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avery r. young’s Chicago: 10 Books, Art, and Music That Embody the City

avery r. young’s Chicago: 10 Books, Art, and Music That Embody the City

  • Chicago Poet Laureate avery r. young shares 10 pieces of art that embody the city.

In avery r. young’s words, these are “10 Chicago, books, art, music that I dig. People do what they want to do. Check them out or miss out.” We couldn’t agree more.

The Curtis album
By Curtis Mayfield
Curtom Records, 1970

It’s like the funk of Cottage Grove found its way to The Lyric Opera House.

The Curtis/Live album
By Curtis Mayfield
Curtom Records, 1971

A symphony inside a tavern.


The act of stopping in the middle of your day, and not caring where you are and/or who you are around, and popping it a couple of times is a great way to keep joy familiar with your molecular structure.

Cooley High
Directed by Michael Schultz

The 1975 film about two friends is a poem about potential interrupted written on film. The frames and dialogue are the ink.

South Side Community Arts Center

The first black arts museum in the United States. All them tiny nail holes in them wooden walls are ripples in the pond of Black genius.

Fred Anderson Live at the Velvet Lounge
Okka Disk, 1997

Masters at work.

A Street in Bronzeville
By Gwendolyn Brooks
Harper & Brothers, 1945

See Also


Unite (AfriCOBRA)
By Barbara Jones-Hogo, 1971

A print by one of the founders of the AfriCobra Movement. Quick cheat: Get hip to the AfriCOBRA Movement & OBAC in general.

A poem titled [notice I didn’t say entitled #noshade] “Somebody Better Do Something” by the late and great Brenda Matthews.

Legacy! Legacy!
By Jamila Woods
Jagjaguwar, 2019

Photo credit: Joshua Clark, City of Chicago

Chicago’s 1st Poet Laureate, interdisciplinary artist and educator avery r. young [him, him, his] is a Leader for a New Chicago 2022 awardee, a Cave Canem fellow and a co-director of The Floating Museum. His poetry and prose have been featured in BreakBeat Poets, Teaching Black, Poetry Magazine and alongside images in photographer Cecil McDonald Jr’s, In The Company of Black. He is the composer and librettist for a new commissioned work from The Lyric Opera of Chicago titled safronia. HIs full length recording tubman. is the soundtrack to his collection of poetry, neckbone: visual verses.

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