Lost Chicago Drinking Poems

We lose things for all kinds of reasons – we’re absent minded, we drop them, or we just plain forget about them.

One could make many cases for why drinking poems might get lost over time:

1. People were drunk when they wrote them, so they aren’t worth being remembered.

2. People got drunk after they wrote them, so they lost the poems.

3. Like many poems by lesser known poets, they have been put on a shelf and have been waiting for us to READ THEM AT THE AWP ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN CHICAGO!

Chicago Detours has dug through the archives to revive Chicago’s overlooked, forgotten, goofy, and underrated poets of the past. A great mix of writers, to-be-announced, will read these poems for a fun crowd at the Berghoff Restaurant and Bar. Chicago by the Pint author Denese Neu reads an excerpt from her creative non-fiction book.

Poetry will by read by 2010 AWP award winning visiting novelists Mandy Keifetz and Douglas Light, Chicago poet Sophie Grimes, Two With Water co-editor Amy Ganser, Chris Bower of Rays Tap Reading Series, the deadline. editor Elizabeth Tieri, and Chicago’s very published Hannah Pittard.

Conference attendees as well as the public are most welcome to join us.


Date: Saturday, March 3

Time: 6:15pm-7:45pm

Cost: FREE

RSVP: Each attendee must rsvp to info@chicagodetours.com. SPACE IS LIMITED.

Where: 17 West Adams St.

More info: Walk just a block from the Palmer House to drink and listen to readings of forgotten poems about drinking, beer, and saloons that creative tour company Chicago Detours dug up from archives. Notable writers, mentioned above, will read the poetry. Light appetizers available for punctual guests!

Union League Historic Portrait ManTo give you an idea of a quirky poem that we will NOT be reading but found in the archives, have a look at the poem written about this man, named James. Doesn’t he look like lots of fun?

The AWP, if you’re not familiar, is the standard abbreviation for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Every year they hold a national conference (and book fair) where they discuss the finer points of plot, publishing, translating, and everything in between. It’s a great place to go and rub shoulders with the big potatoes of literature; as Caroline Leavitt puts it: “AWP doesn’t really stand for awesome writers party, but it sort of should.” A more tentative account of the experience was published in Poetry Magazine by noted poet and social curmudgeon, Kay Ryan. We can’t think of a more perfect group of people to get Our Jim Forgotten Chicago Poetrytogether and indulge in some drinking poems with us.

What does Piece’s Golden Arm Ale have to do with Nelson Algren? While we drink, Denese Neu will give us a pint-sized introduction to the history of Chicago’s beer scene with a reading from her book: “Chicago by the Pint: A Craft Beer History of the Windy City.”

Chicago Detours primarily focuses on guided tours of history, culture and architecture for public and private groups, our explorations may surface time to time in other forms – for example, as a creative video or this poetry reading. We’ve been performing lots of, ahem, research for our Historic Bar Tour, which we sold-out almost every night of for the month of February and may continue to offer in the future alongside “Inside the Loop,” our interior architectural tour.

The A.V. Club has mentioned us, and so has Crain’s Chicago, and WhereChicago. My goodness, we’ve even made New York Daily News a little jealous!

The “Lost Chicago Drinking Poems” event is almost at full capacity, so R.S.V.P asap by emailing info@chicagodetours.com.

— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”


Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K


Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K

Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
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