Poetry Foundation Announces Winter/Spring Events Season

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Performances, Exhibitions, and Readings Feature More than 40 Poets

January 9, 2014

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation’s winter/spring 2014 events season includes performances exploring poet-playwright Samuel Beckett and poet-composer Paul Laurence Dunbar; an exhibition featuring Jane Freilicher; and readings and events presenting the work of more than 40 poets, including Dorothea Lasky and Sonia Sanchez. The season begins Tuesday, January 21, with the Poetry Foundation’s newest monthly series, The Open Door.

The Poetry Foundation Library continues to offer its weekly Wednesday Poemtime, a storytime event that introduces poetry through fun, interactive readings and crafts, as well as field trips for students of all ages.

“This must be one of the great historical moments for poetry,” says Poetry Foundation president Robert Polito. “This season, discover exciting established and emerging poets, as well as collaborations between poetry and other arts, and opportunities to listen to smart, provocative conversations about poetry. As the new president of the Poetry Foundation, I look forward to seeing you this upcoming season.

The following events are free admission and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. These winter/spring events take place at the Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, unless otherwise specified. More information about our events is available at poetryfoundation.org/programs/events. Images are available upon request.


The Open Door
Kathleen Rooney & John Wilkinson
Tuesday, January 21, 7 pm

The Open Door series presents work from Chicago’s new and emerging poets and highlights the area’s outstanding writing programs. Each hour-long reading features two Chicagoland college and graduate writing program instructors and two of their current or recent students.

The Poetry Foundation presents the Open Door series the third Tuesday of every month: February 18, March 18, April 15 and May 20.


Bagley Wright Lecture Series on Poetry
Dorothea Lasky:
“What Is Color in Poetry or Is It the Wild Wind in the Space of the Word?”
Thursday January 23, 7 pm

Dorothea Lasky, a poet known for her colloquial style and dramatic readings, explores the mystical and practical relationships between color and poetry. An assistant professor at Columbia University, Lasky is the co-editor of Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry, and the author of three poetry collections, including Thunderbird (2012).

Co-sponsored with the Bagley Wright Lecture Series


Poetry off the Shelf
Drinking Gourd: An Evening of Poetry and Song
Thursday, January 30, 7 pm

Celebrate the winner of this year’s Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize, a first-book award for poets of color. Poet Rodney Gomez will read from his winning work, Mouth Filled with Night. Ed Roberson, author of eight books of poetry and winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, will also read new work. The evening will feature live musical performances by Raúl Fernández and Jarochicanos Xicago.

Co-sponsored with the Northwestern Poetry & Poetics Colloquium


Poetry in America: Walt Whitman
Friday, January 31, 4 pm

Delve into the poetic verse of Walt Whitman in the lively discussion "Poetry in America: Whitman," led by Harvard Professor Elisa New. This lecture is part of a free, four-week Harvard edX online course module of the same name starting January 15, 2014. Guests of the lecture are encouraged (but not required) to enroll in the four-week online course.


Poetry and Music
Fulcrum Point New Music Project Goes Ivy League: Yale
Wednesday, February 12, 7 pm

Chicago’s innovative and critically acclaimed ensemble pairs chamber music and poetry by composers and poets from Yale University. New music by Derek Bermel, Jacob Druckman, Fay Kueen Wang, Reena Esmail, and Jonathan Berger meets poetry by Elizabeth Alexander, Eryn Green, Mark Strand, and John Hollander, among others.

Co-sponsored with Fulcrum Point New Music Project


Poetry On Stage
Beau O’Reilly: 60 Story Animal
Saturday, February 15, 7 pm
Sunday, February 16, 3 pm

Chicago theater veteran Beau O’Reilly, the author of over 75 plays, celebrates his 60th birthday and the 25th anniversary of the Rhinoceros Theater Festival with the premiere of his own 60 Story Animal, an investigation of the theatrical work and poetry of Samuel Beckett.


Poetry Out Loud
Chicago Regionals
Thursday, February 20, 10 am

Champions from Chicago high schools recite classic and contemporary poems for the chance to represent Illinois at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, DC, in April 2014. Last year 375,000 students around the country competed for over $100,000 in scholarship awards and school stipends.


Poetry on Stage
At Mother Dunbar’s Request
Saturday, March 15, 7 pm
Sunday, March 16, 3 pm

Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the most prolific and acclaimed poets, playwrights, and lyricists of his day, known both for his dialect and Standard English works. This staged production of At Mother Dunbar’s Request, written by Paxton Williams, is set in 1906 and features over 30 of Dunbar’s poems, Negro spirituals, and other famous works.


Harriet Reading Series
Norma Cole and Roger Reeves
Thursday, March 27, 6:30 pm

The Harriet Reading Series features established and emerging poets whose innovative approaches to the craft of poetry have appeared on Harriet, the Poetry Foundation’s blog. Award-winning poet Norma Cole is also a painter and author of numerous French translations. She has lived in San Francisco since 1977 and teaches at the University of San Francisco. 2008 Ruth Lilly Fellow Roger Reeves is an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Poetry off the Shelf
Iraqi Mutual Aid Society Poetry Festival
Saturday, April 5, 2 pm

Finalists from the second annual Iraqi Poetry Festival and Contest confront themes of home, dislocation, sojourn, migration and resettlement. Reflecting the linguistic and cultural diversity of Iraq and its vibrant oral tradition, Arabic, Assyrian, Aramaic, Chaldean, Kurdish, Hebrew and Turkoman poems will be presented bilingually, along with works in English by Iraqi poets. For further information about the contest, visit iraqimutualaid.org.

Co-sponsored with the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society


Poetry off the Shelf
Poesía en Abril: Piedad Bonnett and Hugo Mujica
Friday, April 25, 7 pm

A performance and reading with featured poets Hugo Mujica and Piedad Bonnett celebrates two momentous occasions one hundred years in the past: the publication of Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago” in the March 1914 issue of Poetry, and the birth of Octavio Paz.

Co-sponsored with contratiempo, DePaul University, and Instituto Cervantes


Poetry off the Shelf
Chicago Public Library Poetry Fest: Sonia Sanchez
Saturday, April 26, 2 pm
Cindy Pritzker Auditorium
Harold Washington Library Center

Celebrate National Poetry Month with internationally acclaimed poet, scholar, and activist Sonia Sanchez. Author of more than 20 books and a pioneer of the Black Arts Movement, Sanchez has received the Robert Frost Medal and the Langston Hughes Award, among many other literary laurels, as well as distinctions for her advocacy on behalf of peace, justice and women’s rights.

Co-sponsored with the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Haiku Festival


MCA Live: Poetry
Tuesday, April 29, 6 pm
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue

Poetry magazine curates a series of readings by Chicago-based poets. Readings take place in the William J. O’Brien exhibition.


Harriet Reading Series
Tyrone Williams and Joyelle McSweeney
Thursday, May 1, 6:30 pm

The Harriet Reading Series features established and emerging poets whose innovative approaches to the craft of poetry have appeared on Harriet, the Poetry Foundation’s blog. Editor of African American Literature: Revised Edition (2008) and author of five poetry collections, Tyrone Williams’s work challenges and investigates language, history and race. Poet and novelist Joyelle McSweeney is the winner of the inaugural Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Playwrights. Co-editor of Action Books and a contributing writer to the culture blog Montevidayo, McSweeney teaches at the University of Notre Dame.


Poetry off the Shelf
B.H. Fairchild and Peggy Shumaker
Thursday, May 8, 7 pm

A reading and reception commemorates the 20th anniversary of Red Hen Press. Award-winning poet B.H. Fairchild explores the empty landscapes of small towns in Texas and Kansas, where he grew up. In 2014, W.W. Norton will publish Fairchild’s The Blue Buick: New and Selected Poems. Peggy Shumaker was Alaska State Writer Laureate, 2010 – 2012. Toucan Nest (2013), her most recent collection, grew from an eco-arts writing workshop in Costa Rica.

Co-sponsored by Red Hen Press


Poetry off the Shelf
Sina Queyras
Wednesday, June 4, 7 pm

A reading by Sina Queyras kicks off the 24th annual International Virginia Woolf Conference. Queyras, whose work often reflects a deep engagement with Woolf, is the author of several collections, including Unleashed and Lemon Hound.


Poetry off the Shelf
The Voice of Women in American Poetry
Thursday, June 19, 7 pm

This edition of the Poetry Society of America’s national series, featuring poets Susan Hahn, Parneshia Jones, and more, celebrates the great tradition of American women poets responding to their country’s landscape, cities, history, and people.

Co-sponsored by the Poetry Society of America


Jane Freilicher: Painter Among Poets
Dec. 17, 2013–Feb. 21, 2014

This exhibition of paintings, works on paper, original letters, book covers and photographs explores painter Jane Freilicher’s pivotal role among the poets of the New York School—particularly John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch and James Schuyler. Freilicher was born in New York in 1924. She came of age in the era of abstract expressionism and has pursued a distinctive painterly realism found in her landscapes, cityscapes, interiors, and still lifes.

The World Record
March–April 2014

This exhibition showcases The World Record, a collection of 121 poems created during Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus, a global gathering of poets to mark the London 2012 Olympics. With handwritten works by Seamus Heaney, Kay Ryan and Wole Soyinka, among others, the collection is on loan form the Saison Poetry Library in London, where it was conceived.


About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. 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. For more information, please visit poetryfoundation.org.

About Poetry Magazine
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume 1 of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every major contemporary poet.

About the Poetry Foundation Library
The Midwest’s only library dedicated exclusively to poetry, the Poetry Foundation Library exists to promote the reading of poetry by the general public, and to support the editorial needs of all Poetry Foundation programs and staff. Visitors to the library may browse a collection of 30,000 volumes, experience audio and video recordings in private listening booths, and view exhibits of poetry-related materials. In addition to providing public access to its collections in the form of a reading room, the library creates interactive programs to inspire a wider readership for poetry in readers of all ages. The library’s collection aims to present the best poetry, in English or in translation, of the modern and contemporary era, as well as representative selections of the major poetic works of all eras. A children’s collection contains a range of titles to engage young readers.

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