Poetry Foundation announces its winter and spring line-up of events and exhibitions

The January 2020 issue of POETRYmagazine, which is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. It is published by Poetry Foundation
First issue cover, October 1912

The magazine was founded in 1912 by Harriet Monroe, an author who was then working as an art critic for the Chicago Tribune. She wrote at that time:

“The Open Door will be the policy of this magazine—may the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius! To this end the editors hope to keep free from entangling alliances with any single class or school. They desire to print the best English verse which is being written today, regardless of where, by whom, or under what theory of art it is written. Nor will the magazine promise to limit its editorial comments to one set of opinions.”

In a circular she sent to poets, Monroe said the magazine offered:

“First, a chance to be heard in their own place, without the limitations imposed by the popular magazine. In other words, while the ordinary magazines must minister to a large public little interested in poetry, this magazine will appeal to, and it may be hoped, will develop, a public primarily interested in poetry as an art, as the highest, most complete expression of truth and beauty.”

The magazine first established its online presence in 1998 at poetrymagazine.org and, after a 2003 grant from Ruth Lilly, moved to poetryfoundation.org in 2005.

Publication in Poetry is highly selective and consists of three increasingly critical editorial rounds. With a publication rate of submissions at about 1%, the magazine is “one of the most difficult to get [published in]”.

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetrymagazine and the home for poetry in Chicago, announces its winter and spring events and exhibitions.

The events began on January 9 with the opening of the new exhibition A.R. Ammons: Watercolors, and are scheduled to run through May. The season includes readings with two former US poets laureate, a peek at a punk musical, and celebrations of collaborative creation.

“We are excited to begin the New Year with programming that celebrates the range of ways people experience and create poetry, ” said Henry Bienen, Poetry Foundation president. “We hope you’ll join us, and make poetry an active part of your plans for 2020.”


A.R. Ammons (1988) copyright by Robert Barker, 1998 / Fair Use

This season features three exhibitions that span several decades and artistic media, two in the Poetry Foundation Gallery and one in partnership with Newberry Library. First in the Poetry Foundation Gallery is A.R. Ammon: Watercolors, featuring the abstract watercolors of one of the 20th century’s most gifted and prolific poets; visitors can learn about the relationship between Ammons’s work in both art forms at the January 9 opening event with scholar Elizabeth Mills; the exhibition runs until April 30.

Jun Fujita cabin at Voyageurs National Park, listed in the National Register of Historic Place / Public Domain

Jun Fujita (1888 – 1963) was a first-generation Japanese-American photojournalist, photographer, silent film actor, and published poet in the United States. He was the first Japanese-American photojournalist. As an American, Fujita lived in Chicago, Illinois and worked for the now defunct newspapers: the Chicago Evening Post, published from 1886 to 1932, and Chicago Daily News, which was published 1876 to 1978. Fujita was the only photographer to document the aftermath of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. Following his death in 1963, most of his work was donated to the Chicago Historical Society, which later became the Chicago History Museum.

A few blocks away, Jun Fujita: American Visionary is open January 24–March 31 at the Newberry and focuses on the extraordinary accomplishments of poet and photojournalist Jun Fujita. An expanded version of Jun Fujita: Oblivion, first mounted at the Poetry Foundation in 2017, Jun Fujita: American Visionary introduces new materials such as pieces about Chicago’s literary and publishing scene and the era of organized crime, including an Al Capone portrait and letter. Fujita, who regularly published in Poetry, is the photographer behind some of the most iconic images from Chicago history, including photographs of the Eastland disaster, the 1919 race riots, and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Poetry by Winterhouse explores the 12-year collaboration between the Poetry Foundation and the Winterhouse design studio, cofounded by William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand. The exhibition covers April 2005–June 2017, illustrating Winterhouse’s illumination of Poetry’s rich history, the expansion and evolution of the magazine’s visual style, and the progression toward the Foundation’s current Pentagram designs. This spring, design luminaries Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand visit for a discussion in response to the exhibition, in honor of the late William Drenttel.


Source: Ms. Bradfield’s Amazon page

The connections between poetry and other artistic media extends throughout the season’s events. In January, poet Elizabeth Bradfield and artist Antonia Contro discuss their collaborative work Theorem, published by Chicago’s own Candor Arts. On February 4, the city continues to take center stage with a sneak peek at Verböten, The House Theatre of Chicago’s new musical about a punk band getting ready for a show in 1983, based on the exploits and including the music of Jason Narducy.

There is no shortage of music for all tastes, as later in February Poetry in Russian Music comes to the Poetry Foundation with a performance of work by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, and others who were inspired by Russian poets. Always Already, a composition for voice, fixed electronics, keyboards, and vibraphones by Ben Vida, premieres in March in a performance presented with Lampo. In April, pianist Stephen Alltop and soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg return for a program of poetry by Heinrich Heine, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and e.e. cummings in evocative musical settings.


Poets with varied approaches and interests share their work on the Poetry Foundation stage. Patricia Lockwood, author of the highly acclaimed memoir Priestdaddy and two collections of poetry, reads on February 13. On March 13, poet Matthew Zapruder reads and discusses his work as a writer, translator, and editor.

Later in the season, two former US poets laureate read at the Poetry Foundation: Robert Hass, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Time and Materials, on March 26, and Billy Collins, winner of the Poetry Foundation’s inaugural Mark Twain Poetry Award, on April 16.

Young People’s Poetry Day, the annual celebration for the youngest poetry fans and their families, kicks off National Poetry Month on April 4 with a reading by Carson Ellis, poetry writing activities, crafts, and a poetry scavenger hunt. Teenagers can experience a reading by former National Youth Poet Laureate Patricia Frazier at the teens-only ChiTeen Lit Fest.

Celebrate the poets of tomorrow with two readings by student poets in May, sharing work they’ve written as part of the Chicago Poetry Center programs.


These are only a selection of the varied events that the Poetry Foundation offers this season. For all event listings, details, and advance registration visit poetryfoundation.org/events.

Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis at the Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL.

In addition, the Poetry Foundation Library, home to a collection of more than 30,000 books of poetry, is open to the public weekdays and select Saturdays, including January 18, February 8, March 21, April 18, and May 16, from 11:00 AM–4:00 PM, as well as select evenings, including January 21, February 18, March 17, April 21, May 19, from 4:00 PM–7:00 PM.

This post is complied courtesy of Poetry Foundation, Wikipedia, and Amazon.

About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.

Follow the Poetry Foundation and Poetry on Facebook, Twitter @PoetryFound and @Poetrymagazine, and Instagram @PoetryFoundation.

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