Birds, Poems, and a Play


Tucked behind the modern zinc façade of the Poetry Foundation, through the treed garden, you can find artist Tony Fitzpatrick's Secret Birds exhibition in the first floor gallery. Twenty bird drawings hang along the space's east-west wall, each creating a narrative unique to itself. The intricate, colorful bird theme drawings quote sheet music and prose while incorporating foil wrappers, parts of cross word puzzles, clown eyes, and other hidden treasures. The avian theme is a familiar one for Fitzpatrick, but it is particularly fitting for his final exhibition in Chicago before he relocates to New Orleans this winter to study ornithology and natural history at the University of New Orleans.

In conjunction with the show, on Thursday, July 31 at 7:30pm the public is invited to attend a performance of Secret Birds. The play, directed by Ann Filmer (16th Street Theater), will be performed by Fitzpatrick and Martha Lavey (Steppenwolf Theater Company), with music performed and composed by Frank Orrall (Poi-Dog Pondering). The play is inspired by the poetry and stories found in Fitzpatrick’s drawings. Doors will open at 7pm.

Click here for Fitzpatrick’s multimedia feature on the inspiration for Secret Birds. In the latest edition of Poetry are an essay, The Day Lou Reed Set Me Free, and corresponding drawings.

The Poetry Foundation is a perfect platform for the exhibition. Both the exhibition space and Fitzpatrick's drawings bring together nature, art and poetry. The gallery's tall ceilings and airy lines are a serene contrast to the artist's vibrant drawings.

The exhibition can be viewed from 11am-4pm, Monday through Friday through September 14. While visiting make sure to browse through the reading library, featuring a collection of predominantly editor copies of single author works that are still used for fact checking and reference. The collection includes: a children’s section, anthologies, chapbooks, journals, broadsides, monographs, criticism and prose.