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Summary

An expansive, moving poetry anthology, representing 20 years of poetry from students and alumni of Chicago's Oak Park River Forest High School Spoken Word Club.

"Poets I know sometimes joke that the poetry club at Oak Park River Forest High School is the best MFA program in the Chicagoland area. Like all great jokes, this one is dead serious." (Eve L. Ewing, award-winning poet, playwright, scholar, and sociologist)

For Chicago's Oak Park and River Forest High School's Spoken Word Club, there is one phrase that reigns supreme: Respect the Mic. It's been the club's call to arms since its inception in 1999. As its founder Peter Kahn says, "It's a call of pride and history and tradition and hope." 

This vivid new collection of poetry and prose - curated by award-winning and best-selling poets Hanif Abdurraqib, Franny Choi, Peter Kahn, and Dan "Sully" Sullivan - illuminates just that, uplifting the incredible legacy this community has cultivated. Among the dozens of current students and alumni, Respect the Mic features work by NBA champion Iman Shumpert, National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson, National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson, National Student Poet Natalie Richardson, comedian Langston Kerman, and more.

In its chapters, you hear the sprawling echoes of students, siblings, lovers, new parents, athletes, entertainers, scientists, and more - all sharing a deep appreciation for the power of storytelling. A celebration of the past, a balm for the present, and a blueprint for the future, Respect the Mic offers a tender, intimate portrait of American life, and conveys how in a world increasingly defined by separation, poetry has the capacity to bind us together.

©2022 Peter Kahn, Hanif Abdurraqib, Dan "Sully" Sullivan, Franny Choi, Tyehimba Jess (P)2022 Listening Library

Critic reviews

"Poets I know sometimes joke that the poetry club at Oak Park River Forest High School is the best MFA program in the Chicagoland area. Like all great jokes, this one is dead serious."—Eve L. Ewing, award-winning poet, playwright, scholar, and sociologist

"This anthology holds twenty years of evidence of the power of poetry...This is a primer for the next twenty years of great poems and poets."—Terrance Hayes, National Book Award-winning poet

"This anthology feels like a living, breathing thing. The scope and depth of Oak Park's program—and of poetry's ability to transform writers and readers alike--are palpable in these pages."—Tavi Gevinson, writer, Rookie magazine editor, and actress

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