Poets & Patrons is a not-for-profit
organization dedicated to
supporting poetry development
in the Chicagoland area.
A Brief History
Poets & Patrons was founded in 1954. It is dedicated to supporting poetry development in the Chicagoland area. It does this through sponsoring and hosting congenial, professional workshops at The Harold Washington Library; running an annual Chicagoland Poetry Contest with modest cash awards for multiple categories; facilitating free writing workshops at area museums and outdoor venues (Write! Chicago); and an annual Awards Banquet. Poets & Patrons is an excellent vehicle for defining your work, meeting with other fine poets for unique critiques, and exploring with others the power of well-crafted verse.
Poets & Patrons evolved from a common desire to promote a meeting ground for poets and poet enthusiasts in the Chicago area. The Midwest Writers Conference previously filled the need with meetings and contests, but folded in the mid 1940s. Another poetry group, Poets Club of Chicago, was founded in 1936 by a group of high school teachers. Admission to Poets Club was by invitation and submission of poets' work. Members paid modest fees, held workshops and discussion sessions, and shared a mutual love of poetry. At one point, Poets Club president Isabelle Gillespie Young proposed a new club that would be open to all.
By 1954, Poets & Patrons was established. It was set up as a non-profit outreach group for poets who wished to receive professional criticism, with four workshops a year, held on the fourth Saturday in February, April, June and August. In 1956, Poets & Patrons created a Chicagoland Poetry Contest, open to all in the area. At one point there were 22 categories with awards and cash prizes.
Finding suitable meeting places was always a challenge for the group - libraries, a bank, the Cultural Center, and Carson Pirie Scott - were discovered. Among the early meeting rooms was an unforgettable one offered by one of the group's founders, Anne Nolan. In the early 1950s, she offered space in the inner offices of her family's business, the Nolan Boiler and Tank Service. Members dubbed the group the Poetry Forge and Anne was the registered agent for 31 years. She was a highly skilled poet, as were her husband Clifford and her three sons. Her death in October 2006 greatly saddened Poets & Patrons members.
Sincere thanks and gratitude go to all members who have helped the group survive and flourish since 1954. The Court of awards held in 2006 marked the 50th celebration of The Chicagoland Poetry Contest.
Stories of engaged members who have given generously of their time and energy to help
our group survive and flourish. Learn more ⟶