Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Kevin Coval  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Audience: Adult;


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Illinois Connection

Coval lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Kevin Coval rose to Chicago fame as the Artistic Director and co-founder of the teen poetry slam program, ''Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Teen Poetry Festival'', but earned national recognition in 2011 when Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel released a documentary about the program under the same name, to critical acclaim and a featured slot on the OWN network.A regular contributor to WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and a four-time HBO Def Poet, Coval is former poet-in-residence at The Jane Addams' Hull House Museum and is currently faculty at The School of the Art Institute. He has taught creative writing and spoken-word performance workshops in Chicago high schools for over ten years. Coval has performed at hundreds of universities, high schools, synagogues, and theaters in seven countries on four continents.Along with the books he has written, Coval also edited [ ''The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop''] with Quraysh Ali Lansana and Nate Marshall.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Slingshots (A Hip-Hop Poetica)
ISBN: 0970801246

EM Press. 2005

A road-tested collection of poems by a young, white, jewish poet firmly entranced with family, hip hop, Chicago and poetry. A handsome book that includes a free digital download of 12 poems and new art by the artist Tony Fitzpatrick.

Everyday People
ISBN: 0970801270

EM Press. 2008

Book by Kevin Coval

L-vis Lives!: Racemusic Poems
ISBN: 1608461513

Haymarket Books. 2011

FROM THE POET the Chicago Tribune calls “the new voice of Chicago,” comes L-vis Lives!, a bold new collection of poetry and prose exploring the collision of race, art, and appropriation in American culture.

L-vis is an imagined persona, a representation of artists who have used and misused Black music. Like so many others who gained fame and fortune from their sampling, L-vis is as much a sincere artist as he is a thief. In Kevin Coval's poems, L-vis' story is equal parts forgotten history, autobiography, and re-imaginings. We see shades of Elvis Presley, the Beastie Boys, and Eminem, and meet some of history's more obscure “whiteboy” heroes and anti-heroes: legendary breakdancers, political activists, and music impresarios.

A story of both artistic theft and radical invention, L-vis Lives! is a poetic novella on all of the possibilities and problems of “post-racial” American culture—where Black art is still at times only fully accepted in a white face, and every once in a while an “L-vis” comes along to step in to the void.

i am a hero
to most. the great hope
of something other.
a complex back-story.
something other than
the business of my father.
bland’s antonym.
jim crow’s black sheep.
the forgotten son
left to rise in the darkness
among the dis
carded in the wild
of working class, single
mother hoods. a hero
who transcends
who translates the dis
satisfactions of the plains
kids of kurt cobain,
method man amphetamine,
the odd Iowan who digs dirt
and lights beyond the pig yard,
spits nebraskan argot,
hero to the heart
land, middle brow(n) america

ISBN: 1608462706

Haymarket Books. 2013

Schtick is a tale of Jewish assimilation and its discontents: a sweeping exposition on Jewish American culture in all its bawdy, contradictory, inventive glory. Exploring—in his own family and in culture and politics at large—how Jews have shed their minority status in the United States, poet Kevin Coval shows us a people’s transformation out of diaspora, landing on both sides of the color line.

A People's History of Chicago (BreakBeat Poets)
ISBN: 160846671X

Haymarket Books. 2017

Known variously as “‘the Windy City,”’ “‘the City of Big Shoulders,”’ or “‘Chi-Raq,”’ Chicago is one of the most widely celebrated, routinely demonized, and thoroughly contested cities in the world.

Chicago is the city of Gwendolyn Brooks and Chief Keef, Al Capone and Richard Wright, Lucy Parsons and Nelson Algren, Harold Washington and Studs Terkel. It is the city of Fred Hampton, House Music, and the Haymarket Martyrs. Writing in the tradition of Howard Zinn, Kevin Coval’s A People’s History of Chicago celebrates the history of this great American city from the perspective of those on the margins, whose stories often go untold. These seventy-seven poems (for the city’s seventy-seven neighborhoods) honor the everyday lives and enduring resistance of the city’s workers, poor people, and people of color, whose cultural and political revolutions continue to shape the social landscape.

Kevin Coval is the poet/author/editor of seven books including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and the play, This Iis Modern Art, co-written with Idris Goodwin. Founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival and the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, Coval teaches hip-hop aesthetics at the University of Illinois–-Chicago. The Chicago Tribune has named him “the voice of the new Chicago“ and the Boston Globe calls him “the city’s unofficial poet laureate.”



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