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Hidden Gems: The Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation's interior lined with bookshelves.

Chicago is a city of poets. Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg, and Margaret Walker have all written poetry in and about the city. Today, Chicago hosts a thriving poetry scene for writers of all ages. It is no surprise that the Poetry Foundation chose Chicago as home to its headquarters, creating a space dedicated solely to the art of poetry in the city’s River North neighborhood.

The Poetry Foundation building


The Poetry Foundation is the publisher of Poetry magazine, one of the most renowned poetry publications in the country. Founded in 1941, the Poetry Foundation’s mission is to support Poetry magazine and the “vigorous presence of poetry in our culture.”

Today, the Poetry Foundation provides free programming to the public as well as a gathering space dedicated to the art of poetry. The Poetry Foundation also hosts Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to memorize and recite poetry. The Poetry Foundation is home to the midwest’s only library dedicated solely to poetry and continues to create communal spaces around celebrating America’s poetic legacy. 

The Poetry Foundation's interior lined with bookshelves.
The Poetry Foundation’s interior lined with bookshelves.

The Building

Located at 61 West Superior St in River North, the Poetry Foundation building was completed in 2011 and designed by the Chicago-based firm, John Ronan Architects. The space, composed of black steel beams and glass, is built with an urban garden that visitors walk through in order to access the entrance. The building’s interior provides a performance space, gallery, and library where the public can converge to read and celebrate poetry. The space also serves as Poetry magazine’s first permanent home in its 100-year history.  

Plan Your Visit

Though the Poetry Foundation is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they continue to host online programming open to the general public. Programming includes writing workshops, book clubs, and teaching guides.