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Manick, Cynthia 2023

Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Blue Hour Reading Series with Cynthia Manick and Courtney LeBlanc
Haymarket House


I try to quantify what we inherit—
dancers legs that know how to roam
but be church pious by morning,
the ability to fold shirts into a perfect square
or the street walk that says I’m a willing
dove but need no man or pierced jewelry.

– Cynthia Manick, “Is This Your Sky or Mine?”

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Watch Cynthia Manick’s 2023 reading with Courtney LeBlanc at the Chicago Poetry Center:

Cynthia Manick begins at 37:43 minutes.

Yesterday my legs were propped
in stirrups as the gyno said you
should go on The Biggest Loser.
I heard cities at the skull base
stuttering over each other,
vine and vowels of your rolls
and the garden under your chin.
The implied real estate of—
don’t you want to be beautiful?
Unmade and remade?

– Cynthia Manick, “Dear Future Body (Keep Your Skin Thickk)”

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Watch this interview clip with Cynthia Manick:

Listen to this playlist inspired by Cynthia Manick’s recent collection, “No Sweet Without Brine”:

Visit Cynthia Manick’s website⇒

Mijares, Natasha 2023

Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Blue Hour Reading Series with Natasha Mijares and D. Santina Ruiz
Haymarket House


In the exile hood,
a ghostwriter jukebox
stretches its vocabulary
muscles and says farewell
to the wide-eyed blade.

– Natasha Mijares, “Ghost Fields”

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Watch Natasha Mijares’ 2023 reading with D. Santina Ruiz at the Chicago Poetry Center:

Natasha Mijares begins at 24:20 minutes.

Read Natasha Mijares’ interview with Sixty Inches from Center’s Chicago Archives + Artists Project:

Chicago Archives + Artists Project: Interview with Natasha Mijares – Sixty Inches From Center

Artist and writer, Natasha Mijares, talks about the DePaul Art Museum’s collection of Latinx art as well as humor, analog technology, and creative lineage.

What do we sing in our families
that isn’t already playing? Colored buoys
collapse when unlined, it is unclear
how long fireflies take to cool.

– Natasha Mijares, “Covey”

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Read Natasha Mijares’ interview with LVL3:

More info on Natasha Mijares⇒

Mascarenhas, Jessica 2019

Friday, September 20, 2019
Six Points Reading Series with Jessica Mascarenhas and Rosie Accola
Space Oddities in Humboldt Park


Read Gertrude aka Jessica Mascarenhas’ feature on Lake Shore Dive bar:

Spotlight On: Gertrude aka Jessica Mascarenhas, poet and comedian

Poet and comedian Gertrude (Jessica Mascarenhas) will pull on your heartstrings with beautiful prose tangled in rich metaphors and vulnerability, then splash you with a cold dose of punchy wit and honesty. Laughter is her love language and something she seeks human connection with. Her work is funny, fresh, and smart.

Watch Jessica Mascarenhas read her poetry:

Commencement 2020 – Poetry Winner Jessica Mascarenhas from Columbia College Chicago on Vimeo.

Read Gertrude aka Jessica Mascarenhas’ interview with Voyage Chicago:

More info on Jessica Mascarenhas⇒

Mukherjee, Dipika 2022

Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Blue Hour Reading Series with Willie Lin and Dipika Mukherjee
Haymarket House


Migration, Exile…these are men’s words.
Women have always been torn up
like rice seedlings to be replanted
in marriage (or another name);
my language weeps its wedding melodies
in many dialects, many tunes
In my next life, O God, don’t make me a daughter:

– Dipika Mukherjee, “Migration, Exile…These Are Men’s Words”

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Watch Dipika Mukherjee’s 2022 reading with Willie Lin at the Chicago Poetry Center:

Dipika Mukherjee begins at 27:45 minutes.

The floor is red cement, cool
in Calcutta heat, the borders black
diamonds under bare feet.
A fierce grandfatherly snore
and the newsprint whirs
to the floor, stirred by a fan.
Up the steps, creeping past
the mezzanine. The women’s room
reveals itself by a hushed giggle.

– Dipika Mukherjee, “Sleep”

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Watch Dipika Mukherjee share poems from her book Dialect of Distant Harbors:

Read Dipika Mukherjee’s interview with Chicago Review of Books:

Outward Explorations and Interior Journeys: A Conversation with Dipika Mukherjee – Chicago Review of Books

An interview with Dipika Mukherjee on her new book of poems, “Dialect of Distant Harbors”

More info on Dipika Mukherjee⇒

Matejka, Adrian 2022

Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Summer Poetry Gathering featuring Adrian Matejka
Haymarket House


& there’s no taking it back now.
What comes next? Charcoal underbone,

darkroom for soliloquy & irises wide
at home. Some underside party popping

off & ending with me counting resignations
on a couch made from my last pennies—

copper profiles cushion deep, dull
with emancipation & worth almost me.

– Adrian Matejka, “I Say the Thing for the First Time”

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Watch Adrian Matejka’s 2022 reading at the Chicago Poetry Center:

Adrian Matejka begins at 1:04:30 minutes.

It ends because the beginning won’t jumpstart
again: red smudge of a mouth, lipstick everywhere

the afterthought a comet leaves on its way
out. What makes this moment unfold like a fine

woman raising herself up from the bathroom floor?
Honky-tonk in the honeyed brown of an eyeball?

– Adrian Matejka, “End of Side A”

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Listen to this interview with Adrian Matejka on NPR’s Morning Edition:

Visit Adrian Matejka’s website⇒

Martinez, Alyssa 2022

Tuesday, July 12, 2022
Poetry @ the Green with Alyssa Martinez
320 S. Canal


We reappeared through

mountains in the North blackened
with distance, blacker even behind
themselves, and obscured even
further with that tokey giant air.

– Alyssa Martinez, “You, Warmer Than I”

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Check out Alyssa Martinez’s visual art⇒

Meaning had fallen off
the words. I peered into

bathroom mirror
through hesitant
steam, wiped away

to expose

an expected face, different.

– Alyssa Martinez, “The Longest Improvisation”

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Visit Alyssa Martinez’s Website⇒

May, Jamaal 2022

Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Blue Hour Reading Series with Jamaal May and Ola Faleti


There are birds here,
so many birds here
is what I was trying to say
when they said those birds were metaphors
for what is trapped
between buildings
and buildings. No.

– Jamaal May, “There Are Birds Here”

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Watch Jamaal May perform his poem “Sky Now Black With Birds”:

A lot of it lives in the trachea, you know.
But not so much that you won’t need more muscle:
the diaphragm, a fist clenching at the bottom.
Inhale. So many of us are breathless,
you know, like me
kneeling to collect the pottery shards
of a house plant my elbow has nudged
into oblivion.

– Jamaal May, “Respiration”

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Watch Jamaal May talk about his poetry collection The Big Book of Exit Strategies

More info on Jamaal May⇒

Marshall, Maya 2020

Thursday, February 20, 2020
Reading Series with Marty McConnell and Maya Marshall
The Martin


I bleed daily
for a month,
produce a liver-shaped thing.
He rinses his blood
with a chemical cocktail
every third Thursday.
We make nothing—no child
no pacts—but distance,
until we both lose.

– Maya Marshall, “The Field of Blood”

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Watch Maya Marshall read her poems and converse with Nicole Homer in this Poetry Foundation event:

I don’t know what I would do
if a man looked like my daddy hated me,
hated my sex all the more because I did not want him
to have it, or because I have wanted a woman too–

– Maya Marshall, “Portrait in the Lone Star”

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Read this interview that Maya Marshall did with Black Women Radicals:

More info on Maya Marshall⇒

Mendoza, Jonathan 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019
Six Points Reading Series with Meg Day and Jonathan Mendoza
The Whistler

Watch Jonathan Mendoza perform his poem “For Quiet Boys”:

You ask me for my name,
and I say, “It’s pronounced Mendoza,”
and again, the Spaniard spits it out my throat,
pats me on the tongue,
tells me I have been a good subject,
and again, I have traded this empire
for my former one.

            – Jonathan Mendoza, “Onomástico”

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Watch Jonathan Mendoza perform his poem “Brown Boy, White Boy”:

More info on Jonathan Mendoza⇒

Mohyuddin, Faisal 2019

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Six Points Reading Series with Suman Chhabra and Faisal Mohyuddin
Bookends & Beginnings

Zinnias, dahlias, peonies all pluck from the sweet
air of those faraway spring days another breathless
yearning for warmer things. We dream of golden
angles of sun, silver scribbles of rain, the thronging
noise of the earth waking again in soggy greenness.

              – Faisal Mohyuddin, “Zinnias. How. Foreverness.”

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THE FATHER: All night, I nursed
a candle’s flame, leaning in and out
of its sphere of light, mumbling verses
of the Qur’an, mispronouncing
the Arabic, not understanding a word
beyond “Al-Fatiha,” but knowing,
nonetheless, I had fulfilled
this first obligation of fatherhood.

              – Faisal Mohyuddin, “The Opening”

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Watch Faisal Mohyuddin read “The Faces of the Holy”:

More info on Faisal Mohyuddin⇒