• Address 720 East Locust Street | Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Phone 414.263.5001
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mon
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
special events
March 24

Anne Kingsbury passes the torch to our new directors!

readings & workshops
March 28

Poetry Reading: Sherwin Bitsui & Bojan Louis

readings & workshops
March 29

Urban Echo Poets

readings & workshops
April 4

Creative Open Mic “Show Your Love of the River” Sharing & Member Meeting

film & video
April 6

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
April 11

Poetry Reading: Luci Tapahonso and Margaret Noodin

readings & workshops
April 14

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series: Lo Kwa Mei-en

readings & workshops
April 17

Poetry Reading and Conversation with Roberto Harrison @ Brown Deer Public Library

April 19

Alash Ensemble

April 22

ACL presents Renee Baker Quartet, Visual Dark Scratch Suite

April 22

Woman: Frailty Thy Name, works by Renee Baker

readings & workshops
May 2

Poetry Reading: Rena Priest

May 13

Alternating Currents Live presents The Bridge

readings & workshops
May 16

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series Noel Pabillo Mariano

May 17

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
May 24

Poetry Reading: Urban Echo Poets

Archived readings & workshops
Aug 1 Tuesday, August 1
7:00pm, Pay What You Can


Ching-In Chen is author of The Heart's Traffic and recombinant and co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities and Here is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets. A Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole and Callaloo Fellow, they are part of Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. A senior editor of The Conversant, they serve on the Executive Board of Thinking Its Presence: Race, Advocacy, Solidarity in the Arts. While completing their PhD in Creative Writing at University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, they served as editor-in-chief of cream city review as well as on the Woodland Pattern board and the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. A poetry editor of the Texas Review, they are assistant professor of poetry at Sam Houston State University. 


Brenda Cárdenas is the author of Boomerang (Bilingual Press) and the chapbooks Bread of the Earth / The Last Colors with Roberto Harrison (Decentralized Publications); Achiote Seeds/Semillas de Achiote with Critstina García, Emmy Pérez, and Gabriela Erandi Rico (Achiote Seeds); and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (Momotombo Press). She also co-edited Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Spuyten Duyvil Press and Dispatches Editions) and Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press). Cárdenas’ poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Latino Poetics: The Art of Poetry, The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, POETRY, City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness, Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing, The Quarry: A Social Justice Database, the Library of Congress’ Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers, Jet Fuel Review, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, and many others. Cárdenas served as the Milwaukee Poet Laureate from 2010-2012 and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Dawn Tefft's poems appear in Fence, Denver Quarterly, and BlazeVOX, among other journals.  Her chapbooks include Fist, The Walking Dead: A Lyric, and Field Trip to My Mother and Other Exotic Locations.  Her nonfiction has been published in Truthout, Jacobin, PopMatters, and Woodland Pattern's blog. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works as a higher ed union organizer.




When                           “To say” a woman

become monument “in front of all these people”    

                                              never sang porridge songs         

or pull      by my hair            

              into line    she place

              me row by row    “men and boys”    black heads “surging”    

              uncover production        “in knots of half a dozen or more”


I became not her stone                

“who have paid money for their wives”        


she “reckless”            stood tremble         

in fire


                                              “get a rope” say the crowdface     


“regular traffic”

“black with people”    stare her down                

                                  “the little mite”    

                                  corridor         “a good many times”

                                                       “the unprintable” “sneak[ing]”                                                            


“advance a foot”            




                                                                                                        them up    

to a lamp                                            



—Ching-In Chen, from recombinant



Placa/Roll Call

(after Charles “Chaz” Bojórquez’s Placa/Roll Call, 1980)


“If the city was a body, graffiti would tell us where it hurts.”

                        --Chaz Bojórquez


And this block would shout, “Nos diste un CHINGASO, cabrón. Mira esta cara rota, these baton-cracked ribs, this black and blue street dizzy con gente: BLADES, KIKI, LARRY, SNOW, ENRIQUE, CONNIE, ELTON, KING, DAVID, KELLY, JEFF, RAT´ON, CHAZ, los de aquí, los de abajo. This roll call won’t be silenced, not by gloc, not by chokehold. This is our temple of runes, our tomb—its glyphic curve and flow, calligraphic code writ acrylic. This, our relic, our scroll unrolled in catacombs, our flecks of subtext still buzzing después de que vayamos con La Pelona. ¡QUE LUCHA, LOCO! Ven, baile con nostros to the aerosol’s maraca y hiss, al punk en español’s furious sweat. Hang your head out the window y dale un grito tan lleno de duende that it cracks the pavement, summons our dead to dinner. Turn the tonal kaleidoscope. Then pause, catch your breath, so you don’t miss the illegible moment where all the mystery lives. There, de-cypher that!”


—Brenda Cárdenas 


Poem originally published in Poetry, vol. 207, no. 6, March 2016, p. 599.





Only in chaos are we conceivable



I miss sadness


the cloud forest


the chemical library

of my own nostalgia


the drums of Calanda

moving closer

in my dreams



the weight of something

that was you

confusing me about my own



until I could no longer identify

talon, teeth

they were buried so deeply

in my flesh



now all I have is


at the type of privilege

that gave birth

to “pulp-free”


this strange pacing


making plans

inside me


--Dawn Tefft, originally published in Fence