After attending a Steppenwolf Theatre performance of Eve Ewing’s book of poetry 1919, English teachers guided Upper School students in a generative process, wherein they published an original book of poetry reflecting upon America and their own lives.
Teacher Matt Laufer originally conceived the idea last spring when he first saw the announcement for the Steppenwolf show exploring Chicago’s 1919 race riots, by way of Ewing's work, and wanted all students enrolled in American Literature to read the text and attend the performance. He then asked his two sections of students to develop their own pieces in the style of Ewing’s text.
“My thinking was that, just as Ewing had steeped herself in an historical event and reflected on it by way of excerpting from historical and biblical documents and creating her own poetic imaginings, Parker students could publish their own collection of poems in the manner of Ewing’s—i.e., one that ‘tells a story,’ in Ewing’s words... and maybe a book likewise titled after a single year,” offered Laufer.
Laufer asked students to reflect on America and their own lives. He shared, “My students chose the year 2020, which offered a lovely feeling of sequel to Ewing’s 1919. This way, students would reflect deeply on their more recent experience of crisis, loss and racial reckoning; creatively study Ewing’s poetry and method; and gain the satisfaction of a book well—and collaboratively—made.”
Juniors Alex Ehrhart, Danni Kaplan and Zach Kinnison volunteered to edit and produce the book; juniors Kumiko Muro and Lyric Nelson made the beautiful art featured within its pages; senior Rania Jones designed the entire book; and fellow English teacher Alicia Abood worked with Laufer to facilitate the poems produced by three classes of aspiring writers.
All are welcome to enjoy this wonderful publication here.