Susan Yount and the Chicago Poetry Bordello

In the beginning of the project, I talked to Susan Yount, poet and head of Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal. She is also  Madam Black Eye for the Chicago Poetry Bordello. Here is a taste of our talk back in October 2014. The Chicago Poetry Bordello holds amazing evenings filled with song, dance, burlesque, silhouette artist, and, most important, poetry whores who for a price will read poetry for you (and an enterprising loved one). I’ve been fortunate to participate in two shows as a temperance worker and a plant for a fake medium. I highly recommend checking them out!


I asked Susan Yount about what she wanted to achieve with the Chicago Poetry Bordello. She said, “I think the main goal of the show is to help people who don't always read poetry discover that poetry really isn't just a stuffy art for intellectuals at coffee shops. I think that's the main goal of the whole show, and I think that [it] is successful in doing that. I have friends that I worked with that have left my office and don't work there anymore. They still come back to the Poetry Bordello. It's because it's an escape. It's going back to when everything was a little more romantic... The one-on-one reading poetry, I mean that's what they used to do. Yeah, so I think that's very romantic and people appreciate the attention.


“And you can ask questions. If they don't understand your poetry… I've had many a person ask me... if that was real life.  In a sense, it is real life. It's all coming from life. So I think that's the main goal: to show that poetry is fun. And then there's this secondary part where it's an artist community. Artists are meeting other artists. I've met playwrights. A historian came to our show, more than one historian has come to our show now that I think about it…

“But other artists, you know like the Steampunk community too, which they're into the art of dressing. So it just caters to so many people. It's such a wonderful mix of people because everybody's meeting somebody else that they're interested in and/or have other things that they can do with them, with other forms of art, other communities of art. So I know that Pinch and Squeal has done stuff with one of the big guys from the Steampunk community. He went out and was doing their vaudeville tent with them, I know that Sara Chapman does stuff with them. So she's the pianist and she's hooked up with the White City Rippers. I feel like that’s part two: everybody connecting with other people who are also writers and artists. We got a great silhouette artist now... so that's a great. It's a great community of people. It is like herding cats, but somehow it all comes together and really amazing things and connections happen.

“And once I had this guy, after I read a poem to him, he yelled out: ‘You should write horror movies.’ And I thought: ‘Wow, I wish I could write horror movies, right.’ So you kind of get a perspective I think that you just don't get anywhere else.”


Check out Chicago Poetry Bordello website here:



Check out the amazing Arsenic Lobster Poetry Magazine here: