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Featured Poet

Featured Illinois Poet

Although this website's objective is simply to promote the art of poetry, its special focus is the rich bounty of work created by our state's poets past and present. Through features on the work of Illinois poets, the site will highlight the poetic legacy of Illinois and showcase the bevy of fine poets currently writing within the state.

Biographical Note

Jeffery Renard Allen

Born and raised in Chicago, Jeffery Renard Allen is Professor of English at Queens College of the City University of New York and an instructor in the graduate Writing Program at The New School and the low residency MFA writing program at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Allen is the author of five books, most recently the novel Song of the Shank (Graywolf Press, 2104), which is loosely based on the life of Thomas Greene Wiggins, Blind Tom, a nineteenth century African American piano virtuoso and composer who performed under the stage name Blind Tom and who was the first African American to perform at The White House.

The novel was featured as the front-page review of both The New York Times Book Review and The San Francisco Chronicle. Allen is the author of two other works of fiction, the celebrated novel Rails Under My Back (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000), which won The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for Fiction, and the short story collection Holding Pattern (Graywolf Press, 2008), which won The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. As well, he has published two volumes of poetry Harbors and Spirits (Moyer Bell, 1999) and Stellar Places (Moyer Bell 2007). And his work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including The New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Bomb, The Chicago Tribune, StoryQuarterly, Callaloo, Ploughshares, Writer’s Digest, Black Renaissance Noire, Poets & Writers, Triquarterly, Kweli Journal, St. Petersburg Review, Buzzfeed, and The Nervous Breakdown. Allen has received numerous accolades and awards, including a fellowship at The Dorothy L. and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a grant in Innovative Literature from Creative Capital. He is represented by Jodi Solomon Speakers bureau and the Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency. His website is

Jeffery Renard Allen's Poems

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