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


Each event features two readers from Chicago and beyond, followed by an optional, limited-space workshop focused on a poem by one of the featured readers and including guided generative writing time.

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.


  • Reading (zoom webinar) opens at 6:15 central time, reading begins at 6:30, ends 7:15
  • Workshop (zoom room) begins at 7:30 central time, ends at 8:15
  • Note that registration is free and you can sign up for one or both portions of the event, but each registration must be completed separately.
  • Webinar registration link: https://bhfebrdg.eventbrite.com/
  • Workshop registration link: https://cpcbhfebworkshop.eventbrite.com


The Blue Hour reading features readings by two poets from Chicago and beyond, followed by a brief Q&A. 


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


JAMAAL MAY’s creative projects explore the tension between polarities to render arguments for the interconnectivity of people, worlds, and ideas. He has exhibited at the Smithsonian and his writing has appeared in periodicals and anthologies internationally. Jamaal’s first book of poems, Hum (Alice James, 2013), won a Lannan Foundation grant, and American Library Association’s Notable Book Award. Jamaal’s second collection, The Big Book of Exit Strategies (Alice James, 2016), received the Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Both books were NAACP Image Award Nominees. Jamaal has worked as a hotel “av guy,” a freelance audio engineer/producer, and as an Inside Out Writer-in-Residence in Detroit Public Schools. He is currently an assistant professor at Wayne State University, working on the multisensory project, Qualia Bridge, and launching the musical co-op Jamtramck Beat Systems as part of Organic Weapon Arts. @maalimachine on social media.

OLA FALETI is a Chicago-based writer. Her work has appeared in Chicago Reader, Interim, Jet Fuel Review, Hypertext Magazine, and elsewhere. Currently, Ola serves as the nonfiction editor for Vagabond City Lit and is working on her first poetry collection. Her favorite number is 9. She believes there’s no such thing as too many flowers. https://www.olafaleti.com/


The mission of the Chicago Poetry Center is to connect people with poetry, equitably engage poets with communities, and foster creativity and literacy in schools. We envision a world where poetry catalyzes reflection, connection, and change.

Since the Chicago Poetry Center’s first readings took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1975, the Poetry Center has been a mainstay of Chicago’s cultural scene. Free public readings continue to be offered monthly in virtual and physical formats. Over 325 poets have participated in public readings, and a digital archive of their work is available on the Poetry Center website. The expansive archive also serves as the basis of a digital module for teaching poetry, which was recently developed by the Center’s Executive Director and is available at no cost to teachers.


Marty McConnell is a poet, educator, and healer based in Chicago where she provides vital coaching and consulting services to people and organizations, supporting them in being planful, proactive, and powerful in building the lives and worlds they envision. 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. YesYes Books recently released her first nonfiction book, Gathering Voices: Creating a Community-Based Poetry Workshop. 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. www.martyoutloud.com

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.