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This October, Poetry Celebrates Its Centennial with Events, a New Anthology, and More

Founded in October 1912, the magazine is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world
September 12th, 2012

CHICAGO — Poetry magazine, published by the Poetry Foundation, will celebrate its centennial with a variety of events, public art, online offerings, and an exhibition this October. It will also release the anthology The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine, edited by Poetry editors Christian Wiman and Don Share.

Founded in Chicago in October 1912 by editor Harriet Monroe, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Located in Chicago for the past 100 years, the magazine moved into its first permanent home at 61 West Superior Street in River North in June 2011 after nearly a century of nomadism. The site will host a centennial-themed exhibition as well as a number of events in celebration of the magazine’s 100th birthday.


Poetry’s Centennial Celebration and The Open Door Release Party
Thursday, October 4, 7:00PM
Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street
Free admission
RSVP required at (312) 787-7070 or rsvp@poetryfoundation.org

Poetry and the University of Chicago Press invite the public to celebrate 100 years of Poetry and the release of The Open Door anthology. In addition to magazine editors Christian Wiman and Don Share, contributors to Poetry’s “View from Here” section—including Pulitzer Prize–winning Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, Museum of Contemporary Art curator Naomi Beckwith, and St. Pauls United Church of Christ senior minister Matt Fitzgerald, among other special guests—will read favorite poems from the anthology. Musicians Patricia Barber and Larry Kohut will perform. In addition, the Sawhorse Pegasus, a three-dimensional original work commissioned by Poetry and created by local artist Bernard Williams, will be unveiled in the gallery. The sculpture is featured on the cover of the October 2012 issue of the magazine. A celebration follows the program.

Poetry on Stage: Harriet Monroe and the Modernists
Sunday, October 7, 3:00PM and Monday, October 8, 7:00PM
Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street
Free admission, tickets required.
Tickets at monroeandmodernists.eventbrite.com or by calling Poetry Foundation, (312) 787-7070. Limit 2 tickets per reservation.

Using a script prepared by Second City co-founder Bernard Sahlins, well-known Chicago actors celebrate Poetry’s 100th birthday by going behind the scenes at the magazine to read the sometimes scandalous, always lively correspondence between Harriet Monroe, her successors, and contributing poets who have since entered the canon of poetry in English. Romance, rivalries, supersized egos, financial difficulties, and sublime kindness will be on display, along with some of the greatest hits from the magazine’s pages.

Poetry Day: Seamus Heaney
Thursday, October 18, 6:00PM
Rubloff Auditorium, Art Institute of Chicago
Enter only at Modern Wing, 159 East Monroe Street
Free admission, tickets required
Tickets available beginning October 1 only at seamusheaney.eventbrite.com or by calling the Poetry Foundation, (312) 787-7070. Limit 2 tickets per reservation.

Nobel Prize–winning poet Seamus Heaney will give the 2012 Poetry Day reading. Born in 1939 at his family’s farm in Northern Ireland, Heaney published his first collection of poetry, Death of a Naturalist, in 1966, and the book won the Geoffrey Faber Prize and the Gregory Award. Heaney has gone on to issue more than a dozen collections of verse, most recently District and Circle (2006) and Human Chain (2010). Inaugurated by Robert Frost in 1955, Poetry Day is one of the oldest and most distinguished reading series in the country. Past readers have included T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, W.H. Auden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hass, and Derek Walcott. Co-sponsored with the Art Institute of Chicago.


The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine
University of Chicago Press | Cloth $20.00 | ISBN: 9780226750705  | 224 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2012 | Now available

To celebrate the centennial of Poetry magazine, editors Don Share and Christian Wiman combed through the archives to create a new kind of anthology. Rather than attempting to be exhaustive or definitive, they have assembled a collection of poems that, in their juxtaposition, echo across a century of poetry. The resulting volume is a celebration of idiosyncrasy and invention, a vital monument to an institution that refuses to be static, and, most of all, a book that lovers of poetry will devour, debate, and keep close at hand. With work from such contributors as Edwin Arlington Robinson and Muriel Rukeyser, T.S. Eliot and Mary Karr, the anthology presents, according to Booklist, “redefining poems by poets of the pantheon and poets overlooked, underrated, or new … the forces at work here induc[e] readers to marvel anew at the strange impulse to write poetry and the profound effort required to do it well.”

Readings from the anthology will feature editors and contributors. Scheduled appearances include:

  • November 9, Berkeley, CA:
    Atsuro Riley, Kay Ryan, and Don Share read at Mrs. Dalloway’s
  • November 14, Seattle, WA:
    Kevin Craft and Don Share and read at Elliott Bay Book Company
  • April 18, 2013, New York, NY:
    Frank Bidart, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Mary Karr, Marie Ponsot, Atsuro Riley, Don Share, Christian Wiman, and Charles Wright read at the 92nd Street Y

Poetry magazine: In keeping with the magazine’s long tradition, the centennial issue features the best work from both young and well-established poets, including poems from Laura Kasischke and Campbell McGrath and incisive and thoughtful prose from Abigail Deutsch and C.K. Williams. Other highlights include poems from the history of the magazine—including work from Marie Ponsot, Sara Teasdale, Louis MacNeice, and more—as well as a modified version of Christian Wiman’s introduction to The Open Door, “Mastery and Mystery: Twenty-One Ways to Read a Century.”

Online content: Poetryfoundation.org will host a series of features under the theme “100 Years of Poetry” in fall 2012, with articles exploring the history of Poetry magazine. Highlights include a detailed look at the design history of the magazine; an introduction to the early female editors of the magazine, including Harriet Monroe, Alice Corbin Henderson, Margaret Danner, and others; and a look back at 100 years of book reviews in the magazine’s pages. The website will also offer three Poetry Off the Shelf podcasts about the history of the magazine, including “The Early Days of Poetry Magazine,” featuring former editor and current Foundation program director Stephen Young, as well as 50 audio poems from The Open Door anthology.


Gallery: Beginning September 27 and running through November 29, the Poetry Foundation gallery will exhibit Poet Photos: From the Archives of Poetry Magazine. Composed of snapshots of Poetry’s contributors from the past 100 years, this exhibition promises exciting and quirky treasures from the magazine archive, never before presented to the public. The photos will be presented alongside special “centennial wallpaper,” an homage to the evolution of the iconic cover of the magazine over the last century.

Chicago River: In commemoration of Poetry’s centennial, the Poetry Foundation, in partnership with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Transportation, has commissioned artist and Poetry contributor Cathie Bleck to create a sculpture of Poetry’s 100-year-old emblem, the Pegasus, which will be installed on the Chicago River on the east side of Michigan Avenue.
            This new work emphasizes the intertwined histories of Poetry magazine and the City of Chicago. Founding editor Harriet Monroe chose the symbol of the magazine from the Greek myth, in which Pegasus struck Mount Helicon with its hoof to break forth the Hippocrene, the source of all poetic inspiration, sacred to the muses. Pegasus was sired by the sea god Poseidon, and its likeness will rest beside the river that gave birth to Chicago. In addition, the stars of the Chicago flag, which themselves are tributes to historic city events, will be reflected in the 100 stars of the Pegasus sculpture—appropriately reflecting on 100 years of Poetry magazine as well as Pegasus’s ascension to the skies as a constellation. The sculpture will be composed of laser-cut metal and will physically reflect the city around it, the river below it, and the stars above it. A quote from Harriet Monroe will adorn the statue, which will mark yet another space for poetry and contemplation in the heart of Chicago, home of Poetry.

State Street: In a partnership with the Chicago Loop Alliance, the Poetry Foundation will celebrate the centennial of Poetry magazine by bringing poetry of, by, and for Chicagoans to State Street and the 220,000 pedestrians who traverse it each day. The celebration, which will begin on or about October 1 and conclude in early November, will use a variety of elements—including banners, planter signs, news racks, audio recordings, and more—to highlight the diversity of Poetry’s authors, the rich history of the magazine, and its deep connection to the city of Chicago. Excerpts from Poetry poems will adorn the street lamps, wrap the Washington Street CTA entrance, and bloom from planters along State Street. Poets represented will include some of Poetry’s early discoveries—such as Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and Wallace Stevens—as well as more contemporary writers—including former U.S. poets laureate Kay Ryan and Robert Hass, as well as local poets Reginald Gibbons and Li-Young Lee. Pedestrians are encouraged to tweet pictures of their favorite excerpts using the hashtag #looppoetry.

Other public recognition: The building at 150 North Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago will also acknowledge the magazine’s centennial. From October 1 to 7, the building’s famous diamond-shaped slope will be illuminated with the word “POETRY.”

* * *

About Poetry Magazine
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume 1 of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every major contemporary poet. In 2011, the magazine was honored with two National Magazine Awards. It celebrates its centennial in 2012.

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 partnerships, prizes, and programs. Opened to the public in June 2011, the Poetry Foundation building in Chicago provides new space for the Foundation’s extensive roster of public programs and events. It also houses a public garden, a library, and an exhibition gallery, as well as the offices of the Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine. For more information, please visit poetryfoundation.org.

POETRY FOUNDATION | 61 W. Superior Street | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.787.7070
Media contact: Stephanie Hlywak, 312.799.8016; shlywak@poetryfoundation.org  

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