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May 16, 2016 >> Kevin Coval has Something to Say [VIDEO]

G&F BLOG_Kevin Coval

For Kevin Coval, words are power. Each one carefully chosen, together forming a string of meaning that leaves you totally awe-inspired in his presence. The 41-year old holds court as the artistic director of Young Chicago Authors and founded Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival—both entities which provide a platform for eager authors and young poets to cut their teeth, strut their stuff and come together regardless of race or creed. And the latter—LTAB by its street acronym—is the world’s largest youth poetry festival.

But no amount of pomp impresses Kevin even though his programing has recently landed an impressive accolade from The MacArthur Foundation. He still talks earnestly with G&F about his pride and joy in the process: educating youth to find their most authentic voices. To him, the success and notoriety is great—and there is plenty of it!—but the opportunity to provide an avenue for expression is better.


So what makes a master lyricist tick? First things first: he writes every morning. His alarm is set at 7:23AM and he’s up working on his craft. “Just like an athlete, you’ve got to practice.” Kevin finds inspiration in exploration. Be it the waves of Lake Michigan, a writing retreat in the mystically cool Marfa, Texas or back alley graffiti, he takes his time to recenter and redirect his work with these quiet moments. “The public is not going to see these spaces,” he says about spending time searching for city’s graffiti works of art, “These quiet zones give me an opportunity to regroup. Chill. Think.”

And think he must: Kevin’s next book is due to his publisher soon and he is finishing up the final few of 77 poems that make up the highly anticipated March 2017 launch of “People’s History of Chicago.” It’s a counter culture textbook that illuminates the lives of the people that aren’t celebrated in the standard issue City Hall Chicago History spiel. One thing’s for sure: he’s always thinking of the other side of things and celebrating the unique is par for the course.

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