Keara McGraw

What goes into a poem? The cover of our third annual Lit Issue–with art from Keara McGraw–offers one recipe for a poem, while its contents offer recipes of several other kinds. You’ll find in these pages not just the work but what comes before it: the emotional ties and engagement with place that render these words so vivid. 

From E’mon Lauren to Dan Sullivan, the original poetry that opens the issue grasps onto the warning Haki Madhubuti offers in his interview with Kevin Coval: “If you don’t know who you are, anybody can name you. And they will.” The need to name is predicated on self-knowledge; you’ll find the same instinct in poems from Brighton Park middle-schoolers and budding Young Chicago Authors. Their language does not narrow but rather breaks open the gridlines of power, intimacy, and lived experience to touch all at once. They share this generosity of knowledge with reprinted zines, which let you peer into a carefully crafted world you can hold and hear. 

The interviews and features that close the issue do what journalism always should: they give access to worlds that you can step into fully. Like the other pieces, they open what it means to have written—what it takes, and where it takes you. 


Out South, On Drowning, 75th | Immanuel Sodipe

Coltrane Ain’t This Blue, Colonel Sanders | O.A. Fraser

Black Boy Brown, Nostalgia | Chirskira Caillouet

A Perfect Little Girl | Stephen English

Where Do Brown Boys Go To Die? | Sarah Gonzalez

“What’s it Like Working in a Gallery?” | Charles Daston

Bricks in the Yard (for Diane Latiker) | Dan Sullivan

Crossing the Desert | Nicole Bond

Black Magic | Onam Lansana

“Are There No Workhouses?” | Diane O’Neill

Kerry Wood | Jack Murphy

Speak | E’Mon Lauren

See Me | Sharon Dukes

The Dragon Slayers | Poems from Brighton Park Elementary Schoolers

Write to the City | Poems from Young Chicago Authors


The Sick Muse | Sasha Tycko, Noah Jones, Jol(ene)isha W/e

F.E.M.M.E.: Queer Theories of Silence | Amber Sollenberger

How to Stay Alive! at Lakeshore Psychiatric | Anonymous

Brown & Proud: Knowing Your Worth | Sarah Gonzalez & Rich Gutierrez


Every Person is a Philosopher | Darren Wan

In Your Neighborhood | Sarah Claypoole interviews Eve Ewing and Nate Marshall

On the Block | Maha Ahmed

Confronting Evil | Kevin Coval interviews Haki Madhubuti

A New Take on YA at the Library | Natalie Friedberg

To Be Free | Anne Li

Events calendar for August 2016

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