Austin Talks | West Side writers to read works commemorating MLK


West Side Writers Collective, a local literary group sponsored by the Front Porch Arts Center, will host a free public reading of local poetry, essays and stories.

“Dreamscapes and Landscapes” will honor the community visions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. Zoom in partnership with the Chicago Austin Public Library. (Use the link:

“When you research the history of Chicago’s Black West Side, you will rarely find it in books, although we have a rich history and the first settlements of African Americans on the West Side date back to the early 1920s” , said Keli Stewart, Front. Founder of Porch Arts and resident of Austin. “You’ll find it on porches, in taverns, in churches, and on park benches.”

Sunday’s program will begin with a 15-minute open mic allowing youth and adults to share their own creative writing around Martin Luther King and community issues. Reverend King and his wife Coretta are part of West Side history as they lived to be 16and and Hamlin in 1966 while working on a fair housing campaign in Chicago.

Four local writers will each read excerpts from their work. Stewart will present poetry from his book Small altars, published this year by Bronzeville Books. Am Bornfree will read an excerpt from his novel Welcome to the mad era, the first book in her “Revolt Occult” series, slated for publication in 2022. Bonni McKeown will read an excerpt from her ongoing novel, delta song, the story of a young bluesman growing up during the Great Migration. And Jupiter Dandridge, fiction writer and poet, will read excerpts from his work.

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