The cover of our fourth annual Lit Issue offers a sort of visual game to its reader: can you reconstruct the original photo, before it became collage? Say, is that the cover of a book by Albert Camus? What’s with those books repeating in the top corner? It’s not really a game you’re meant to win: the artwork offers literature in motion, bringing history into our present—and onward, into our future.
From an evocation of Harold Washington’s election in 1983 to a tribute to Michael Jordan’s basketball-playing in 1998, from a portrayal of the South Side in the civil rights era to the memories of a beloved Englewood childhood, the poetry and prose featured in this issue root themselves in history with a wise urgency. These works show what an interview with children’s book author Senyah Haynes tells: that to know the past, whether it’s your people’s or your country’s or Chicago’s, is both a responsibility and a calling. To know the past is to know what’s happening now.
In this spirit, the zines and features later in the issue hone in on our futures: the kids who will grow up reading children’s books as diverse as their lives, the teens beginning to write and make literature for themselves, the retired bookstore owner with uncertainty ahead.
“Having shaken things up like this, my future life is not clear to me,” former Selected Works bookstore owner Keith Peterson tells Malvika Jolly. He’s not the only one: it’s a question that rings out in the pages before and after.
For Selected Works itself, the future is clear—its space in the Fine Arts Building will soon turn into another bookstore, The Dial. The name hearkens back to a famous literary magazine that operated out of the building at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. It is the lightest of reminders that history is not just behind us, and that whatever happens next, literature is how we’ll understand it—and maybe how we’ll accomplish it, too.
Poetry & Prose
Meet the Authors
Nicole Bond is the Stage & Screen Editor for South Side Weekly and challenged the stylebook on production nights about that particular case sensitivity.
Chirskira Caillouet is a poet and spoken word artist who writes about love, life, and current events. In 2009, she published a chapbook entitled Honey Licorice, and in 2014 was a Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Awards semifinalist and received top honors for “Rock the Ballot” at Saint Sabina’s Rock the Mic Award. She is a lifetime Chicagoan and South Sider and a volunteer-activist. She is also a member of For the Love of Writing (FLOW), a South Side writers group.
Paris Clark is a twenty-four-year-old author from the West Side of Chicago. She self-published her first book, The Take Back, in 2016. The Take Back is a collection of poetry that highlights the black woman’s experience by exploring how different life events and environments impact their identities. defyinggravitymovement.com
O.A. Fraser is a resident of Hyde Park. His current work examines the anguish of individuals whose lives are marginalized through the misfortune of poverty, and dislocated as a consequence of social change. He also explores mental illnesses as hidden disabilities: the constellation of anxiety disorders in general, as well as the experience, stigma, and quandary of agoraphobia in particular.
Malvika Jolly is from the South Side of Chicago. She lives in New York and tweets @dinnertheatrics.
Tucker Kelly is a writer, inkist and recent transplant from small-town Oberlin, OH. Follow him at @tuckerwrites for articles, artwork, and artless jokes.
Jack Murphy lives in Chicago.
Diane O’Neill holds degrees in creative writing from Columbia College and National University, and she is a senior curriculum designer with the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Her works have appeared in the South Side Weekly, the Tribune, and Journal of Modern Poetry 20: The Poetry Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy, among others.
Reginald J. Rice is a emerging poet and filmmaker from the South Side of Chicago. His writings are heavily influenced by life in the city, metaphysics, and the interaction between the guru and the pupil. During the time when hip-hop lyrics were printed inside of CD and cassette covers, Reginald would spend hours reading and comparing verses. Since that time, Reginald has been writing poetry and short stories that reflect his reality. Currently, Reginald is working on writing his first book and directing his first documentary, Tracing Our Path Through Bronzeville.
Paris Smith is a South Side writer with three published collections of short stories, and he is a member of one of Chicago’s longest active writers groups, The Perspectivists. Much of his work has been described as if Black Stephen King moved to the South Side. His other works can be found at Penknife Press. He hopes you enjoy here one of his milder stories.
Cedric Williams is a storyteller and screenwriter, born, raised, and permanent fixture on the South Side of Chicago. He is currently filming a documentary about the first woman postmaster of the Chicago Post Office.