Monday, October 18, 2010

There's Something About Chicago...

What is it about Chicago? Chicago: the inspiration for one of Carl Sandburg's most famous poems, "Chicago" and the home for many of the most successful and inspirational poets and writers and I am sure so much more. Some famous poets and writers from Chicago include Sandra Cisneros, James Galvin, Albert Goldbarth, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kenneth Fearing, Tom Mandel, Henry Rago, Carl Sandburg, Shel Silverstein , Quincy Troupe Jr. and I am sure there are many more. Since I've read poetry from Brooks, Troupe, Sandburg and Silverstein and loved them all, I got to thinking; what was so special and extraordinary about Chicago that inspired their creativity?

Could it be the Prohibition era with notorious gangsters such as Al Capone? The industry expansion in the 1920s? The attraction of southern African Americans during the early 20th century? Lake Michigan? The Chicago River? The humid climate? I could go on and on with reasons that people may have adored Chicago, but I will never know the real reason.

Chicago: a city filled with so much artistic inspiration. Home of poetry slams and the famous Def Poetry Jam. They even have The Poetry Center of Poetry founded in 1974 to make poetry more accessible and appealing to the public and young poets. At a place called the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, they have been hosting an event called the Uptown Poetry Slam. They even have a chance to listen to and explore poetry through the Chicago Poetry Tour, produced by the Poetry Foundation. I'm not sure what it is about Chicago, but it is full of poetry. Some of the best poets have emerged from Chicago and I'd love to find out what the correlation is.

Is it the beautiful city skyline filled with the hustle and bustle of people at all hours of the night? The strong sense of pride in the working class of Chicago? For example, Quincy Troupe Jr. also wrote a poem about Chicago: "Chicago (for Howlin' Wolf)" In both poems, they mention the middle class and people who have paid their dues to society. So from what I know, there is something about the people in Chicago that inspires the people to write about themselves. Does that even make sense?

Whatever it is, I hope that one day I will know. I am going to visit Chicago and maybe then, I will understand its inspiration.