By ALLISON MATYUS
Hyde Park has been written about in countless novels, filmed for television and movies scenes and painted on professional canvasses. Now, to add to that list of neighborhood dedication, there is a 42-foot long poem written about Hyde Park.
The Indie City Writers group set out to write the longest poem in Hyde Park during the Hyde Park Farmers Market on Thursday, Aug. 18. By noon, they had racked up about a dozen or so Hyde Park-related short poem entries.
Entries such as “Is Hyde Park a fruit or a vegetable?” and “Hyde Park is my sweet home, it has my soul. I have been bitten and now I can never leave,” filled the parchment up with residents’ own thoughts, feelings and experiences of the neighborhood they call home.
Whether those who stopped by the community booth were published writers or never having written a single poetic line, Indie City Writers organizer, K.B. Jensen, said that people were more than willing to contribute.
“The fact that you can just stop people to write a poem on a street and they will do it says something about Hyde Park,” Jensen said.
And while this is the only community-collaborated poem about Hyde Park, other poets have written about the neighborhood before.
Famous South Side poet Gwendolyn Brooks mentioned Blackstone Avenue and Cottage Grove Avenue in her poem, “The Blackstone Rangers.”
Chicago-based poet Kimberly Dixon has also written about Hyde Park, such as this excerpt from “Hyde Park Walking Tour” that reads, “But see how people slow in Hyde Park, linger like a small town…until a laugh too big or a bang too loud, when we tense, and wonder if that will be the thing to pry our fingernails off the urban edge…”
“Hyde Park’s Longest Poem,” as Jensen titled it, will be displayed at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., and will have a special “unfurling” event on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We are really excited to show off the poem at such an inspiring place. The Hyde Park Art Center means a lot to our community and we appreciate their support,” Jensen said.
She said that they will be reading the poem during the event as well.
As for the next Hyde Park poem, Jensen said the Indie City Writers would be interested to do this activity again and try to make it even longer next time. With over 25,000 residents in the neighborhood, it’s not far fetched to say the next poem could take up multiple roles of parchment.