About

About | Brief History | History of Readings | Staff & Board | Sponsors | Contact

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About

We’re passionate about poetry in the community. Our primary missions are to: provide free and public poetry readings in Chicago (see a list of our 40 years of poetry readings below), to provide paid teaching opportunities to Chicago poets, and to provide creative literacy in the form of the Hands On Stanzas program to Chicago Public School students.

Upcoming events can be found on our News & Events page, and by joining our mailing list and following us at fb.com/poetrycenter. Amazing poems by our student poets grade 2 – 12 can be read by clicking on any of the school flags on our Hands On Stanzas page or delivered to your feed by following us at fb.com/poetrycenter.

The Poetry Center of Chicago is an independent not-for-profit arts organization founded in 1974.

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Brief History

Beginning in 1968, Paul Carroll, editor of the short lived though tremendously influential Big Table literary magazine, organized and hosted readings at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago to promote the new Big Table Books series. These readings, along with the awareness and interest they generated, served as the foundations for what would eventually become The Poetry Center of Chicago. In 1973, concurrently with The Poetry Center’s official inception, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg gave a reading in the basement of the Museum of Contemporary Art, paving the road for a reading series that would span more than three decades, host more than 200 poets, and garner both local and national acclaim. Paul Carroll served as the first board president, followed by poet Paul Hoover and Mark Perlberg, who served as president for 14 years. Subsequently, John Van Doren and Rezek would also serve as board presidents.

The Poetry Center 1974: Pictured is the founder Paul Carroll, some of the original board including Lisel Mueller, Mark Perlberg, and John Rezek and the advisory board at the time (then called the "guiding council") including Barry Schechter, Bill Knott, Paul Hoover, Michael Anania, Bill Hunt, Candance Rackenger, Rich Friedman, Peter Kostackis, John Rezek, Neil Hackman, Rose Simon, Maxine Chernoff. 1974 Photo by Norris McNamara. Photo donated to The Poetry Center by Mark and Anna Perlberg.

The Poetry Center 1974: Pictured is the founder Paul Carroll, some of the original board including Lisel Mueller, Mark Perlberg, and John Rezek and the advisory board at the time (then called the “guiding council”) including Barry Schechter, Bill Knott, Paul Hoover, Michael Anania, Bill Hunt, Candance Rackenger, Rich Friedman, Peter Kostackis, John Rezek, Neil Hackman, Rose Simon, Maxine Chernoff. 1974 Photo by Norris McNamara. Photo donated to The Poetry Center by Mark and Anna Perlberg.

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History of Readings

William Burroughs
Allen Ginsberg
Gwendolyn Brooks
John Ashbery
Russell Edson
Robert Duncan
Grace Paley
Mary Graham
Li-Young Li
Adrianne Rich
J.M. Coetzee
Andrei Codrescu
Billy Collins
Louise Glück
Alice Notley
Margret Atwood
Yehuda Amachi
N. Scott Momaday
Lisel Mueller
John Cheever
Kay Ryan
John Updike
William Stafford
Garrison Keillor
Jennifer Grotz
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Paul Muldoon
Russell Edson
Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Doris Lessing
Mark Strand
Denise Levertov
Mei Mei Berssenbrugge
Charles Simic
Ron Padgett
Ted Berrigan
Robert Creeley
Dan Savage
Isabel Allende
Lucien Stryk
Mark Doty
John Cage
Jules Feiffer
Bruce Cutler
Craig Arnold
Lyda Hull
Charles Wright
Jack Prelutsky
Thomas Lynch
Alice Randall
Srikanth Reddy
Charles Forbes
Margaret Gibson
Russell Banks
James Schevill
Leslie Ullman
Stratis Haviaras
Tom Raworth
Anna Lincherskaya
Douglas MacDonald
Eugene Gloria
Alice Ryerson
Dan Beachy-Quick
Gloria Naylor
Charley Henry Ford
Saul Bellow
Robert Bly
Ethridge Knight
Thom Gunn
James Tate
Cin Salach
Franz Wright
Jean Howard
Joan Chase
Rosellen Brown
Jenny A. Burkholder
Fredrick Busch
June Brindel
Yusef Komenyakaa
Mark Perlberg
Jimmy Santiago Baca
Talvikki Ansel
Bill Berkson
Arthur Sze
Quraysh Ali Lansana
Frieda Hughes
Paul Carroll
Alan Dugan
Ted Hughes
Denise Dumel
Reginald Gibbons
Stanley Lombardo
Bill Knott
Tymoteusz Karpowicz
Maria McCray
Djoroye Nikolic
Yves Bonnefoy
Patricia Powell
Derek Walcott
Lucinda Williams
Miller Williams
Mary Kinzie
Garrett Hongo
Tyehimba Jess
A Van Jordan
Michael Ryan
Christian Wiman
Marvin Tate
Thomas Lux
Larry Heinmann
Anne Waldman
Marjorie Perloff
John Logan
Charles Henri-Ford
Luciano Erba
Molly Peacock
Maxine Chernoff
Nina Corwin
Lucian Stryk
Ardyth Bradley
Richard Firedman
W.D. Snodgrass
Ted Schaefer
Baxter Black
Kenward Elmslie
Bruce Cutler
Traci Dant
Donald Justice
Ted Kooser
Haki Madhubuti
Duriel Harris
Czeslaw Milosz
A.K. Ramanujan
Arielle Greenberg
Gary Soto
Rebecca Wolff
Stuart Dybek
Deborah Boida Cummins
Campbell McGrath
James Merrill
Phillip Levine
Sonia Sanchez
Stephanie Shaw
David Ignatow
Naomi Ashley
Ben Benedict
Scott Woldman
Kevin Guilfoile
Zbignew Herbert
Kevin Young
Sharon Greene
Peter Streckfus
James Dickey
Tom Andrews
Peter Sagal
Jonathan Messanger
Rosie Folrest
Alane Rollings
Edward Thomas-Herra
Gerald Stern
Robbie Q. Telfer
David Meitzer
Steve Delahoude
Kimiko Hahn
Heather McHugh
Eugene Goria
Tom Raworth
Stephen Spender
Clayton Eshleman
Jenny Boully
Dennis Brutus
Richard Fammeree
Joan Colby
Sahara Sunday Spain
John Yau
Carolyn Forche
Kristy Bowen
Donald Hall
Stanley Moss
P.J. O’Rourke
Walker Percy
Denis Johnson
Simone Muench
Mary Gordon
Tia Chucha
Claire Bloom
Dean Young
Paulette Roeske
Robert Dana
Carlos Fuentes
Fredrick Morgan
Maxine Chernoff
Barry Schechter
Walter Bradford
G.E. Manning
Naomi Shihab Nye
Carolyn Kizer
Kristy Odelius
Marton Espada
Leon Foreman
Alice Ostricker
Maxine Kumin
Ana Castillo
Bogdana Carpenter
Mark Strand
Martha Friedberg
Ralph J. Mills
Lucille Clifton
Joel Craig
Eavan Boland
Mark Perlberg
Maxine Chernoff
Art Lange
Sandra McPherson
Michael Anania
John Fredric Nims
William Hunt
Paul Hoover
Peter Kostalis
Lisel Mueller
Rita Dove
James Laughlin
Allison Joseph
Boris Perlman
Lore Segal
John Mann
Larry Levis
Agha Shihid Ali
Anslem Hollos
Constance Urdang
Amiri Baraka
Joseph Jarman
Joe Mantegna
Caroline Knox
Sharon Olds
Stanley Kunitz
Robert Duncan
Larry Mark
Adam Mickiewicz
Carl Rakosi
Josip Brodsky
Michael Crichton
Charles Simic
Studs Terkel
Sandra Cisneros
Dave Etter
Adam Zagajewiski
John Dickson
Michael Rothenberg
David Meltzer
Tess Gallagher
Misty Harper
Mark Perlberg
Maxine Hong Kingston
Galway Kinnell
Elizabeth Hardwick
Marjorie Perloff
Joseph Jarman
Donald Justice
A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff
Jerome Rothberg
Fay Kicknosway
Stephan Dobyns
Kent Foreman
Naomi Lazard
Albert Goldbarth
Elise Paschen
Janice N. Harrington
Ned Rorem
W.S. Merwin
Mona Van-Dun
Ed Pashke
Dave Smith
Linda Pastan
John Fredrick Nima
Katha Pollit
Kennith Koch
Michael Benedikt
Jane Hamilton
Katrina Vandenber
John Lega
Elizabeth Libbey
Andrew Zawacki
Ross Talarico
Stanley Moss
Harry Mark Petrakis
Carl Rakosi

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Executive Director 
Elizabeth Metzger Sampson

 

Poets In Residence

Elizabeth Metzger Sampson

Bryant Cross

Chanell Harris

Timothy David Rey

Larry O. Dean

 

Poetry Center Office Team

Natasha Mijares: Six Points Reading Series Curator

Megan Cho: Programs Assistant

Nora Kane: Audio Digitization

Gabrielle Peterson: Social Media

For more information on Poetry Center Internships, visit our Support Page

 

Board of Directors

President
Henry Sampson

Secretary
Amelia Burford

Treasurer
Don Chatham

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Sponsors

The Poetry Center receives its funding from many individuals, foundations, corporations and government agencies, to whom we are thankful.

Many thanks to our supporters:

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Conlon Real Estate

 

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And to you, our many generous members and donors!

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Contact

General Inquiries & Hands On Stanzas: Elizabeth Metzger Sampson, beth@poetrycenter.org

Readings & Programming, Including Six Points: Natasha Mijares, natasha@poetrycenter.org

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Poetry Center of Chicago
641 W. Lake Street, Suite 200
Chicago, Illinois 60661

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