American Gun: A Poem by 100 Chicagoans


American Gun: A Poem by 100 Chicagoans

Project Type

American Gun is a communal poem about gun violence in the city of Chicago written by 100 poets ranging from well-known Chicago poets to teen poets from the South and West sides, where statistically students experience the most gun violence in the city. The whole book is one poem written in the pantoum form, where two lines from each four-line stanza are repeated in the next stanza. This constant repetition calls to mind the relentless occurrence of shootings, and also the rhythm of a semi-automatic weapon.

In designing the book, I underscored that rhythm, but also broke away from it at times to emphasize certain ideas and to keep the readers' interest. It was important to keep the elements muted so the words would have the most focus but I tried to created a subtle visual counterpoint with its own quiet power.

Among other press attention, American Gun was featured on After Hours with Rick Kogan. He specifically mentioned the design, calling it "just stunning" (listen at 16:10 to 17:29)

Big Shoulders Books at DePaul University publishes quality works of writing by and about Chicagoans whose voices might not otherwise be heard, and gives them away.

I am submitting images but would be happy to send you an actual copy of the book since so many facets of the design, like the size of the book in your hand, the spine as it relates to the cover, and the accumulation of the imagery, page by page can't be captured by individual images.

Thank you for your consideration!

21B-04B_American Gun: A Poem by 100 Chicagoans_Natalie Mills Bontumasi