BrooksDay is a celebration of Gwendolyn Brooks that takes place on the anniversary of her birth, June 7th. Each year you can join us for BrooksDay, celebrating the works of Gwendolyn Brooks on her birthday! Each year we honor her legacy as an artist and an iconic figure of generosity and civic conscience in Chicago and in the nation. And 2017 will be all the more spectacular with the City of Chicago and its myriad arts organizations celebrating Brooks during the 2107 centennial. BrooksDay is the marquee event for these celebrations –an evening of Gwendolyn Brooks on her 100th birthday.
Along with youth, other poets, actors and teachers, many notable literary, cultural, civic, and political leaders from Chicago and beyond have taken the stage at the for BrookDay each uniquely celebrating and honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, who was the first African American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize. Since 2013 BrooksDay has been a marquee marathon event that has lead to a city-wide Brooks celebration in 2017. Each of our annual events have been unique unto themselves, all commemorating Gwendolyn Brooks’s artistic achievement, her legendary generosity toward other poets, her influence as a pathbreaking cultural figure in Chicago and the nation, and her deserved stature as the iconic poet of modern Chicago. In 2016 we outdid ourselves, featuring Kevin Coval, Aviya Kushner, and Andrea Change, as emcees, along with many of Chicago’s top literary and artistic talent including graffiti artist Tyrue Slang Jones, artistic brother-trio Sketch N’ Tyme wit LTAB 2016 winners, Rebirth. Readers include Michelle Boone, Steve Young, Jackie Taylor, Calvin Forbes, Coya Paz, Eric May, Angela Jackson, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and many others. Putting together a robust day of poetry, performance, activism, and Gwendolyn Brooks, we are expecting a great and participatory audience for this event, as we were again centrally located in Chicago’s Loop at the Chicago Cultural Center.
2017 will prove to be even more impressive event, culminating with a BrooksDay@Nite celebration, performance and reception, capping what will be an incredible year of events celebrating Gwendolyn Brooks. Please check back with us for updates.
Emcees for BrooksDay 2016 included:
Emcee: Andrea Change: Andrea Change is poet, writer and a long-time friend of the Guild Complex. She has been a part of the Chicago poetry community for over 20 years. Her work has been published in a number of poetry magazines, journals and included in such poetry anthologies from Tia Chucha Press as Powerlines and Stray Bullets. Her poetry was also included in the 2001 Steppenwolf Theatre production, Words on Fire. A hometown girl, born and raised in Chicago, much of her poetry is inspired by her experiences growing up in the city.
Other influences range from the classic poetry of Browning, to Pablo Neruda, to poets from the Harlem Renaissance and the beat poets of the ‘60s. A graduate from Northwestern University, she is still learning and is constantly fascinated by the great voices she hears at local area poetry readings. She is mother to one son, Phillip and Sasha, the dog. Still an active member of the poetry and arts community, she currently resides in Rogers Park.
Emcee: Kevin Coval: Kevin Coval is the editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and is the author of Schtick, L-vis Lives!: Racemusic Poems, Everyday People, Slingshots: A Hip-Hop Poetica and the play, This is Modern Art, co-written with Idris Goodwin. Founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival and the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, Coval teaches hip-hop aesthetics at The University of Illinois-Chicago, is a 4x HBO Def Poet and has written for a wide variety of publications including CNN.com, Huffington Post and Fake Shore Drive. The Chicago Tribune’s called him “the voice of the new Chicago” and the Boston Globe says he’s “the city’s unofficial poet laureate”. This is Modern Art is forthcoming in the Spring of 2016 on Haymarket Books and Coval’s A People’s History of Chicago is due out in the Spring of 2017, also on Haymarket Books.
Emcee: Aviya Kushner: My first book, The Grammar of God: A Journey Into the Words and Worlds of the Bible (Spiegel & Grau/Random House 2015), is about the intense experience of reading the Bible in English after an entire life of reading it in Hebrew. My writing has also appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Partisan Review, Poets & Writers, A Public Space, The Wilson Quarterly, and Zoetrope: All-Story. I have worked as a travel columnist for The International Jerusalem Post and as a poetry columnist for BarnesandNoble.com. I am currently an associate professor of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, and I am a contributing editor at A Public Space as well as a mentor for The National Yiddish Book Center.
Emcee: Mario Smith is the host of News From the Service Entrance on WHPK, a contributor to #TheDownload on WGN Radio and a Break Beat Poet.
Nora Brooks Blakely talks about her mother’s legacy at the 2016 BrooksDay Preview event held at the Museum of Contemporary Art. May 3, 2016
Performances and Readers for BrooksDay 2016 featured:
Kofi Ademola | Quraysh Ali Lansarna | FM Supreme | Fatimah Asghar | Babu Atiba
Aurora Performance Group | Bill Ayers | Tiff Beatty | Nora Brooks Blakely
Michelle Boone | Rosellen Brown | Kristina Colon |Kimberly Dixon- Mays
Mama Edie | Kai El’Zabar | Calvin Forbes | M’read Green | Natasha Estevez
Val Gray Ward | Duriel Harris | Jill Hopkins | Angela Jackson | Bee Kapri | K’Love
Haki Madhubuti | Page May | Toni Nealie | Julie Nesbitt | Peter O’Leary
Sandra Opoku | Elise Paschen | Coya Paz | Rebirth | C.Russell Price
Tim Samuelson | Sketch N Tyme | Javon Smith | Elizabeth Taylor | Stephen Young