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Books for changing the world

The Life and Death of an American Neighborhood

Everything Must Go is an illustrated collection of poems in the spirit of a graphic novel, a collaboration between poet Kevin Coval and illustrator Langston Allston. The book celebrates Chicago’s Wicker Park in the late 1990’s, Coval’s home as a young artist, the ancestral neighborhood of his forebears, and a vibrant enclave populated by colorful characters. Allston’s illustrations honor the neighborhood as it once was, before gentrification remade it.

If you’re in Chicago, join us Monday, September 16th at Chop Shop for the book’s launch event, hosted by Volumes Books.

Everything Must Go excavates and mourns that which has been lost in transition and serves as a template for understanding the process of displacement and reinvention currently reshaping American cities.

“Colorful characters come alive in his prose. They make you laugh and the documentation of a neighborhood undergoing gentrification makes you wince. This book is dope.”
—Natalie Moore, author of The South Side

Everything Must Go is a requiem, a novel in verse, a history of a neighborhood, and a city, that time has put through a fun-house mirror. It is powered by the love and friction of people building lives that fill out the shape of a neighborhood—and the loss they feel when the neighborhood's new shape no longer fits them. Whether or not you lived through the Wicker Park of the 1990s, Everything Must Go will have something to say to you, something to teach you, and something to make you remember.”
—Daniel Kay Hertz, author of The Battle of Lincoln Park

“A vibrant yet solemn portrait of Chicago’s Wicker Park in the 90s, this collection examines gentrification and commemorates what gets lost in the process.” LIT HUB

Watch Kevin Coval and Langston Allston discuss the book and their collaboration:

KEVIN COVAL is a poet and community builder. He is the author and editor of ten books, including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and Schtick, and co-author of the play, This is Modern Art. His work has appeared in Poetry MagazineThe Drunken Boat, Chicago Tribune, CNN, Fake Shore DriveHuffington Post, and four seasons of HBO's Def Poetry Jam.

LANGSTON ALLSTON is a painter and muralist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He uses his art practice as a way to tell stories, drawn from his own experience, and from the experiences of people in his community, drawing a thread between the past and the present.

  • Everything Must Go

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