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Live: A Poem About A Chicken Shack

Posted by

Jul 11, 2019

In Nate Marshall's award-winning first book of poetry, there are four poems about Harold's Chicken Shack, Chicago's iconic restaurant chain.

Nate was born and raised on Chicago's South Side, and he grew up going to a local Harold's in his neighborhood. But he says he's also fascinated with Harold's because it reveals so much about past and present racial segregation in Chicago:

"When neighborhoods became black, business fled. Harold's was as much as response to that as anything," Nate says. "I think about food as how we get over. And Harold's is such a great example of that."

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At Harold's, Nate usually orders his wings with Harold's famous mild sauce on top -- or as he writes in the last line of his poem "Harold's Chicken Shack #1": "drenched in mild sauce, sweet spirit, baptized."

But for Nate, that order is more than just a good meal.

"For me, food is sort of a religious thing. It is literally one of the things that gives us life [and] it has sustained us culturally and as a response to systemic violence," he says. "That, too, is a kind of communion -- a kind of coming together of the people.

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Listen in to the full episode to hear Nate's childhood memories of Chicago food. Plus, Nate tells us why wedding food is "more important than love." And Nate and Dan debate whether or not brunch is made up.

This episode contains explicit language.

Today's sponsors:

Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:

- "Stacks" by Erick Anderson

- "Soul Good" by Lance Conrad

- "The Huxtables" by Ken Brahmstedt

- "Comin For A Change" by Stephen Sullivan

- "Call" (no lead vox) by Nona Marie Invie

Photos: FlickrCC/zoetrope and WBEZ/Ashley Nicole Lane

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