Magazine hopes new building will help promote poetry

April 21, 2010 4:47:30 PM PDT
Chicago's Poetry Magazine is getting a new home. It's all thanks to a very generous donation several years ago from an heir to the Eli Lilly drug fortune.

The Poetry Foundation unveiled architectural drawings of a new building dedicated solely to the art form of poetry and the first permanent venue for Poetry Magazine in its nearly 100-year history in the city.

The two-story building will feature a public garden, an exhibition gallery performance area and a library.

"We are the first wholly dedicated poetry building that has been designed from the ground up with poetry in mind. I think this is one of a kind, and it is great for Chicago to have it," said John Barr, Poetry Foundation president.

The new building will be in the city's River North neighborhood on the southwest corner of Dearborn and Superior streets.

"The building and the garden are in a dialogue. And the garden can be seen through the zinc screen that bounds the property. It peaks people's curiosity to come in and explore the project ," said John Ronan, architect.

In 2002, pharmaceutical heiress Ruth Lilly gave the foundation close to a $200 million donation. Some of that money is being used for the building.

"That was the source of the gift and the ability to do this program," said Barr.

In close to 100 years, Poetry Magazine has had a number of locations in the city. The big question is, Why does it now need a 22,000-square-foot building?

"It will help us get our programs out to the city and perhaps to the country, we're a national organization. But it will also be a place where Chicago can come and experience poetry," said Christian Wiman, Poetry Magazine editor.

"I think it is gorgeous. I think it's fabulous. The poetry scene here in Chicago is alive," said Mike Puican, Literary Guild complex president.

"I think it is fabulous. It vibrates with life and beauty and precision like a poem," said Susan Hahn, poet.

Supporters hope this poetry sanctuary will raise poetry's profile in society.


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