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Virtual Event

Virtual Event | Chicago Perspectives on Poetry as Social Justice, CPC x CHM

Thursday, April 29

Chicago’s artistic traditions have strong, intimate ties to social movements. Join the Chicago History Museum and the Chicago Poetry Center for a FREE virtual event featuring contemporary Chicago poets and justice-themed poetry that inspires their work. Enjoy this virtual reading as six poets present their original works and offer their reflections on Chicago’s legacy of activist poetry.

This event runs approximately one hour and is free of charge. We would greatly appreciate a donation to the Museum in any amount. A Zoom link will be provided after registration. 


Featured Poets

Helene Achanzar Helene Achanzar is a Filipina Canadian poet and educator who grew up in Chicago. Her writing can be found in Oxford American, jubilat, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. A Kundiman fellow, Achanzar is an associate editor for Poetry Northwest and works as the programs manager at the Chicago Poetry Center.


Tara Betts is the author of the poetry collections Break the Habit, Arc & Hue, and the manuscript Refuse to Disappear. Betts has also coedited The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century and Carving Out Rights from Inside the Prison Industrial Complex. She also reintroduced a critical edition of Philippa Duke Schuyler’s long out-of-print memoir Adventures in Black and White. Currently, Betts is poetry editor at The Langston Hughes Review. In addition to working as a teaching artist and mentor for young poets, she has taught at several universities, including Rutgers University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and poetry workshops at Stateville Prison via Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project. Her poems, essays, and stories have appeared in many anthologies and journals.


Maya Marshall Maya Marshall is an editor and writer and cofounder of underbelly, the journal on the practical magic of poetic revision. An educator, Marshall has taught at Northwestern University and Loyola University Chicago. She holds fellowships from MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, Callaloo, The Watering Hole, Community of Writers, and Cave Canem. She is the author of Secondhand (Dancing Girl Press, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Best New Poets 2019, Muzzle, RHINO, Potomac Review, Blackbird, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago where she works as a manuscript editor at Haymarket Books.


H. Melt is a poet, artist, and educator whose work celebrates trans people, history, and culture. They are the author of The Plural, The Blurring and the editor of Subject to Change: Trans Poetry & Conversation. H. Melt was an artist-in-residence at the Newberry Library researching the Chicago Protest Collection. They’ve attended the Tin House Writer’s Workshop and cofounded Queeriosity at Young Chicago Authors. Lambda Literary awarded them the Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers. Their next book, There Are Trans People Here, is forthcoming from Haymarket Books in the fall of 2021.


José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal, was a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Award and a winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize. It was named a top book of 2018 by The Adroit Journal, NPR, and the New York Public Library. Along with Felicia Chavez and Willie Perdomo, he coedited the poetry anthology The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT. He is the cohost of the poetry podcast The Poetry Gods. In 2018, he was awarded the first annual Author and Artist in Justice Award from the Phillips Brooks House Association and named a Debut Poet of 2018 by Poets & Writers. In 2019, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, and elsewhere.


avery r. young is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. He is a 3Arts Awardee, Cave Canem fellow and a codirector of The Floating Museum. His poetry and prose has been featured in anthologies such as BreakBeat Poets, Teaching Black, Poetry Magazine, and alongside images in photographer Cecil McDonald Jr.’s In The Company of Black. As artist-in-residence at the University of Chicago, young created a series of assemblage and sculpture along with his first recording, booker t. soltreyne: a race rekkid. His theater credits include cowriting and coproducing the soundtrack for Lise Haller Baggeson’s Hatorgrade Retrograde: The Musical and writing the libretto for The Chicago Lyric Opera’s Twilight: Gods. His performance and visual work has been exhibited and/or presented at The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The National Jazz Museum, and other institutions. An award-winning teaching artist, young comentors the Rebirth Poetry Ensemble. He is the featured vocalist on Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening and has tours planned with his band de deacon board. young’s latest full-length recording tubman. is the soundtrack to his first collection of visual and traditional poetry, neckbone: visual verses.

The Details



29 th

6:00–7:00 p.m.

Event Location


Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories