No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks brings to life the story of one of Chicago’s most beloved figures. She was an icon, a poet laureate, and a Pulitzer Prize winner—but she was also a treasured educator and mentor to the countless writers and children who knew her as their very own “Miss Brooks.” Weaving together poetry, storytelling, sound design, original music, and striking visuals, No Blue Memories is an exploration of Brooks’s beloved city and a story of how she navigated identity, craft, and politics over the course of one of the most remarkable careers in American literary history. The performance combines intricate paper puppetry, live actors working in shadow, and an original score for an unforgettable multi-media experience.

Commissioned by the Poetry Foundation for the Brooks Centenary, No Blue Memories will receive two weeks of free performances in November 2017 for both the general public and Chicago Public School students.

Friday, November 17th, 6:30 PM
Saturday, November 18th, 6:30 PM
Sunday, November 19th, 2:00 PM

Pritzker Auditorium
Harold Washington Library Center
400 South State Street
Enter on South Plymouth Court

This program is first come, first served.
Doors open one hour before start time.

People with mobility disabilities and other accessibility concerns can request to be seated first. To reserve an access-friendly space in the auditorium email


A Manual Cinema Production
Commissioned by the Poetry Foundation
Written by Crescendo Literary (Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall)
Directed by Sarah Fornace
Music Composed by Jamila Woods and Ayanna Woods
Music Direction by Ayanna Woods
Storyboards by Drew Dir
Puppet Design by Drew Dir and Lizi Breit
Costume Design by Mieka van der Ploeg
Lighting Design by Claire Chrzan
Sound Design by Ben Kauffman
Sound Engineered by Mike Usrey and Kim Kozak
Production Managed by Ben Kauffman and Julia Miller

Performed by Felix Mayes, Jyreika Guest, N. LaQuis Harkins (Gwendolyn Brooks), Eunice Woods, Rasaan Booker (Haki R. Madhubuti)
Music performed by Shalynn Brown aka RED (Drums), Alexis Lombre (Piano, Vocals), Ryan Nyther (Trumpet), Randle Watson (Trumpet), Ayanna Woods (Bass, Vocals) and Jamila Woods (Vocals)
Live Sound Effects by Ben Kauffman

photos by Julia Miller, poster illustration by Drew Dir

Watch our companion piece “We Real Cool”, Created by Manual Cinema in association with Crescendo Literary, with story by Eve Ewing and Nate Marshall and music by Jamila Woods and Ayanna Woods.

‘No Blue Memories’ gives glimpse of Gwendolyn Brooks’ literary life, legacy
Darcel Rockett, Chicago Tribune

“You’ve Never Seen Gwendolyn Brooks Like This Before”
Adam Morgan, Chicago Magazine November 2017

“Manual Cinema turns Gwendolyn Brooks into poetry magic”
Aimee Levitt, Chicago Reader November 2017