History, remixed in poetry

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Kevin Coval, the author of A People's History of Chicago, was at the Oak Park Main Library, 834 Lake St., on June 27 to talk about his book of poems, which is the latest selection in the library's One Book, One Oak Park program. Library officials said this is the first time the library has chosen a book of poetry for its community-wide summer reading.

 According to the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, a project by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Census Bureau, nearly 12 percent of the U.S. adult population in 2017, or 28 million people, read poetry within the last year, NPR recently reported. That's up from about 7 percent in 2012.

Coval's poetry, in particular, comes at the right time, Oak Park library officials explained, perhaps because of the fresh way he reimagines Chicago's history. Coval tells it through the lens of the people whom conventional history is most likely to have overlooked. 

In one poem from the book, "The Father Is a Black Man," about Jean Baptist Point Du Sable, the first permanent settler of Chicago and a man of color, Coval writes the following as something of an epigraph before he goes into free verse:

"There is not a single street in the city of Chicago named in honor of the Black man who founded this city, not an alley … but John Kinzie, a white man, who came after DuSable, when DuSable was forced out or pushed out or whatever, he ended up with DuSable's property, & Kinzie has a bridge, Kinzie has a street, Kinzie has a building, & all he did was buy DuSable's house."

That was followed by clever verses like this (note that DuSable was a fur trapper):

the father had style

and maybe some gators.

 Michael Romain 

Divvy out in Evanston?

The Oak Park Board of Trustees ended its relationship with the Divvy bike-sharing program in early 2018, and now it appears the city of Evanston might not be far behind.

The news site, Evanston Now, reported last month that Divvy could be on the budgetary chopping block.

According to the article by Bill Smith, Divvy was the top item residents wanted cut from the budget in an online survey.

Of the 46 programs the city asked residents to rank in order of importance, Divvy, which has a net cost of $165,808, topped the list for elimination, according to the story. 

In Oak Park, the program was costing the village about $26,665 a month.

Tim Inklebarger

Email: michael@oakpark.com

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and OakPark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad

Latest Comments