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Bayani, Jason 2023

Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Blue Hour Reading Series with Jason Bayani and Jacob Saenz
Haymarket House


I’m waiting for the words    to catch up to my heart     which is
elliptical at the moment      there’s an apology

even I am expecting to bore out of my throat

                   but what for      what for

I am continuing to write in a font      that displeasures me        everything shifts so rapidly

my body       the environment       my body     the environment

– Jason Bayani, “Someday, Again”

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Watch Jason Bayani’s 2023 reading with Jacob Saenz at the Chicago Poetry Center:

Jason Bayani begins at 41:07 minutes.

It was said that in the beginning there was only the sea and the sky; not a spot of land and only the flying animals living between. And the waters were quiet. And the skies were always still. And, yet, everything moves around them, and there must be something that moves them, too. When we become aware of our wants, isn’t it then that we understand we are helpless to time? As all things must be.

– Jason Bayani, “Tesseract (excerpts)”

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Watch Jason Bayani’s performance, “A Metric Expansion of Space”

Visit Jason Bayani’s website⇒

Burroughs, CM 2023

Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Blue Hour Reading Series with CM Burroughs and Eugenia Leigh
Haymarket House


rustle plastic bags of outside food in
movie theaters/talk out of turn
in the swallow-dark light/believe
trash should be/as confetti/everywhere
in the viaducts’ shadow/souring in gutters’
craw/jaywalk with the urgency of sloth /split
verbs meaningfully

– CM Burroughs, “Our People I”

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Watch CM Burroughs’ 2023 reading with Eugenia Leigh at the Chicago Poetry Center:

CM Burroughs begins at 21:56 minutes.

Everybody is doing trigger warnings now, so
To Whom It May Concern, I hated God
when my sister died. I didn’t know it was
coming, but we were at the hospital in a private
room for family, and our pastor
was there, the one who baptized me, and
he said Let us pray, and I kept my eyes
open to watch everybody, but
listened, and when he said Sometimes
God has to take back his angels,
I was smart enough to know, I was 14, that
he was saying she was gone or going

– CM Burroughs, “God Letter”

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Watch CM Burroughs read from her poetry collection Master Suffering:

Read CM Burrough’s interview with Literary Hub:

The Poetics of the Body: An Interview With CM Burroughs

In this next installment of our series of interviews with contemporary poets, Peter Mishler corresponded with CM Burroughs. Burroughs is Associate Professor of Poetry at Columbia College Chicago, a…

More info on CM Burroughs⇒

Bennett, Keisha KJ Light 2022

Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Poetry @ the Green with Keisha KJ Light Bennett and Brittanii’ Batts
320 S. Canal


Growing up, I used to be fascinated with creating my own “out of the box home.”

I’d find boxes, tape them together and stack them on top of each other.

I’d go outside and create fortresses out of trees and branches. I’d sit in it’s darkness and imagine myself shaping images.

I’d go in my closet, in the crease between a tub of clothes and the wall, close my eyes and imagine myself with super powers,
flying and bending fire with my hands.

– Keisha Janae, “Out of the Box Home”

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Watch Keisha Janae discuss her project “Trust in Life”:

More info on Keisha Janae⇒

Bond, Nicole 2022

Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Poetry @ the Green with Nicole Bond and Joy Young
320 S. Canal

Dear White Couple Who Have The Black Pre School Aged Child,

We don’t know each other, but I see you in the neighborhood, usually at the bus stop in the mornings.

It’s hard not to notice a white woman and man walking with or pushing a Black pre-school girl in a stroller, up and down a Chicago South Side street. It’s an off-putting precursor to what will inevitably be the same wave of gentrification that crashed over neighboring Hyde Park.

– Nicole Bond, “Signed, A Little Old Black Lady”

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Sunlight shines through the window on her plastic Aldi bag
…facing front…moving forward…traveling backwards into canned quicksand.

Behind her stands a man at the door

…his plastic Save-a-Lot bags on the floor, parked between black-laced Nike’s.

– Nicole Bond, “Crossing the Desert”

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More info on Nicole Bond⇒

Bell, Elana 2021

Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Reading Series with Richard Villar and Elana Bell


To hold the bird and not to crush her, that is the secret. Sand turned too quickly to cement and who cares if the builders lose their arms? The musk of smoldered rats on sticks that trailed their tails through tunnels underground. Trickster of light, I walk your cobbled alleys all night long and drink your salt.

– Elana Bell, “Letter to Jerusalem”

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Watch Elana Bell’s 2021 reading with Richard Villar at the Chicago Poetry Center:

Elana Bell begins at 5:27 minutes.

What else to call the way the bare branches
I’d bought at the neighborhood bodega
came back to life that winter.
I’d carried them home—dry, wrapped
in paper—stuck them in the square vase,
and, as an afterthought, filled it with water.

– Elana Bell, “Miracle”

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Watch Elana Bell read as part of’s P.O.P. series:

More info on Elana Bell⇒

Betts, Tara 2017; 2019

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
GROOVE-A-THON with Simone Muench, Kristy Bowen, and Ruben Quesada
Innertown Pub


Thursday, August 29, 2019
Six Points Reading Series with Tara Betts and Avery Young
Chicago Water Taxi (Loop to Chinatown’s Ping Tom Park)



If you be throwback,
then I be remix.
If you be footwork,
then I be uprock.
If you be turntable,
then I be crossfader.
If you be downtown C train,
then I be southbound Red Line.

              – Tara Betts, “Hip Hop Analogies”

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Read this interview with Tara Betts from Cave Canem:

DOGBYTES Interview: Tara Betts

Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit and Arc & Hue. Her chapbooks include the upcoming Never Been Lois Lane; 7 x 7: kwansabas; and THE GREATEST!: An Homage to Muhammad Ali. Tara holds an MFA from New England College and a Ph.D. from Binghamton University.

The last dream was his silence
cradling my rock to questions
thundering in my ears, a pair
of baskets I cannot cover.

Tara Betts, “Sleeping”

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Watch Tara Betts read here:

Tara Betts – “Poem for Trayvon Martin”

No Description

you are curled under
unconsummated kiss,
folded into the violence
of blueberries crushed
between teeth, dying
sugars of once growing
fruit, and i let it linger.

              – Tara Betts, “Untitled for a Reason”

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More info on Tara Betts⇒

Boening, Justin 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
with J. Jerome Cruz
Innertown Pub

You start to sing.
Your voice carrying from the house.
The words familiar, though I cannot make out the words.
Your voice a field, though there are animals in the field.
A rain begins in the leaves and ends in the leaves.

– Justin Boening, “Learning to Pray Again”

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Read this interview with Justin Boening from The Adroit Journal:

Issue Twenty: A Conversation with Justin Boening | The Adroit Journal

Justin Boening is the winner of the National Poetry Series for his debut collection, Not on the Last Day, but on the Very Last. He is also a recipient of a Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, a Bucknell University Stadler Fellowship, and a Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship for his chapbook, Self-Portrait as Missing Person.

It’s late. The hero has returend––
unhelpful as ever. He’s hiding out
in the neighbor’s orchard,
steering clear of the constable.
The citizens have left empty
all the houses, all the shops––
the screen doors hollow on hinges,
a porch swing hinging by a chain.

– Justin Boening, “The Game”

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Watch Justin Boening read Care Package at SPECTRA Reading Series:

Justin Boening: Care Package

Midwest Writing Center sponsored SPECTRA poetry event, at Rozz-Tox, Rock Island, IL. 10 March 2016. Biography from Ryan Collins: “Justin Boening is the author of two books of poems-Not on the Last Day, But on the Very Last (Milkweed, 2016), which was selected for the National Poetry Series, and a chapbook, Self-Portrait as Missing Person (Poetry Society of America, 2013).

More info on Justin Boening⇒

Bar-Nadav, Hadara 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
with Jennifer Moore
Six Points Reading Series


After the bombs
and the buildings blow
I call Clover, Clover,
and you appear–
a dream limned in smoke.

– Hadara Bar-Nadav, “Blur”

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Read this interview with Hadara Bar-Nadav from MLive:

Interview: Poet Hadara Bar-Nadav discusses her work, ‘the fracture of narrative and form’

Poet Hadara Bar-Nadav will read from her work as part of the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center’s continuing Poets in Print reading series, beginning at 7 p.m. March 12 in Suite 103A of the Park Trades Building, at 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave.

I slept with all four hooves
in the air or I slept like a snail
in my broken shell.

– Hadara Bar-Nadav, “Lullaby (with Exit Sign)”

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Watch Hadara Bar-Nadav read her work:

Hadara Bar-Nadav Reads for Huffington Post

Hadara Bar Nadav reads from her newest collection of poetry Fountain and Furnace (Tupelo Press, 2015), which was awarded the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize.

More info on Hadara Bar-Nadav⇒

Bruce, Debra 1998


he smells like leather and mint and the El that shot
him through the city. Now he slips
his headstrap off, his black patch. But not
for them–the ones who heaved at him and swung
their taunt: Let’s see what’s under there.

– Debra Bruce, “The Fitting”

Broadside of "The Fitting" by Debra Bruce.

Broadside of “The Fitting” by Debra Bruce.

Buy this broadside in a series with Paulette Roeske, Annie Finch, John Frederick Nims, and Cin Salach⇒

Read an interview with Debra Bruce from Diane Lockward’s Poetry Salon:

Blogalicious: Poetry Salon: Debra Bruce

I am happy to host today’s Poetry Salon for Debra Bruce. I first met Debra on the Wompo Poetry Listserv. I then had the pleasure of meeting her in person at the West Chester Poetry Conference when we both served as panelists on a critical seminar exploring undervalued women poets.

Sometimes her tongue is numb
all morning, she says, but
she doesn’t say when
to go back, maybe at the first
crackle of bone as you bend
for the baby’s dropped spoon.

– Debra Bruce, “Granny Dunn Says Go Back”

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Watch this discussion including Debra Bruce and Jennifer Dotson from Poetry Today:

Poetry Today – Debra Bruce & Jennifer Dotson

Uploaded by Vic Walter on 2015-03-03.

More info on Debra Bruce⇒