Chicago has no shortage of writers who’ve excelled at capturing the city’s special charms. Nelson Algren, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alex Kotlowitz - their work can make any effort to portray the city from a fresh perspective, a daunting one.
In 2011, WBEZ filmed four short videos featuring Louder Than a Bomb youth poets performing their work on location. The series starts with 16-year-old Aliyah Oyemade, whose poem When a City Loves honors recently “deceased” public housing complex Cabrini Green.
The following is the opening stanza to poet Li-Young Lee’s The City In Which I Love You:
And when, in the city in which I love you,
Even my most excellent song goes unanswered,
And I mount the scabbed streets,
The long shouts of avenues,
And tunnel sunken night in search of you...
April is National Poetry Month. Over the next month, Eight Forty-Eight will celebrate by bringing you poems written by local everyday people. The series kicks off with a selection from The Neighborhood Writing Alliance. The group runs a network of writing workshops around the city.
The space shuttle Voyager is both the inspiration and title of the second collection by Chicago poet Srikanth Reddy. The University of Chicago assistant professor won the Asian American Literary Award for Facts for Visitors, his first book of poems.
Mija is a 66-year-old grandmother. She lives in a small town and takes care of her teenage grandson with a capacity to get into trouble. She earns cash by taking care of a stroke victim. Midway through the film, she starts showing the effects of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.