Pen a poem at the Poetry Foundation #AtoZChallenge

Chicago from A to ZAs in years past, this month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. 2016 marks my fifth anniversary, so to celebrate, I’m hosting Friday Blog-Ins here in San Diego; you can find out more info about where we’re meeting each week on my A to Z Challenge page.

My monthly theme is Chicago From A to Z, so stay tuned from Monday to Saturday for new posts on the Windy City. Or sign up for my mailing list (delivered weekly, on Fridays) so you don’t miss a thing!


Did you know that in addition to being A to Z Challenge month, April is also National Poetry Month?

In light of this fact – as well as the news that April 21 is “Poem in Your Pocket Day” – it seems fitting that in Chicago, P is for Poetry Foundation.

Poetry Foundation image by Alanscottwalker, via Wikipedia
Poetry Foundation image by Alanscottwalker, via Wikipedia

Located at 61 W. Superior Street, the Poetry Foundation is open to the public – whether you’re a poet (and you know it) or not – from 11 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday.

The Foundation’s library also has extended hours before their Open Door Readings on Tuesdays, from 4 to 7 PM. The library houses nearly 30,000 books of poetry, as well as a selection of both local and national literary magazines. Perfect for browsing new places to submit your poems, or gleaning inspiration from published poets.

"Poetry Foundation Library" image by Flickr user Steven Vance
“Poetry Foundation Library” image by Flickr user Steven Vance

Each Open Door Reading features new and emerging poets from Chicago area writing programs, with readings from both poetry instructors and students. This week’s reading (tonight!) features Northwestern University’s Katie Hartsock and her student Megan Pan, along with the University of Chicago’s Rosanna Warren and her student Tim DeMay.

In addition to the Open Door Readings, the Foundation hosts many other events, including the Harriet Reading Series, panel discussions, performances, Wednesday Poemtime for children (ages 2 to 5), poetry-themed gallery exhibits, more readings, and workshops. Be sure to check out their Events page to see what’s coming up.

And in addition to all of that, the Foundation also publishes Poetry magazine – which has been in publication since 1912.

As you can see, the Poetry Foundation is extremely busy with anything and everything to do with the creation, presentation and preservation of poetry.

In honor of National Poetry Month’s 20th anniversary this year, I wrote a haiku for the occasion:

ink-stained poets trace
shadows on paper, words flow
like mighty rivers

And if you prefer to read poems by poets much more talented than I am, I highly recommend signing up for’s Poem-A-Day service. You’ll receive one unpublished poem, every day, in your inbox.

Additional Resources

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Your turn!

Who’s your favorite poet, and what’s your favorite poem?


  • Amy Putkonen

    It would be a fun weekend in Chicago to visit the places you are highlighting. What a great city! I live near Minneapolis, so it’s really just a quick weekend trip. I don’t visit enough, though.

  • Brendan

    Tough questions. I read a lot of poetry, but I don’t really have a favorite poet.

    I suppose my favorite poem was a young woman I knew in college. Every line was perfect.

    Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Bukowski, Frost, Eliot are good. Though I wouldn’t say any of them is consistently good. It’s just not that kind of art form.

    David Meltzer’s “When I Was a Poet” is a good piece. As for books by poets not already mentioned, I liked Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters and Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing. Anne Sexton’s Love Poems as well.

    • Laura Roberts

      All good choices! I love Leonard Cohen, and Bukowski has a lot of good poems (if you can get past all the boring ones about going to the track…) as well. I think my favorite of his is called “Butch Van Gogh,” about his cat. ;)

    • Laura Roberts

      I guess it must be, though the only Chicago poet I can name off the top of my head is Carl Sandburg — and that’s partially due to the fact that I attended a school named after him!

      Actually, that’s not entirely true. I also wrote about Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks in my “Awesome Lady Authors” book. She real cool!