"Ode to the City" is Led by a talented and dedicated team of teaching artists, students, and organizers. 

Meet our team: 

 

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     Kevin Coval  ("The Ode Project" co-founder) is the poet/author/editor of seven books including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and the play, This is Modern Art, co-written with Idris Goodwin. Founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival and the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, Coval teaches hip-hop aesthetics at The University of Illinois-Chicago, is a 4x HBO Def Poet and has written for a wide variety of publications including CNN & Fake Shore Drive. The Chicago Tribune has called him “the voice of the new Chicago” and the Boston Globe says he's “the city’s unofficial poet laureate”. Coval’s forthcoming collection of poems, A People's History of Chicago drops in the Spring of 2017 on Haymarket Books.

Kevin Coval ("The Ode Project" co-founder) is the poet/author/editor of seven books including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and the play, This is Modern Art, co-written with Idris Goodwin. Founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival and the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, Coval teaches hip-hop aesthetics at The University of Illinois-Chicago, is a 4x HBO Def Poet and has written for a wide variety of publications including CNN & Fake Shore Drive. The Chicago Tribune has called him “the voice of the new Chicago” and the Boston Globe says he's “the city’s unofficial poet laureate”. Coval’s forthcoming collection of poems, A People's History of Chicago drops in the Spring of 2017 on Haymarket Books.

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     Jamila Woods  ("The Ode Project" founder) is a poet, singer and teaching artist from Chicago, IL. She is the Associate Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors where she helps organize the Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival. She is also a member of the Dark Noise Collective of artists and educators of color. In 2015 she was awarded the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. As a singer she has collaborated with artists such as Chance the Rapper and Macklemore. Her music has been featured in Ebony, JET, Okayplayer and FADER magazine.  Her first solo album is forthcoming in summer 2016.

Jamila Woods ("The Ode Project" founder) is a poet, singer and teaching artist from Chicago, IL. She is the Associate Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors where she helps organize the Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival. She is also a member of the Dark Noise Collective of artists and educators of color. In 2015 she was awarded the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. As a singer she has collaborated with artists such as Chance the Rapper and Macklemore. Her music has been featured in Ebony, JET, Okayplayer and FADER magazine.  Her first solo album is forthcoming in summer 2016.

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     Natalie Rose Richardson  (Ode to the City-Chicago project leader) is a third year undergraduate at the University of Chicago pursuing a degree in English and Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies. Natalie is currently writing her BA thesis on the multiracial identity, and the role of cultural/colonial legacy on modern American life. Natalie is a recipient of a 2016 Davis Peace Project Grant, a 2016 Dunn Research Prize, and a 2015 Seidel Scholar PRISM Award; she is also the recipient of the Margaret C. Annan Memorial Prize in poetry from the University of Chicago. A two-year finalist in Louder Than A Bomb, the largest teen poetry slam in the world, Natalie is the coach of the University of Chicago Lab School's city slam team, and has taught slam poetry and writing workshops in high schools around the city. 

Natalie Rose Richardson (Ode to the City-Chicago project leader) is a third year undergraduate at the University of Chicago pursuing a degree in English and Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies. Natalie is currently writing her BA thesis on the multiracial identity, and the role of cultural/colonial legacy on modern American life. Natalie is a recipient of a 2016 Davis Peace Project Grant, a 2016 Dunn Research Prize, and a 2015 Seidel Scholar PRISM Award; she is also the recipient of the Margaret C. Annan Memorial Prize in poetry from the University of Chicago. A two-year finalist in Louder Than A Bomb, the largest teen poetry slam in the world, Natalie is the coach of the University of Chicago Lab School's city slam team, and has taught slam poetry and writing workshops in high schools around the city. 

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     Josh Kramer  (Ode to the City-Chicago project leader) is a second-year at the University of Chicago, studying philosophy and gender and sexuality studies. At the University, he has served as a board member for Queers United in Power and TEDxUChicago. He is also a research assistant in the art history department. Last summer, Josh interned at the Family Defense Center, a public interest legal aid organization for families in Chicago’s family welfare system. In addition to co-directing the Ode to the City project this summer, he will be learning Ancient Greek in order to pursue his interests in ancient philosophy. In his spare time, Josh enjoys engaging conversation with friends, reads good books, paints and draws, or travels back to his hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Josh looks forward to using the Davis Project for Peace to further explore his interests in social change work, education, and art.

Josh Kramer (Ode to the City-Chicago project leader) is a second-year at the University of Chicago, studying philosophy and gender and sexuality studies. At the University, he has served as a board member for Queers United in Power and TEDxUChicago. He is also a research assistant in the art history department. Last summer, Josh interned at the Family Defense Center, a public interest legal aid organization for families in Chicago’s family welfare system. In addition to co-directing the Ode to the City project this summer, he will be learning Ancient Greek in order to pursue his interests in ancient philosophy. In his spare time, Josh enjoys engaging conversation with friends, reads good books, paints and draws, or travels back to his hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Josh looks forward to using the Davis Project for Peace to further explore his interests in social change work, education, and art.

  Alex Yijia Ding  (Ode to the City-Chicago project leader) is a researcher and student at the University of Chicago studying Race/Ethnic Studies and Anthropology. Alex is the recipient of the Dalai Lama Fellowship, Davis Project for Peace Award, Pozen Center for Human Rights Fellowship, and Center for the Study of Race, Culture, and Politics Research Award. An aspiring scholar, journalist, and filmmaker, Alex is currently an editorial intern at  In These Times  magazine. In her spare time, Alex enjoys community organizing, radical politics, reading, laughing really loudly, and cooking with friends. Alex resides in Hyde Park, but like Bob Dylan and Cocoa Puffs, she is a product of Minnesota.

Alex Yijia Ding (Ode to the City-Chicago project leader) is a researcher and student at the University of Chicago studying Race/Ethnic Studies and Anthropology. Alex is the recipient of the Dalai Lama Fellowship, Davis Project for Peace Award, Pozen Center for Human Rights Fellowship, and Center for the Study of Race, Culture, and Politics Research Award. An aspiring scholar, journalist, and filmmaker, Alex is currently an editorial intern at In These Times magazine. In her spare time, Alex enjoys community organizing, radical politics, reading, laughing really loudly, and cooking with friends. Alex resides in Hyde Park, but like Bob Dylan and Cocoa Puffs, she is a product of Minnesota.


Meet our Teaching Artists.

  FATIMAH ASGHAR  is a nationally touring poet, photographer and performer. She created Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first Spoken Word Poetry group, REFLEKS, while on a Fulbright studying theater in post-violent contexts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, PEN Poetry Series, The Paris-American, The Margins, and Gulf Coast. She is a Kundiman Fellow and a member of the Dark Noise Collective. Her chapbook "After" was released on Yes Yes Books fall of 2015.

FATIMAH ASGHAR is a nationally touring poet, photographer and performer. She created Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first Spoken Word Poetry group, REFLEKS, while on a Fulbright studying theater in post-violent contexts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, PEN Poetry Series, The Paris-American, The Margins, and Gulf Coast. She is a Kundiman Fellow and a member of the Dark Noise Collective. Her chapbook "After" was released on Yes Yes Books fall of 2015.

    ASIA CALCAGNO  is a poet and performer from Chicago. Her work has been featured in Learn Then Burn, Glass Mountain, Women in REDZine, and elsewhere. Her poems have been awarded the Benjamin T. Marshall Poetry Prize and the Charles B. Palmer Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Over the years, she has founded youth poetry education programs in both New London and Chicago. She has been a finalist in the Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry competition and has graced the stages of Brave New Voices, the Poetry Foundation of Chicago, and abroad. She is featured in The Limited’s New Look of Leadership campaign. Calcagno has a BA in English with a concentration in poetry from Connecticut College.


ASIA CALCAGNO is a poet and performer from Chicago. Her work has been featured in Learn Then Burn, Glass Mountain, Women in REDZine, and elsewhere. Her poems have been awarded the Benjamin T. Marshall Poetry Prize and the Charles B. Palmer Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Over the years, she has founded youth poetry education programs in both New London and Chicago. She has been a finalist in the Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry competition and has graced the stages of Brave New Voices, the Poetry Foundation of Chicago, and abroad. She is featured in The Limited’s New Look of Leadership campaign. Calcagno has a BA in English with a concentration in poetry from Connecticut College.

   ADAM M. LEVIN  is a writer from River Forest, IL. He's a founding member of the University of Wisconsin's First Wave Learning Community and Young Chicago Authors' Teaching Artist Corps, as well as the founder of Young Chicago Authors' Emcee Wreckshop program. He's a full-time spoken word educator at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

ADAM M. LEVIN is a writer from River Forest, IL. He's a founding member of the University of Wisconsin's First Wave Learning Community and Young Chicago Authors' Teaching Artist Corps, as well as the founder of Young Chicago Authors' Emcee Wreckshop program. He's a full-time spoken word educator at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

   JASMINE BARBER  is an artist, educator, tarot reader, and cartoon lover from the Southside of Chicago. She has performed for various pieces of art for Steppenwolf, Common, Second City, Angela Davisin addition to becoming the 2013 Louder than A Bomb Indy College Slam Champ. Jasmine is currently working on a children's book and rap tape entitled "Tea Time With Dragons".

JASMINE BARBER is an artist, educator, tarot reader, and cartoon lover from the Southside of Chicago. She has performed for various pieces of art for Steppenwolf, Common, Second City, Angela Davisin addition to becoming the 2013 Louder than A Bomb Indy College Slam Champ. Jasmine is currently working on a children's book and rap tape entitled "Tea Time With Dragons".

   NATE MARSHALL  is a multi-talented literary artist and activist committed to affecting lives through poetry. He uses the art of poetry, hip-hop, and performance to inspire and spark conversations exploring identity, class, political engagement, and personal narrative

NATE MARSHALL is a multi-talented literary artist and activist committed to affecting lives through poetry. He uses the art of poetry, hip-hop, and performance to inspire and spark conversations exploring identity, class, political engagement, and personal narrative

  Indoctrinated with the 400+ years of the African-American experience, history, culture and art,  AVERY R. YOUNG  blends phonetics, linguistics, hymns, jazz and hip hop in his work to depict the politic and inspiring attributes attached to the stories of a people. Dubbed “sunday mornin jook-joint,” his work merges spiritual and secular aesthetics with dramatic and comedic sensibilities. A Cave Canem Fellow, Avery has worked as a teaching artist, mentoring and shaping youth in the craft of creative writing and theatre. He has taught primary and secondary grade levels in education facilities that expand ethnicity, socio-economic characteristics and academic benchmarks. He has written curriculum for Columbia College Chicago, Young Leeds Authors, True Star magazine and Chicago Public Schools Art Integration Department. His curriculum, which spans from “nina (simone) song” to “of mice and gender,” has been used in educational systems through the United States and abroad. His curriculum encourages youth to value their voices and assist teachers with various ways to present Language Art lessons.

Indoctrinated with the 400+ years of the African-American experience, history, culture and art, AVERY R. YOUNG blends phonetics, linguistics, hymns, jazz and hip hop in his work to depict the politic and inspiring attributes attached to the stories of a people. Dubbed “sunday mornin jook-joint,” his work merges spiritual and secular aesthetics with dramatic and comedic sensibilities. A Cave Canem Fellow, Avery has worked as a teaching artist, mentoring and shaping youth in the craft of creative writing and theatre. He has taught primary and secondary grade levels in education facilities that expand ethnicity, socio-economic characteristics and academic benchmarks. He has written curriculum for Columbia College Chicago, Young Leeds Authors, True Star magazine and Chicago Public Schools Art Integration Department. His curriculum, which spans from “nina (simone) song” to “of mice and gender,” has been used in educational systems through the United States and abroad. His curriculum encourages youth to value their voices and assist teachers with various ways to present Language Art lessons.