The Best Season.
Since we’ve been making this Best of Chicago edition for twenty-six years now, we do our best each fall to offer a fresh take on a beloved and familiar issue. This usually starts with a brainstorming session with our team of editors. This year, at some point in that conversation, I asked our two editors who were born and raised in other countries (New Zealand and Greece), what made Chicago stand out for them. One mentioned the distinctiveness of our seasons—that we have all four seasons—and we were off and running. And so, this year, we present the Best of Chicago with a distinctively seasonal flair. And writing this letter on a brisk October morning, the very day that Chicago summer has yielded definitively to autumn, reinforces for me in a visceral way the bona fides of our direction this year.
The seasons, as metaphor for life itself, occupy the concerns of one of the world’s earlier and best-known poems, Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, which starts out “To every thing there is a season…”. And I would argue, that in addition to Chicago’s distinctive seasons, our living legacy as a city of poetry sets us apart. From our earlier days as the birthplace of Harriet Monroe’s Poetry magazine, as Carl Sandburg’s “city of big shoulders” and the “We real cool” milieu of Gwendolyn Brooks, to the more recent homegrown creations of the poetry slam, Louder Than A Bomb and the Poetry Foundation, Chicago is a city that builds on, and goes to battle with, verses. To celebrate this, we asked several of our city’s finest poets to share a slice of our town, delivered their way.
This visual identity of this issue, as guided by designer Fletcher Martin, is guided by the pen of Tom Bachtell, a Chicagoan who many of us best knew as the longtime illustrator of The New Yorker’s Talk of the Town section. Tom recently ended that engagement, and we’re proud to be able to share his work with his hometown.
Seven Poems by Chicago Poets
Look for Newcity’s November Best of Chicago 2018 print edition at over 1000 Chicago-area locations this week.