For Immediate Release

Poetry Foundation Announces Fall 2011 Literary Series

An extensive schedule of events for the organization’s first season in its new home
September 6th, 2011

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce its Fall Literary Series for 2011. The Foundation celebrates the first season in its new home with a diverse array of events, including a library open house; an original poetry postcard exhibit and reception; Poetry Day with W.S. Merwin presented in partnership with the Chicago Public Library; and visits from Terrance Hayes, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, and Raúl Zurita, among others. The schedule features readings, exhibit talks, and interpretive performances. All events take place at the Poetry Foundation’s new home at 61 West Superior Street in Chicago, except where indicated. Most events are free.

Wednesday, September 7, 5:308:30 pm
Collection and Cocktails: A Poetry Foundation Library Open House

Free admission on a first-come, first-served basis; preregister

Celebrate the library’s expanded fall hours by exploring the 30,000-volume noncirculating collection. Festivities include poetry fortune-telling, poetry recording sessions, a scavenger hunt, and readings of favorite poems from the library collection by local poets Phil Jenks, Jennifer Karmin, Quraysh Lansana, Dolly Lemke, Anthony Madrid, Mike Puican, Kathleen Rooney, and Robbie Telfer. Complimentary wine and hors d’œuvres served.


Sunday, September 18, 7 pm
Monday, September 19, 7 pm
Poetry on Stage: Meet Mr. Yeats

Free admission

A cast of well-known local actors brings to life the dramatic biography and memorable words of William Butler Yeats. Using seminal poems, ranging from the serenity of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” to the terror of “The Second Coming,” the performers delve into the details of his complex love life, follow his dabbling in the occult, and explore his founding of the Abbey Theatre. Meet Mr. Yeats makes for a fascinating dramatic study of one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Directed by Bernard Sahlins.


Wednesday, September 21 – Friday, November 4
Exhibit: The Alternative Press Multiple Originals Project

Free admission

The Multiple Originals Project is an exhibit of postcards created by poets Robert Creeley, Alice Notley, Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, and others in collaboration with Ken and Ann Mikolowski. The exhibit is presented concurrently with a multimedia feature about The Alternative Press on


Thursday, September 22, 7 pm
Opening Reception: Ken Mikolowski,
Bill Berkson, Andrei Codrescu, and Emily Warn
Free admission

In celebration of the Poetry Foundation’s inaugural exhibit, The Alternative Press Multiple Originals Project, poets Bill Berkson, Andrei Codrescu, and Emily Warn talk with press founder Ken Mikolowski about the history and cultural impact of The Alternative Press.


Friday, September 23, 7 pm
Harriet Reading Series: Douglas Kearney

Free admission; preregister

Poet, performer, librettist, and Harriet contributor Douglas Kearney inaugurates the Harriet Reading Series. Kearney’s poems touch on politics, African American culture, and contemporary music, among other themes. The author of The Black Automaton—a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in poetry—and Fear, Some, Kearney teaches courses in African American poetry, opera, and myth at California Institute of the Arts.


Tuesday, September 27, 7 pm
Poetry Off the Shelf: Raúl Zurita

Free admission

Raúl Zurita is one of Latin America’s most celebrated and controversial poets. His poetry has sought to register the violence and atrocities committed against the Chilean people and the corruption of the Spanish language. Zurita was awarded the Chilean National Prize for Literature and a scholarship from the Guggenheim Foundation. His books in English translation include Anteparadise (translated by Jack Schmitt), Purgatory (translated by Anna Deeny), INRI (translated by William Rowe), and Song for His Disappeared Love (translated by Daniel Borzutzky). He lives in Chile.

Co-sponsored with the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute as part of the International Poets in Conversation consortium tour


Tuesday, October 4, 7 pm
Poetry Off the Shelf: A Literary Exchange
Xi Chuan,
Zhou Zan, Li-Young Lee, and Maurice Kilwein Guevara
Free admission

As part of a national tour presented by Copper Canyon Press, two of China’s leading poets join American poets for an evening of bilingual readings and cross-cultural engagement in celebration of Push Open the Window, a contemporary Chinese poetry anthology published in an international literary exchange.

Co-sponsored by Copper Canyon Press, the National Endowment for the Arts, and China’s General Administration for Press and Publication


Thursday, October 6, 6 pm
57th Annual Poetry Day: W.S. Merwin

Cindy Pritzker Auditorium
Harold Washington Library Center
400 South State Street
Free admission

Poet, translator, and environmental activist W.S. Merwin has become one of the most honored and widely read poets in America. From his first collection, A Mask for Janus, which W.H. Auden chose for the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1952, to The Shadow of Sirius, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, Merwin has written with sheer grace and limpid power about the natural world, time, and memory. Appointed U.S. poet laureate in 2010, Merwin lives, writes, and gardens in Hawaii, on the island of Maui.

Co-sponsored with the Chicago Public Library


Saturday, October 15, 4 pm
Chicago Ideas Week: Tony Hoagland, J. Patrick Lewis, Mary Zimmerman, and others

For ticket information, please visit

As part of the new Chicago Ideas Week, several cultural luminaries give 18-minute TED-style talks on themes related to poetry.

Co-sponsored with Chicago Ideas Week


Thursday, October 20, 7 pm
Poetry Off the Shelf: Terrance Hayes

Free admission

One of the most compelling voices in American poetry, Terrance Hayes is the author of four books of poetry, including his most recent, Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry. A professor of creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University, Hayes lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and children.


Wednesday, October 26, 7 pm
Poetry Off the Shelf: Women’s Voices from Ireland
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Rita Ann Higgins, Caitríona O’Reilly, and Leontia Flynn

Free admission

In partnership with Wake Forest University Press and Culture Ireland as a part of Imagine Ireland 2011, the Poetry Foundation hosts a national tour of four Irish poets. The tour coincides with WFUP’s publication of the revised, much-expanded edition of the poetry anthology The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry, 1967–2000.

Co-sponsored with Wake Forest University Press and Culture Ireland


Thursday, November 3, 69 pm
Magazine Release Party
Free admission

Celebrate the release of the November 2011 issue of Poetry magazine. Join magazine staff for refreshments and live music. Complimentary issues of the magazine will be available for attendees.


Sunday, November 13, 1 pm
Poetry Off the Shelf: Attack of the Difficult Poems
Charles Bernstein

$5/free for students and teachers with ID

Tickets go on sale to Chicago Humanities Festival members on Tuesday, September 7, and to the general public on Monday, September 20.

Info: 312.494.9509 or

Poet Charles Bernstein’s latest collection of essays, Attack of the Difficult Poems, gathers some of his most memorable and irreverent work. In a career spanning 35 years and 40 books, Bernstein has written provocatively about the tensions between ordinary and poetic language, and between everyday life and its adversaries. Bernstein is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder and co-editor of PENNsound, an extensive archive of recorded poetry.

Co-sponsored with the Chicago Humanities Festival and the University of Chicago Press


Wednesday, November 30 – Sunday, December 4, 7:30 pm
Thursday, December 8 – Saturday, December 10, 7:30 pm
Presents: All Your Paths in a Single Pocket
Free admission

All Your Paths in a Single Pocket is a collaborative performance inspired by and sourced from Anna Kamienska’s “Notebooks” as translated by Clare Cavanagh in Poetry magazine’s June 2010 and March 2011 issues.


Wednesday, November 16 – Thursday, January 5
Opening Night Reception, November 16, 5–8 pm
Beautiful Outsiders: Exhibit
Black Sparrow Press, Burning Deck Press, and Fulcrum Press

Free admission

Legendary independent presses Black Sparrow, Burning Deck, and Fulcrum are noted for the diversity of their publication history and their striking, immediately recognizable visual aesthetic. This exhibition features titles from the Poetry Foundation Library collection.

 Wednesday, December 14, 6 pm
Beautiful Outsiders: Talk

Free admission

Poetry magazine senior editor Don Share talks about the importance of design in the identities of Black Sparrow Press, Burning Deck Press, and Fulcrum Press.


Sunday, December 11, 7 pm
Monday, December 12, 7 pm
Poetry Off the Shelf: Holiday Program
Actors and Poets Read Holiday Favorites

Free admission

Members of the Chicago literary community and special guests read classic and contemporary poems for the season.


Thursday, December 15, 6 pm
Poetry Off the Shelf: Peter Sís

Fullerton Hall
Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Free with museum admission

Winner of the Caldecott Honor, a MacArthur genius fellowship, and many other awards, Czech-born author and illustrator Peter Sís introduces his new book, inspired by 12th-century Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar’s epic The Conference of the Birds. Goodman Theatre actors highlight stanzas as the courageous birds journey toward protection and peace. A book signing follows.

 Co-sponsored with the Art Institute of Chicago

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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

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