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Poetry Foundation Dedicates New Chicago Headquarters

Poetry Foundation

The Web site for the Poetry Foundation. (Credit: Poetry Foundation)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago-based Poetry Foundation has opened its new $21 million headquarters on the city’s Near North Side.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports, the 22,000 square-foot modern building at 61 W. Superior St. houses a library, performance space, recording studio and the offices of the 100-year-old Poetry Magazine.

Garrison Keillor, author and storyteller of “A Prairie Home Companion” fame, was on hand in the performance space for the dedication ceremony Thursday. He read the poem, “A Drinking Song,” by William Butler Yeats.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Mike Krauser reports

The new Poetry Foundation building was made possible by the late Ruth Lilly, who shocked the poetry world with a $200 million donation.

We asked John Barr, president of the foundation, if the magazine was struggling before the donation.

“They weren’t struggling any more than other literary magazines that have no money are struggling,” he replied.

Architect John Ronan designed the building.

“The building we have created together is a spatial narrative that unfolds slowly, not unlike a poem,” Ronan said.

The structure is surrounded with a perforated black zinc screen. Keillor came up with a limerick about it.

“Here by a wall of black zinc
Is a home for people in sync,
With a powerful drive
To keep poetry alive
Or else to be driven to drink.”