Spaces for Poetry: Student Poetry Showcase

Spaces for Poetry: Student Poetry Showcase

“Poetry is life distilled” – Gwendolyn Brooks

From slam poetry to literary magazines, youth writing organizations to historic libraries, Chicago holds a rich poetry scene. There’s Louder Than a Bomb, The Poetry Foundation, Black Girl Magic, and Volumes Bookcafe. There’s weekly open mics, workshops, zine fests, and history. The above map highlights some of Chicago’s best spaces to find poetry, whether spoken, written or studied. The map is by no means extensive  but part of poetry’s splendor lies in its ability to be accessed even created anywhere.

Please Excuse your Timberlands

by Cheyenne Danforth

I walk with a sigh that wasn’t there before.

My arms brush against cold porous pavement,

begging it to take me in, absorb my body

like it does the offending droplets

that come and come, but never really go.

You think my mother held me at birth and thought,

This one is pretty enough to give me grandchildren.

As if you in my bed is what gives me meaning.

As if your hand on my thigh is why I went to college.

You’re not wrong, except when you are,

which is now and all the time—but like a true lady

I keep it in, because my strength is measured

by my ability to keep quiet.

I am the rain that seeps into the earth

unnoticed only until it caresses your foot

through steel-toed armor—or until

you want to drink it. As your lips

slip and curl with moisture,

the roots that I was meant for

decay beneath your absent mind,

housed by your undeserving skeleton.

Your phalanges flick themselves to warmth,

unaware that the ground has disconnected

from its roots—given away its soul

to keep you up.

in a dream i had

by April Lane

he was a black horse galloping through the desert in mid-summer. dehydrated, i might have borrowed a pair of hooves to help me gallop faster, but my skirt waved furiously in the wind, warning me to surrender. i swallowed my garment and ran naked after him as he raced me toward the pinhole in the sky. why is he so eager to disappear? he ran because he knew if i got close enough to touch the length of his tail, everything he loved would burn as an empty sacrifice: his sister’s first words, his grandmother’s left foot, a ring, a trophy, it would all dissolve. so he kept running.

and i kept chasing him. and my desire to chase him through the dusty sand and angry sun was reckless but came from a dangerous and tender and fleeting place. i felt the heat of a woman’s voice on the back of my neck, the breadth of her disappointment braided into the wind. you done lost your mind, chasin’ around some horse in the desert.  i slowed down, but kept my eyes on his figure galloping toward the high mountains. i wish you had lost your mind a little more. The dimming sky cleared its throat and pearls dropped from its gaping mouth and liquefied the sand, making me slip further and further underneath the earth. i ignored the pursed-lipped clouds and swam through the melted sand.

and i wondered how it was possible to be moving visibly forward while feeling the dependable weight of gravity pulling me back.  the sand tugged the skirt out my throat and forced it back onto my body. what is it you’re trying to tell me?  i watched his black body become enveloped by the yawn of a sandstorm. and he was gone. he did not belong to me. but each time i heard heavy hooves thud against the earth, i imagined him returning to save me from the sand that remained up to my neck.  i wanted to hear all about the world he wanted so badly to become a part of. each time he reminded me that he saw nothing; each time i reminded myself that he never existed.



by Aiki Coxhead

splinter in my lip, soft     under belly

cartilage hard parts a plate when i leave

grated daikon for duality

ceramic small smoke smell

       skewered, stabbed, soaked, swallowed

, thighs ( momo ) with leek

heres where i like you today, a

yakitori under the street, a

place the heat can’t leave, a

yesterday today that i know you’re


how do you say (to you)

                 watashi wa nanideshou

Growing up was that

by Oriette D’Angelo


I am

the bad girl of the story.

-María Emilia Cornejo


They told me not

that I could not grow up like that

being the bad girl of the story

the one who chose a sea for a window

             not a toy

who chose the ground

             not a screen


They told me that growing up was that

not this

that I could not choose to live

with a mother and a storm


I had to choose a paradise

always like that


from the security of the balconies


They tell me not to

that I did not have to see how they did of mother

a rag doll


I had to grow up away

from the security of the memory

always like that

always appropriate

looking towards the floor like this

always good


“Oh well”

by Delia Van Praag


You do not know the things you do to me

I see your face everywhere I look


the flowers on my dresser

black cups of coffee

my packed pipe

It’s strange to think of someone so much

And hope and wish and hope and wish

You’re thinking of me back

Oh well

You sent me a video of your dancing toes

They were painted gold

Golden Girl

I want to kiss your feet