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Evanston celebrates National Poetry Month

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Evanston residents can celebrate National Poetry Month in April with a variety of readings and workshops hosted by the city’s literary community.

The Evanston Public Library plans to hold a poetry workshop on April 23 at the Robert Crown Branch Library, a panel discussion on two inaugural poems on April 25 at the Main Library, and a children’s poetry scavenger hunt on various dates at both locations.

EPL Communications and Marketing Director Jenette Sturges said the children’s event will be the highlight of the library’s celebrations.

“They create a found poem where they find words in the library and then add them to the sheets to create a ‘poetree,'” Sturges said. “It’s quite adorable.”

Sturges said the library recently added new titles to its physical and digital poetry collections with a focus on LGBTQ+ poets and poets of color.

Independent non-profit collective RHINO also serves as a mainstay of the local poetry community, publishing an annual literary journal and offering poetry events throughout the year, including online craft talks and a series of poetry readings called RHINO Reads!

Virginia Bell, co-editor of RHINO, said RHINO reads! will host a virtual event on April 29 for National Poetry Month featuring prominent poets Paul Tran, Nan Cohen and Teresa Dzieglewicz.

“Like everyone else, we really miss the face-to-face, live, in-person magic of a workshop or a reading,” Bell said. “But the wonderful thing about having them online is that we were able to invite poets to read or give talks about crafts from all over the country, where we only invited poets. Chicago-area poets.”

Bell said the next issue of RHINO’s literary magazine will likely be published in May, but the award-winning poets have already been recognized on the website for National Poetry Month.

While RHINO is hosting a special event this month, Bell said the collective is passionate about engaging the poetic community throughout the year.

“We seek poetry that pushes the boundaries of form and feeling and expresses a love affair with language,” Bell said.

Bookends & Beginnings is also celebrating poetry this month with a spring showcase showcasing a variety of poetry titles. The bookstore will also bring a larger inventory of hardcover copies of the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets series, which features selected poems that fit specific themes.

Owner Nina Barrett said the bookstore’s poetry section has always been a hit due to the “unusually large” amount of poetry readers and writers in the Evanston, Chicago and Northeast communities. west.

“When some sort of month comes around, we take it moderately seriously,” Barrett said. “We’re not exaggerating because I almost feel like it’s a disservice to how seriously we take all these subjects all year.”

In June, Bookends & Beginnings will host a poetry reading with Yale Prof. Sarah Ruhl and NU English Prof. Chris Abani, both of whom have upcoming poetry books.

The event will be one of Bookends & Beginnings’ first in-person events since the pandemic began and Barrett said she plans to host it in an outdoor courtyard.

Barrett said national demand for poetry has grown over the past year. She said the store’s second best-selling book last year was poet Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb,” the spoken poem Gorman read during President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“I think what she did at the grand opening was so amazing,” Barrett said. “All of a sudden, she galvanized America to understand that poetry can speak to the current moment.”

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Twitter: @ilanahutzler

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