Earlier this year, I was invited by Salli Berg Seely to visit her students at DePaul University. Her class, Explore Chicago, introduces freshman and sophomores to Chicago’s rich literary history. There’s a combination of writers and those who don’t think of themselves as such but, as you will read, certainly have a vivid imagination and the promise of a fluent pen.
We mixed things up outside the standard classroom setting and met at the Art Institute of Chicago. After introductions, we read the poem, Why I am not a painter by Frank O’Hara. We then prompted the students to write a literary piece inspired by a work of art, the experience of looking at art, or even the trek to get to the museum. Salli then worked with the students to develop their piece for the Chicago Literary Map, this website right here.
Where the students took their writing is fresh and enlightening. It was a pleasure to read and I do hope you enjoy it as well. Some stories may end abruptly, but I can sympathize to where the student’s heads may have been, especially for an atypical exercise. I greatly appreciate everyone’s effort and hope the students continue to explore their world with words. Some stories will be posted tonight. Please visit again or follow for more.
One year ago today an idea as mobile app was born as Chicago Literary Map welcomed the world. In turn, the world welcomed it. I have charted stories from people I would not otherwise meet, whose stories help paint a picture of what life is like, was like, or could be like in our broad shouldered city. I’ve also encouraged my family and friends to write, who are great storytellers, but have not written anything other than an email in years. And artists that may not think of their writing as publish-ready and the vets. From online courting, Cocktails on Clybourn, This Morning in Old Town to Time at the Pacific Garden Mission, the voices of the city are intersecting, but haven’t even begun to represent the complex beauty of the hog butcher.
I would like to take a moment for gratitude and thank DNAinfo’s Lizzie Schiffman for her piece on CLM. I would also like to thank Mike Stephens for bringing me on Outside the Loop Radio, and John Rich from the Literary Guild Complex for inviting me to read and talk about the map. I’m excited to collaborate with Salli Berg Seeley and her Explore Chicago class at DePaul University this winter quarter and to John Lillig for connecting us. The road ahead for Chicago Literary Map includes unearthing more stories, planning reading events, new collaborations, and the unknown. There are many ways to capture a moment, and I greatly appreciate all the writers who take the time to do it with words. Here’s to you! And here’s to Chicago—a muse like no other.
Tonight, I will be reading along with a few fine folks for the Guild Literary Complex reading series, Applied Words. This session will bring left and right brains together as writers in technology share their stories. There’s also an open mic. Event starts at 7pm, readings 7:30pm at FreeGeek Chicago.