American Gun: A Poem by 100 Chicagoans is a collective response to the individual suffering behind the statistics. Big Shoulders Books editor Chris Green asked one-hundred poets from across the city to take turns writing a communal poem about Chicago’s gun violence. The poets range in age, gender, race, ethnicity, and poetic experience. Such well-known poets as Ed Hirsch, Haki Madhubuti, Ed Roberson, Marc Smith, Ana Castillo, and Kevin Coval write with teen poets from the South and West sides . . . many from the group Young Chicago Authors, but also young poets from Chicago’s alternative high schools, where statistically, students experience the most gun violence in the city.
The poem is a pantoum, a poetic form where every line is repeated twice. Green chose this form because its structure of repeating lines mirrors the semi-automatic firing of a weapon and also the seemingly endless cycle of shootings in Chicago.
In 2019, Chicago police seized over 10,000 guns—an average of one gun every 48 minutes, which gives you a sense of how many weapons are on the streets. However, the main title of this poem, American Gun, points to the gun epidemic as not simply a Chicago problem, but an American one. Despite the rhetoric of conservative political and corporate interests, most Americans (including NRA members) want more sensible gun laws. Our country needs more truth, more collaboration—something like this poem where diverse people sing together in sanity and beauty. When politics fails us, poetry tells us we are not alone in our outrage and hope.
Download a FREE digital copy of American Gun here.
Paper Nautilus has announced the release of Meredith Boe’s What City, a chapbook of prose and winner of the 2018 Debut Series Chapbook Contest.
These stories and essays received the following praise:
“Moving with deft concision from location to location, this collection of eight pieces of brief prose feels like wandering through a city and stumbling upon treasure: a geocache of place and its associated feeling–not just where things happen, but how and why they matter. The stories leave the reader with a soft illumination, the way ‘lightning bugs emerge from a blanket of black sky.’”
— Kathleen Rooney, author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
“In What City Meredith Boe’s prose inhabits neighborhoods of circumstance and memory. These essays delicately navigate love, loss, and moments of being, tracking terrains both intimate and urban. What city? Her city.”
—Barrie Jean Borich, author of Apocalypse, Darling and Body Geographic
Order your copy here or visit Meredith’s Contact page!
Voyage Chicago interviewed Meredith recently as part of their Most Inspiring Stories series.
On the freelance lifestyle:
“Taking such a big risk wasn’t easy. Work sometimes still bleeds into my evenings or weekends. But that usually happens when I spend part of my day doing something fun, like going to the beach, working on a creative project, or volunteering. So, it’s worth it, to me. When I’m doing something I want to be doing for work, it doesn’t usually feel like I’m working ‘after hours.’
That being said, the work is not always sunshine and rainbows. There are days when I don’t feel like working, as with any job; even if you love it. Writing for a living requires a lot of focus and precision, so my editors can tell if I have an off day! It’s hard.”
“Unremembered Skies and Snows” by Meredith Boe
Your hands have always looked too big to hold those meek potatoes. Fingernails peeling and callouses dirt crusted, you hand me a bag of freshly plucked reds and yellows, caked in mud that I’ll wash off later in my Chicago kitchen sink. I still have never seen you happier than when you aren’t driving your truck and can tend to vegetables.
Your hands have been gripped around more Bud Lights than all the plastic six-pack yokes in the ocean, and in cuffs on occasion. They’ve yanked a decaying tooth, no doubt. Long ago carried candles as an altar boy. Shoveled snow gloveless in the dark morning hours, just as the cows begin to stir in the field beyond the barn. Just as distant suns unwillingly fade, yielding to light.
Read the rest in the Chicago Reader here.
“The poet is the gatekeeper who determines that all is a blessing, the good and the bad. So I say in unison with my daughter, include it all in the poetry—sorrow, tears, broken hearts, as well as the delicious madeleines and the glass of cold milk. Every morning, we open our eyes. There should be anticipation and gratitude for the gifts that will be delivered that day.” – Richard Jones
Read the full interview, published by the Chicago Review of Books: here: https://chireviewofbooks.com/2018/06/21/stranger-on-earth-richard-jones-interview/
“Birding alone makes sense to Adrian. As a child he felt that ‘birds lifted everything up,’ but that ‘inside the town with its concrete and its buildings, inside the houses with their rooms taped together like boxes, things were spilling, falling, gathering speed on their way to the ground.’ These lilting inner flourishes are when White really shines.”
Read Meredith’s full review of White’s book here.
Check out the full interview for the Chicago Review of Books here!
The current issue of After Hours, Issue 35, features Meredith’s poem “Octopus,” originally written with the Chicago poems-on-demand group Poems While You Wait. Check out the PWYW Tumblr here.
I was able to celebrate Poetry Month this past April with a poem published in Burningword Lit. Journal. You can read “After the War” online here: https://www.burningword.com/2017/04/after-the-war/
If you want to buy the whole issue (which I suggest!) you can purchase it through Magcloud.