Posted by Philip Barash
in CLA Blog
All through the month of October, Chicago Loop Alliance partners with the Poetry Foundation to transform State Street into a locus for exploring poetry – and Chicago’s legacy as a literary city.
It’s a fitting occasion: Poetry magazine, the flagship program of the Poetry Foundation, celebrates its 100th year of bringing the best in contemporary poetry to the public this October. A Chicago institution with an international reputation, Poetry started in 1912 and has never missed an issue in its long history.
Like everything that Chicago Loop Alliance does, this collaboration is intended for a broad audience. Approachable, engaging, and at times provocative, short excerpts from Poetry archives, printed on light pole banners and signs, mark the rhythm and rhyme of blocks between Wacker and Congress. Here, visitors will encounter some of the best-known authors of the 20th century -- D.H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Gwendolyn Brooks – along with some newcomers.
Pedestrians’ ears will perk up – and their spirits surely soar – when they hear the sounds of poetry emanating from Lightscape. Part of October’s celebration is a curated selection of audio recordings, some read by the poems’ authors.
A thematic strand winds through all of the audio and printed poems on State Street. In one way or another, selected poems each reflect or comment on the urban experience. Some, like Carl Sandburg’s iconic “Chicago,” are firmly grounded in the physicality of the city. Others approach cities and the people who inhabit them more obliquely by investigating conditions of alienation and kinship, anxiety and desire, celebration and nostalgia.
One of my favorites is an Ezra Pound poem from 1913, as densely packed as its titular subject: a station of the metro. You can’t miss it. As if it were a message from the deities of public transport, it is writ large across a former subway entrance.
Check it out. After you do, please tell me what it means.
Placemaking, destination marketing, poetry, Lightscape, art, State Street