Welcome to the second edition of Writers Answer Weird Questions, a new podcast at the Chicago Review of Books. Each episode, I meet up with a writer at an independent bookstore in Chicago to talk about their book — and ask a bunch of weird questions. If you missed the first episode with Scaachi Koul, click here!
In this episode, I sat down with one of Chicago’s most celebrated BreakBeat poets, Kevin Coval, author of the poetry collection A People’s History of Chicago, and artistic director at Young Chicago Authors and Louder Than a Bomb. We met up at Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Tune in below! (And check out our previous interview with Kevin, where the questions were less weird.)
On Donald Trump
He isn’t fit to say the name [Chicago]. In some ways, he’s a continuation of a certain narrative about the city, the maintenance of that story, “What is Chicago?” Part of the reason why I wrote this book is because too often, the narrative that’s being told about Chicago is through the lens of a white supremacist criminal imagination.
On Rahm Emanuel
He’s primarily invested in making the businesses he brings here happy. He continues to create a tale of two cities, the criminalization and constant policing of young people in communities of color. It’s gross.
He came to our space [at Young Chicago Authors] and read a poem at our open mic. And the poem that he read — how are his people letting him read this poem? — was Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.” It was so painful. For so many reasons.
On Chicago Hip-Hop
We’re in the middle of the best moment in Chicago music history right now. Saba is one of my favorites … Joseph Chilliams … Smino … NoName … etc.
Adam Morgan is the founding editor of the Chicago Review of Books and the Southern Review of Books. His essays and criticism have appeared in The Paris Review, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine, and elsewhere.