The Poetry Garage, Chicago

In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of an unlikely location for the celebration of poetry — a parking garage in Chicago’s business district.

Chicago is becoming quite the literary hot spot. Again. Not only is it home to The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, and the future home of The American Writers Museum (opening 2015 now open), there’s also the Poetry Garage.

The Windy City is no stranger to parking garages that use a theme to help people remember what floor they parked on. The first I remember doing this is the garage at O’Hare airport where sports teams are used to nudge one’s memory — The Bears, The Bulls, The Black Hawks, The Wolves, The Cubs . . . and what was that other team??? Oh, yeah, The White Sox.

Then there’s also the twelve level garage in the Theatre District where each floor is a different theatre. I tend to find parking there on the sixth floor. Six is my lucky number, but it’s also the floor of The Noble Fool Theater. I try not to take it personally.

The Poetry Garage is located in The Loop, which is Chicago’s business district.

If you’re walking down the street, you might not notice anything special.
The word ‘poetry’ at the bottom of the self-park sign doesn’t exactly pop out at you.
But if you look up, you’ll be surprised to see a poet looking back at you. In the case above, it’s Emily Dickinson!
Walk into the Poetry Garage and this colorful directional guide awaits your service. Pick a poet!
As I was playing site-seer and didn’t have a car to get back to I chose Emily, of course.
Here we are on the 4th floor.
On each floor, there’s a short biography of the poet whose name graces that level, one of their poems, and their picture is repeated for those who are not good with names. Dickinson’s “Success is counted sweetest / By those we ne’er succeed” is quite the sentiment to put in the midst of a business center.
The parking rates are pretty standard for The Loop. In other words, you’re not paying extra for the poetry.

Here’s a list of the poets featured in The Poetry Garage, by floor:

2. Billy Collins
3. Ernest L. Thayer
4. Emily Dickinson
5. W.H. Auden
6. Alberto Rios
7. Kay Ryan
8. Carl Sandburg
9. Langston Hughes
10. Robert Frost

Where’s the oddest place you’ve seen poetry or poets celebrated?


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