptations and hurdles he has faced and still faces during his 35 years as a Franciscan friar . . . It is in his confession that he is, and will always be, less than god-like that Janowski finds himself closer to God.”
In the summer of 2004, his work will again appear in TriQuarterly, and was included this year in the premiere issue of a new literary journal, Court Green at Columbia College. His poems have also been published in Spoon River Poetry Review, Rhino, The Paterson Literary Review, and The Chicago Tribune.
Six of his poems are included in the Summer 2004 edition of After Hours: a Journal of Chicago Writing and Art, where he is profiled as featured writer. He will read those poems at the 2004 Printers Row Book Fair under the auspices of After Hours. He has also featured for River Oak Arts, The Café (Chicago), Molly Malone’s (Forest Park) and The Word Gourmet and TallGrass Writers Guild (Chicago), as well as at public libraries in Chicago and Oak Park.
In 2003, Larry received a City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Community Arts Assistance Program grant and also won first prize in the River Oak Review Poetry Contest. He’s won prizes at Chicago’s Poets and Patrons Competition and the Literal Latté poetry competition in 1996 judged by Cornelius Eady. He was named the City Colleges of Chicago Distinguished Part Time Professor for 2001-2002. In 1998, he won a J.R.H. Moorman Scholarship at St. Deiniol’s Residential Library, Flintshire, Great Britain, and a residency at the Blue Mountain Arts Center, Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. that same year.
Larry has an MFA from Vermont College. His BA is from University of Illinois at Chicago, and he has an MA in theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology (St. Louis).