Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, March 3

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


This week's question was submitted by Risa.

Q: I am a poet and non-fiction writer that just moved to Chicago and am interested in joining a writing group for peer critique and support. Any suggestions on how to find such a group? I've been searching the Internet and the best info. I found was on your article "where are the fiction writers."

Thanks, Risa, for giving me an excuse to write a follow-up to the column I wrote last March titled, "Where Are Chicago's Fiction Writers?"Some of the resources I listed for that column, such as the Guild Complex, could also be utilized by poetry writers, but I will not repeat any of that information here.

Your question can almost be answered with one resource: The Poetry Center of Chicago.

The Poetry Center of Chicago is a non-profit organization founded in 1973 to support and promote poetry. The Center is currently in-residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Their rich website includes a full list of events and readings sponsored by the Center.

But be sure to check out the Workshops page. In addition to workshops with individual poets, the Poetry Center of Chicago hosts the Big Table Poetry Groups, which, according to the website, provide "a way for Chicagoans to workshop their poetry based on the college workshop model without the time commitment or the costs." The fall session starts next Tuesday, September 7, so don't delay if you want to sign up! Visit the website for complete registration information.

Following is a list of additional resources for connecting with the Chicago poetry community:


Columbia College Chicago, Poetry Program
Columbia College was the first school in the country to offer an undergraduate major in poetry. Every year the department sponsors a series of readings. See the events calendar to find out about upcoming readings. The program also publishes the Columbia Poetry Review, an annual journal edited by the students.

University of Chicago, Program in Poetry and Poetics
The Program offers "courses devoted to the writing of poems, courses in the history of poetry from different periods and in different languages, and courses that focus on particular poetic styles." Visit the University's Poem Present website to find out about lectures and readings sponsored by the school.


Illinois State Poetry Society
The ISPS was founded in 1991 to "to encourage the crafting and enjoyment of poetry in the State of Illinois." Meetings are held every other month, usually in the Chicago area. The meetings usually include a critiquing session in which members are asked to bring poems to read and share. Visit the website for membership and other information about the Society.

Poets and Patrons
Founded in 1954, Poets and Patrons is a non-profit organization "dedicated to supporting poetry development in the Chicagoland area." The group sponsors a variety of workshops throughout the year. Most are held at the Harold Washington Library Center. Poets and Patrons also holds the annual Chicagoland Poetry Contest. See the website for details.

Other Local Resources
This "web-based online virtual poetry center" run by local poet C.J. Laity contains news, reviews, gossip, letters and photos relating to the Chicago poetry community. The site also includes links to dozens of other local poetry resources.

Poetry Magazine
Many diverse literary journals and publications are published here in Chicago. I won't list them all here, but I'm sure somebody would comment if I didn't mention this one. Poetry Magazine was founded in 1912 by Chicago poet Harriet Monroe, and it remains one of the best known and most respected poetry journals in the country.


Finally, you can meet your fellow poets by attending poetry readings. Venues around the city play host to regular or semi-regular reading events. See the Uptown Poetry Slam, Danny's Reading Series, the Discrete Series <>, and the Myopic Poetry Series. Or, check out The Reader every week for their complete listing of spoken word events.

I hope this introduction to the Chicago poetry scene will give you some ideas and help you connect with your fellow poets.

GB store


j3s / September 2, 2004 9:36 AM

Thanks so much for doing this column! I've been writing poems in a vacuum ever since I finished college five years ago, and have been wanting to get more involved here but didn't really know where to begin. I've also toyed with the idea of finding or starting a writer's group (been craving feedback/criticism), so if anyone is interested, please contact me.

anne / September 2, 2004 9:41 AM

Hey Risa, and other writers, there's another place, the Women's Center for Creative Arts, that has workshops on the cheap. I'm actually leading a poetry workshop there starting September 21. It runs 6 weeks, and if you're interested, let the Center know, or just drop in. They also have fiction and other workshops throughout the year, on a quarterly basis. I'm afraid the site isn't updated with the fall schedule yet, but you can contact them for a full listing.

Box of Puppies / September 2, 2004 10:02 AM

My local Borders bookstore has held writer's group meetings. I haven't been motivated enough to attend one though. Just one more place to check...

Box of Puppies / September 2, 2004 12:51 PM

I saw another

Shylo / September 3, 2004 9:55 AM

Wow, Alice! This is a great list of resources. You make librarians proud! Maybe you could develop a similar list for artists.


About the Author(s)

Alice Maggio is a real, live Chicago librarian. If you have topic ideas or questions you would like answered, send your suggestions to and it may be featured in a future column.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15