Meet our 2024 Library Foundation Award honorees.

A Unique Get Carded Event with Kevin Coval

If you don’t have plans Wednesday, June 28th from 6:30-9:30PM – mark your calendars and bring a friend!

The Junior Board is teaming up with Kevin Coval, the man the Boston Globe has called “the city’s unofficial poet laureate” to bring bright Chicago voices together in a shared performance of their unique Chicago experiences. The exclusive event will include performances by poets Patricia Frazier, E’mon Lauren and Jalen Kobayashi – in addition to Coval’s performance from A People’s History of Chicago, his collection of 77 poems honoring the human experience across 77 Chicago neighborhoods.

A Like-Minded Pairing

When asked how Coval was first hooked up with the Library Foundation’s Junior Board, he cites meeting its (former) President, Angela Burke as the origin story.  Very simply explaining, “Have you ever met Angela?  If you have you’d know,” no doubt referring to her magnetism towards fellow library-lovers.
But like many community advocates, Coval’s love for the library and its programming didn’t start as an adult. “Libraries saved my life,” he explained.  “I wouldn’t be the person I am had I been left to my own devices (…) Thank God the library was around and free.”  When asked if he had a favorite CPL program, he responded YOUmedia. “Kids can be themselves without apology. We need that on every block in the city.”

Why Chicago (#chgo)?

With an early belief in helping others compounded by his Windy-City upbringing, it is no surprise that Coval has taken a deeper look at Chicago’s history; citing minds like Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright and Natalie Moore as influences and history’s activist, Howard Zinn as his largest literary mentor. (*Evidenced in the nod his title gave to Zinn’s A People’s History of America.)
“It’s so important to remember working people risking and winning,” Coval said before signing off. “If you’re not in the business of documenting your own story, you will be lied about.”
If you are able to attend this extraordinary event and meet the man himself, two things will strike you: his graciousness and undying interest and advocacy for true Chicago stories.  As Chance the Rapper wrote in his forward for A People’s History of Chicago: “(Kevin Coval) made me understand what it is to be a poet, what it is to be an artist and what it is to serve the people.” What we would add is: he’s exactly what this city needs.
Tickets for the event can be purchased online for $15 here or at the door for $20- with proceeds going directly to the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and Kevin will be signing books!

In addition to publishing important stories about the city, Coval is also the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, founder of Louder than a Bomb and an invaluable friend and ally to the Chicago Public Library Foundation. To learn more about the artist himself, visit or order your own copy of A People’s History of Chicago here.