Chuck Perkins

Chuck Perkins’ poetry comes from the heart. Part charisma, part street, part working man’s voice, part everyman reaching for the stars, Perkins’ voice signifies American history in the making with fresh memories won from the civil rights movement, and hopes still to be fulfilled as America grows into its future.

Perkins is a native of New Orleans, a former U.S. Marine, and was at one time a transplantee to the industrial north of Illinois and Wisconsin where he began raising his young family. But he also kept strong ties to New Orleans, and eventually returned there, bringing his family to live near his blood relatives.

Long a favorite of audiences at Chicago’s renowned Green Mill Lounge, Perkins has consistently been featured at equally respected poetry venues across the city and the region. He even MC’d the 1999 National Poetry Slams at the Chicago Theater before thousands of guests.

Perkins’ engagement with poetry was not at first by design. He explains some of this progress in a brief autobiography included in this chapter. Perkins shares a particular, important quality with other performance poets in his generation: the passion to discover, learn, improve, and come back better than before. He has taken the path from open mic to the open road, and he’s won the path.