Respect the Mic: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School

Penguin Workshop. Feb. 2022. 176p. ed. by Abdurraqib, Hanif & others, eds. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593226810.
Gr 9 Up–The impact and legacy of Chicago’s Oak Park and River Forest High School’s Spoken Word Club is celebrated in a collection of poems penned by current and former students. This collection includes an introduction by Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tyehimba Jess, who points out one of the great strengths of the collection—it is, in part, a love letter to Chicago. Among the alumni included in the collection are poetry personality Dan “Sully” Sullivan, National Youth Poets Laureate Kara Jackson and Natalie Richardson, and NBA basketball champion Iman Shumpert. Timely and evocative topics cover a wide range, including a family member’s death because of COVID, racism, a reunion with an incarcerated parent, deportation, sexuality, coming of age, and the birth of a child. Many of the poems in the collection are penned by alumni of the program and reflect an older perspective, which creates a slight dissonance in the collection when coupled with poems by current or recent graduates of the program. Although the title champions the power of poetry and having a poetry program, those looking for a “how do I start a program” resource will not find much to glean other than in the brief introduction and chapter headings.
VERDICT An optional purchase for large poetry collections or schools and libraries with strong poetry or spoken word programs.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing