Tuesday, January 04, 2022


Two years ago I decided to organize "Poetry for the senses" - a traveling exhibit for poetry in Braille. I had the pleasure of working with a number of great Chicago writers. The exhibit was generously hosted by two Chicago Public Library branches and two communities for the blind and visually impaired.
The exhibit opened on World Sight Day. Unfortunately, three months later, Covid put an early end to it.
Nevertheless, we were very pleased and proud of what we did.

I am remembering this today, on World Braille Day, 4 January. 
* * *

Poetry for the Senses - a traveling exhibit

October 10, 2019 – October 25, 2019
2100 S. Wentworth Avenue
Chicago IL 60616

November 5, 2019 – November 20, 2019
Albany Park Branch, CPL
3401 W. Foster Avenue
Chicago IL 60625

December 5, 2019 – December 30, 2019
Friedman Place - Community for blind and visually impaired adults
5527 N Maplewood Ave
Chicago IL 60625

January 21, 2020 - January 25, 2020
Chicago Lighthouse
1850 W Roosevelt Rd
Chicago, IL 60608

Poetry is art. Art is a sensuous experience that belongs to everyone.

This exhibit aims to let us experience poetry with all of our senses and bring awareness to the limitations the visually-impaired face. Written by Chicago residents, each poem is displayed in print, Braille, recording (scan QR code with your smart device), and is accompanied by a scent. 

“The POETRY FOR THE SENSES exhibit was inspired by meeting and working with Peter Rayner, a blind by birth Australian scientist, and - more recently - by taking a Memoir writing & teaching class from double award-winning memoirist and visually-impaired teacher, Beth Finke.”  
 - Iliana Genkova, exhibit curator

This exhibit, much like good writing, aims to deliver poetry to all of our senses. 


Frank Bonacci grew up in Schiller Park and now lives in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. He is grants manager for Catholic Charities in the Joliet Diocese and an MFA in Creative Writing candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Matthew J. Lawler, a Chicago original, grew up on the Northwest Side of the city. He began writing poems in his teens. He is the author of “Concrete Oracles,” a full-length poetry collection.

Jerry Pendergast grew up in Lincoln Park and now lives in North Park with his wife Kathleen Craine. He is active in Chicago-Cinquera Sister Cities. Most recently he was published in After Hours, Children Churches and Daddies and EXTREME Anthology of Poems with a Social Justice theme.

Myron Stokes lives in Chicago and works as a Counselor at the Oak Park VA Center.

Barry H. Mansfield is a Chicagoan, poet, and the author of “Thrown Out of the Garden – For Those Who Have Eaten the Forbidden Fruit or Would Like To”.

Iliana Genkova is a scientist and has a passion for the arts. She dabbles in poetry and creative non-fiction writing. She runs a writing group in Uptown and facilitates memoir workshops from time to time.

Iliana Genkova and Julie Morley

To learn more about the visually impaired community and allied services in Chicago, 
please visit:
Sincere thanks to Chinatown and Albany Park branches of CPL for their enthusiastic reception as exhibit hosts. Many thanks to Beth Finke for her invaluable input on the exhibit content. Thanks to Ryan Baker for the audio setup, and to the authors for their contributions. 
Want this exhibit in your library branch or another community space? 
Please inquire with ilianagenkova@gmail.com