Horizons showcase set for May 21 at the American Writers Museum

Horizons welcomes the public to its 2019 writers showcase on Tuesday, May 21. Sponsored by the American Writers Museum, this free event will feature original poetry read by shelter-resident writers.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is grateful to our city’s newest museum for generous sponsorship of this showcase. Opened in 2017, the American Writers Museum at 180 North Michigan Avenue was voted Illinois’ best attraction in a USA Today Readers Choice poll and named one of the world’s 10 best new museums by Fodor’s.

The hour-long program will begin at 6 p.m. To attend, you must RSVP to the museum.

Director of Organizing Wayne Richard

Horizons is a creative writing outreach program offered at shelters and transitional housing programs, led by Director of Organizing Wayne Richard. This year, CCH’s Alyssa Rodriguez and Bisma Shoukat assisted Wayne in offering creative writing sessions with men and women at programs where they organize homeless families and adults, including women and men in reentry.

Our 2019 writers live at Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Grace House, and La Posada. Their writing is prompted using the “power to pain” model. Participants are asked to write about their experiences with homelessness, and later, finding their voice as advocates.

Last May’s showcase at the museum drew almost 100 people, including shelter residents and their families. The audience was asked to cheer for their favorite work at the close of the evening. Showing enthusiasm for all the writers, the audience selected D Naize for her moving poem, “Faded Hope.”

Of the loud cheers for her work, Ms. Naize joked, “Some of them are my kids!”

Terry Cooks

The youngest participant, 10-year-old Terrell (Terry) Cooks, was runner-up. Terry said later that his poem, “Future and Past” — carefully penned in a stenographer’s notebook — is his first.

A selection of new poems will be published online in the Horizons Reading Room and in a booklet distributed at the showcase.

Wayne Richard started Horizons in 2007. A CCH organizer since 2000, Wayne first became involved with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless when he participated in an early version of its writing program while living at a West Side shelter.

“Everyone has a song to sing,” said Wayne, adding that writers are encouraged when others appreciate their work.

Adler University collaborates with Horizons. Graduate student Julie Miller is this year’s program intern. Adler’s art department, led by Dr. Jennifer LaCivita, will contribute students’ “emphatic art responses” to a selection of poems. These will be displayed at the showcase, with the art given afterward to the writers whose poems inspired the drawings.

CCH thanks the American Writers Museum for its generosity in hosting our showcase for a second year.

Allison Williams Photography

– Anne Bowhay, Media