Evanston’s literary community celebrates National Poetry Month


Daily File Illustration by Jordan Mangi

With April being National Poetry Month, Evanston’s poetry community is planning readings, workshops and a children’s poetry scavenger hunt.

Ilana Hutzler, Reporter

Evanston residents can celebrate National Poetry Month this April with a variety of readings and workshops hosted by the city’s literary community.

Evanston Public Library plans to host a poetry workshop April 23 at the Robert Crown Branch Library, a group discussion of two inaugural poems April 25 at the Main Library and a children’s poetry scavenger hunt on various dates at both locations.

EPL’s Communications and Marketing Manager Jenette Sturges said the children’s event will be the highlight of the library’s celebrations.

“They’re creating a found poem where they’ll be finding words around the library and then adding them to leaves to create a ‘poetree,’” Sturges said. “That’s pretty adorable.”

Sturges said the library recently added new titles to its physical and digital poetry collections with a focus on LGBTQ+ poets and poets of color.

The independent nonprofit collective RHINO also serves as a pillar of the local poetry community, publishing an annual literary journal and offering poetry events year-round, including online craft talks and a poetry reading series called RHINO Reads!

RHINO Co-Editor Virginia Bell said RHINO Reads! will host a virtual event April 29 for National Poetry Month featuring prominent poets Paul Tran, Nan Cohen and Teresa Dzieglewicz.

“Like everyone, we really miss the face-to-face, live, in-person magic of a workshop or reading,” Bell said. “But the wonderful thing about holding them online is that we’ve been able to invite poets to read or give craft talks from all over the nation, where we used to only invite Chicago-area poets.”

Bell said the next issue of RHINO’s literary journal will likely be published in May, but the prize-winning poets have already been recognized on the website in celebration of National Poetry Month.

While RHINO is hosting a special event this month, Bell said the collective is passionate about engaging the poetry community year-round.

“We are looking for poetry that pushes the boundaries in form and feeling and expresses a love affair with language,” Bell said.

Bookends & Beginnings is also celebrating poetry this month with a spring window display featuring a variety of poetry titles. The bookstore will also bring in a larger inventory of hardcover copies of the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series, which feature selected poems that fit specific themes.

Owner Nina Barrett said the bookstore’s poetry section has always been successful because of the “unusually large” quantity of poetry readers and writers in the Evanston, Chicago and Northwestern communities.

“When some kind of month comes along, we take it moderately seriously,” Barrett said. “We don’t go overboard because I almost feel that it does a disservice to how seriously we take all of these subjects year round.”

In June, Bookends & Beginnings will host a poetry reading with Yale Prof. Sarah Ruhl and NU English Prof. Chris Abani, who both have forthcoming poetry collections.

The event will be one of Bookends & Beginnings’ first in-person events since the start of the pandemic and Barrett said she plans to host it in an outdoor courtyard.

Barrett said national demand for poetry has increased in the past year. She said the store’s number two best-selling book last year was poet Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb,” the spoken word poem Gorman read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“I think what she did at the inauguration was so incredible,” Barrett said. “All of a sudden she galvanized America to understand that poetry can speak to the current moment.”

A previous version of this article misstated Jenette Sturges’ title. Sturges is EPL’s Communications and Marketing Manager, not its Communications and Marketing Director. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ilanahutzler

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