Palabra Pura



Palabra Pura promotes literary expression in more than one tongue through a monthly bilingual poetry reading featuring Chicano and Latino artists. With an aim to foster dialogue through literature in Chicago and beyond, these evenings pair local poets and visiting writers, and feature open mics to encourage the interaction of diverse voices, ideas, and aesthetics. The readings are generally held the third Wednesday of every other month (except August and December).

Palabra Pura se enfoca en la expresion literaria en varios idiomas a traves de una serie de lecturas mensuales bilingues con artistas Chicanos y Latinos. Nuestra meta es promover el dialogo a traves de la literatura en Chicago y mas alla. Con este fin, cado lectura combina un poeta local con uno invitado, ademas de un open mic para cultivar la interaccion de voces, ideas esteticas diversas. Las lecturas se ofrecen el tercer miercoles de cada mes (con excepcion de agosto y diciembre).

Next Palabra Pura

A Night in Homage to Gamaliel Ramírez (1949 – 2018)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 from 7 – 9 pm

La Bruquena Restaurant

2726 West Division Street, Chicago, Illinois 60622

$5 suggested donation
See our Facebook event for more information.

Palabra Pura presents an evening of literature and art during Chicago’s Puerto Rican week, in memory of late Chicago Rican artist Gamaliel Ramírez. The event will feature images of the artist’s work selected by Marc Zimmerman, a reading of Puerto Rican and Latino-related materials from Zimmerman’s recent book, The Short of it All: Dreams and Scenes of Memoir Fiction (which bears a cover with art work by Gamaliel Ramirez, below), plus poetry by two of Ramirez’s friends, Johanny Vázquez Paz and Eduardo Arocho, and an open mic for readings or remembrances of Ramírez. Proceeds from sales of books, etc. will go toward a fund set up to bring Ramírez’s art work back to Chicago.

Gamaliel Ramírez (1949 – 2018). Born to Puerto Rican immigrant parents living in South Bronx, New York, Gamaliel Ramírez moved with his family to Chicago in 1955. Struggling with an undiagnosed case of dyslexia, Ramírez was forced out of the school system at 16, and then decided to teach himself how to paint. As part of his education, he frequently visited the Art Institute of Chicago, to study the paintings of the standard European masters and eventually found himself drawn to U.S. and Latin American artists whose work was also accessible at the AIC.  As one of Chicago’s pioneering Latino and Puerto Rican artists, Ramírez worked with numerous cultural arts organizations, curating exhibits, developing festivals, and facilitating workshops in silk-screen printing, drawing and studio and mural painting.  As a founding member of the organizations ALBA and Taller, he often worked with David Hernández, Salima Rivera and other Chicago Rican poets to forge a sense of community in the face of oppression; and he became known as one of the most important Chicago Latino muralists emerging in the 1970s, often working with other artists on projects throughout the city.  In his art, Ramírez often draws on cubist techniques and surrealist icons to project a view of Puerto Ricans and of other minorities in hostile urban environments.  Famous for his striking self-portraits and dreamscapes, his work often combines urban and Afro-Caribbean motifs creating a cultural cosmology that both represents and awakens people to their world and their struggle. For more see event organizer Marc Zimmerman’s recent article.


Featured Artists

Marc Zimmerman is Emeritus Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the U. of Illinois Chicago. He has been the editor of LACASA CHICAGO Books since 1998, and his articles on Chicago Latino and Chicano art and literature appear regularly in Chicago’s online Journal, El BeiSMan. He has written and edited some forty books, including his award-winning Defending their Own in the Cold: The Cultural Turns of U.S. Puerto Ricans and his edited volume, Bringing Aztlán to Mexican Chicago (U. of Illinois Press 2010 and 2011). His growing number of fiction books includes Stores of Winter and Martín and Marvin: A Chicago Jewish Mexican, His Friend and their Latin Worlds, (LACASA Books 2006 and 2016)–as well as The Italian Daze, Lines on the Border, Sandino on the Border and The Short of it All (Floricanto Press 2017 and 2018).

Eduardo Arocho is a poet born and raised in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.  He is the author of six chapbooks of poetry including: Hot Wings (2013), Highway Island (2008), and The 4th Tassel (2006). His work has also appeared in WE ARE by The Chicago Community Trust (2016) and Cantologia 1: Palabra Pura Poets by Pandora Lobo Estepario Press (2013), among others. In 2017, Arocho launched Bobbin Lace Press, with the goal of publishing first books for emerging Latino poets in Chicago. As a translator he performed two poems for the Brooks in Translation: A Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Celebration at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago (2017). Arocho was a featured poet at the 2016 Gerald Manley Hopkins International Poetry Festival in Kildare, Ireland. He is currently completing work on his forthcoming poetry collection NacióMaestro.

Johanny Vázquez Paz (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Among her books are Sagrada familia (winner of the International Latino Book Award, 2015), Querido voyeur (Ediciones Torremozas), and Streetwise Poems /Poemas callejeros (Mayapple Press). On 2012 she won first prize in the poetry category at the Consenso Short Story and Poetry Contest of Northeastern Illinois University, and the second prize for her story “La muda” (The Mute). She co-edited the anthology Between the Heart and the Land / Entre el corazón y la tierra: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press). Her work has been included in the anthologies City of Big Shoulders, Ejército de rosas, En la 18 a la 1, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, among others. She currently teaches Spanish at Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL.

Johanny Vázquez Paz (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Entre sus libros se encuentran Sagrada familia (ganador del International Latino Book Award en 2015), Querido voyeur (Ediciones Torremozas) y Poemas callejeros/Streetwise Poems (Mayapple Press). En 2012, recibió el primer premio en poesía en el Concurso de Cuento y Poesía Consenso de la Universidad Northeastern Illinois. Además, recibió el segundo premio en el mismo certamen por su cuento “La muda”. Coeditó la antología Between the Heart and the Land / Entre el corazón y la tierra: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press). Ha sido incluida en las antologías City of Big Shoulders, Ejército de rosas, En la 18 a la 1, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century y Poetas sin tregua-Compilación de poetas puertorriqueñas de la generación del 80, entre otras. Actualmente es profesora de español en Harold Washington College en Chicago, IL.

The Guild Complex is honored to kick off a season of events in memory of Gamaliel Ramírez’s life and work over the coming months, including this exhibition at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center opening on June 24th.

Past Palabra Pura Events

April 4, 2018 from 7 – 9 pm

This event is in conjunction with DePaul University and Contratiempo.

La Bruquena Restaurant, 2726 West Division Street, Chicago, Illinois 60622

Featured Artists

om ulloa. Cuban poet, writer, translator, and freelance editor. She has lived in the U.S. since her teenage years. ulloa has published stories and “prosemas” in anthologies that include En el ojo del viento: Ficción latina del Heartland (Roosevelt University, 2004) and Cuatro cuentistas de Chicago (Ed. Vocesueltas, 2007). Her poetry and other texts has appeared in blogs and journals such as Contratiempo, Mandorla, generaciónMeX, VocesCubanas, and AfterHours. Her last two collections of poetry:  palabrerías aNalfabéticas and glotOnerías y olíAteos (de florEs en cUbículos) were published in 2017.

Álvaro Hernando. Spanish poet, teacher and journalist. He has lived in Illinois since 2013. Hernando admires the exchange of ideas between creators and has made several collaborations, such as poetry and illustrations, with Berta Salvador and with the composer Enric Riu, the musical Leaving the comfort zone, at present touring in the U.S. His first book of poems, Mantras para bailar/Dancing Mantras, was published by Pandora Lobo Estepario Press (Oaxaca/Chicago 2016).

Fermina Ponce. Colombian poet and journalist. She has a degree in Communications Management from the University of La Sabana, Colombia. Ponce’s first book of poetry, Al desnudo (Oveja Negra Press) as well as Mar de (L)una (also Oveja Negra Press) were presented at the International Book Fair (Bogotá, Colombia) in 2016 and 2017 respectively, and went on to be showcased at the University of Guanajuato (Mexico), the Instituto Cervantes (Chicago), and the Festival of Latin Authors (Chicago). She has been nominated by the Colombian Consulate in Chicago for the Award The 20 Best Colombian Writers in 2017.

Febronio Zatarain. Mexican poet. He is a co-founder of contratiempo magazine. Iin 2015 he was awarded the Premio Latinoamericano de Poesía Transgresora in Mexico. He has published, Faltas a la moral (Moción Press, 1991), Desesperada  intención y otros escritos  (Universidad de Guadalajara Press, 1994) and Nos vinimos de mojados -with Raúl Dorantes- (UACM Press, 2007), as well as En Guadalajara fue, Veinte canciones en desamor y un poema sosegado and Febrónimos.

Check out our Facebook event for more information.