Chicago Poet Laureate avery r. young Announces Free Workshops and Creative Opportunities for Chicagoans

May 22, 2024

DCASE Communications

Shamil Clay, CPL

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Poet Laureate facilitates free, in-person “chi-soul workshops” and invites all Chicagoans to submit original poems via


CHICAGO – Chicago Poet Laureate avery r. young, in partnership with the Chicago Public Library (CPL), Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and the Poetry Foundation invite Chicagoans to celebrate poetry year-round by participating in upcoming free programming. Central to avery r. young’s multidisciplinary practice as a poet, composer, and educator is a connection to place. To that end, the Chicago Poet Laureate has developed two original programs for Chicagoans to celebrate the ‘Soul of Chicago’.

“avery’s work invites us to pause, consider our surroundings and our memories, and revel in the beauty of our city,” said DCASE Commissioner Clinée Hedspeth. “As Chicago Poet Laureate, he’s developed programming to help us connect to meaningful private moments, as well as the bigger picture—the events that have shaped our city.”

“A Chicago that writes together is a Chicago that thrives together,” avery r. young shared. “No one poem is the solution, but what that poem can be is a bridge to a greater understanding of someone else’s daily commute. The poem is a voice heard. I really am looking forward to helping voices be heard!”

Starting Sunday, June 2nd, the Poet Laureate will facilitate a monthly “chi-soul workshops” at the Austin Branch Library (5615 W. Race Ave.). The two-hour workshops are designed for writers of all skill levels to build poems and poetry manuscripts centered on the times and tales of Chicago. Workshops will take place the first Sunday of each month from 2-4pm, through November 3. Registration is required and space is limited; visit the Chicago Public Library website at

avery r. young has also launched a new website, and is now accepting online video submissions of Chicagoans’ own Chicago Soul Poems, honoring the people, places, and moments that make this city special. With the Chicago Soul Poems project, the Poet Laureate has developed a new poetic form, the soloem (pronounced so-lo-em), to guide Chicagoans in writing their own poems. Instructions on how to write a soloem and submit a poem are available at

On a regular basis, the Poet Laureate will review the submissions and curate a selection of Chicago Soul Poems to be distributed through public channels. Poems will be shared during the duration of the Poet Laureate’s tenure, which extends through December 2025.

“Chicagoans have read and written poetry in our libraries since they first opened their doors, from Gwendolyn Brooks' legendary meetings at Hall branch during the Black Chicago Renaissance, to the writing groups and poetry programming we present for all ages today,” shared CPL Commissioner Chris Brown. “We're thrilled that all Chicagoans will have the chance to become our city’s next great poet by participating in avery's workshops and writing ‘soloems.’”

avery r. young was named Chicago Poet Laureate in April 2023. In his first year in the role, he performed as part of the Inauguration of Mayor Brandon Johnson and presented at City events including Poetry Fest and the Juneteenth Flag Raising. Most recently, he led a workshop for teens at the 25th Annual Poetry Fest alongside poet E’mon Lauren and Young Chicago Authors. Beyond the city’s borders, he has represented Chicago and the City’s Poet Laureate program at the New Orleans Book Festival and as a Mentor-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Recordings of a few of the Poet Laureate’s readings and appearances can be viewed at


Program Details

chi-soul workshops
June 2, July 7, August 4, September 1, October 6, November 3
Austin Branch Library, 5615 W. Race Avenue
Registration will open one week in advance of each workshop.
Register at

Ideal for beginners to skilled writers, the chi-soul workshops are designed to build poems and/or poetry manuscripts centered on the times and tales of Chicago. The City’s inaugural Poet Laureate avery r. young facilitates a two-hour workshop that focuses on writing, reading, and building a volume of poems for publication and/or presentation. Registration is required.


Chicago Soul Poems
Who, What, Where is the Soul of Chicago?
Now accepting online poetry submissions at

All Chicago residents are invited to write, record and share a Chicago Soul Poem, written in the form of a soloem (pronounced so-lo-em). It is a new poetic form, created by the Chicago Poet Laureate, with 10 lines and five stanzas. A Chicago Soul Poem is written about a person, place or thing that is indicative of the Second City. Selected soloems will be featured on social media and other public-facing outlets.


About the Chicago Poet Laureate Program
The Chicago Poet Laureate program was announced in January 2023, and the City’s first Poet Laureate was named in April 2023. The program is a partnership between the Chicago Public Library, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the Poetry Foundation. The program was created from the advocacy of the city’s creative and civic communities. It aims to increase awareness of Chicago’s historic contributions to the literary arts while celebrating and honoring the efforts of Chicago’s working artists. The Chicago Poet Laureate serves a two-year term and is awarded an honorarium of $70,000 ($35,000/year) for the commissioning of new poems and for the creation of a public program series, including programs for youth and students. The Poet Laureate serves as an ambassador for the city’s literary and creative communities.


avery r. young
avery r. young is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, 3Arts Awardee, poetry editor for Bridge, Cave Canem fellow, and co-director of the Floating Museum. His poetry and prose have been featured in The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, Teaching Black, The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, and AIMPrint, among other publications, and alongside images in photographer Cecil McDonald Jr’s, In The Company of Black. He is the composer and librettist for a newly commissioned work from Lyric Opera of Chicago titled safronia, and full-length recording tubman. (FPE Records) is the soundtrack to his collection of poetry, neckbone: visual verses.

In the foreword of neckbone, Theaster Gates called young, “one of the most important thinkers on the Black experience.” His album booker t. soltreyne: a race rekkid (FPE Records) engages matters of race, gender, and sexuality in America during the Obama Era. young’s work in performance, visual text, and sound design has been featured in several exhibitions and theatre festivals—notably the Chicago Hip Hop Theatre Fest, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the American Jazz Museum. In addition, he is one of four directors of the Floating Museum, a co-mentor for the Rebirth Youth Poetry Ensemble, and performs with his band, de deacon board.

With more than two decades of experience in the teaching artist field, young has led programs in and out of schools, community-based organizations, and other learning environments; he has also served as a teaching artist for the Arts and Public Life Artist-In-Residence at the University of Chicago. young’s work has been dedicated to helping youth overcome social and economic barriers to accessing Chicago’s artistic and cultural vitality. Learn more at


Chicago Public Library
Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment, and knowledge through innovative services, programs, and technology. Through its 81 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits, and programs for children, teens, and adults. For more information, please call (312) 747-4300 or visit To follow CPL on social media, visit us on Twitter (@chipublib), Facebook (Chicago Public Library), or Instagram (@chicagopubliclibrary).


Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation recognizes the power of words to transform lives. We work to amplify poetry and celebrate poets by fostering spaces for all to create, experience, and share poetry. Follow the Poetry Foundation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and Poetry at @PoetryMagazine.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) supports artists and cultural organizations, invests in the creative economy, and expands access and participation in the arts throughout Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. As a collaborative cultural presenter, arts funder, and advocate for creative workers, our programs and events serve Chicagoans and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, downtown and in diverse communities across our city — to strengthen and celebrate Chicago. DCASE produces some of the city’s most iconic festivals, markets, events, and exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, and in communities across the city — serving a local and global audience of 25 million people. The Department offers cultural grants and resources, manages public art, supports TV and film production and other creative industries, and permits special events throughout Chicago. For details, visit and stay connected via our newsletters and social media.


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