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Soto, Christopher 2016

Saturday, February 6, 2016
with Roger Reeves, Emily Jungmin Yoon, and Jamila Woods


My heart is a mudslide, it will suffocate you
[stuff your mouth with forestry].
Don’t you know? That broken-boys can’t
make a proper home. Just listen to my chest.

– Christopher Soto, “Hatred of Happiness”

Continue reading this poem⇒

Read this interview with Christopher Soto from Apogee Journal:

Say that my body // is not a sequin dress–
Is not a raw fish, being stripped of scales.
Say that I am not // a drunken disco ball
In a lonely skating rink.

– Christopher Soto, “Myself When I Am Real”

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  I wake with no sleep. Yellow tape is wrapped around my block.

– Christopher Soto, “Oakland, Cal.”

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Watch Christopher Soto read his poetry:

More info on Christopher Soto⇒

Sánchez, Erika L. 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015
with Richie Hoffman
Chicago Cultural Center


 a gaggle of silent children
gather before a sputtering
trash bin. Together they watch
the terror hover like flies. 

– Erika L. Sánchez, “Kingdom of Debt”

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Read this interview with Erika L. Sánchez from NBC:

What I’ve Learned: ‘Poetry Chose Me,’ Says Writer Erika L. Sánchez

Erika L. Sánchez, a poet, writer and sex columnist, talks of the importance of embracing art as a career and finding one’s voice.

 A man on the street tears the gold
necklace from your mother’s neck—
this is how you learn that nothing
will belong to you. In your mangled
language, you’ll count all the reasons
you wish to die, the apartment bristling
with roaches. 

– Erika L. Sánchez, “Girl”

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Watch Erika L. Sánchez read some of her work at Bonk! Performance Art Series:

More info on Erika L. Sánchez⇒

Smith, Maggie 2015

Thursday, July 9, 2015
with Anthony Opal
Chicago Cultural Center


It doesn’t matter
if this river is listening. It’s not
from around here, and it’s not staying. 

– Maggie Smith, “River”

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Read this interview with Maggie Smith from Tupelo Quarterly:

Wise & Fierce Beauty: Maggie Smith’s The Well Speaks of its Own Poison

When I encountered Maggie Smith’s poetry manuscript The Well Speaks of its Own Poison, winner of Tupelo Press’ 2012 Dorset Prize, I knew, immediately, that I was in the presence of the real thing. There is wise, fierce, and truthful beauty here, the muscular craft to carry it across time and place, and both the […]

There are fish in the black trenches
of the sea that look like rocks.
Their poison shouldn’t trouble me.

– Maggie Smith, “Stonefish”

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Watch this video adaptation of Maggie Smith’s poem “Good Bones”:

More info on Maggie Smith⇒

Shaw, Alix Anne 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015
with Lana Rakhman
Chicago Cultural Center


low red door I enter in
the desert        slaked by rain

in this a kind of format
an interstice        a splice

between the sad time
and the next        sad time

– Alix Anne Shaw, “Parturition”

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Watch Alix Anne Shaw read her work:

My friends, the kind weather is over. On the street, I turn my eyes
from the men who wait at the corner, poised to pry the slightest
opening. The sign says please break boxes, but it looks like please

– Alix Anne Shaw, “Schrödinger’s Cat is Mine Now”

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More info on Alix Anne Shaw⇒

Sze, Arthur 1999

Wednesday, February 24, 1999
with Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge and Marilyn Chin


Meandering across a field with wild asparagus,
I write with my body the characters for grass,
water, transformation, ache to be one with spring.

– Arthur Sze, “Crisscross”

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Read this interview with Arthur Sze from The Drunken Boat:

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Redwinged blackbirds in the cattail pond–
today I kicked and flipped a wing
in the sand and saw it was a sheared
off flicker’s. Yesterday’s rain has left

– Arthur Sze, “Morning Antlers”

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Watch Arthur Sze discuss the influence of American poetry in China as part of American Poets Abroad:

Arthur Sze: American Poets Abroad

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More info on Arthur Sze⇒

Segal, Lore 1982

Friday, September 24, 1982


The doctors, nurses and patients in the overcrowded, too-brightly lit Emergency Room turned toward the commotion. It was the very old woman thrashing about her with improbable strength and agility. “You do not,” she shouted, “you do not tell me to relax! I will not relax.”

– Lore Segal, Half the Kingdom

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Read this interview with Lore Segal from BOMB Magazine:

Watch Lore Segal read and discuss her work:

Lore Segal begins speaking at 4:30 minutes. 

More info on Lore Segal⇒

Schoen, Chris 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013
80 Foots per Minute
with Emmy Bean and T-Roy Martin


Watch the music video for “The Drag”:

Listen to Chris Schoen’s feature on WBEZ:

Poetry Of Failure Comes To Life At Chicago’s ‘Baudelaire In A Box’

This weekend in Chicago, a small theater troupe with a big resume will present all of the poems in Charles Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du Mal” – sung by more than 50 performers from around the world.

Watch 80 Foots per Minute perform their song, “Cupid and the Skull:”

Cupid and the Skull from 80 Foots on Vimeo.

More info on Chris Schoen⇒

Swander, Mary 1996

Wednesday, November 13, 1996
with Nancy Mairs


It floats toward you:
a mother, a fish,
something without breath,
shiny, washed smooth
as the skin of a leech.

– Mary Swander, “In A Dream”

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Listen to Mary Swander’s 1996 reading for the Poetry Center of Chicago:

Watch Mary Swander read some of her poetry:

Aspen, oak, Kentucky-Coffee-Bean trees,
Dead leaves shaped like mouths falling
From the limbs. A silence descending
With the evening spreads across the
Arched backs of the rocks, their bellies

– Mary Swander, “Dutton’s Cave”

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Watch this interview with Mary Swander:

More info on Mary Swander ⇒

Stryk, Lucien 1979; 1995

Friday, February 16, 1979
with John Knoepfle
Two Midwest Poets
February, 1995
with Roger Mitchell


The casket under the rose
in the funeral paror is not
where you live, my mother.

– Lucien Stryk, “Rooms”

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Listen to Lucien Stryk’s 1995 reading for the Poetry Center of Chicago:

Hungry-eyed fogies,
gargoyles in full cry
above the ruck and tumble

– Lucien Stryk, “Gargoyles”

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Vintage poster of Two Midwest Poets: John Knoepfle and Lucien Stryk reading at the Poetry Center of Chicago.

Vintage poster of Two Midwest Poets: John Knoepfle and Lucien Stryk reading at the Poetry Center of Chicago.

More info on Lucien Stryk ⇒