poetry

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Across the country, it appears that a cultural sea change is taking place. Sexism that has long been inherent in society is getting acknowledged perhaps more than ever, in large part due to the #MeToo movement and activist women who have organized as a result of the 2016 presidential election. It’s unclear what lasting effects might take hold.

Carter Staley

At 6 foot 5 inches, Ian Winterbauer is a tall man. And a witty one too - his poems posted online are often accompanied by the hashtag #tallestpoetonearth. He dresses conventionally - usually in a flannel shirt and jeans. He has golden blonde hair and hip, clear frame glasses. 

Zach Savich and Hilary Plum headshots with book covers
Courtesy Zach Savich and Hilary Plum

Zach Savich and Hilary Plum, a married couple and awarded and acclaimed authors, will share their memoirs in Springfield on Thursday April 6th.

The Scene With Poet Ian Winterbauer

Mar 16, 2017
A Jabber Publication / Pat Yaegle & Illinois Times

Ian Winterbauer says his poems deal largely with the Midwest - it's rural, poor towns and the eccentric characters therein. He says he's anti-academic, that "anyone could write poetry." Well, he certainly can.

The Scene With Writer Emma Wilson

Mar 9, 2017
Rachel Otwell

This week we hear from Emma Wilson. The Springfielder co-wrote/co-directed the new short film Sarah, along with Dave Heinzel - it stars actor Stella Cole. Wilson is also a poet (recently profiled by Scott for the Illinois Times, here) and event organizer, she also has a blog about "creative recovery" called Mental Thrillness. Tune in to hear what she's up to & a sample of her poetry!

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week Rachel and Scott ventured out of studio, to Kingsway African & Caribbean Cuisine restaurant in Springfield. The menu offers many dishes unique for the area, including authentic jerk chicken created with a Nigerian recipe, goat curry and many vegan & vegetarian offerings. They sat down to lunch with local poet Johari Osayi Idusuyi who garnered national attention last year for her appearance at a Trump rally in Springfield.

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Lily Hoang says she's grappled with multiple failures in order to find her true calling. As a teen she assumed she'd go to conservatory for classical music. But, it turns out she was a good musician, just "not great." So when she noticed her college roommate getting positive attention for her poetry, Hoang decided she'd give it a  go too. No dice. "As things so happen, I'm a terrible poet ... it was just a failed attempt at everything. And then I found non-fiction and the essay form, and I fell in love."

Emily Raw

Thursday kicks off a new season of the Shelterbelt Creative Writing and Publishing series at the University of Illinois Springfield. NPR Illinois hosts and records the visiting poets in the Suggs Performance Studio, on the UIS campus. This Thursday (10/6) at 7pm Natalie Eilbert reads from her forth-coming, already awarded book - IndictusThe reading is free and open to the public, details here.

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John Borling is known nationally for his poetry. He was a fighter pilot, and retired as a Major General. He also spent over six years as a prisoner of war, persevering through torture and isolation during the conflict in Vietnam.

When Edgar Lee Masters wrote Spoon River Anthology in the early 1900's, it started as a series of poems printed in succession. They were later put into a collection and to this day, the book is taught in classrooms around the country and lauded for its critical and cutting look into what rural life was really like in Mid-America.

Earlier this year two poets came by the NPR Illinois studios to do readings of their works. It was part of the Shelterbelt Creative Writing & Publishing Series at UIS. 

Matthew Minicucci is a Midwest transplant, hailing from the east coast. He's been in Illinois for about a decade now and says planting roots here is something that affects his writings. He also draws inspiration from classic literature and his parents' divorce, among many other things. He lives in Champaign where he teaches writing at the U of I.

Dylan Stuckey

Richie Hofmann is a 28 year old poet living in Chicago. He will be coming to Springfield this week to read poems from his new book, called Second Empire.

Open mic nights in Springfield come and go. Some have more of a jam-band feel, others may cater to singer-songwriters, the list goes on. Expressions in the Dark brings an urban vibe, and a major focus is poetry. I recently visited one of the events, held monthly at the Homespun Republic in the Vinegar Hill Mall .

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

A recent project combines the work of Springfield's most well-loved poet, the late Vachel Lindsay, with one of Springfield's favorite contemporary visual artists. A book titled, A Net to Snare the Moonlight collects over 15 children's poems by Lindsay and pairs them with artistic interpretations.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has fallen out of the media spotlight here in the US to some extent, but not for one local man named Mike Mheidze. He grew up in the former Soviet Union and has lived in Springfield for 20 years now.

Kevin Stein has a daunting task: following two Pulitzer Prize winners as the poet laureate of Illinois.  

Ten years into the job, the Bradley University professor is putting his own signature on the unpaid position that's considered crucial to widening appreciation for the art form. He's created a state poetry website and donates his own money to buy poetry books for libraries across the state. He also offers advice to young poets.  

Haki Madhubuti
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Poet. Publisher. Professor. Editor. Essayist. Activist. All these titles fit Haki Madhubuti, who is about to celebrate his 25th anniversary at Chicago State University, where he is a distinguished professor and the director emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing.

Presidential Poetry

Dec 1, 2008
Barack Obama
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In October, as Illinois’ adopted son Barack Obama rose in the national presidential polls, a group of Chicago poets gathered for an “Obama open mic,” as part of an event called Poets for a Better Country. Organized by Toi Derricotte and Judith Vollmer, poets and professors at the University of Pittsburgh, the event was held simultaneously in cities across the country, including Chicago, Falmouth, Mass., New York City, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. “As poets, we have a historic duty to express the unspoken passion, rage, desires and hopes of our country.

Chicago/Chicago sorrows 
they/All 
ways/So blue. Empty pockets/Every day/Friday
the rent is/Due. Chicago/Chicago. 
Big Shoulders/Bronzeville 
Got/No 
where/Lay my spirit. Lord/Knows
 . . .

 

from Eighteen
in Velvet BeBop Kente Cloth
 
by Sterling Plumpp

Illinois’ Poet Laureate Kevin Stein

Feb 1, 2004

Kevin Stein, a professor of American literature at Bradley University, is Illinois’ poet laureate. The position has been vacant since 2000 when Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks died. 

“He has translated his life experience and put it into rhyme, rhythm and verse,” said Gov. Rod Blagojevich when he named Stein. “He was wise enough and brave enough to know that poetry can have as much of a place on the factory floor as it does in the lecture hall.”

What is the future of poetry in the prairie state of Illinois?

It would appear to be doing well for now. There was a recent Associated Press story on Lee Gurga, complete with a photograph of the nationally noted haiku poet-dentist posed with his dog and axe against a backdrop of hilly woods on his 77-acre spread near Lincoln in the central section of the state.