Reading Yesika Salgado’s Corazon at Sinclair

by Vanessa Borjon

literature for all of us corazonYesika Salgado’s debut poetry collection, Corazon is a romantic yet heartbreaking journey through understanding love and yearning as a Latinx* mujer. When I borrowed this book from a close friend and read through poems that seem reflective of my own overly-dramatic Mexican heart, I knew immediately that I wanted to write a curriculum around Salgado’s poems. They’d be perfect talking pieces for my young women’s group. I excitedly marked up the pages with questions I had in mind: what is it like to be daughters of immigrants living in what feels like two different worlds (“Ni de aqui, ni de alla”); how does displacement affect our propensity to sustain relationships; what does love look like when we are trying to heal from trauma; what is good love and what is bad love?

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Gender Exorcists

by Marty Kezon

literature for all of us gender exorcistsThe title came easily. It took only a few minutes of brainstorming before one of the quieter participants spoke up to offer a potential name for our poetry book: “What if we call it ‘Gender Exorcists’?” The group’s excitement was immediate, and the consensus unanimous.

This moment came during a recent book group at TransWorks, a Chicago House program that advances employment and work opportunities for trans and nonbinary individuals. Since the fall of 2016, Literature for All of Us has partnered with TransWorks to weave the book group model into their six-month long mentorship cohorts. During monthly meetings, LFAOU’s book group becomes a way for each cohort to build community, connect around urgent issues, and engage with the work of trans and nonbinary writers.

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Reading Tyrell by Coe Booth with Second Chance Students

by Stella Akua Mensah

literature for all of us Second Chance TyrellDuring the last month of my book group at Second Chance Alternative High School, we started Tyrell by Coe Booth. We talked about sexual harassment, mentors, parental figures that are not our parents, receiving and offering earnest support when folks are struggling, homes away from home, homelessness, poverty, polyamory, different roles we play in our families, dealing with neglectful mothers, and responsibilities.

We opened the group with the question, “How do you define being ‘grown’ or being an ‘adult’?” People had a lot of takes on this, mentioning living alone, financial independence, and spiritual/emotional independence. Participants agreed quite unanimously that we are never fully “grown”—that we never stop learning and evolving.

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Sinclair Alternative High School Poetry Bash!

sinclair poetry bash main

by Erin Brown

Literature for All of Us celebrated the end of another successful school year at Upton Sinclair Alternative High School with our annual Poetry Bash. Students, teachers, book group leaders, and board members gathered at the Poetry Foundation in downtown Chicago to honor the words and voices of over 70 young people—all participants in our weekly book groups at Sinclair, located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

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