Creative Writing Presents “ChiArts Writes Volume 3”

The first ChiArts showcase of the year was presented by the Creative Writing Conservatory! On September 15, scholar-artists from all grade levels performed works published in “ChiArts Writes Volume 3” in the Black Box Theatre. The night began with a celebratory reception provided by the parents of ChiArts and led into a sold-out reading featuring over 30 Creative Writing majors.

This annual publication includes all different types of literary genres and themes, from short stories to personal essays, and works ranging from surreal comedy to mental illness. Huge congratulations to Tina Boyer Brown, Kenyatta Rogers, Chris Lin, and the scholar-artists featured in “ChiArts Writes Volume 3” for producing a stellar and diverse book of work. If you would like to preorder a copy, email Department Assistant, Kenyatta Rogers.


2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Award Winners

This August, Illinois Humanities announced the first annual 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Award Winners. Out of the 260 entries that were received across the state, 19 young poets from kindergarten to 12th grade received awards and 25 students received honorable mentions. With ChiArts’ first class of Creative Writers graduating last May, we’re thrilled that Faith Moreno, Haley Cao, and Ruth Jones won for the sophomore, junior, and senior classes.

From 1970-2000, Gwendolyn Brooks hosted the statewide poetry awards and reviving the program was an initiative within the “Our Miss Brooks 100” collaboration. As a poet, feminist, activist, and the first African American woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Miss Brooks is one of the most authentic and significant literary heroes not only in Chicago, but throughout the nation. Huge congratulations to Faith, Haley, and Ruth on receiving a 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Award for the following pieces:

10th Grade: “Alcoholism” by Faith Moreno

11th Grade: “Prayer” by Haley Cao

12th Grade: “Untitled” by Ruth Jones.

For a full list of winners and more information on “Our Miss Brooks 100” programming, click here.

City of Chicago Announces Rising Star Honor Roll

On July 13, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced the 4th Annual Fifth Star Honors! The event celebrates the contributions of four Chicago artistic giants, Common, Jeanne Gang, Kerry James Marshall, and Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Three of our scholar-artists will be honored in the City of Chicago’s Rising Star Honor Roll as well!

The City of Chicago “will recognize 25 outstanding young artists as members of the Rising Star Honor Roll.” ChiArts is proud to announce that Damayanti Wallace (Creative Writing Major) will be honored for Literary Arts, Jayda Perry for Dance, and Freedom Martin for Theatre. These three scholar-artists have shown exceptional leadership and passion within the arts and will be inducted in an awards ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center on Monday, August 28. For more information, visit


Tyehimba Jess Performs Pulitzer Prize Winning Poetry

On June 19, our Creative Writing Conservatory welcomed Tyehimba Jess for a presentation and reading of poetry from his 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Olio. 

The evening opened with current Creative Writers reciting original pieces, leading into an introduction of Tyehimba’s previous work and awards. Throughout the evening, Tyehimba presented his research on minstrel shows of the 19th century and the historical significance of the individual’s featured in his poetry. Audience members were completely fascinated with Tyehimba’s synergy of words and design within the book. Tyehimba’s poetry in Olio can be read in many different directions and at every reading, he improvises the order in which he reads. In response to a student question on the topic of African American minstrel performers, Tyehimba talked about the poetic value of their circumstances and the relevance to racism in our society today. ChiArts is grateful to Tyehimba for sharing his incredible work, creative process, and historical insight!

ChiArts Welcomes 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner, Tyehimba Jess

The Creative Writing Conservatory is thrilled to welcome Tyehimba Jess, a 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner. On June 19 from 6:00-7:00 PM, a free public reading and talk will be hosted in the ChiArts Black Box Theatre. Jess’s book Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. He is the 6th African American to have such an honor and does so during the year long celebration of Gwendolyn Brooks 100th birthday, who was the 1st African American to win the Pulitzer prize for her book Annie Allen in 1950. Please join us for this special event.

Want to learn more about Tyehimba Jess? Click here!

Creative Writing Hosts Fatimah Asghar, Franny Choi and Tarfia Faizullah

We started off National Poetry Month with a powerful panel of women writers, performers and teaching artists! Fatimah Asghar (Dark Noise Collective, Helen Zell Writers’ Program), Franny Choi (Dark Noise Collective, Project VOICE) and Tarfia Faizullah (Organic Weapon Arts Publishing, University of Michigan Professor) visited our Creative Writing students for a Q & A session, master class and open mic performance.

 On March 31, students listened, laughed and discussed their personal writing styles and goals with our guests. Our Creative Writers asked about topics ranging from college programs and artistic solitude to self-criticism. Tarfia explained, “I don’t know if I believe in good or bad writing. When I think of “good” or “bad”, I just ask myself… is it alive?” These three writers challenged our students with unfiltered answers, detailed writing exercises and workshops on “how to trust our instincts as writers.” Thank you, Fatimah, Franny and Tarfia for sharing your beautiful words and work with our students! Check out our favorite insights from these incredible women: