Pénétrable de Chicago

Jesús Rafael Soto. Pénétrable de Chicago, 1971.

Jesús Rafael Soto. Pénétrable de Chicago, 1971.

By Tylar Brown
Location: Art Institute of Chicago

Dangling low. You are a beauty in some eyes. Long, see
through plastic strings are what attract us. Kids
automatically gravitate towards you
because of your singularity
and ingenuity.

Walking through your strings
feels like swimming, but             with no specific destination.
Being                                            in the presence of your
rectangle with strings                           at every angle,
feel                                                                  at peace, relaxed.

You could be seen as a problem. I am in a jungle.
                     I need to move through strings
to get out. Like in life, you must
fight through.

All of these plastic strands stand
with each other, but they cannot leave
each other, even if they want to. They can
only move if someone else applies force.

Pénétrable de Chicago,
not being afraid to let people in,
you are nothing
like me.

This story was written in Salli Berg Seeley’s Explore Chicago class at DePaul University in collaboration with the Chicago Literary Map.

CLM & Explore Chicago

Chicago Literary Map

Irving Plenner, 1979

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.

Stephanie Plenner