Blue Hour April 17







The Chicago Poetry Center presents BLUE HOUR, a free, public monthly in-person reading series and generative writing workshop hosted and facilitated by Marty McConnell. 

The Blue Hour reading includes a brief open mic followed by two featured poets from Chicago and beyond. The open mic includes five readers drawn lottery-style from a hat that goes out at 7:15. The reading starts promptly at 7:30. Each open mic poet reads one poem or for three minutes, whichever comes first.

The name comes from a line by Chicago poet Li-Young Lee, from a section of “The City in Which I Love You”:

I wait
in a blue hour
and faraway noise of hammering,
and on a page a poem begun, something
about to be dispersed,
something about to come into being.


      • Workshop (registration required) begins promptly at 6 p.m., ends at 7 p.m.

      • Open mic sign-up begins at 7:15.

      • Reading (registration recommended) begins at 7:30, followed by community gathering time.

      • Reading registration is free; the workshop is sliding scale with a suggested donation of $10.

      • Register for the workshop here.

      • Get your ticket for the reading here.

      • Livestream is available here.


    The Blue Hour reading features readings by two poets from Chicago and beyond, preceded by a five person lottery-style open mic and followed by community gathering time. 


    The Blue Hour generative writing workshop is suitable for writers and poetry fans of all levels. We will discuss a poem together, then Marty will guide the group through individual writing on an exploratory prompt that draws on themes from the poem. 


    Accessibility, Health, & Safety:

    – All restrooms at Haymarket House are gender-neutral, including single-user and stalled restrooms.

    – Each event includes ASL interpretation. Haymarket House is ADA compliant and fully wheelchair-accessible; email to ensure ramp access and with any other accessibility needs.

    – Masks are currently strongly encouraged for all indoor events, and the space is equipped with a professional air filtration system.


    Scott Woods is an Emmy award-winning writer and event organizer in Columbus, Ohio, and founder of Streetlight Guild, a performing arts non-profit. Woods is the author of three books and has been featured multiple times in national press, including appearances on National Public Radio. He is the Greater Columbus Arts Council winner of the 2017 Columbus Makes Art Excellence Award for his event series “Holler: 31 Days of Columbus Black Art”, and a 2018 Columbus Foundation Spirit of Columbus Award recipient. He is the 2022 winner of the Press Club of Cleveland’s award for Best in Ohio Essay Writing, and the 2023 winner Best in Ohio for the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the co-founder of the Writers’ Block Poetry Night and in 2006 became the first poet to ever complete a 24-hour solo poetry reading…a feat he bested seven more times without repeating a single poem.

    Joaquín Zihuatanejo is the inaugural poet laureate for the city of Dallas. Hailed as “The People’s Poet” by The Dallas Morning News, Joaquín received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship in 2023. Their new collection, “Occupy Whiteness,” is an act of rebellion that reclaims spaces and highlights a history of erasure of Brown life. Starting from long form works of literature by straight, white men, Zihuatanejo occupies their pages, erasing words and sections, leaving only his erasure behind, the white space that remains inside and around the erasure becoming a colonized space. A white space colonized by Brown verse. “Occupy Whiteness” is haunted and blessed by the image of ancestors who braved the river and the desert to travel into border states for the opportunity of freedom. These are poems meant to agitate and create unease, to make the reader realize that neither the author nor the immigrant children he describes are Other. Through poems, interspersed micro essays, full length essays in translation, and photography from the border, Zihuatanejo poignantly depicts this equally beautiful and brutal place we call home. 



    Marty McConnell is a poet, educator, and healer based in Chicago. She is the author of when they say you can’t go home again, what they mean is you were never there, winner of the 2017 Michael Waters Poetry Prize; her first full-length collection, wine for a shotgun, received the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Awards and was a finalist for both the Audre Lorde Award and a Lambda Literary Award. Her first nonfiction book, Gathering Voices: Creating a Community-Based Poetry Workshop, is available through YesYes Books. She is the co-creator and co-editor of underbelly, a web site focused on the art and magic of poetry revision. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Best American Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and Indiana Review

    To learn more about the series and history, go here. 



    “Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
    -Oscar S.

    “Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
    -Buenda D.

    “Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
    -Jessica M.