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About Respect the Mic

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 bestselling 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 star Iman Shumpert, National Youth Poet Laureates Kara Jackson and Natalie Richardson, comedian Langston Kerman, and more.

In its pages, 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.

#RespecttheMic

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