Horizons offers creative writing workshops to homeless parents, mostly mothers, who live at family shelters as well as residents of adult shelters located in Chicago.

For the third year, Horizons plans to return to the American Writers Museum for its 2020 showcase. Our usual date in May will be rescheduled. 

A free evening event, the Horizons showcase is generously hosted by the American Writers Museum at 180 North Michigan Avenue.

About 100 writers participate each year. Selected poems and essays are published online in the Horizons Reading Room and in booklets distributed at the spring showcase.

Horizons was launched in 2007 by Director of Organizing Wayne Richard, a staff member since 2000. Wayne first became involved with CCH as a grassroots leader, when he was living in a West Side shelter that hosted an earlier version of the writing program.

“At the time I started, I didn’t even know I could write,” said Wayne, who led Horizons for 12 years. His own poetry has been published, featured in poetry slams, and performed on WBEZ Public Radio and WGN-TV.

“Everyone has a song to sing,” says Wayne, pointing to pieces written by participants that range from emotional to wistful, hopeful to angry. Most of the writing is “about relationships to someone or to something – the lack of, or need of, or appreciation of relationships.”

Wayne Richard prepares the mic for poet Clorinda Johnson in 2012 (Photos by Jeff Foy)
Wayne Richard prepares the mic for poet Clorinda Johnson (Photo by Jeff Foy)

Horizons’ outreach to youth was featured in a short film produced by Equal Voice online newspaper.  More Than Housing: One Person’s Voice highlighted an outreach sessions, focusing on youth participant Shon Robertson, a Spoken Word poet.

“What I really like about the writing workshop is that you can be you, you can be free,” Shon says in the film. “Poetry is about you, and your heart. When you’re homeless, you do have to suppress your individuality, your uniqueness, but writing helps you bring that back to life.”

For more information, contact Special Projects Organizer Claudia Cabrera at (312) 641-4140.