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:
  • Workshop registration link:


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. 


VIOLA LEE graduated from NYU with an MFA in Poetry. Her book “Lightening After the Echo” was published by Another New Calligraphy. She has published poems in literary journals throughout the U.S., and recently published in Bellevue Literary Review, Literary Mama, Hong Kong Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, After Hours, and Another Chicago Magazine. She has poems forthcoming in Barrow Street, Crazyhorse, BOAAT PRESS, Lotus Magazine, New Plains Review and North Dakota Quarterly. She lives in Chicago with her husband, son and daughter. She teaches 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders at Near North Montessori School.

신 선 영 辛善英 SUN YUNG SHIN is a Korean-born writer based in Minneapolis whose fourth book of poems, The Wet Hex, will be published by Coffee House Press in 2022. She is also the editor/co-editor of three anthologies of essays, most recently What We Hunger For: Refugee and Immigrant Stories about Food and Family (2021), and the author/co-author of two illustrated books for children.


Kundiman is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature.

Kundiman creates a space where Asian Americans can explore, through art, the unique challenges that face the new and ever changing diaspora. We see the arts as a tool of empowerment, of education and liberation, of addressing proactively the legacy we will leave for our future. To extend Kundiman’s vision of community building for Asian American writers everywhere, Kundiman has developed a national network of regional groups to host their own salons, readings, and workshops. Kundiman Midwest supports the live captioning of the Blue Hour’s readings and workshops, and members of the regional group are featured in the reading series.

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.

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.