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The Poetry Shortlist for the 2016 Chicago Review of Books Awards

The Poetry Shortlist for the 2016 Chicago Review of Books Awards


The inaugural Chicago Review of Books Awards (“Chirbys,” for short) will celebrate the best books published in 2016 by writers in the Chicago Metropolitan Area. The winners in each category will be announced live on December 8 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park, at a free public awards ceremony and book signing that will feature panel conversations between some of the authors in each category about their books, writing process, and Chicago inspirations.

Every day this week, we’re announcing finalists in four categories:

The judges (see below for a full list) include representatives from Chicago’s independent bookstores along with editorial and contributing staff at the Chicago Review of Books and Arcturus magazine. In alphabetical order, here is the poetry shortlist.

unnamed-9Kevin Coval and Nate Marshall, 1989: The Number
Haymarket Books, April 2

Kevin Coval is the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors and teaches hip-hop aesthetics at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Nate Marshall is the National Program Director of Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wabash College. Both men are editors of The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop along with Quraysh Ali Lansana. Last year, Coval and Marshall spent 6 days writing 1989: The Number, an innovative collection of poetry that revisits the year 1989 in music, pop culture, and history.

9781940430768_6ea13Tony Fitzpatrick, The Secret Birds
Curbside Splendor, June 14

Tony Fitzpatrick was born in Chicago, and in 1992 opened a local printmaking studio, Big Cat Press, which is known today as an exhibition space for art called Firecat Projects. The Secret Birds is a stunning mix of poetry and art that could have only have come from the man Newcity called the “best iconic Chicago personality now that Studs (Terkel) is gone.” As with most of his work, The Secret Birds is filled with Fitzpatrick’s drawings, found images and objects, and poetry.

9781938584176_cf4efPhillip B. Williams, Thief in the Interior
Alice James Books, January 12

Phillip B. Williams is a Humboldt Park native and the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry. He is a Cave Canem graduate and the author of two previous chapbooks. Thief in the Interior was inspired by the brutal murder of a young man in Brooklyn, and the resulting poems are heartbreaking. By addressing contemporary racism and hate crime head-on, Williams is an essential and unstoppable force in 21st century poetry.

See Also

CWHB Cover Scan (1)Abigail Zimmer, child in a winter house brightening
Tree Light Books, July

Abigail Zimmer is the poetry editor at The Lettered Street Press and the author of two additional chapbooks. A reimagining of the Ugly Duckling fable, child in a winter house brightening is a hybird long poem that offers a glimpse—sometimes gentle, sometimes haunting—at the not-quite-natural world in a singular, ghostlike voice. Our sister publication, Arcturus magazine, published an excerpt from child in a winter house brightening last month.

Judges for the 2016 Chicago Review of Books Awards—who selected the finalists out of nearly 100 books—include many representatives from Chicago’s independent bookstores:

As well as members of the Chicago Review of Books and Arcturus magazine editorial and contributing staff:

Stay tuned for the remaining shortlist announcements later this week!

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