The 36th Annual Reading Series of the Poetry Center of Chicago

May 13, 2009

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Yusef Komunyakaa
Distinguished authors Stuart Dybek and Yusef Komunyakaa present emerging artist Rachel Jamison Webster and winners of the Poetry Center's Hands on Stanzas Student Inaugural Poem Contest. The event also featured a live performance by special guests Global Warming, the Chicago-based musical ensemble featuring Elbio Barilari, Guillermo Gregorio, Jeb Bishop, Eric Leonardson and Eric Hochberg.

Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Both I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago were New York Times notable books; The Coast of Chicago was a "One Book One Chicago" selection. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles. His fiction, poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry anthologies. Among Dybek's numerous awards are a PEN/Malamud Prize “for distinguished achievement in the short story,” a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O. Henry Prizes, fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award.

Yusef Komunyakaa is the author of several books of poetry, including: Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part 1; Pleasure Dome: New Collected Poems, 1975-1999; Talking Dirty to the Gods; Thieves of Paradise, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Neon Vernacular: New Selected Poems 1977-1989, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and Magic City. He has also written dramatic works, including Gilgamesh: A Verse Play and Slip Knot, a libretto in collaboration with composer T. J. Anderson and commissioned by Northwestern University. His honors include the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University's graduate creative writing program.

Rachel Jamison Webster is a poet, educator and activist. In 1997, she won both the Academy of American Poets' Young Poets Prize and the Association of University Women Award, the latter for her implementation of a poetry workshop with homeless and gang-involved teens in Portland, Oregon. From there, Rachel moved to Chicago's Gallery 37, working closely with chair Maggie Daley to extend arts apprenticeships to city teenagers. In 2001, she helped create Words 37, which now offers after-school and summer literary arts programs to thousands of Chicago teens. Rachel collected and edited these young writers' poems and stories in two anthologies, Alchemy and Paper Atrium.

 

Recorded Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at Ballroom at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.