A People’s History of Chicago was at the center of our One Book, One Oak Park series in 2018. In 77 poems, author Kevin Coval traces the city’s history through often untold perspectives, including African-American, Latinx, LGBTQ, and working-class experiences.
Poems that bridge time and place
One thread running through the series: the poems illustrate Chicago history, but their themes bridge time and place.
From May through August, we discussed the poems both inside and outside the library. In five Poem & Place discussions, we met on street corners around Oak Park, relating the poems to events, people, and places in Oak Park’s own history.
“We’re finding we’re part of not only this story but many stories,” Supervisor Kelly Knowles said. “We want to shake, wake, provoke curiosity.”
Discussion, art & action
In addition to discussing the book around town, including at four senior centers in Oak Park, we toured murals in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and participated in a poetry workshop with former library artist in residence Luis Tubens. We contributed to an art installation honoring black lives. And we enjoyed live music, spoken word, and a visit from author Kevin Coval.
And as one book discussion participant at Dole Branch told us: “While reading the references to the people and movements that rose up, I asked myself: How can I make a difference? Can I find something that I am good at and contribute?”
By the numbers
- 5th summer of the series
- 1st time selecting a poetry title
- 510 physical and digital checkouts
- 16 events
- 400+ attendees
- 17 videos of library staff reading their favorites
- 7,000+ video views on social media