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Staff pick: Best poetry organization

It might seem strange to think of the Poetry Foundation as in need of a booster—after all, there it was in the semifinals, running off against Young Chicago Authors for the title Best Poetry Organization. But one, never underestimate the power of Louder Than a Bomb, the massive annual poetry slam through which YCA has helped so many teens find their voices and then some. And two, though well-known and certainly well-endowed, the Poetry Foundation seems to operate a little under the radar. At least I’d bet most people have no idea it’s offering free programming almost every day of the week.

Take Poemtime—on Wednesday mornings the foundation offers a story time introducing tots ages two to five to poetry. The fourth Tuesday of every month is Poetry for Veterans, a noon-hour session with the Poetry Foundation’s library associate Maggie Queeney at the Jesse Brown VA Hospital. That’s just one example of the foundation moving outside its River North base—Queeney also leads regular discussions and poetry workshops at locations like Logan Square’s Comfort Station and Hyde Park’s Smart Museum of Art. These are on top of regularly scheduled events including the Poetry Off the Shelf reading series, featuring many local poets, and, my favorite, one-of-a-kind multidisciplinary performances—like the one at 7 PM tonight, Thursday, November 7, when always compelling dance troupe the Seldoms present an excerpt from a new work addressing climate change alongside readings by poet Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué. If you’re still not sold, check out the website’s Poem of the Day the next time POTUS is threatening your sanity. Better yet, have it sent directly to your e-mail! Thank you, Poetry Foundation!

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