Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Writers' Congress: Chicago Poets on Barack Obama's Inauguration

The ascendancy of Barack Obama to the United States presidency has inspired artistic expression around the world, so it’s not surprising that an anthology of poetry in celebration of the 44th president’s inauguration would emerge. DePaul University will commemorate the occasion when 20 poets included in “A Writers’ Congress: Chicago Poets on Barack Obama’s Inauguration” read from the work at 6 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the DePaul Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave., Room 314.

The anthology was published by the university’s Humanities Center and the DePaul Poetry Institute and was edited by Chris Green, poet and visiting fellow of the center. Fifty poets answered when Green put the call out just days after the election of Obama, asking writers to create poems that would help capture the historic moment.

“I was at home watching the election returns and wishing that I was downtown in Grant Park,” recalled Green. “I felt I needed to do something more.”

Green says the idea to create an anthology of poems marking Obama’s election crystallized the next day while he toured “1968: Art and Politics in Chicago,” an exhibition of DePaul’s Art Museum that focused on the civil unrest surrounding events that unfolded during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

“I was struck by images of Grant Park during that time—the bullying by the National Guard—and the contrast of the peaceful, powerful images from the night before when some 250,000 people from all walks of life gathered in Grant Park to witness the election of Barack Obama. I thought of bringing different writers together.”

Among the poets included in the anthology are Kevin Coval, Reginald Gibbons, Susan Hahn, Parneshia Jones, Richard Jones, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Haki Madhubuti, Elise Paschen, David Trinidad, Judith Valente and Martha Modena Vertreace-Doody.

Award-winning author Stuart Dybek offered the following note on the book jacket: “These poems celebrate both the hope embodied in the man, Barack Obama, and a renewed hope for the promise of American democracy. So natural an act as praise seems a wondrous release after the necessity to protest the previous eight years of disastrous American policy.”

Green, who holds a master of fine arts degree from Bennington College in Vermont, writes in the preface: “Politics is cruel, but poetry is pure and each poem here is naked as an eagle. Some are heavily perfumed, healthy with hope; others lace promise with intricate worry.”

For a limited time, “A Writers’ Congress” will be offered gratis. To order a copy, e-mail your name and mailing address to aperson@depaul.edu. Limit one book per person. Please allow two weeks for orders to be shipped.

Media Contact:

Roxanne L. Brown
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