Who am I? Am I a city? And if I am what is my name?
And once while the time whistles blew and blew again
The men answered: Long ago we gave you a name,
Long ago we laughed and said: You? Your name is Chicago.
Early the red men gave a name to the river,
the river of wild onion smell,
– The Windy City, Carl Sandburg
Love Chicago? Love poetry?
Don’t know Chicago? Don’t know too much about poetry?
Whatever your answer, you should check out the Poetry Foundation’s Chicago Poetry Tour.
This is an amazing feature produced by the Poetry Foundation with several tours of Chicago, featuring poetry from many Chicago poets. You can watch the tours online, with audio recordings of poets reading their works about or inspired by the city. Or, you can download the audio to play as you walk through the city. The site also has downloadable maps. There are 22 tours of downtown Chicago landmarks and surrounding neighborhoods. You can listen to Carl Sandburg reciting The Windy City, or Gwendolen Brooks, reciting her We Real Cool, as well as readings by other poets, writers, and critics. You can navigate to specific poems or poets, rather than navigating via the tour map.
I often think that New York is my favorite city in the world, but if I give it ‘Best in World’ title, I think it could be exempted from the competition for the Best in US laurels, a title which would then, undoubtedly, go to Chicago.
I’d love to see similar features of other cities, featuring snippets of poetry and prose of and about each city. Hmmm…this has me pondering what I would choose to include if this was done for my hometown. I think that’s a future blog post.