Event Review: Poets Chris Green and Richard Jones Reading

Poets in Season: a reading with Chris Green and Richard Jones

By Michael Garza
Contributor to The Underground

On Monday evening, staff and students gathered for a poetry reading. Readings can run the gamut of atmosphere, from the bombast of a juke joint to the still of temple ceremony. Yet, on the fourth floor of the Arts & Letters Hall, tucked in a kind of penthouse suite overlooking complete darkness, the buzz shifted between a lounge reading and lecture. Professor Richard Jones and Chris Green came to share poems, and that was enough to pack the place.

Professor Richard Jones, who planned to share poems from Stranger on Earth, his 2018 full-length collection, instead took on the challenge he gives his students, and shared poems fresh off the press. “I discovered only last year that potatoes come in different colors.” said Professor Jones, and in one poem an angel visits to ask how the purple potatoes taste. Jones joked about being near-blind without glasses, but showed no lack of lucidity in words. In another piece entitled “The Proposal”, he tells a companion “as long as you don’t mind eating rabbit for the rest of your life, you’ll be happy”, a suggestion he miraculously charges with appeal. 

Jones was a warm and insightful lead-off hitter for Professor Chris Green, Director of Writing & Publishing Internships at DePaul, who’s newest poetry collection Everywhere West just dropped in July of 2019. Professor Green read selections from Everywhere, and alluded to a “video poem” based off the titular piece that would be shown later in the evening. Green opened with a poem about his visit to Robert Frost’s grave where he ran into Michael O’Keefe, the actor from Caddyshack and Roseanne fame. The absurdity of life is given microphone and family in Green’s poetry. “One is never more dead than in Vermont in January” says Green, and his knowledge of Chicago winters reinforces this point. In a favorite of mine called “The Prodigal Daughter”, the young lady “writes my name on a piece of paper, crosses it out, and hands it back to me.” This fiery spirit keeps billowing, as Green writes “you are so serious about the predicament of nature you keep a field journal at five.”

Before the video plays, Jones and Green perform a shared reading of “Conversations with a Dog”, a dialogue anyone would kill to have. Lines like “If there is anger in me it is squirrels” and “you starved yourself for a week and, like a saint, your eyes went cloudy” curled the room tighter around some metaphysical fireplace they were building.

The lights dimmed and Chris Green played the video poem “Everywhere West“, a time-lapse recording of his friend Mark Neumann’s cross-country drive with that title poem as soundtrack. Traveling along this common artery of the American landscape was a moving experience, and a welcome innovation for the presentation of poetry in broader culture.

At DePaul, the gifts are spread generously, among the student body and teachers alike.

Call for Submissions: Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium

The Johns Hopkins University’s first annual Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium is now open for submissions!

This will be a new annual two-day event at Johns Hopkins main campus in Baltimore, Maryland and it will offer students across the country the chance to disseminate their humanities research on a national scale. The event will be this spring, April 3rd and 4th, 2020 and the application portal is now open.

This symposium is open to undergraduate students from any two-year or four-year college or university who would like to present their original scholarship in the humanities. The university hopes to have 400 participants this year and will also be offering a select number of travel grants to help students afford participation. In addition to the multiple panels of student papers and presentations (including original creative works), they will also have a wonderful keynote delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr and multiple professional development panels featuring graduate students and faculty in Johns Hopkins’ humanities departments and centers. Students studying all areas of the humanities are welcome to attend.

Those interested can learn more at the conference site.

Welcome Erika Sánchez!

TONIGHT –

Please join the department of Latin American and Latino Studies in welcoming Erika L. Sánchez, the new Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz Chair in Latin American and Latino Studies!

Erika will be teaching some of her courses in English, including a graduate workshop in YA Lit this winter.

Event date:
6:00-8:00pm
November 6, 2019

Event location:
Cortelyou Commons, LPC

Upcoming Event: What Can We Do About Climate Change?

On October 30, join the English Department as we host our first event of the year in partnership with One Book, One Chicago. This year’s One Book selection is Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction, and our first panel discussion will focus on solutions to human-caused climate change.

“What Can We Do About Climate Change?” will be moderated by our own Ted Anton with Mark Potosnak, Barbara Willard, Jill Hopke, and Ali Fatemi all discussing their own work in relation to our changing climate.

Visiting Writers Series: Poets Richard Jones and Chris Green

Join two of our very own DePaul English professors, Richard Jones and Chris Green, on Monday, November 4 at 6pm in Arts & Letters 414 for a reading and conversation!

Read more about Richard Jones’s poetry collection Strangers on Earth here and here.

Read more about Chris Green’s poetry collection Everywhere West here and here.

Event Review: Bilingualism Unpacked

By Sara Shahein
Contributor to The Underground

On Wednesday, October 9th DePaul’s Office of Multicultural Student Success teamed up with the Latinx Center and Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority to host “Bilingualism Unpacked.” During the event, attendees listened to a panel of DePaul students and advisors answer questions about multilingualism – the panel’s languages ranged from Spanish to Serbian.

Each of the panelists were asked about their backgrounds and how they learned the languages they know today. Some learned their respective language when they were children, others learned the language in high school and college, and a few spoke the language first and learned English later. The panel noted that they switch languages when speaking with an adult whose native language is not English as a sign of respect and to make the individual feel more comfortable. They likewise discussed the importance of knowing another language and how it allows people to learn more about other cultures or even their own native cultures.

Each panelist was also asked if they had ever traveled abroad, if they spoke a native language abroad, and how were they perceived. A few panelists spoke about being seen as a local and felt more comfortable to take initiative and start up a conversation with locals.

Yet, when asked about the stigma that may arise from being bilingual, one panelist shared an example about having a conversation with someone in Serbian and mentioning that she was from Chicago. The opposite person immediately stopped speaking Serbian and switched to English. In response, the panelist said that she felt disappointed that the gentleman she was speaking to didn’t think she could continue to carry on the conversation if it was in Serbian, despite it being her first language. Other panelists explained that many non-English speakers or struggling English speakers tend to be looked down upon in society, instead of being given translators, assistance, or guidance to encourage them to continue trying to learn English.

The final question posed to the panelists asked whether they had ever denied being bilingual. Much to the surprise of the audience, a few panelists confirmed they had denied their ability to speak another language to others. One panelist explained that she worked in a law firm and it became known that she spoke and understood Spanish. She was quickly asked to translate and interpret, but she did not feel confident enough because she was still in the process of learning Spanish. She told the audience that, when it comes to work, she denies she is bilingual until she feels confident enough in her abilities.

Altogether, “Bilingualism Unpacked” showcased the reasons why someone would want to learn another language. It also taught other multilingual people in the audience how to deal with certain stigmas, present yourself when abroad, appreciate different cultures, and advocate for non-English speakers.

Event Review: Books on the Chopping Block with City Lit Theatre

By Olivia Muran
Contributor to The Underground

On Friday, September 27, DePaul celebrated Banned Books Week by hosting Books on the Chopping Block, a live performance by the City Lit Theater Company. The event kicked off at 1 p.m. in the John T. Richardson Library on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. Banned Books Week is an annual event hosted by the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association. The event raises awareness of the censorship that seeks to dull the intellectual flame of readers across the nation. Regarding the dulling of said figurative flame, the theme of the event this year was “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark,” urging everyone to “Keep the Light On.”

At DePaul, four members of the City Lit Theater Company performed selections from the Top 10 Banned Books on 2018’s list, including the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. The list also featured many children’s picture books, such as Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner and A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss. In order to make it on the Banned Books list, these titles must have multiple formal complaints or ‘challenges’ filed against them in an effort to remove access in libraries and schools nationwide. Six out of the ten books on the list were banned because of LGBTQIA+ content, while others were banned for addressing teen suicide or political viewpoints.

The performance selections featured a mix of comedy and serious content. Many of the passages read showcased the importance of the book at hand, advocating accessibility as well as removal from banned lists nationwide. For example, the number one challenged book of 2018 was George by Alex Gino, which tells the story of a transgender character during adolescence. The passage performed at DePaul showcased the book’s child-like innocence of George’s experience, though the topic is controversial among certain book communities. As a result, Gino’s George has been banned, challenged, and relocated from libraries and schools.

The Top Banned Books list serves to call our attention to the censorship that books face when the content presents controversial topics. By filing formal complaints, censors restrict access to diverse communities and decide which books can and cannot be read. In turn, participation and awareness of events like Books on the Chopping Block during Banned Books Week continues to defend these restricted books and works to “Keep the Light On” when “Censorship Keeps Us in the Dark.”