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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.
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Sunday, June 23

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Book Club

Poetry Mon Dec 14 2015

The Perfect Stocking Stuffer for the Beatles Fan on Your List

Beware of Napkins - John Lennon

Chicago Public School teacher and writer Jack Murphy has teamed up with local freelance artist Melanie Plank to produce an illustrated book of Beatles inspired poems. The collection, titled Beware of Napkins, includes 15 poems and 23 pen, ink and crayon or crayon-like illustrations.

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Emma Terhaar

Poetry Tue Oct 13 2015

Spotlight on Juan Felipe Herrera's Visit to Chicago

juanfelipeherrera-th.jpgOn Oct. 7, the Chicago Public Library partnered with the Library of Congress to host the 61st annual Poetry Day celebrated with a reading by the U.S. Poet Laureate at the Harold Washington Library.

Every September the Library of Congress announces the next Poet Laureate who will serve until May. The laureateship has seen the likes of William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky, and most recently Philip Levine and Charles Wright. On Sept. 15, Juan Felipe Herrera became this year's Poet Laureate.

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Emma Terhaar

Book Club Fri Aug 28 2015

Poetry Center of Chicago Revives Poets Look at Paintings

Poets Look at Paintings.jpg

While the world contemplates whether poetry is relevant or dead, the Poetry Center of Chicago revives an event to celebrate 40 years of history and connect the history of the organization to contemporary Chicago.

In 1974, the Poetry Center hosted its first live event, Poets Look at Paintings, in the Museum of Contemporary Art. Today, the revival of Poets Look at Paintings makes an effort to connect two seemingly disparate art forms and create something new and beautifully intricate.

To assemble a line-up for the event in November, the Poetry Center calls for poems that are "rooted in visual art in some way, whether that be in response to a piece, in narration, in action, in reflection, etc." These art-inspired poems are referred to as "ekphrastic poems," which according to The Poetry Foundation, seek to describe a scene or a work of art. One of the most famous examples of ekphrastic poetry is John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," but just as art continues to change and evolve, the Poetry Center's event and call for submissions challenges today's poets to match the evolution of art.

The deadline to join the event as a reader is September 21. You can submit in a .doc, .docx, or PDF attachment up to three poems rooted in visual art to with the subject line "Poets Look at Paintings." Title your attachment "LAST NAME_PLAP." You can find more information about submitting on the Poetry Center's website.

The Poets Look at Paintings event will take place on Nov. 18 from 6 to 7pm in the Garland Room at the Chicago Cultural Center. The event is free, so come support the Poetry Center of Chicago and the history of literary Chicago!

Brianna Kratz

Essay Tue Jul 21 2015

Honoring Open Mic Poetry

We call it "live lit" these days, but the practice of performing written material for an audience goes back decades in Chicago. From storytelling sessions to coffeehouse readings to the genesis of the poetry slam, it's a tradition that only continues to grow.

One of the few awards to formally honor that tradition, Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, presented by the Guild Literary Complex, holds its 22nd annual award ceremony this Wednesday, July 22 at 7pm at the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St.

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Andrew Huff

Poetry Mon Apr 06 2015

Poets for Chuy: Creative Work + Creative Action

By Jacob Saenz, Jennifer Karmin, Matthias Regan, Toby Altman, Cean Gamalinda, Barbara Barg & Toni Asante Lightfoot

On March 13, 2015, Poets for Chuy brought together writers from across Chicago's neighborhoods and aesthetics to support Jesús 'Chuy' Garcia's progressive campaign for mayor of Chicago. Chuy himself even stopped by, speaking at length about his love for James Brown, the political audacity that has driven his career, and the poems his mother wrote when he was a child. Co-organized by the curators of the Red Rover Series and the Absinthe & Zygote Series, the event took place at the art activist space Center Portion in the Logan Square neighborhood. The featured poets were: Barbara Barg, Sheila Donohue, Laura Goldstein, Jennifer Karmin, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Matthias Regan, Jacob Saenz, Erika L. Sánchez and Keli Stewart. Focusing on the connections between poetry, activism and civic engagement, Toby Altman was the evening's emcee.

poets for chuy

In the sincere hope that poetry can transform our common worlds, we present here a portfolio of responses to the Poets for Chuy reading — by performers, curators, and event volunteers.

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Book Club

Poetry Thu Sep 18 2014

We Owe Chicago

Palmer Square - copyright Gary Eckstein

Fall into the rhythm. Follow

the footprints already broken

through the snow.
This path was made for you.
A road left by someone's boots

a half-step wider than

your own gait

yet — follow them,

don't stop to founder

in the wind like

a half crumpled receipt

tumbling westward from the lake.
What we owe the winter is shared


a glove returned,

a crinkled forehead expressing

sympathy, saying thanks

and what can pass for a smile

behind a snowbrittle scarf.
This is all we can feel,

numb and


We burn where we've left

some part open

to the elements.

Say: we can have this embrace —

the banks of the lake are frozen mid-wave

but we totter out together,

snap pictures against the wind.

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Anne Holub

Events Sun Jul 06 2014

"Lecture, Argue, Proclaim, and Complain" at Napkin Poetry

napkin poetryIt's a truism that much of the audience at any given literary reading will consist of other writers. The organizers of the Napkin Poetry reading series don't just acknowledge this--they force the issue, encouraging the audience to take part in the performance whether they're on the lineup or not. Their manifesto reads, in part:

We highlight working writers embedded in community performances. We engage many dialogues -- to this end all can lecture, argue, proclaim, and complain . . . . Because poetry is only alive in conversation, our community talks back . . . . For us to live with poets we have to be them too.

To that end, many of their events include an open mic (although not this one) and Q&A segment.

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Daphne Sidor

Events Sat Jun 28 2014

Two Cookie Minimum Is Now a Hungry Preschooler

This Tuesday, July 1, Chicago's own more-than-a reading series Two Cookie Minimum celebrates four years bringing together writers, musicians, artists, and representatives of the local indie publishing community. In that time, it's moved from Fritz Pastry (hence the name) to the Hungry Brain (2319 W. Belmont) and built a 200-strong roster of alumni. Starting at 9pm, they'll add to it this month with a typically eclectic lineup.

Performance-oriented poet Kevin Kern holds down the more traditionally writerly end of things, and from there the event takes a more visual turn. Leslie Perrine and Keiler Roberts present comics, zine publisher Eric Bartholomew invites the audience to join an interactive game, and sister duo Jill Summers and Susie Kirkwood put on one of the spooky, literary-minded shadow-puppet shows that have become their trademark. The (vegan) cookies are free, as is admission.

Daphne Sidor

Printers Ball Wed Jun 25 2014

Creatives Convene at Printers Ball this Saturday!


Grab your tuxes, grab your gowns, the Printers Ball is coming to town! The printmaking and poetry celebration's big tenth anniversary is upon us this Saturday; the schedule is jam-packed, and it isn't difficult to see why. With contributors and curators from the likes of Spudnik Press Cooperative , MAKE Magazine, Black Lodge Press, The Post Family, and the Chicago Humanities Festival involved, it seems that every creative in Chicago has a tie to the event.

As any attendee of Zine Fest or Chicago Alternative Comics Expo will tell you, the culmination of so much talent in one place can inspire a glee akin to ADHD, making this year's Printers Ball theme of "Chatter" an appropriate choice. The festivities promise to be abuzz with staccato pop-up performances, featured artists, book swaps, and hands-on workshops. To name just a few, reading series' Brain Frame*, Danny's, Dollhouse, The Swell, Salonathon, Guild Literary Complex, Next Objectivists, Artificial Ear, Young Chicago Authors, and Urban Sandbox all promise to make appearances.

Between shorter performances, drop into a workshop with featured Brooklyn-based performer and artist Tim Fite, where you will dream up the next big smartphone innovation, create an App Development Template on the Vandercook Press, and then use pencils, crayons, markers, and rubber stamps, to bring the inevitable entrepreneurial goldmines to life!

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Miden Wood

Contest Thu Jun 12 2014

A High-Stakes, Historic Open Mic for Poets

043012-national-gwendolyn-brooks.pngTwo decades ago, Gwendolyn Brooks--Pulitzer winner, Poet Laureate of Illinois, and creator of all-around astonishing verses--founded a very personal and unusual poetry contest. The winner would be decided in a public reading; the check, says Guild Literary Complex, would be cut by Brooks herself. Brooks died in 2000, but Guild Complex has picked up the tradition, and submissions are open for this year's Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award.

The details: you have until June 30 to submit your poem. The only stylistic guideline? You have to be able to read it in under three minutes. (So epicists should also be auctioneers.) And you have to be willing to perform it live, in front of a paying audience, at the Chopin Theatre on Wednesday, July 23--the audience will decide who gets the $500 prize from a field of 20 semifinalists. There's a $5 entrance fee, which, the organizers note, gets you into the performance even if your work isn't selected.

Daphne Sidor

Book Club Fri Apr 25 2014


All Weekend! C2E2, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, returns to bring you all things comics, comedy, and nerd.

Saturday! The Poetry Foundation hosts Children's Poetry Day, a full day of merriment including children's films, scavenger hunts, and other lyrical adventures! Free, 10 am.

Saturday! Powell's Bookstore hosts an artsy spin on those literary shapes we take for granted with The Adventures of Letterpress, an Expo of the work of local letterpress artists. 2 - 6 pm.

Saturday! Local publishing house Curbside Splendor celebrates its authors with readings and signings at City Lit Books. 5 pm.

Saturday! In its 32nd iteration, The Dollhouse Reading Series brings you readings from Nate Pritts, Jennifer H. Fortin, Adam Fell and Zach Savich, 7 pm.

Saturday! 826CHI presents Prom 9 From Outer Space. Buy your tickets to benefit the tutoring center and its efforts to make writing fun for kids all over Chicago! 8 pm.

Sunday! Make your way to the Harold Washington Library for Poetry Fest: a day jam-packed with readings, workshops, open mics and more! 10 am - 4:30 pm.

Miden Wood

Events Tue Apr 08 2014

Rahm Emanuel's Favorite Poems

favoritepoemchicago.jpgIf you've ever wondered what Mayor Rahm Emanuel's favorite poems were, this Friday the Favorite Poem Project and Chicago's own Poetry Foundation will lift that veil. His favorites and those of five other Chicagoans will be featured in this national video initiative, begun by Chicago poet and former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky. It celebrates poetry as "a vocal art" and documents the role of poetry in Chicagoans' lives.

"A favorite poem," writes Poetry Foundation president Robert Polito, "can be a talisman or mantra, a clue, landmark or guiding star, and dwells deep down in our psyches. The readings on the videos are investigative, probing, revelatory, and ultimately autobiographical and moving. Chicago possesses a rich poetry tradition, and we invite our fellow citizens to join us in launching this poetry initiative."

During the initiative's first year-long open call for submissions, over 18,000 Americans, ranging from age 5 to 97, from every conceivable vocation and background, volunteered to share their favorite poems. Those initial ranks fostered several anthologies and collections and 50 mini-documentaries, which are available for viewing at

This perfect pairing of city and expression will be held this Friday, April 11 at 7pm at the Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St., Chicago.

RSVP for this event is mandatory due to limited space, so be quick to make the list -- this is surely not an event to miss. Call Ashley Sheehan at (312) 799-8026, or in person at the Poetry Foundation.

Alex Thompson

Events Sun Apr 06 2014

Sister Spit at 20: Still Touring, Still Fresh

When Michelle Tea and Sini Anderson first started Sister Spit in San Francisco in the 1994, it was an all-women, mostly-queer open-mic series. Eventually, they took it on the road, cycling in emerging writers and even eventually opening it up to, as they put it "emerging queer and queer-influenced artists of all genders." Throughout it all, the show has remained a fiercely feminist, often funny showcase for energetic poetry, prose, and spoken word.

SISTERSPIT2014POSTER_fb_versionamillion.jpgThis year's tour lands at The University of Chicago's Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 5801 S. Ellis, on Monday, April 14, at 7pm. Here's a quick look at the performers:

* Jerry Lee Abram: filmmaker who'll be screening his chapter of Tea's collaborative film Valencia: The Movie/s
* Rhiannon Argo: longtime Sister Spit vet and author of The Creamsickle and Girls I've Run Away With
* Dia Felix: filmmaker (who also directed a chapter of Valencia: The Movie/s) and author of the just-out novel Nochita (which, for the record, this writer adored)
* Chinaka Hodge: poet and occasional rapper seen on Def Poetry
* Chase Joynt: a multimedia artist whose Resisterectomy exhibition was mounted at U Chicago last fall
* Beth Lisick: comedy writer and author, most notably of counterculture chronicle Everybody Into the Pool
* Lenelle Moïse: a performance-oriented poet whose work often incorporates jazz, hip hop, and musings on Haitian-American identity
* Virgie Tovar: sex educator, fat activist, and editor of the anthology Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion

Admission is free.

Daphne Sidor

Bookmarks Fri Apr 04 2014


Tonight! The Interview Show comes to The Hideout for its April installment, and the lineup this month looks dee-lightful. 6:30 pm, $8 at the door.

Saturday! Alexander Eisenschmidt and Jonathan Mekinda discuss Chicago's architectural future through their essay, "Chicagoisms," at the Graham Foundation, 2 - 4 pm.

Saturday! Make your way to City Lit Books to join author Scott Jacobs as he discusses his latest book, Famous Ski Hills in Wisconsin (And Other Delusions of Grandeur), 5 pm.

Saturday! The Book Cellar presents the second annual "Ladder to the Moon" reading, featuring readings by Andrew Squitiro, Naomi Washer, Howard Simmons, Amy Giacalone, and Joe Meno, 7 pm.

Sunday! Stop by Logan Squre's Uncharted Books to lend an ear to Napkin Poetry, an open mic and reading, surrounding this month's theme: "EXILE." 7 pm, free.

Sunday! Stage 773 brings you another installment of LiveLit series and potluck, "Here's the Story." Listen up and then chow down with featured readings from Irv Levinson, Angelique Nelson, Nick Johne, Kelsie Huff, and Tim Witting. 8 pm, $8 OR free with a potluck dish!

Miden Wood

Poetry Tue Apr 01 2014

A Poem A Day: National Poetry Writing Month Gets Underway

Rejoice, ye wordsmiths, for National Poetry Writing Month, is upon us! Founded by Maureen Thorson, as an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), NaProWriMo is an annual project, spanning the month of April, in which participating poets strive to write a poem a day. The site hosts hundreds of participants and their entries, as well as posts prompts for inspiration, and features poems and presses of the day throughout the project's run.

NaPoWriMo, or "30/30", is a challenging exercise for novices and veterans, but one Chicago (by way of Detroit) poet, Stephanie Lane Sutton, is helping to make it a little easier. Sutton created NATIONAL POETRY WRITING MONTH: 30/30, a forum that "offers a private, user-driven space to promote accountability for daily writing. Additionally, this is a place for poets to connect to an online community and support each others' writing." Poets of all levels are welcome, but please note that users must register to view and/or content.

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Danette Chavez

Author Mon Mar 24 2014

"How I Write..." with Cathy Linh Che

cathylinh.jpgPoets & Writers recently helped organize the Barry Gifford reading for Story Week at Columbia College. After hearing Barry speak, I wanted to find out who it was on the East Coast who had made the event happen. Who was "Poets & Writers"?

In my search, I found Program Associate Cathy Linh Che. I read some of her poetry online; "Doc, there was a hand" and "Split" I realized quickly I wasn't tracking down an administrator, but a poet.

She was in the lunch line when I called.

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Alex Thompson

Author Wed Mar 19 2014

The Open Door Series: March

The reading room at the Poetry Foundation is filled a quarter-way with quiet reverent conversation.

It is March's Open Door Series, featuring Brett Foster and Srikanth Reddy and the room seems intentionally wanting. An open podium stands dramatically lit at its head; scattered lights give the illusion of luminescence but it's a dim, half-hearted brightness, and the blue dusk outside seems brighter.

Beyond the podium stands a courtyard of saplings that further indict anticipation itself as the prologue to the evening. Beyond that, an impossible wall of books.

Under their seats, the March issue of the Foundation's poetry magazine. A cleaner exits a distant doorway guiding a wheeled trashcan and disappears once again, marring and complicating the shelf of numerous journals and novels and anthologies and likely many editions of To the Lighthouse.

When Robert Polito, the Poetry Foundation president, took the stand to introduce Mr. Foster and Mr. Reddy, we were at attention.

The monthly Open Door series is a means of focusing the community and celebrating specific mentors and students from Chicago's many graduate and undergraduate programs. Tonight's event attracted a fair crowd -- the applause was loud and filled the space; the laughter was real and complete; the silences were heavy and concentrated. There seems no better mascot for events like these than the Pegasus of the Poetry Foundation's logo: muscle, winged and flying.

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Alex Thompson

Poetry Wed Mar 12 2014

The Open Door Presents Brett Foster & Srikanth Reddy

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 5.11.04 PM.pngThere's something magical about a live reading. This one will not disappoint. The Open Door series, produced by Chicago's own Poetry Foundation, is a unique showcase of both students and mentors, nicely highlighting Chicago's diverse avenues of recognition, publication and growth. This Tuesday, March 18th, Open Door showcases Brett Foster, his recent student Dayna Clemons and Srikanth Reddy and his current student Clara Mitchell.

Foster is the author of two poetry volumes, The Garbage Eater (Triquarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2011) and Fall Run Road (recipient of Finish Line Press' 2011 Open Chapbook Prize); he is a professor of Renaissance literature and creative writing at Wheaton College, where Clemons studies.

Reddy's poems have appeared in the anthologies Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation and Isn't It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger american Poets. He has received awards from the Whiting Foundation, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the Mellon Foundation. He is the literacy director for the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Trust and teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Chicago, where Mitchell studies.

Readings will begin at 7pm, and are held at The Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St.). Admission is free to these hour-long readings.

Alex Thompson

Poetry Wed Mar 05 2014

James Franco, Behind the Celluloid Curtain

All the people came to see James Franco. But the James Franco who showed up wasn't who anyone had come to see. Some people were happy and some people were sad, and some people didn't know what to do.

Upon arriving at the poetry reading, brought to Chicago by the joint efforts of the Chicago Humanities Festival and The Poetry Foundation, I could feel the excitement in Northwestern Law School's Thorne Auditorium; one of those stiletto-shaped rooms that scoops down into a proscenium stage. It was filled with chatter like a shook box of cicadas. Making my way towards a seat near the front I stepped through three languages, many perfumes, many levels of sincere excitement and faux disdain, disinterest and ambivalence.

franco_james_461x250.jpgIn front of me, folding chairs were filled by people who, I posited, had waited a long time, out in the cold, maybe, to get in before anyone else. They were a mix of twentysomethings and teenage girls, but the mean age ran on the younger side. They were James Franco Fans, with a capitol F. They'd brought glossy photographs with them and I recognized the need to clarify in the program that Franco would only be signing copies of his book of poetry, Directing Herbert White.

A door opened and Poetry Foundation president Robert Polito stepped on stage. We screamed and cheered because we knew who was coming next; and in he walked, just after Robert and just before Frank Bidart, James Franco.

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Alex Thompson / Comments (4)

Poetry Tue Jan 21 2014

Now Shia LaBeouf is Plagiarizing Kenneth Goldsmith (UPDATED)

Over the past month, Shia LaBeouf has taken plagiarism (and public infamy) to new heights.

Since the 2012 short film he directed, Howard, was revealed to be a rip off of a comic called Justin M. Damiano by Chicago-born graphic novelist Daniel Clowes, LaBeouf has tweeted numerous apologies and justifications, quoting everyone from Yahoo! commenters to Kanye West, Eliot Spitzer and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford -- all without attribution.

In addition, LaBeouf has mockingly re-posted a cease and desist letter from Clowes' attorneys after he tweeted a purported storyboard based on another Clowes work, publicly feuded with Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, hired a plane to write "I AM SORRY DANIEL CLOWES" above the L.A. sky, and declared himself a performance artist...just days after declaring he would be retiring from public life and headbutting a man in a London pub.

Yesterday, The New Inquiry posted an essay with LaBeouf's byline called #stopcreating, exploring the recent history of artistic re-appropriation and the merits of long-held notions of authorship and originality in the digital age.

The prose and reference points may seem impressive for a man better known for Transformers and the Disney Channel. But if you look closer, #stopcreating is perhaps LaBeouf's boldest act of defiant plagiarism to date.

The sources? The words of poet and literary critic Kenneth Goldsmith -- including some that may have originally appeared on the website of Chicago's very own Poetry Foundation.

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Jason Prechtel / Comments (3)

Submissions Sun Jan 12 2014

Call for Submissions: Switchback Books' Queer Voices Contest

books.jpgIn 2006, a group of Columbia College students banded together to found Switchback Books, a small, nonprofit press with an precisely targeted mission: publishing poetry by women. They're still tiny--publishing just two volumes a year--but they've accumulated a diverse and adventurous catalog that includes experimental, limited-run formats such as Mónica de la Torre's FOUR. Now, with the inaugural Queer Voices Contest, they're aiming to make their roster even more diverse. Through February 1, queer-identified women are encouraged to submit full-length poetry manuscripts; aside from publication, the prize will include a $1,000 honorarium. Poet and social-justice researcher Dawn Lundy Martin will judge.

Image courtesy of Switchback Books' blog.

Daphne Sidor

Readings Mon Dec 16 2013

Two For Tuesday: Lit Readings to Warm Things Up

On Tuesday Dec. 17, two different readings will help warm you from the cold and decompress before things get busy this holiday season (if they aren't already)!

Poetry Foundation's new series The Open Door returns to the Poetry Center at 61 W. Superior St. at 7pm. The Open Door takes a new approach to live readings by highlighting the academic endeavors of current or recent teachers and students. The hour long reading features two Chicagoland college professors: Elise Paschen, author of Bestiary (Red Hen Press) and professor at the MFA writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Mark Turcotte, author of the poetry collection Exploding Chippewas and visiting assistant professor in English and creative writing at DePaul University. Each will welcome student readers they have selected: Britney Lipton, a south Florida native who received her MFA in writing from SAIC, and M. Quinn Stifler, who is pursuing degrees in creative writing and gender studies at DePaul University. The event is free and open to the public.

Story Club South Side presents their December reading with the theme "Cold" at the Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan St. This event, hosted by Will Hindmarch, will include story magician Jen Peepas, producer of Story Sessions Jill Howe, and The Moth host Don Hall. There is an open mic if you want to shake off those cold feet (you know, because it's cold outside) and share your story. Open mic sign-up begins at 7:30, show at 8pm. There is a $5 suggested donation.

John Wawrzaszek

Poetry Sat Nov 16 2013

See How Local Writing Programs Pay Off at a New Poetry Foundation Reading Series

To MFA or not to MFA? And if so, where? I'd wager that most creative writers of a certain age have at least idly batted around these questions, and a new reading series at the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior) might help weigh in on the debate, in addition to giving regular poetry lovers something to do on a Tuesday. At each installment, The Open Door pairs faculty of two local writing programs with two of their recent or current students, giving audience members a chance to track threads of influence running from teacher to student and, if they happen to be in the market for a writing program themselves, feel out whether a school's teaching dynamic might be a good fit.

The writing programs at UIC and Northwestern University are first up on Tuesday, November 19, at 7pm--the former represented by Christina Pugh and recent PhD student Matthew Reed Corey, the latter by Rachel Jamison Webster and undergrad Peter Tolly, who's currently interested in medieval verse forms. Admission's free, and the series is set to run monthly if you miss this round.

Daphne Sidor

Poetry Thu Nov 14 2013

Savoring Syllables at the Poetry Foundation's Sijo Celebration

If you happen to have a simultaneous hankering for poetry and free Korean food this weekend, you're in luck. The Poetry Foundation's Poetry off the Shelf: Sijo Poetry with David McCann (held at their headquarters at 61 W. Superior) will explore the pleasures of the Korean poetic form sijo before a reception with traditional snacks, held at 3pm this Saturday, November 16.

urban_temple.jpgThe event will be more workshop than lecture--attendees will include students who entered the Sejong Cultural Society's sijo contest this year--and all participants are encouraged to apply what they learn to an original work of poetry during class. That shouldn't be as daunting as it may sound: sijo is something like a roomier haiku, its three lines containing 14-16 syllables each instead of haiku's 5-7-5 pattern. That leaves a lot more space for stormy human emotion alongside images borrowed from the natural world, and for humor as well as heartbreak in the signature "twist" of the poem's final line--as in the gentle 14th-century joke on aging in the earliest known sijo (tr. Larry E. Gross):

The spring breeze melted snow on the hills then quickly disappeared.
I wish I could borrow it briefly to blow over my hair
And melt away the aging frost forming now about my ears.

You can find some of McCann's own takes on the form in his collection Urban Temple: Sijo, Twisted and Straight.

Daphne Sidor

Poetry Wed Oct 30 2013

What's Your Favorite Poem?

FoundationLibrary.jpgYou've got one month to decide. The Poetry Foundation's Favorite Poem Project: Chicago is asking Chicagolanders to send in their favorite poem along with "a few sentences about why the poem you've chosen is especially meaningful to you." From these submissions, five will be chosen for inclusion in a series of videos planned to drop in April (National Poetry Month) 2014. The deadline is November 30.

This iteration of the Favorite Poem Project takes its cues from a larger, older effort: meter-to-the-masses poet laureate Robert Pinsky sent out a similar call to the entire nation during his tenure in 1997. When the project first crossed my radar I thought, "Huh, neat!" And then I thought: wait, how do you choose a favorite poem? I flipped through my mental poetry anthology of greatest hits and lingered on a few pages, but none of them seemed quite to answer to the name of all-time favorite. Poems are like songs; you play them when the mood is right.

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Daphne Sidor

Author Fri Oct 18 2013

A Review of The Waiting Tide, Poetry by Ryan W. Bradley

Waiting_Tide_Front.jpgI have to be honest--it's been awhile since I've read an entire collection of poetry, but The Waiting Tide, the first book published by Curbside Splendor's poetry imprint, Concepción, was so worth it. I read it in one sitting. Twice, actually.

In the introduction, Bradley says, "I found myself compelled to write about love, lust, and the sea. All forms of escape, all symbols of our primal wishes. I found myself in dialogue with the master of love poetry." This book is a conversation with Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.

The books is split into four sections: Waiting Tides, Love, Desire, and Your. Bradley's poems no doubt evoke feelings of love, longing, and lust. Bradley said in an interview, " embarrassed as
 my wife gets that people are reading poems that are at times very intimate and are written by her husband, they are really a testament to her and her inherent ability to keep me alive and kicking." The poems are affectionate and sensual and intimate, but written in a way that only a poet can write about these things. You'll read this collection and wish that someone would write poems like this about you.

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Mikaela Jorgensen

Events Wed Oct 16 2013

Artist Ann Hamilton Talks About Installing Words in Public Places

VERSE_Kris_reading.jpgAnn Hamilton's words fill several libraries, but she's not primarily an author. The artist is known for plastering floors, walls, and other surfaces with fields of words and letters, and her work is on prominent display in the public libraries of San Francisco (in the form of old catalog cards overlaid with notes and drawings) and Seattle (where a wooden floor is carved with sentences from books in the collection).

On Thursday, October 17, at 7pm at the Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior, Hamilton will talk about where those words come from and how they function in the context of art with two highly appropriate panelists. Sculptor, painter, and installation artist Jessica Stockholder also tends to view surfaces as part blank page, part canvas. Chicago native Srikanth Reddy, on the other hand, is a poet, but one who arranges his words in visually arresting ways. Admission is free.

Photo © Fredrik Marsh/Jenny Fine.

Daphne Sidor

Poetry Wed Oct 16 2013

Turkish Poet Bejan Matur Reads @ Poetry Foundation

Bejan_Matur_Thumbnail.jpgTurkish poet, author and columnist Bejan Matur will read her work at the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St.) on Wednesday, October 16. A reception will be held from 6pm to 7pm and the reading will follow. The event is co-sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Amnesty International.

Born in Southeast Turkey, Matur was raised speaking Kurdish, which was officially banned in the region for many years. Though she writes in Turkish, she says that her writing is strongly influenced by the cadence and rhythm of her mother tongue. Her award-winning poetry has been described as shamanist, dark and mystic, and draws heavily from her experiences of village life. Her poems have been translated into 24 languages.

Trained as an attorney, Matur never practiced law and instead found her way to journalism. She regularly tackles issues such as Kurdish politics, Armenian news and women's issues. Matur is also the former director of Diyarbakır Cultural Art Foundation, and in 2011 joined the Council of Experts for the Democratic Progress Institute, whose main focus is conflict resolution.

Image courtesy of the Poetry Foundation website

Kathryn Pulkrabek

Poetry Sun Sep 29 2013

Playful Poetics at Glass Curtain Gallery

I didn't know anything about Bill Berkson, I don't think, before I came across notices for his reading with Jennifer Karmin this Tuesday, October 1, at 6pm at Glass Curtain Gallery (1104 S. Wabash). That was an oversight. When I began to investigate I thought, "hm, kind of a James Schuyler, Frank O'Hara feel"--good news if you like your poems to feel like conversations between wry, witty strangers, half-overheard. (Try Christmas Eve for that mode, although he has others.)

Turns out Berkson is no New York School imitator: he was there, having been mentored by Kenneth Koch and notably collaborated with O'Hara on Hymns of St. Bridget. On Tuesday, he'll be joined by local multidisciplinary poet Jennifer Karmin--you may know her as a founder of the experimentally minded Red Rover Reading Series. She often writes for multiple voices, which, in her readings, are rendered quite literally. At this event she'll bring up collaborators Stephanie Anderson, Bryan Mornar, Laura Goldstein, and Kenyatta Rogers to share the stage with her.

UPDATE Unfortunately, Bill Berkson has had to cancel due to health reasons. The organizers hope to reschedule the performance soon.

Daphne Sidor

Poetry Wed Sep 25 2013

Come Watch: Red Rover Series and 100 Thousand Poets for Change Explore Surveillance Culture

LS019486.jpgThis Saturday will see a poetic event of truly epic proportions: the many, many writers of 100 Thousand Poets for Change will speak up on the changes they'd like to see in the world around them.

True, they won't all be reading in the same place. Still, Chicago's offshoot, a reading on the theme "Private Eyes (They're Watching You)," has a pretty numerically impressive lineup. 24 local poets will address issues of surveillance, censorship, and other topics likely to make you look over your shoulder at Outer Space Studio, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave, on September 28 at 7 p.m. To name just a few: the just-profiled-by-Gapers-Block Daniela Olszewska; Language-affiliated eminence Barbara Barg; performance poet Noël Jones; and Nina Corwin, who curates readings at Woman Made Gallery.

The Red Rover Series and the Chicago Calling Arts Festival are cosponsors. A $4 suggested donation benefits microlending organization Kiva--letting attendees turn pocket change into real-world change while taking in some stirring words.

Daphne Sidor

Awards Wed Aug 14 2013

2013 Prizes Announced for Contributions to Poetry Magazine

poetry.jpgIt's a good day for poets and poetry lovers: The prizes for 2013 contributions to Poetry have just been announced, with eight awards going to poets, critics, essayists, and photographers featured in the magazine during the past 12 months. Founded in Chicago in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world.

The Levinson Prize went to Joshua Mehigan for his poems The Professor, The Cement Plant, and Down in the Valley in the October 2012 issue and The Orange Bottle in the February 2013 issue.

The Bess Hokin prize was awarded to Laura Kasischke for her poems Ativan, Game, The Second Death, and You've Come Back to Me in the October 2012 issue.

The Frederick Bock prize was given to Anna Maria Hong for her poems Pluralisms and A Fable in the April 2013 issue.

Randall Mann received the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood prize for his poems Nothing, Order, and Proprietary in the April 2013 issue.

Miller Oberman's translation of Old English Rune Poem by Anonymous in the July/August 2013 issue won her the John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize for Translation.

The Friends of Literature Prize was awarded to Idra Novey for her poems in the November 2012 issue, The Visitor, La Prima Victoria, and Of the Divine as Absence and Single Letter.

The Editors Prize for Feature Article was bequeathed to Eliza Griswold and Seamus Murphy for their contributions to the June 2013 issue, Landays.

And Michael Robbins received the Editors Prize for Reviewing for his review of Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology in the July/August 2013 issue.

Poetry logo courtesy of

Eden Robins

Author Wed Aug 14 2013

Chicago Lit Mags Currently Open for Submissions

Writers, rejoice! As the summer days dwindle, the dreadful season of literary magazine "reading periods" is finally ending, too. Usually spanning the months of May-September, reading periods give editors the opportunity to shutter their doors, shut down their online submissions pages, and catch up on the manuscript backlog. For aspiring authors, summer means a dry spell of no submission opportunities and numerous rejection emails from magazines they don't even remember sending work to.

But fear not! The following awesome Chicago-based lit mags are now open for business and accepting new work:

No Assholes! is a zine-like publication based informally out of DePaul, featuring poetry of all styles and the occasional smattering of fiction. The editors also hold relaxed, approachable reading events in their personal residences, and I've always been dazzled by the caliber of their work and the speed at which they churn out new issues. They are currently accepting submissions for their sixth and seventh issues; check out their Tumblr for more info.

Chicago Quarterly Review is a slightly more highbrow but still very accessible publication seeking full-length short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, and even photography! They've recently switched to online submissions and are now open, so float them a piece of up to 5,000 words.

Literary Orphans is completely online, but don't let that deter you: their taste is top-notch. Each month's issue is named after/inspired by a prominent author of days gone by (this month is Wordsworth), and the work they publish is contemporary yet classic. Submissions are always open for new flash fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and there is currently a call out for superhero-inspired stories.

Curbside Splendor is a gritty, witty press that publishes long works as well as its own monthly e-zine. In fact, they're about to release Samantha Irby's new book of essays, Meaty, in September (and eleven other titles this fall). This is definitely a wagon you want to hitch yourself to. Submission are currently open for their magazine, including poetry and fiction under 3,000 words.

Inkwell Mag is a relatively young lit mag that focuses each issue on a theme, and within that theme, anything (including medium) goes. This month's theme is Fantasy vs. Reality, and the editors are open to nearly anything that fulfills that theme-- including book excerpts, short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, illustrations, videos, and flash fiction.

Chicago Review is also welcoming new work, so if "traditional" literary fiction is your bag, it's time to polish up a story of under 5,000 words and ship it off for consideration. Since this magazine is among the top 50 literary publications in the country according to, it's definitely not one to pass up. Submit poetry and fiction under 5,000 words.

Of course, this is a small selection of the numerous fantastic literary magazines produced in Chicago. Which excellent publications (large or small) did I overlook? Any tips for writers looking to find a home for their work? Hit me up with comments.

Erika Price / Comments (4)

Events Mon Aug 12 2013

Thelma T. Reyna, Jennifer Dotson, Lucia Blinn @ Women and Children First

Poets Thelma T. Reyna, Jennifer Dotson, and Lucia Blinn will be reading at Women and Children First (5233 N. Clark) on Wednesday, August 14 at 7:30pm. Reyna's most recent publication, Hearts in Common, features "poems about the dreams, labors, and heartbreaks of immigrants from Mexico, Vietnam, and other parts of the world" (author's website); Jennifer Dotson's collection Clever Gretel, published by Chicago Poetry Press, was awarded their first Journal of Modern Poetry Book Award. Lucia Blinn is the author of We Called it "The Country", in addition to her previous collections, Passing for Normal and Navigating the Night.

Emilie Syberg

Author Tue Jul 30 2013

Susan Hahn Named Ernest Hemingway Foundation's First Writer-In-Residence

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for susan hahn.jpg
The Ernest Hemingway Foundation named Winnetka poet and author Susan Hahn their first writer-in-residence. Along with bragging rights, the organization's writer-in-residence is granted use of the attic at 339 N. Oak Park Ave. for an entire year. The space, in what used to be Ernest Hemingway's childhood home, has been converted into a writer's office. Hahn is also expected to provide lectures, workshops, and other cultural programs in association with the Foundation.

A Northwestern alumna, Hahn worked at the university's TriQuarterly journal for 30 years. She's written numerous poetry collections including Incontinence, Holiday, and The Scarlet Ibis; a play titled Golf; and the novel The Six Granddaughters of Cecil Slaughter, which was published by Fifth Star Press in Chicago. She is the recipient of several awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and two Pushcart Prizes.

Photo by Jennifer Girard

Ines Bellina

Author Mon Jul 29 2013

Poetry Review: H. Melt's SIRvival in the Second City

H-Melt-covertrimmed-3-14-72dpi-1.jpgTitle onward, the theme of H. Melt's SIRvival in the Second City: Transqueer Chicago Poems is not subtle. This is a book that is emphatically about being trans. But it is also about being cisgender. (For the unfamiliar: this is simply the counterpart to transgender. As trans people identify as a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth, so cis people identify as the same gender the delivery-room nurse dealt them.) As Melt says in the book's introduction: "It is not public knowledge that trans people exist. And that cisgender people exist as well."

I've chanced occasionally on a certain strain of Internet comment in which a cisgender person encounters this term for the first time and expresses deep outrage at its existence. The default state is suddenly delineated; it turns out that it has boundaries. Such commenters may feel that their gender is now subject to some unwelcome question, however tacit. What's the point of being normal if you have to think about it?

Too bad for them. Melt writes: "This book is my attempt to stare back at those who never question gender." And if such readers are ruffled by this, they may be further irked by the place from which they (Melt's preferred pronoun) stare: these very broad-shouldered streets, home of the regular guy.

Continue reading this entry »

Daphne Sidor

Printers Ball Fri Jul 26 2013

Printers Ball Preview: Poetics Theater with Danny's Reading Series

Joel Craig, a founder of the Chicago literary stalwart Danny's Reading Series, has created a poetry reading for Printers Ball centered around experimental writing and poetics and the independent local presses who make such work their focus. From 2 to 3pm, audiences will hear from Devin King, editor of Green Lantern Press and author of CLOPS; Holms Troelstrup, from Bloomington, Indiana's co-im-press and author of Within Mutiny; and Jeanette Gomes, editor at Love Symbol Press and author of Small Breaks of Light.

After their individual readings, the poets will join forces in a "collaborative performance" of "Mostly About the Sentence" from Hannah Weiner's Open House, which features an array of mostly-unpublished work from Weiner, including (according to the publisher's website): "performance texts, early New York School influenced lyric poems, odes and remembrances to/of Mac Low and Ted Berrigan, and later 'clair-style' works." "Clair-style", put simply, is a term Weiner applied to poetics written using clairvoyance. In other words, it's rock and roll time.

Emilie Syberg

Printers Ball Wed Jul 24 2013

Printers Ball Preview: Tony Fitzpatrick

Algren Song Bird_300.jpgChicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick is a man of many talents. If you've laid eyes on one of his stunning, layered collages, you know the feeling of falling down a beautiful rabbit hole, but poetry, playwriting, and acting are all in his wheelhouse.

At this Saturday's Printers Ball, from 5pm to 6pm, Fitzpatrick will be in conversation with Fred Sasaki, associate editor of Poetry magazine, on the subject of art and friendship. (The February 2009 issue of Poetry showcased Fitzpatrick's work in response to Hurricane Katrina; check it out for some soul-stirring, eye-popping works of art.) Per a recent chat with Fitzpatrick, topics could range from the concept of collaboration--"communal energy"-- to what we can learn from our friendships artistically, to the idea that engaging in "good will" can enhance our creative lives. Artists of all stripes can identify with these themes, so the exchange is sure to provide food for thought (and friendship). As a special bonus, Fitzpatrick will be showing some new work as a part of the presentation.

Emilie Syberg

Author Mon Jul 22 2013

Poetry Foundation Exhibit Glimpses Lives of Afghan Women

The photography exhibition currently at the Poetry Foundation gallery (61 West Superior Street), Shame Every Rose: Images of Afghanistan, combines poetry and imagery in a compelling way. Seamus Murphy, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, traveled to Afghanistan with journalist Eliza Griswold, and the results of their work--featured in the June 2013 issue of Poetry, in addition to the exhibit--are both arresting and important. These aren't images you've ever seen.

Poetry's June 2013 issue is devoted entirely to a form of poetry from Afghanistan called a landay, which functions as a couplet; it's comprised of twenty-two syllables, with nine syllables in the first line and thirteen in the second. The landay is chiefly the province of the women who belong to the Pashtun people--an ethnic group within Afghanistan--and its existence goes back centuries. Accompanying these landays are images from Afghanistan captured by Seamus Murphy over an eighteen-year period. Eliza Griswold leads the reader through the history behind the landays, and the world of the women she encounters, which is often one of subjugation and silence. Landays, however, are strong stuff--the word means "short, poisonous snake", which speaks volumes about their tone and content. death, sex, sorrow, love, Americans, the Taliban--universal and specific themes alike combine to create brief, powerful poems. Poetry becomes a form of protest.

The photography exhibit pairs the pictures in twos in order to emulate the landays, and the results are beautiful (and unnerving). In one set of images, the first shows a man peeking at a woman who watches him over her shoulder from a short distance; the second shows a blood-red slab of meat slung over someone's back. In another, stacks of scrolls are paired with birds in flight. Blood, flowers, burqa-clad women: all of these and more make appearances, and the viewer is challenged to connect the emotional dots between the words of a poem and the images of a photograph. Part of the response to any work of art is an attempt to relate, and in this instance--confronted not only by the intersection of poetry and photography, but by the existence of a world so different from our own--time must be taken to stop, look, and process. The results are rewarding.

The exhibit is free and open to the public through August 24. I highly recommend not only making the trip to see it; make sure to read the June issue of Poetry, and to watch Snake, a short film Seamus Murphy created while in Afghanistan. Appreciate the artistry behind the photographs and the beauty of the landays, but appreciate, too, the opportunity to learn more about the stories that lay behind them. These are faces that should be seen and voices that should be heard.

Emilie Syberg

Events Wed Jul 17 2013

Five Powers of Poetry @ Poetry Foundation

There's still time to register for this weekend's Five Powers of Poetry seminar at the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St.). A three day intensive held this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (July 19, 20 and 21), this program is designed to provide secondary school teachers with a greater comfort level in the reading and teaching of contemporary poetry. Registration is free and limited to 30 attendees. You must be able to attend all three sessions.

Rebecca Hyland

Events Tue Jun 18 2013

Performance Poets: Submit to the Oak Park Poetry Exchange

The Oak Park Regional Housing Center is hosting the first annual Oak Park Poetry Exchange. Twelve poems and three short films will be selected for a culminating performance/viewing at Oak Park's architecturally significant Pleasant Home on Friday, July 19.

Performance poets, submit your work revolving around "Diversity and CommUNITY." From the event press release: "In a society that is divided too often along racial lines, we are requesting expressions of unity. Poems should focus on aspirational or inspirational themes around diversity and integration."

Performances should not exceed five minutes in length, and a video demo is required for submission. Filmmakers are also invited to submit short films that are no longer than ten minutes in length and revolve around the same theme.

Panel judges include Kartemquin Film's Steve James; author, jazz performer and Columbia College professor George Bailey; community human rights activist and artist Abdi "Fuerza" Maya; and lead singer of the jazz fusion group Organic Flow Liam Bird.

Submission deadline is July 5. Click here to learn more about categories, cash prizes and submission guidelines. Click here to submit.

UPDATE: The Pleasant Home Foundation announced that the Poetry Exchange has postponed. The statement read, in part, "The Housing Center remains committed to bringing this dynamic event to Oak Park and the region. However, we have realized that we did not provide enough advance outreach to hold the event this summer. Look for the event to be held next year with an even more exciting format!"

Lara Levitan

Events Wed Jun 05 2013

Dethroning the Lizard King: Musician-Poet Reading @ Transistor

Rock musicians who also write poetry aren't always self-indulgent downers, says St. Louis musician-poet Ken Kase. Hence the title of the upcoming reading No Lizard Kings, featuring Kase and fellow musician-poets Larry O. Dean and Snežana Žabić.

"People tend to think of grandiose, depressing poetry like the stuff that Jim Morrison used to do," Kase says in the press release, and Dean agrees. "It's almost become a stereotype," Dean says. "Ken, Nana and I are doing something quite different. We're musicians who just happen to be writers."

The reading, happening Saturday, June 8 at 7:30pm at Transistor, 3819 N. Lincoln Ave.,
celebrates new releases from all three poets. Dean's Brief Nudity was published by the Ireland-based Salmon Poetry in February. Says Dean, the book is "concerned with the juxtaposition between elegy and also deals with popular culture's stranglehold on our collective unconscious."

Kase's debut, Seven Sonnets, features illustrations by St. Louis cartoonist John Blair Moore and is available for purchase as an ebook on Amazon. Žabić's Slovenian-English bilingual Po(jest)zija/Po(eat)ry is a collaboration with fellow feminist activist Ivana Percl. The poems are written in lyric, experimental and recipe formats with illustrations by comic book artist Dunja Jankovic.

The event is free and BYOB.

Lara Levitan

Book Club Tue May 07 2013

A Symposium of Poets and Artists @ Poetry Foundation

Inspired by its current exhibition on Joan Mitchell, a 20th century abstract expressionist painter who collaborated with poets like Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery, The Poetry Foundation, in collaboration with Poetry magazine and theJoan Mitchell Foundation, present Sitting Between the Sea and the Buildings: A Symposium of Poets and Artists. The free event on Saturday, May 11 from 12pm-6pm at the Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street, will include talks, readings, demonstrations and performances that investigate the intersections of art and poetry.

Taking its title from the first line of John Ashbery's "The Painter," the event will feature poets Bill Berkson, Douglas Kearney, and John Yau; visual artists Terry Adkins, Lesley Dill, and Mildred Howard; and April Sheridan and Stephen Woodall of the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago.

Be sure to stick around for the 5pm announcement of a commissioned performance piece to be created collaboratively between artist Adkins and poet Kearney with a demonstration to follow.

Lara Levitan

Book Club Mon Mar 18 2013

Poetry Night at City Lit with Jen Besemer, Robert McDonald, Richard Fox

Celebrate the official start of spring with poetry! Queer poets Jen Besemer, Richard Fox and Robert McDonald will read at City Lit Books, 2523 N. Kedzie Blvd., Thursday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free.

Troubling the Line.jpgBesemer is featured in the new anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books). The book, which features the poems and poetic statements of 55 poets, sold out at Nightboat's table at the AWP Conference last week. According to Besemer, Troubling the Line is the first anthology focused on "making space" for poets who identify as trans or genderqueer.

"This is a book that is not just for us, but for the young trans and genderqueer writers looking for mentors and role models," Besemer said. "It's important for our allies and families, too, because it helps to illuminate what being trans, being genderqueer, could mean."

Fox and McDonald are contributors to the 2011 Windy City Queer anthology.

The books will not be available for purchase at the event, but may be ordered through City Lit.

Lara Levitan

Book Club Thu Feb 28 2013

Louder Than a Bomb 2013 Gears Up for Finals

louder than a bombLouder Than a Bomb, the city wide slam poetry festival with over 750 teenagers and college students participating, will be hosting the preliminary, semi-finals, and finals over the next week.

Louder Than a Bomb, or LTAB, was founded in 2001 by poet Kevin Coval and Ana West through Young Chicago Authors. It has now become the largest youth poetry festival in the world. The festival was created to give Chicago youth the stage and the space to tell their own stories. Both teams and individuals compete in the festival.

Continue reading this entry »

Melinda McIntire

Miscellaneous Mon Feb 11 2013

Free Poetry for National Poetry Month

We're sure all of you Book-Club-heads are aware that April is National Poetry Month. And while April may seem light years away while in the thick of February, that's exactly why it's necessary to get psyched for spring--and a free issue of Poetry magazine.

In honor of that poetic month, The Poetry Foundation is releasing free copies of the April 2013 issue of Poetry magazine to individuals, book clubs, and reading groups that request them by March 24. April's is also the first issue to be available in digital format. And to make sure you don't cheat and start celebrating early, the issues will ship in late March to ensure receipt during National Poetry Month.

The April 2013 issue of Poetry includes new poems by Adam Kirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Eavan Boland, Michael Robbins, Randall Mann, Dean Young, Lucie Brock-Broido, and J.T. Barbarese; prose by Christina Pugh; first appearances by Anna Maria Hong, Gwyneth Lewis, Mary Moore Easter, and Jamaal May; and the continuation of the feature "A Few More Don'ts," (commemorating Ezra Pound's famous "A Few Don'ts by an Imagiste") featuring Marjorie Perloff, William Logan, and Sina Queyras.

Lara Levitan

News Mon Jan 28 2013

Poetry Foundation Names New President

Robert Polito cred Gerber + Scarpelli.jpg The Poetry Foundation has named poet, critic and biographer Robert Polito the next president of the organization. His term begins July 8 after current president John Barr steps down to retire.

Polito served as professor and director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Riggio Honors Programs at the The New School, which he compares to the Poetry Foundation in terms of having "distinguished, even glorious pasts that are always in need of reinvention by each new generation."

Polito's poetry, drawing deeply from American pop culture and literary tradition, is collected in two books, Hollywood and God (2009) and Doubles (1995), both published by University of Chicago Press.

Polito's interest in crime novels and film noir inspired his 1995 book Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson (which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography), and has served him as editor of several books on poetry, film, and pop culture of the American midcentury.

A Bob Dylan scholar who plans to eventually write a book on the rock icon, Polito professes to collecting the high school yearbooks of folks like Dylan, Andy Warhol, and John Cage, among others.

Read more about Polito here. (Photo credit: Gerber + Scarpelli).

Lara Levitan

Poetry Mon Jan 21 2013

Carl Sandburg on Guns

A newly discovered unpublished poem by Carl Sandburg just happens to address a current-day issue in Chicago: gun violence.

A Revolver

Here is a revolver.
It has an amazing language all its own.
It delivers unmistakable ultimatums.
It is the last word.
A simple, little human forefinger can tell a terrible story with it.
Hunger, fear, revenge, robbery hide behind it.
It is the claw of the jungle made quick and powerful.
It is the club of the savage turned to magnificent precision.
It is more rapid than any judge or court of law.
It is less subtle and treacherous than any one lawyer or ten.
When it has spoken, the case can not be appealed to the supreme court, nor any mandamus nor any injunction nor any stay of execution come in and interfere with the original purpose.
And nothing in human philosophy persists more strangely than the old belief that God is always on the side of those who have the most revolvers.

The poem was discovered in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by Ernie Gullerud, a former professor of social work at the university who volunteers at the library. Sandburg died in 1967.

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

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