Haymarket Books
Books for changing the world
A People's History of Chicago
Named "Best Chicago Poet" by The Chicago Reader, Kevin Coval channels Howard Zinn to celebrate the Windy City's hidden history.

Known variously as “‘the Windy City,”’ “‘the City of Big Shoulders,”’ or “‘Chi-Raq,”’ Chicago is one of the most widely celebrated, routinely demonized, and thoroughly contested cities in the world.

Chicago is the city of Gwendolyn Brooks and Chief Keef, Al Capone and Richard Wright, Lucy Parsons and Nelson Algren, Harold Washington and Studs Terkel. It is the city of Fred Hampton, House Music, and the Haymarket Martyrs. Writing in the tradition of Howard Zinn, Kevin Coval’s A People’s History of Chicago celebrates the history of this great American city from the perspective of those on the margins, whose stories often go untold. These seventy-seven poems (for the city’s seventy-seven neighborhoods) honor the everyday lives and enduring resistance of the city’s workers, poor people, and people of color, whose cultural and political revolutions continue to shape the social landscape.

Kevin Coval 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 Iis 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. The Chicago Tribune has named him “the voice of the new Chicago“ and the Boston Globe calls him “the city’s unofficial poet laureate.”


  • "Kevin Coval made me understand what it is to be a poet, what it is to be an artist and what it is to serve the people."
    –Chance the Rapper

    "...incantatory spoken-word assailing notions of racial purity”
    –New York Times

    "Kevin Coval has given us a gift, a collection of heartfelt, piercing poems, stories really, about America’s city."
    –Alex Kotlowitz author of There Are No Children Here

    "This vibrant, dynamic collection of vignettes exposes the naked truth of our fair city."
    –Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teacher's Union

    "The spine of this book of the People's History of Chicago is the people's resistance and struggle for justice and a fair shake. Coval is in the Chicago Tradition – fire, earth, and endless blues."
    –Angela Jackson, author of Where I Must Go, winner of the American Book Award

Other books by Kevin Coval

  • This Is Modern Art

    A glimpse into the lives of anonymous graffiti artists that asks us to question the true purpose of art.
  • 1989, The Number

    For hip-hop heads 89 was the peak of the Golden Era and the Crack Epidemic.
  • The BreakBeat Poets

    Edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, et al.
    A first-of-its-kind anthology of hip-hop poetica written for and by the people.
  • Schtick

    Poet Kevin Coval offers both tragedy and comedy in this stirring exposition on Jewish assimilation and its discontents.
  • L-vis Lives!

    L-vis lives in this poetic narrative on the use and misuse of contemporary black culture.