Zakkiyyah Najeebah

Start here, with Tarnynon Onumonu’s ode to Chicago’s Free Range youth, the ones who might not be welcome in the Loop.

We fashion them complacent

But they be curious

The contributors to this, our biggest Lit Issue yet, challenge us to find and tell new stories. They invite us to find poetry in the everyday, in the school crossing guard, in the names we call each other—“mamita, chulita, pinche cabronita”— and in the sticky burn of a paleta picante.

In this issue we review two biographies of Mayor Harold Washington and turn his story into a writing prompt for you: to imagine a new adventure for Chicago. We look back at the work of Allison Davis, a forgotten scholar, who chipped away at racist mythologies to write a truer story about Black people in America. And through Eve Ewing’s eyes, we bear witness to a community’s fight to save schools and “to keep Black history from going away.”

This is our work: to tell stories that challenge, uphold, celebrate, interrogate, and preserve. What else can we do? The words of Davis echo from nearly a century ago: “Although we seem trapped in an age of anger and despair, the alternatives remain the same as in all other ages.” We can accept the old stories we are given, or we can write the city new.


Poetry & Prose

kid i don’t know” by Asha Futterman

a sudden spring (Nichols Park in May)” by Lauren Franzen

Time Travel: J.C. Penney Photo Studio, 1994” by Diane O’Neill

Descent” by Tara Betts

The Pleasure and the Pain” by Luz Magdaleno Flores

You are not like my mirror” by Justice Wysinger

A ‘Notha’ Day” by Sylvia Taylor

German” by Paris Smith

A Splash of Broken Thoughts” by Reginald Rice

Where I’m From” by the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project

The Anonymous Crossing Guard” by Cedric Williams

When Christ Came to Woodlawn” and “Jaywalking in Kansas” by O.A. Fraser

the ambiguity of light” and “new witchs familiar” by Jo Becker

Grip” by Niles Lansana

When I think of Guadalajara, I think of Stars and Graveyard Sand” and “Children of the Dead” by Melissa Castro

de las mujeres que yo creo (of the women i believe in)” by Victoria Chavez Peralta

We Called Her Fire” by Phyllis Roker

Let There Be,” “Derived,” and “poet and bird” by Mari Cohen

Free Range” by Tarnynon Onumonu

A Year in Zines from Build Coffee

Tethers” by the Broken Nose Collective

Black Girl Mania” by bria royal

“Proper Nos Volume 2” by True Leap Press

The Attic, the Basement, The Barn” by Saleem Hue Penny

How to Do Things With Throats” the Sick Muse

But I Am Myself, and I Am Perfect For It // Pero yo soy misma y soy perfecta por eso” by 826Chi

Features & Review

Opening Up” by Sam Clapp & Ashvini Kartik-Narayan

#BreathingRoom’s ‘In the Yard’ Educates and Heals” by Rod Sawyer

More Than a School” by Leah Rachel von Essen

A Poet and Her Platform” by Dave Stieber

A Man of Substance” by Christian Belanger

Charting a Course” by Katie Gruber

What’s in a Name?” by Sarah Thomas


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1 Comment

  1. This is an award-worthy pastiche, a multi-genre treasure trove of voices & faces often ignored. Key ppl in Chicago’s tale of 2 cities here—to stay—in Living Color. Ashé, brava, kudos, big ups!

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