Chicago is one of America’s largest cities, amassing over one million residents and millions of visitors and tourists each year. It is located on Lake Michigan in the upper northeast area of Illinois. A hub for art and culture, Chicago just might have to be the place you choose for your next poetry venue.
Slam Poetry (the competition of performance poetry) was invented in the 1980’s by a Chicago construction worker and reached its mainstream popularity when it moved to the Green Mill, an Al Capone jazz club that is still active to this day. But that is not the only Chicago poetry space you will find in the area. Chicago is beaming with art and poetry, and there is always room for more. So whether you are looking to read at an already existing poetry venue or wish to start your own, Chicago has you covered!
Poetry Space Options in Chicago
While it may not take much to start a Chicago poetry reading, there are a few essentials that may help you get started on the right foot.
- Amplification Equipment
There needs to be some sort of stage from which the readers will stand and from that stage needs to be some amplification. This means you need a sound system. Your sound system may not need to be top-of-the-line (though that wouldn’t hurt), but it does need to have, at minimum, a microphone, a stand, a cord, and a speaker to plug it into.
Some poetry readings have tall intimate tables and chairs, some have long communal seating, and others have bean bag chairs for seats. Choose the style, quality, and amount of seating your reading will need so the audience can feel comfortable and all fit in the venue.
- Pens and Paper
There must be an open mic list or the reading will fall into utter chaos. Bring a notepad or scrap piece of paper along with a few pens or pencils so they can write their names down if they wish to perform.
Finding the right venue is very important. The type of audience you wish to attend will play a role in this decision. If you wish it to be an all-ages reading, a coffee shop in the early evening might be best. If you expect a more grown-up vibe, a local bar is always a good option.
Poetry Space Companies in Chicago
A Chicago poetry space is the ideal place for local talent to get their start in the field. Make the venue perfect, keeping these points in mind.
- Concert Sound Systems
Whether you need a few replacement cords or you are starting from scratch and need all of the amplification equipment, Concert Sound Systems has just about anything you could need. From festivals to small and personal events, this team has lighting, staging and more.
This local company offers services to every gathering from weddings to fashion shows to entertainment events. Northwestern University and American Airlines are two companies that regularly call on Frost to make use of their expert technicians and equipment.
- Chicago Party Place
Provided your venue doesn’t come equipped with seating, you can get all of your chairs and tables here at great prices. They also have audiovisual equipment and red carpets for rent, among many other items.
Pros and Cons of Poetry Spaces in Chicago
Like any city or town, there are good reasons to start or not start a project in the area. Here is a small list of pros and cons to help you decide if you should start a poetry reading in Chicago.
- Resident diversity
Diversity makes the world more interesting and that much more beautiful. With all these different histories and points of view, your poetry reading will be filled with a litany of unique voices.
- Public transportation
The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) has fine-tuned their public transport to be one of the best in the country. Get wherever you need to go quickly and efficiently with any of their many transportation options.
- Cultural hotspot
So many backgrounds, so many stories to tell, Chicago is a cultural hotspot, making it a great place to start a poetry reading.
- Get ready for traffic
If you have a car and plan to drive through the city, get ready for some traffic. The Dan Ryan Expressway and Lakeshore Drive are teeming with heavy traffic at rush hour, so be aware.
- Crime rates
Like any city, there is always going to be the danger of crime. However, Chicago has one of the highest crime rates in the country and since most poetry readings happen in the evening, this could prove to be a major factor if you aren’t careful.
- Poverty is everywhere
Unfortunately, when a community is plagued with poverty, it makes it difficult for them to make it to extracurricular activities like poetry readings.
Famous Locations in Chicago
- Millennium Park
Catch a glimpse of the wonder that is Millennium Park as you stroll the green paths and admire the lovely artwork erected all around. Marked by the titanic “Cloud Gate” sculpture, striking architecture, manicured landscape design, and famous Lurie Garden, there is no shortage of beauty to discover at Millennium Park. Make sure to check their calendar to see what free events are being held during your stay.
- Navy Pier
This is the place to be! This 50-acre piece of magic located on the shores of Lake Michigan is flush with things to do like rides and games, amazing restaurants and bars, great shopping, and even historical tours. Whether you are riding the Ferris Wheel with your date or watching the fireworks with your family, Navy Pier is a terrific place to have some fun.
- Museum of Science and Industry
If you have ever found yourself enamored with science or even just some good old fashioned immersive exploration, MSI is a must-see for you. With around 14-acres of exhibits, films, and events, there is always going to be something fascinating to learn and discover. See a real WWII submarine or experience what it feels like to see a real tornado!