America’s most wanted poet

Twenty years ago, J.J. Jameson, one of Chicago’s “most beloved antiwar poets,” escaped from jail in Massachusetts, where he was serving time for a string of robberies and two brutal murders, according to police.

His real name is Norman A. Porter Jr. Since the jailbreak, he’s been on the run, establishing a new identity but not keeping a particularly low profile. He’s well-known in Chicago’s slam poetry scene.

After his arrest this morning, Porter allegedly said, “I’ve had a good 20 years.”

A reader from Chicago supplied these links (and one to the Chicago Tribune‘s coverage) and says the news called to mind a line from William Carlos Williams’ “Asphodel“: “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”

“That line,” says the reader, “has always been baffling and thrilling at the same time.”

Porter was named’s poet of the month in March 2004. You can hear him read one of his poems, “Thoreau’s Grave,” which contains the lines, “His grave, his grave, wrapped around a prison/A quiet desperation he would not have understood,” at this URL.


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