A report from the Poetry Foundation's open house

Open House at the Poetry Foundation.Open House at the Poetry Foundation. Photo by Merleyn Bell.Open House at the Poetry Foundation. Photo by Merleyn Bell.Poet Ed Hirsch at the Poetry Foundation. Photo courtesy of the Poetry Foundation


 

Nearly one hundred years after the first publication of Poetry magazine, the Poetry Foundation continues the mission of founder Harriet Monroe with the opening of its new home in Chicago's River North neighborhood. The new state-of-the-art building was unveiled to the public at an open house held June 25–26. During the two-day celebration, audiences enjoyed free performances, panel discussions, and book signings from a who's-who of contemporary poets, including Elizabeth Alexander, Sandra Cisneros, Billy Collins, Robert Hass, Edward Hirsch, and Kay Ryan. Participants in the foundation's national high school poetry recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud, also recited poems to a captivated audience on the second morning of the open house.

The 22,000 square-foot space houses a public garden, 30,000-volume library, exhibition gallery, and multipurpose performance space in addition to offices where the foundation will continue their mission of "discovering the best poetry and putting it before the largest possible audience." As Poetry Foundation president John Barr explains, "This weekend our building came alive with visitors who for the first time experienced poetry in a space made just for that purpose. And we hope they will return. As a poem retains a freshness and magic that keeps the reader coming back, so this building will reward the repeat visitor." –Merleyn Bell, Art Director


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