Participate in One Poem, One Chicago

Join One Poem, Once Chicago for an opportunity to engage in poetry and a sense of community through reading!

One Poem, One Chicago, created in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, Third World Press Foundation, Brooks Permissions and Northwestern University Press, is inspired by CPL’s One Book, One Chicago. Chicago’s connection to poetry has always been deep, from the founding of Poetry magazine in 1912, to serving as the home to poets who have changed the face of the literary arts through their unique voices and innovation. Now is the perfect moment for Chicagoans to embrace poetry and experience its impact together.

Celebrating a Chicago Legend

For the inaugural One Poem, One Chicago, copies of a newly published edition of Gwendolyn Brooks’s Blacks will be available at all CPL locations and at the Poetry Foundation’s 30,000-volume poetry library in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. In addition, a limited run of the collection will be available for purchase from Third World Press Foundation. 

One of the most highly regarded, influential and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry, Brooks holds the distinction of being the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize in any category. Blacks, a collection of poems that spans more than 30 years and features Brooks’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, Annie Allen, was first published in 1987 by Third World Press Foundation. Northwestern University Press is publishing a limited edition of Blacks in collaboration with Third World Press Foundation specifically for One Poem, One Chicago.

Community Programming

To complement Chicago’s collective reading of Blacks, there will be several opportunities to learn about Brooks’s life and legacy:

Manual Cinema Presents: No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks!
Written by Chicago poets Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall, No Blue Memories is a uniquely staged retelling of Brooks’s life using simple, illuminative paper-cut puppetry by Manual Cinema set to music composed by Jamila Woods and Ayanna Woods. Join these live performances:
6 p.m. Tuesday, May 16 at Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State Street)
6 p.m. Thursday, May 18 at Harold Washington Library Center

Gwendolyn Brooks Panel: Reflecting on a Chicago Legend
Join a panel discussion on the life and impact of Brooks’s poetry featuring Nora Brooks Blakely, Dr. Haki Madhubuti and Dr. Kelly Norman Ellis.
7 p.m. Thursday, May 25 at the Poetry Foundation (61 West Superior Street) 

Brooks Day
In honor of Gwendolyn Brooks’s 106th birthday, all are invited to a reading of Blacks and new poems by local poets at 10 a.m.  June 7 at the South Side Community Art Center (3831 S. Michigan Avenue), presented in partnership with the Guild Literary Complex. After the marathon reading, Brooks Permissions will host a virtual panel on Brooks’s only novel, Maud Martha, with insights from Dr. Joanne Gabbin, Dr. Sandra Jackson-Opoku and Sandra Cisneros.

Gwendolyn Brooks' Blacks Workshop
As part of the One Poem, One Chicago program, CPL presents an online workshop with Dr. Tara Betts on Gwendolyn Brooks on Wednesday June 28 at 6pm. The legendary Gwendolyn Brooks is often portrayed as part Chicago's history but in this workshop, we will explore the poems that made her famous and dive deeper into the collected work Blacks.

Visit the Poetry Foundation website to learn more information about One Poem, One Chicago.