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Events Wed Jun 05 2013

Brooksday celebrates Chicago Poet Gwendolyn Brooks

brooks_day_logo_final-RESIZE1.jpgThis Friday, June 7, would have been the 96th Birthday of iconic Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks. To commemorate the occasion, the Guild Literary Complex, along with the American Writers Museum , and Chicago-based Third World Press (one of Brooks' primary publishers), is holding Chicago's first Brooksday. The event will celebrate Brooks' legacy by featuring more than 60 performers reading her work from 9am until 7:30pm at the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E. Washington St.

"By creating a central event that is free and accessible to everyone, we expect to expose many newcomers to Brooks' writing, as well as welcome long-term admirers," says John Rich, Director of the Guild Literary Complex.

Brooksday was fathomed within the Guild Literary Complex by a board member who was inspired by Bloomsday, the annual marathon reading of James Joyce's Ulysses. The Guild has had a long history working with Brooks, including a Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, now in its twentieth year. The inaugural Brooksday event will set the stage for the Guild's city-wide celebration of Brooks' 100th birthday, set for 2017.

"Our tributes to Gwendolyn Brooks derive from our deep respect for her as a friend and humanitarian, as much as her Pulitzer Prize winning writing and wide acclaim," says Rich.

Each hour has an assigned emcee, including: Toni Asante Lightfoot, a past Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award Winner; Jackie Taylor, the Founder and Executive Director of Black Ensemble Theater; Carol Adams, the Director and CEO of the DuSable Museum of African American History; and Quraysh Ali Lansana, who helped start the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award and was the former director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University.

Readings will include a variety of Brooks' poetry and selections from her novel Maud Martha. Featured guest readers include Director of Programming for the 2nd Story, Bobby Biedrzycki, Booklist critic Donna Seaman, journalist and award winning documentary filmmaker Alex Kotlowitz, author Sara Paretsky, Cuban American writer and journalist Achy Obejas, teaching artist Avery R. Young, Chicago's Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Michelle Boone, and Gwendolyn Brooks' daughter Nora Brooks Blakely.

"We all benefit from Chicago's diverse cultural portfolio, and the Guild seeks to add to the range of programming by creating platforms to foreground voices that are historically overlooked," says Rich. "These voices are Chicago voices, and whether they are emerging or established, they contribute to Chicago's storyline."

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Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

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