A Bigger Table: 50 Years of the Chicago Poetry Center

Thursday, Jun 27 – Sep 14, 2024

61 W. Superior St, Chicago, IL 60654

Reception: Saturday, July 13, 2:00 - 5:00 PM

Celebrating CPC’s five historic decades, this exhibition will feature 50 broadsides, 50 iconic vintage poetry event posters, archival materials and ephemera, and the premier of a documentary film A Bigger Table: 50 Years of the Chicago Poetry Center.

In defiance of literary censorship in the 1950s, a group of Chicago writers and editors organized to create publication and performance spaces that welcomed queer and racially diverse contemporary voices. These organic, community-driven efforts, which included the Big Table literary magazine and reading series, were formalized in 1974 into the nonprofit Chicago Poetry Center (CPC). The title “Big Table” was chosen because a big table has room for everyone and because one of the censored writers found a note he’d written to himself that said, “Get a bigger writing table.”

For 50 years, CPC has remained rooted in its history of liberatory artistic practice. The organization’s programs have supported tens of thousands of Chicago Public School students in exploring their powerful voices, offered platforms for nearly a thousand poets to express themselves in writing and aloud, and engaged individuals nationwide in critical conversations around race using poetry as a springboard for transformative dialogue. 

Image Credit: Vintage Chicago Poetry Center posters.