CHICAGO—After temporarily closing its Chicago building to the public two years ago and pivoting to online programming because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Poetry Foundation is thrilled to welcome poets and poetry lovers back, just in time to celebrate National Poetry Month. The Poetry Foundation has also introduced new opening hours, as follows: Wednesday and Friday: 11:00 AM– 4:00 PM; Thursday: 11:00 AM–8:00 PM
The Poetry Foundation building reopened to the public on April 7 with a robust lineup of programming and events. Like all Foundation programs, these events are free and open to the public.
Visitors experienced an evening of poetry at the first in-person event since the building’s closure: the launch of the Respect the Mic: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School anthology. The editors of the collection—Hanif Abdurraqib, Franny Choi, Peter Kahn, Dan “Sully” Sullivan—were joined by contributors from the anthology, both past and present students from Oak Park and River Forest High School’s acclaimed Spoken Word Program.
The Foundation’s Open Door reading series returned to in-person with Madeleine LeCesne, Michell Nicole Miller, Nat Pyper, and Ang Zheng. The Open Door series highlights writing instruction and poetic partnerships, with each event featuring readings by two Midwest writers and two of their recent students or writing partners. The long-running series presents audiences with an opportunity to experience the work of established and earlier-career poets, and examine how their work intersects.
Also this month, the Poetry Foundation Gallery will debut a new exhibition, Monica Ong: Planetaria, with an opening reception on April 21. This series of visual poems by Monica Ong leverages the visual language of astronomy to explore the precarious territories of motherhood, women in science, and diasporic identity. Playfully taking poetry off the page as lightbox assemblages and handheld volvelle poems, this series seeks to imagine the sky from a female perspective, examining the power struggles that myth-making elicits.
Virtual Offerings Continue
Those who’ve enjoyed the Foundation’s virtual programming over the past two years will still be able to do so with offerings including readings, book clubs, and resources. As an added treat for April, readers will be able to download the April issue of Poetry magazine for free; in celebration of Poetry Month, the magazine offers a deeply discounted rate of $20 for a one-year subscription (11 issues).
A special Reading Poetry: An Online Discussion of the March issue of Poetry magazine, featured the portfolio “These Blazing Forms”: The Life and Work of Margaret Danner; Poetry guest editor Srikanth “Chicu” Reddy and Poetry Foundation library associate Maggie Queeney facilitated the conversation. Margaret Danner was a Chicago poet and the first Black woman editor of Poetry magazine; this folio revisits the work of this often-overlooked figure, and her influence on contemporary poetry.
Throughout the pandemic, the long-running Forms & Features workshop series pivoted to online sessions, meaning that people could engage with the program from anywhere. To celebrate this increased accessibility, the facilitators on the Library team created a new reading series in which workshop participants could share their own writing. On April 28, all are welcome to the next installment of Celebrating the Poets of Forms & Features, a reading honoring the diverse voices, rich experiences, and powerful words of poets from around the country and the world.
Spring Programming Sneak Peak
The fun doesn’t stop when April ends, as the Foundation has plenty of programming to look forward to beyond National Poetry Month.
Live music returns to the Poetry Foundation building with two events in May. The Zafa Collective will perform I Did, Did I?, a libretto by Liza Sobel and Gina Elia on May 5. Then on May 21, the Foundation hosts a performance from LYNX Project’s debut album, beautiful small things, featuring the poetry of neurodiverse young people who are primarily nonspeaking, set to music by celebrated classical composers.
Programming with young poets in mind continues for Young People’s Poetry Day Featuring Pat Mora on May 14; this annual celebration for youth and their caregivers features a reading with the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement recipient and author of numerous books, a cartonera-making workshop, poetry writing activities, crafts, a poetry scavenger hunt, and more!
All guests over the age of two must wear a mask inside the Poetry Foundation building. Guests over the age of five must show proof of vaccination up to the level they are eligible for their age group. Guests over the age of 18 must show ID alongside their proof of vaccination. If you cannot meet these requirements, you will not be granted entry to the building. Please note that some performers may choose to perform without a mask.
Poetry Foundation events are free and open to the public. Readings and events include live captioning and ASL interpretation unless otherwise noted. If you have additional accessibility needs, don’t hesitate to contact Events@PoetryFoundation.org.
These are only a sampling of the Poetry Foundation’s offerings; please subscribe to the newsletter and visit PoetryFoundation.org/Events for the most up-to-date listings. Also, follow the Poetry Foundation and Poetry on Facebook at Facebook.com/PoetryFoundation, Facebook.com/PoetryFoundationChildren, Twitter @PoetryFound and @PoetryMagazine, and Instagram @PoetryFoundation.
About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.