For immediate release

2018 Poetry Incubator Call for Applications

Building Community Engagement through Poetry.
April 13, 2018

CHICAGO – On July 25–27, 2018, the Poetry Foundation and Crescendo Literary will host the third annual poetry incubator for emerging poets who engage with community through their creative practice. We encourage poets from across the country who integrate activism and community engagement into their creative practice to find more information about the incubator by visiting Applications will be accepted through May 6, 2018.

Over three days of workshops and talks, a cohort of 24 incubator fellows will learn from faculty poets Tyehimba Jess and Kay Ulanday Barrett, explore best practices for their work, and spend time developing poetry projects based on their own aspirations and the needs of their communities. This four-day program culminates on Saturday, July 28, with the Chicago Poetry Block Party, a festival of poetry, music, art, and community for audiences of all ages at Austin Town Hall. Seed grants of $1,500 made possible by Mellon Foundation funding will be awarded to two fellows for their projects. There is no charge to attend the incubator and fellows have the option to stay in local university housing for free.

The incubator “was one of the first curated spaces, in the poetry community, where I truly felt like I earned my seat at the table,” said 2016 Incubator fellow Najee Omar. “It allowed me to be surrounded by brilliant poets who are equally as committed to the craft as they are to the heart of community—poets like me. The incubator exposed me to the phenomenal work my peers are spearheading around the country, challenged me to think critically about the role I want to play in enacting change, provided me with access to essential tools and resources to work on my passion project, and gave me a space to contribute my expertise. The overwhelming support I received from incubator fellows gave me the final push I needed to launch my very own arts education organization for youth in schools and non-traditional settings in New York. ... The incubator is a one-of-a-kind, necessary experience for anyone who believes in the urgency of using the poem to transform space.”

“Bringing emerging poets together to explore their craft and community engagement practices with nationally recognized poets is an important part of our mission,” said Henry Bienen, president of the Poetry Foundation. “Mellon Foundation support makes it possible for two poets to return to their communities with funding to kick-start their projects. Through the incubator we hope to strengthen connections between art and social concerns and support poets engaged in this work.”

“We are delighted to offer this chance for poets to join together not only in the name of their craft, but with the goal of more deeply engaging their communities through art,” said Eve L. Ewing, co-founder of Crescendo Literary. “Our goal is to apply the model of an incubator—where people have a chance to develop ideas in collaboration—to poetry, while also presenting the Chicago Poetry Block Party as a way for people in the city to connect with art and with one another.” 

Additional details about the 2018 Chicago Poetry Block Party will be released in June. Stay tuned!

Partnering Organizations:

About Crescendo Literary
A collaboration between poets Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall, Crescendo Literary creates and curates events, works of art, and educational resources grounded in the belief that 1) artists can, should, and must be accountable to the communities from which they emerge, and 2) communities, in turn, are strengthened by the meaningful presence of excellent art. For more information, please visit

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our 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. For more information, please visit

Media contact:
Media Associate Liz O’Connell-Thompson,, 312.799.8065

For questions about participating in the Poetry Incubator and the Chicago Poetry Block Party contact:
Ydalmi Noriega, Community and Foundation Relations Director,, 312.799.8008

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