Poet Laureate of the State of Illinois Angela Jackson to Host an Evening of Poetry by Women of Color

For Immediate Release: October 17, 2022

Laura Kenton

Read Time 5 minutes
October 17, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 17, 2022           
CONTACT: Laura Kenton at Poet.Laureate@ilhumanities.org | 312-961-9040

“In a way, this event is a tribute to the progress that has been made and the voices yet to be heard,” said Jackson.

Chicago, IL

Award-winning poet, novelist, playwright, and Illinois Poet Laureate Angela Jackson will host “Lifting Every Voice – An Evening of Poetry” on Wednesday, November 2 at 6:30 p.m. CDT at the St. Benedict the African Parish in Chicago, Illinois. The free, all-ages event will consist of poetry readings and conversation with featured poets including:

  • Dr. Ana Castillo: Award-winning poet and writer, Castillo is credited as a pioneer of Chicana/x, feminist works with a career that spans nearly half a century. She has penned more than two dozen titles to date in a range of genres.
  • Imani Jackson: Jackson is a young award-winning new poet working across various disciplines, dreaming up forms for personal, historical, and ecological interpretations. She is the author of the chapbook saltsitting and the book Flag. Jackson is the recipient of the CD Wright Prize.
  • Parneshia Jones: Recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award, Jones is a Ragdale Fellow and published in several anthologies.
  • Dr. Allison Joseph: Joseph has several awards for her work. Her poetry was chosen as the Gold/First Place Winner in the 2019 Feathered Quill Book Awards as well as a nominee in the poetry category of the NAACP Image Awards.
  • Dr. Kelly Norman Ellis: A recipient of a Kentucky Foundation grant for women writers, a Cave Canem fellow and founding member of the Affrilachian Poets. In 2010 Essence Magazine voted her one of their forty favorite poets.

The event will feature all women poets of color who each have deep ties to the state of Illinois, honoring the voices of artists who are significantly underrepresented in the field. According to industry demographics by Zippia, just over 10 percent of poets are women of color. Of these, only 3.5 percent are African American women.

“I am proud to serve as the Illinois Poet Laureate, following in the footsteps of Gwendolyn Brooks, one of my mentors,” said Jackson. “In a way, this event is a tribute to the progress that has been made and the voices yet to be heard.”

“Lifting Every Voice” will take place on All Souls Day on Wednesday, Nov. 2, a meaningful date selected by Jackson to honor the theme of spiritual connections through poetry.

“Poetry comes from the soul,” said Jackson. “It is deeply personal yet has a way of connecting to a broad audience. As the Poet Laureate of Illinois, I am responsible for promoting poetry, but equally important, I have a passion to showcase how poetry is used as a voice of expression and empowerment.”

As Illinois Poet Laureate and an influential poet and mentor, Jackson leads and contributes to several programs similarly designed to make poetry accessible and engaging for diverse audiences. “I wanted to return to my roots and bring poetry to the people — in schools, community centers, rehabilitation centers, veteran centers, senior citizens centers, and more,” Jackson said.

Other programs Jackson participates in include Illinois Humanities’ Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards and the Ambassadors of Poetry program, which Jackson began to allow young poets to conduct residencies throughout the state.

Jackson’s recent awards include the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from the African American Arts Alliance’s Black Excellence Awards and the Poetry Foundation’s 2022 Pegasus Award.

Guests can register here to attend this free, all-ages event in person or online. 
Registration is required.

Jackson is in her second year of her four-year gubernatorial appointment as Poet Laureate of the State of Illinois. The Chicago poet, playwright and novelist is the fifth Illinois Poet Laureate. She has three published chapbooks and four volumes of poetry. She has received numerous honors for both fiction and poetry, including the 2022 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Black Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Ensemble Theater, the Pushcart Prize, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. Her poetry collection All These Roads Be Luminous (1998) was nominated for the National Book Award, her debut novel, Where I Must Go (2009) won the American Book Award, and It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time (2015) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry among other awards.

Born in Greenville, Mississippi and raised on Chicago’s Southside, Jackson was educated at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. She currently serves in residence with Illinois Humanities.


Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration. Founded in 1974, Illinois Humanities is supported by state, federal, and private funds. Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.


The Poetry Foundation is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, visit PoetryFoundation.org.