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Everything Must Go, by Kevin Coval. Langston Allston, Illustrator

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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.

The book 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.




“Chicago-based poet and educator Kevin Coval has one of the strongest and most long-standing literary visions in the city.”
Chicago Tribune

“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

“In Everything Must Go, Kevin Coval taps into nostalgia familiar as a former lover's cologne. 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: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation

“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: Urban Renewal and Gentrification in Chicago

Kevin Coval is a poet and community builder. As the artistic director of Young Chicago Authors, founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, and professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago―where he teaches hip-hop aesthetics―he's mentored thousands of young writers, artists and musicians. 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 Magazine, The Drunken Boat, Chicago Tribune, CNN, Fake Shore Drive, Huffington 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.

October 11, 2019