The Chicago Poetry Center presents BLUE HOUR, a free monthly reading series and generative writing workshop.

Each event takes place at Haymarket House and includes an open mic and two featured readers from Chicago and beyond, preceded by a limited-space generative writing workshop.

Accessibility: 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.
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.

  • Events occur the third Wednesday of each month at Haymarket House — view the event calendar here.
  • Workshop begins at 6 p.m. — space is limited and registration is required.
  • Reading begins at 7:30 and is followed by community gathering time — open mic sign-up begins at 7:15 with five names drawn at 7:30 sharp.
  • Each event is livestreamed at this link.

The Blue Hour reading includes an open mic and readings by two featured poets from Chicago and beyond, followed by  community gathering time. Video archives are available to view at this link, and our 2022 Summer Poetry Gathering livestream can be viewed here.

Recent Blue Hour featured readers include Adrian Matejka, CM Burroughs, Faylita Hicks, Hila Ratzabi, Jennifer Scappatone, Dipika Mukherjee, Willie X. Lin, Kien Lam, Carlos Cumpián, Kemi Alabi, Jessica Walsh, Natasha Mijares, Danni Quintos, D. Santina Ruiz, Maya Pindyck, Julian Randall, and Eugenia Leigh, among others.


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


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.

The History of CPC’s Reading Series

The Chicago Poetry Center has supported a thriving reading series for over 40 years. Reinvented as a roving series supporting our “City of Neighborhoods,” the name Six Points was chosen by curator Danielle Susi, referencing the Six Pointed stars on the Chicago flag, and the curator’s goal was to bring myriad views and styles of poetry together through the series. Natasha Mijares continued Six Points and brought it to new locations, including a summer series throughout the Chicago Park District, as well as having readings on boats, in observatories, and at the Garfield Park Conservatory, while continuing our work in museums, cultural institutions, independent bookstores, local Chicago hang outs, and more. Writer and board member Paula Belnap stewarded the series through the first year of Covid, continuing it as a monthly reading series delivered to your inbox, and focusing on the exceptional Poets in Residence on the Chicago Poetry Center team. Since 2014 Executive Director B Metzger Sampson has provided artistic direction and curation support for the series. In 2021, poet and CPC Director of Programs Helene Achanzar began assisting in support and development, and created a collaborative program between Kundiman and the Chicago Poetry Center.

The Reading Series was the Poetry Center’s first ever public program, and early readings occurred in the basement of the Museum of Contemporary Art. You can see posters from our history here.

You can receive updates on our events by joining our mailing list via the homepage, visiting our Events page, or by following us on social media.