July Reading Series Spotlight: Davon Clark

Davon Clark

Davon Clark is a Philadelphia-raised artist based in Chicago who uses investigative journalism practices in his camerawork and poetry. His work looks to fill in the gaps left behind in coverage of the worlds that he lives in and peripheral to. He likes flowers and the little things in life. You can find out what he does and how he does it at his website.




For the SB Lake Shore Drive

By Davon Clark

A wash of winter sunrise
Wakes me up every morning,
The wide bend of traffic
Giving way to wiggle room

The horizon hugging waves
With warm toned colors,
This west bound welcome
Peeking above the lake
Just when it’s needed.

Right after the Randolph exit,
Lake Shore Drive’s 4 lanes
Find a fifth one somewhere
And the morning rush breathes.

All of a sudden,
The cares behind me
Are next to me
And the cars ahead
Are now my neighbors

And for a second here,
There’s no direction,
Only twists and turns
Of a day in bloom.

The luckiest of us
Beat the red light,
The rest of us
Can stop and stare
At the morning shine,

Light bouncing between
Bumpers and buildings,
My eyebags catching
All of the Lake’s glow.

Can you believe
This is real?
The blessed blooming
Of a city
Waking up. Here,
The sun commutes, too.
The cars cruise so slow.
The cotton candy
canvas sky rides shotgun.

If I must work,
I’m glad I work
Here. With a city
In my rearview mirror
And a sunrise ahead.

Davon Clark’s Poet Spotlight: Hanif Abqurraqib

Clark: ” To some extent, being an artist is an inherently political choice. There’s something about choosing to create a new way of seeing the world that necessitates a stake in the work that you’re doing. What has been shocking as a poet, however, is how artistic spaces politicize my identity without any warning or conversation. I feel like this most often rears its head in literary spaces as being expected to have work that is seen in the same traumatic lens that many people see Blackness. Hanif has a way of smiling at the end of his poems in a way that can only be done by someone who has to see beauty in order to live through the ugly. I appreciate any Black poet that is writing about flowers and will continue to highlight it when I see it happen.”

Photo Credit: Kate Sweeney

How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This

By Hanif Abqurraqib

dear reader, with our heels digging into the good
mud at a swamp’s edge, you might tell me something

about the dandelion & how it is not a flower itself
but a plant made up of several small flowers at its crown

& lord knows I have been by what I look like
more than I have been called by what I actually am &

I wish to return the favor for the purpose of this
exercise. which, too, is an attempt at fashioning

something pretty out of seeds refusing to make anything
worthwhile of their burial. size me up & skip whatever semantics arrive

to the tongue first. say: that boy he look like a hollowed-out grandfather
clock. he look like a million-dollar god with a two-cent

heaven. like all it takes is one kiss & before morning,
you could scatter his whole mind across a field.
A Fortune for Your Disaster (Tin House Books 2019)

Chicago Poetry Center Team Spotlight:

Julie Daraska 

Julie Daraska is the Chicago Poetry Center’s contract grant writer. She also is a mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend, fundraiser, reader, gardener, swimmer, baker, knitter and occasional poet-of-sorts. She has worked for 40 years in marketing, communications, and development at universities and colleges and for non-profit organizations.


By Julie Daraska

Like rolled up remnants at the fabric store
and the remainders piled in the bookstore entrance
day old bakery
and over-ripened produce
Saturday arrives with the bits and pieces
of everything I didn’t get to.
I neatly stack them
tap the edges of the pile
pat the top
and push it away
to pick up on Monday.
Now, I have a book to finish.
Shortbread to bake.
Some time to simply lie there
and listen to my husband breathe.



“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.