Places to Check Out This Summer: the Poetry Foundation

Places to Check Out This Summer: the Poetry Foundation

Last month, I wrote about how I slacked a bit when it came to writing. While I took strides to get myself out of this rut through Virgil Abloh’s art, I realized that was not enough. I read some more poems and penned a few things, but I was not quite there yet—whenever I raised my pen and opened my journal, I could still feel that I was a bit out of my element. I knew I should probably venture out and find somewhere to build off the momentum I had started. That’s when the light bulb in my head turned on—I knew I needed to go to the Poetry Foundation.

Now, I know some of you are probably thinking “Well, duh!” while others who do not know me might be thinking “Why?” Think what you want, but I will say that whether you’re a poet, a prose writer, or just a lover of art, I highly recommend visiting the Poetry Foundation at least once in your life. Now you might be queuing your next thought: “Why is that?”

First, why don’t we start with where it’s located: 61 West Superior Street, which is near the River North area and about a block or two away from the Chicago Avenue Red Line stop. Second, and most importantly, it’s free to enter! No matter the day, time of year, or whether you’re a student or not! Thirdly, it’s appearance is amazing and quite cozy. If I had to describe it with three words, they would be “super fancy library.”

Easy to find on a map, but it’s a bit trickier to find the main entrance.

This place is a no-brainer for poets to visit. It houses literally thousands of shelves that are full of poetry books. You will find anything from well-known, historical poets that you learned about in your generic “Intro to Creative Writing” classes—Allen Ginsberg, Ezra Pound, etc.—to much more contemporary artist that you probably would never come across in your life if it were not for exploring one of many shelves. As for other writers and appreciators of creative art, the Poetry Foundation hosts quite a few writing workshops and a number of readings during the year.

The first floor houses more poetry books that you could ever imagine, in addition to comfy seating arrangements.
There is a second level dedicated to anthologies!

For my visit, I decided to just pick three books at random—ones I had never read before—and to open each to a random page and read, just to see if it would spark anything for me.

The first book I picked up was Invasive Species by Marwa Helal. I had no clue who this author was, but I was hooked after randomly opening to page 37. I continued to read a few more poems, until I felt the urge to write in my journal—I could feel myself getting back into my creative element!

A book I will be searching for during my next book-purchasing splurge.

After free-writing in my journal for about thirty minutes, I decide to crack open the second book I picked up off the shelf: Man, by Ricardo Pau-Llosa. This book did not catch my attention in the way Invasive Species did when I opened to page 57. It was pretty difficult for me to keep interested and to keep reading, even after going back to page one (sorry Ricardo Pau-Llosa!)

This book is not my cup of tea.

The last book, Trochemoche, by Luis J. Rodriguez, fell kind of in between the previous two in terms of interest. It was a bit difficult to grasp a few of the concepts occurring, until I reached a poem that was about a speaker’s experience about being in Chicago on Cinco de Mayo! That’s where my opinion changed and my interest spiked.

This book was okay…I may need to give it more time to grow on me.

So there you have it: even though I only felt myself get attached to one new book by an author I never heard of previously, I was able to push through some of my own artistic frustrations and write something really promising in my journal that will probably show up in a workshop in the not-so-distant future.

Oh, and speaking of the Poetry Foundation’s events, you can catch me and Columbia’s very own Tony Trigilio taking the stage on September 17th. More detail here!