Nov. 16: Carlos Cumpián & Jennifer Scappettone at Blue Hour

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. 


Each event features two readers from Chicago and beyond, preceded by a 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.


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


CARLOS CUMPIAN is a Chicagoan originally from Texas. Human Cicada marks his fifth poetry collection: Coyote Sun (March Abrazo Press), Latino Rainbow (Children’s Press/Scholastic Books), Armadillo Charm (Tia Chucha Press), and 14 Abriles: Poems. In 2000, he was recognized with a Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poet Award. Cumpián has been included in more than thirty poetry anthologies, including the Norton Anthology Telling Stories. Before becoming a teacher, he worked with various social service organizations such as ASPIRA and public relations for the Chicago Public Library. Cumpián has taught creative writing and poetry through community arts organizations including the National Museum of Mexican Art and Urban Gateways and as a writer-in residence funded by the Illinois Arts Council. Cumpián taught in the English Department of Columbia College Chicago and in the Chicago Public School and Charter school system. In addition, he has hosted live readings with Galeria Qui Que & La Palabra Series and published over 20 poets/writers with MARCH ABRAZO PRESS between 1978-2015. His most recent essay, “Learned to Read at My Momma’s Knee,” appears in With a Book in Their Hands: Chicano/a Readers and Readerships Across the Centuries (University of New Mexico Press, 2014). His first in a series of true supernatural accounts, “A Chicago Premonition” was published in Hombre Lobo #2, True Xicanax Spooky Stories, (Ponte Las Pilas Press, Los Angles, Ca. 2021). Cumpián is currently working on his “anti-war years” memoir Accidental Rebel: 1968-1976.

JENNIFER SCAPPETTONE works at the confluence of the literary, scholarly, visual, and performing arts to rethink the way language shapes our relation to built and natural environments. Her poetry unfolds in counterpoint to documentary research. Recent books include The Republic of Exit 43: Outtakes & Scores from an Archaeology and Pop-Up Opera of the Corporate Dump (2016) and Belladonna Elders Series: Poetry, Landscape, Apocalypse (with Etel Adnan and Lyn Hejinian, 2009). As translator she has published Locomotrix, devoted to the poet-refugee from Fascist Italy Amelia Rosselli (2012). Scappettone has collaborated with musicians, architects, and dancers to sound counter-histories of sites ranging from the tract of Trajan’s aqueduct beneath the Janiculum Hill to Fresh Kills Landfill. She teaches at the University of Chicago.


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.