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Poetry River is an intercultural, mixed-media, performance art installation, in celebration of humankind's capacity for transformation, transcendence, and renewal. Based on the metaphor of an eternal river, a beautiful, immersive experience of collective memory, place, and identity will premiere in Chicago as part of Expo Chicago: International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art's Expo Art Week events. Host Bill Kurtis, the iconic voice of Chicago, will be joined by internationally-renowned lighting artist Marco Rotelli; world-acclaimed poet James Ragan; Ambassador of American Music, Johnny Rodgers; international, prize-winning choir director, William Chin; Emmy Award-winning choreographer, Mark Howard, and a professional cast of award-winning theatrical actors, singers, dancers, and musicians, in celebration of the resilient spirit of humankind.







Poetry River uses the metaphor of the eternal river for contemplation of intercultural experience. Directed and curated to appeal to the higher values of humanity, Poetry River integrates historical narrative; kinetic, fine art, architectural lighting; professionally performed poetry; music and dance to create an immersive, dynamic, and aesthetically pleasing experience of collective memory, place, and identity. It will debut in the emerging, global mega-metropolis, the City of Chicago, on September 28-29, 2018.

This intersection of the performing arts with a historic place and people will embrace our common human experience of remembrance and inspiration—who we are, from what history we have emerged, and where we, as a people, are going—as we travel together through this particular dimension of time and space.

The City of Chicago seeded its roots in early intercultural encounters. The area surrounding the mouth of the Chicago River, which poured into the fresh waters of Lake Michigan, served as an ancient trading post for regional Native American tribes. Jesuit explorers eventually found their way along the Chicago River trail to this site. Dominican/Haitian, French, and British explorers and tradesmen soon followed. The Irish, Scotch, and Germans came in repeated waves, along with released African-American slaves, seeking dignity and freedom. The World Wars introduced influxes of European immigrants, who arrived with great hope for peace and prosperity. Still, more immigrants from the world over continue to stream into Chicago—Mexican, Chinese, Indians, Syrians, Africans, and others—all contributing new cultural perspectives from their ancestral heritages.

Intercultural exchanges have shaped thoughts and life experiences, providing entryways for individuals to delve into delectable, artistic treasures, both ancient and new. This world premiere will provide a glimpse into this immense history, through the story of Poetry River, as viewed through the works of exceptional artists, whose voices and expressions resonate through the generations. The audience will hear these echoes of our shared cultural ancestors, interwoven in a coherent, accessible, and beautiful performance.

Ideally, the world premiere of Poetry River will inaugurate a series of annual performances that will be presented in Chicago, London, Paris, and other great cities of the world.

With proper support, Poetry River could be further developed to become one of Chicago’s leading annual events, with daytime performances by new artists and writing and master class performance workshops, leading to the evening performance and celebration. Poetry River could play a role in activating new Chicago River public spaces, encouraging public particpation. Each year, Poetry River can be refreshed, featuring new facets of the variety of cultures that enrich the City of Chicago and all humankind.


I’ve known rivers:

Ancient dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep

like the rivers.

Langston Hughes



Poetry River will provide a symbolic voyage within an eternal river, through the lens of a span of cultural perspectives. The river, a metaphor for the passage of time and for the flowing story of life, is a living, moving space that constantly gives identity to a landscape and its people. They, in turn, respond to the river: its colors, sounds, seasons, and the actions that occur, in specific historical times.

As people of the world have come to visit, work, and reside in the City of Chicago, the City, like the river, continually transforms, giving back to the people, the nation, and the world a revitalized history and renewing identity. Through on-going self-transformation and intercultural fusion, this collective identity deepens, as the river, the people who pass by, the architecture, and those who work in the City Center environs amalgamate.

The audience, illuminated with soft light, will act as the eternal river, while the diverse performers will act as tributaries to the river. Strategic sound, video, and illumination technologies will direct attention to poetic, theatrically portrayed vignettes, augmented by inspired expressions of song, dance, and music. Intriguing, moving visuals will encapsulate all, as the creative elements interweave to produce a multi-layered, multi-sensory presentation.

This large format, mixed-media presentation will create an ephemeral, contemporary arts encounter that will capture a pinpoint of human experience in time and space.


The moon twangs

its silver strings;

The river swoons

into town;

The wind beds down

in the pines,

covers itself with stars.

—Elliott Clarke, Whylah Falls




Poetry River unfold a series of vignettes arranged on the themes of the "River of Life", "The River is Flowing", "Love's Destiny", "A Long Sacrifice", "The River Flows Another Way", "Shadows and Dreams", "River Crossing", and "Love Like a Light".

The following core elements and participants will comprise the project installation and performances.



An illuminated history voyage will depict the passage of time, portrayed as a vibrant, blue light flow, onto the audience, who will represent the eternal river of humanity. Spectacular, seemingly tactile, three-dimensional images will transform the theatre into illuminated scripts of verses and typographic characters, and ancient and contemporary symbols and layered designs.

The moving images will change to form an immersive context for the narrated storytelling of Poetry River. Thoughtful orchestration and a progression of cultural vignettes and music performances will give expression to the memories and life forces that flow through the City.


The fountains mingle with the river,

and the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix forever

with sweet emotion:

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by law divine

In one another’s being mingle

Why not I with thine?

—P. Shelley



Bill Kurtis, the iconic voice of Chicago and acclaimed American producer, documentarian, storyteller, and news anchor, will host and narrate Poetry River. Kurtis's clear, commanding voice is recognized and respected by millions of people worldwide.

As the news anchor for "CBS Morning News" and longtime anchor of Chicago's WBBM TV, Kurtis gained a reputation as a trustworthy source of information. A tenacious and courageous investigative reporter, Kurtis was often the first person to interview the world's newsmakers. He traveled the globe to provide first-hand reports of unfolding historic events, from the Fall of Saigon to conflict hot spots of Rhodesia and Northern Ireland. He is credited with breaking the Agent Orange story (which won a national Emmy) and the story of Amerasian children, among other leading edge reports.

In 1990, he founded Kurtis Productions and has subsequently become one of America's most prolific documentarians. Kurtis produced the Peabody Award-winning PBS series "The New Explorers" and hosts and produces two of A&E's longest-running series: "Cold Case Files" and "Investigative Reports." Kurtis also provided satirical narration for Will Ferrell's feature film "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and currently acts as the scorekeeper and announcer for NPR's news quiz show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."

Kurtis is the recipient of numerous humanitarian, journalism, and broadcasting awards, including Emmys and Cable Ace Awards. The Thurgood Marshall Award was bestowed for his "Investigative Reports" installment on the death penalty.

He is a published author and a member of the board of directors of several distinguished organizations, including the Nature Conservancy, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, and The Field Museum of Natural History.

An active conservationist, Kurtis founded Tallgrass Beef Company to champion the environmental and health benefits of grass-fed cattle ranching and has worked to restore the land to its native state.


Here I know I will hanker after
nothing so much as one more
a sky moon of fire
doubled to a river moon
of water.

Carl Sandburg



Marco Nereo Rotelli will create a unique, fine art lighting experience for Poetry River. Noted for his intelligent aesthetics and use of technologies to heighten human expression, Rotelli's intriguing architectural light installations have captivated audiences throughout the world.

Rotelli has researched light and the poetic dimension of architectural lighting arts. He has also pioneered new approaches. Harald Szeemann has defined Rotelli’s art as, “an expansion of the artistic context.”

For years, Rotelli has created a solid relationship between art and other disciplines of knowledge. As a consequence, his research has embraced philosophers, musicians, photographers, and film directors—but mainly his focus is on the relationship between his art and poetry.

In 2000, he founded Art Project, directed by Elena Lombardi and composed by young artists and architects, with whom he realizes numerous, primarily urban, installation projects.

Rotelli's art has been displayed worldwide, including Seoul, Beijing, Paris, and Rome. These productions have resulted in his participation in seven editions of the Biennale Venezia, as well as many individual and collective exhibitions.

Rotelli has a special relationship with Chicago artists. In the summer of 2013, he illuminated the Field Museum of Natural History, in a poetry, sound, and light presentation inspired by Dante's "Divine Comedy" called "Divina Natura." Subsequently, he was invited by Northwestern University to serve as artist-in-residence for the winter of 2013-2014. During this time, he created a light installation for the gothic Charles Deering Library and hosted a wintertime poetry reading.

Rotelli's works of art are noted in museums and private collections all over the world. Important art critics, as well as poets, writers, philosophers, and international, cultural, celebrities, have written about him, increasing the bibliographic collection on his work.

Born in Venice in 1955, where he graduated in architecture in 1982, Rotelli works and lives in Milan and Paris.


Water is sacred.

Water is life.

Water unites us all.

—Strong Standing Golden Eagle Woman



Poetry River will feature the world-acclaimed American poet, James Ragan. A versatile artist and professor, Ragan is a celebrated playwright, screenwriter, poet, and arts ambassador.

Ragan's poetry has been called "arresting and distinctive" (Richard Wilbur), "Fine-grained and witty" (C.K. Williams), and "dominating - with insight that marks major poets" (Noble nominee Miroslav Holub). The Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtuchenko calls Ragan's poems, "a testament to universal brotherhood, a celebration." Ragan's riveting delivery contributes to the visceral pleasure of hearing his poems read aloud. His eight books of poetry have been translated into twelve languages.

He has been invited to read at Carnegie Hall and the United Nations. Ragan has performed his poetry for seven heads of state, including Czech President Vaclav Klaus, South Korean Prime Minister Young-Hoon Kang, and for Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1985, at Moscow's International Poetry Festival (with Robert Bly, Seamus Heaney, and Bob Dylan).

His plays,"The Landlord" and "Commedia," have been produced in the U.S., Beijing, Moscow, Athens, Prague, and other international venues. Ragan has worked as a screenwriter at Paramount Pictures and on staff for Producer Al Ruddy, during the making of the Oscar-winning film "The Godfather," TV's "How the West was Won," and in production on "The Border," "Dom (the House)," Clownwise," "The Last Story of the Century" (based on the siege of Sarajevo), "The Shoe," and another Oscar-winning film, "The Deer Hunter."

As a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Poetry and Film (in schools such as Cal Tech, the University of Oklahoma, and at the Academia Internacional de Cinema, Sao Paulo), Ragan draws lessons for filmmaking from poetry's crisp pace and its efficient delivery of image and metaphor. He has a PhD and currently serves each summer as Distinguished Professor at Charles University in Prague, a position he has held for 23 years. Previously, for 25 years, Ragan was Director of USC's Professional Writing Program.

Ragan is the subject of the new Arina Films documentary on his life in the arts, "Flowers and Roots: Ambassador of the Arts," winner of the Remi Platinum Prize, Worldfest International Film Festival.  His literary honors include three Fulbright professorships (Yugoslavia, China, and the Czech Republic), honorary doctorates from London's Richmond University and St. Vincent's College, the Emerson Poetry Prize, the Poetry Society of America's Gertrude Claytor Citation, 9 Pushcart Poetry Prize nominations, London's International Troubadour Poetry Prize (finalist), and the Swan Foundation Humanitarian Award, among others.

When I bow my head 
to the mirror of the river, cupping the moon,
a million moons, all in suggestion,
I know that I have never seen the moon,
not one, in such illumination.
And when I close my eyes
and hear beneath the ice a new stream flowing,
a million rivulets, each a day's creation,
I realize I had never given thought
to the moon or sun or all infinity
until the earth had sung its song to me.
J. Ragan
"Reflections" (from Too Long a Solitude)



The live audience will be immersed in an experiential environment. The stories of a range of cultures will be represented through the best of poetic and music expressions that are intertwined with collective memories.

Specifically, the performance will consist of a 120-minute program, featuring culturally themed segments that  employ poetry, drama, songs, and dance to depict important historical events and cultural perspectives. Poetry        will be presented by professional actors, with music and dance performed by members of leading cultural institutions. Marco Rotelli’s light art interpretations and depictions will provide an appropriate background for each segment, deepening the experience with visual textures, imagery, and colors.

Famous quotations and musical interludes may be interspersed to punctuate certain themes. Music will span beloved opera arias, folk, gospel, ballads, chorales, jazz, and other artistic expressions, which contribute to important memorable sound impressions.

 Always me,

 like the river itself,

always flowing

but always different,

 like the water flowing

 in the river,

 sometimes walking steadily along


sometimes surging over rapids


sometimes meandering with hardly any visible movement

tranquilo . . .




Poetry River will feature a series of artistic performances representing various cultures, with a historical reference and in a contemporary interpretation. This year's performance will weave together Native American, English, Irish, Czechoslovakian Jewish, African-American, and Syrian poetry into a spectacular story of the human experience and universal love. 



Poetry River will feature poems both ancient and new. From well-known and beloved poetry to lesser known, but culturally important voices, Poetry River will draw to the surface thoughts, ideas, and reflections that convey the most intimate expressions of the human person to advance interpersonal and intercultural understanding. Representative poems may include those of poets ranging from William Shakespeare to Maya Angelou and from W.B. Yeats to the child poets of Terezin (Pavel Friedman and Alena Synkova) and Eddie Two Rivers.



Music is a magical part of Poetry River. Many beloved poems have been set to music, giving the words an extended reach to touch many hearts and move many souls. Just as poetry will be integrated into the master lighting sets, music will provide another experiential dimension and create continuity throughout the performance. A professional orchestra, a capella choir, mixed adult choir, and a children's choir will augment the theatrical depictions.

From the ancient Gaelic rune, “Deep Peace,” which has been ethereally transformed by composer John Rutter, to Walt Whitman's "Song of the Universal," which has been innovatively arranged by Ola Gjeilo, in stunning, contemporary polyphony, poetry and music interplay to create pathways to deeper understanding and relationships.


Shade tree comforting me,

Gentle wind excites the air

to caress my brown face.

My breath is captured

by this river's majesty.

⎯E. Donald Two Rivers



Celebrity talent, including Tony Award-winning, Broadway, and noted Recording Artists will perform to creatively convey culturally-themed stories. Specialty singers and musicians may also be added, as a highlight for specific vignettes. Traditional ballads, opera, and contemporary songs will be showcased.


The good life of any river may depend

 on the perception of its music;

 and the preservation

of some music to perceive.

⎯Aldo Leopold


Dance is the poetry of the human body and soul and integral to cultural identity. In Poetry River, dance will play a vital, kinetic role by providing continuity between the diverse vignettes. Inspired by traditional origins, internationally acclaimed dancers will convey the innate vibrancy and resilience of the human spirit and its capacity to persevere, transform, and triumph. Dance representing Irish, Native American, and African-Carribean traditions will be celebrated in a progressive manner.


We'll sail a long, long way,

and dreams will turn to truth.

⎯ Alena Synkova



Johnny Rodgers is an internationally-celebrated singer-songwriter, pianist, music ambassador, Broadway star, and recording artist, who is described by Stephen Holden, from The New York Times, as an entertainer “who has show business in his bones” with “fused elements of Billy Joel, Peter Allen and Johnny Mercer.”

An official Ambassador of American Music, Rodgers dazzles audiences with his Americana mélange of original songs and classic favorites. He tours for the State Department to places such as the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Rodgers has toured Russia and performed with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, with Igor Butman and his Jazz Orchestra as well as for the US Embassy Independence Day Celebration and the Grodno Jazz Festival in Minsk, Belarus.

For ten years, Rodgers doubled as music director and piano man for Liza Minnelli performances/tours and starred in and wrote the song “I Would Never Leave You” for Liza’s Tony Award®-winning Liza At The Palace, which was filmed and released by PBS television. He has earned New York’s Nightlife, Bistro and MAC awards for his performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Jazz At Lincoln Center, Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel, Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, and other premiere clubs. His songwriting has been recognized with Billboard and ASCAP Foundation awards.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

 i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
⎯ e. e. cummings
William Chin is the founder and artistic director of The Oriana Singers, an international, prize-winning, ensemble that has presented concerts in the Midwest, Europe, and Central America since 1979. They have performed live concerts and radio broadcasts, both nationally and internationally, throughout America, and in Costa Rica, Spain, and Germany.The Oriana Singers were prizewinners at the Internationaler Wettbewerb für Vokalensembles and represented the United States at the V Internacional Festival de Musica, Costa Rica.They have provided choruses for projects ranging from the Video Games Live world tour to the recent Lush Life Billy Strayhorn review.
He is Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, a position he has held since 1999. He is also Director of the Symphony Chorus for the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest and Artistic Director of the Pro Musica Youth Chorus in Oak Park, Illinois, where he directs their top-level Pro Musica and A Capella ensembles. The choruses have toured Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco, and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, in 2010. Chin also served as the Artistic Director of the Chicago Children's Choir from 1993 to 1999 and
led them on several national and international tours. 
In addition, Chin is the Director of Music Ministries at First United Church of Oak Park, where he directs the Sanctuary Choir and the Children's Choir, and, in 2003, he initiated the Music At First concert services. He also directs the Anshe Emet Synagogue Choir in Chicago.
A professional singer, Chin has been involved in numerous recording sessions, both as a singer and a conductor. He conducts the choral recording sessions for GIA Publications. He has been on the adjunct faculty for both DePaul and Roosevelt Universities and is the recipient of a Joseph Jefferson Citation. He is active as a choral adjudicator and clinician. Chin is a past vice-president for Early Music Chicago, an advocacy and service organization. He has also written several children's reading books, including Stone Dragon and Getting to Know Your Neighbors.




Mark Howard, an Emmy Award-winning choreographer, will lead the interpretation of dance segments by integrating modern dance and music into an inspiring presentation of human transcendence.

Born in Yorkshire, England, and raised in Chicago, Howard began his dancing career at age eight. At age 10, he would go on to compete at the World Championships of Irish Dance and the North American Nationals. In 1990, he founded the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, which subsequently garnered unprecedented World Championship team titles for the United States. Howard’s original and uniquely Irish-American company is the birthplace of progressive Irish dance, which has opened new avenues of artistic expression leading directly to commercial productions, including “Riverdance.” Since its inception, the Trinity Academy has grown to become one of the largest and most recognized and creative Irish dance programs in the world.

In 1994 and 2001, Howard was named one of Irish American Magazine’s “Top 100 Irish-Americans” for his innovative choreography. In 1991, his PBS production of “Green Fire and Ice” aired nationally, and, in 2002, PBS began airing “One Step Beyond.”

Howard’s early work found a common rhythm and movement between African and Celtic dance, which was an integral part of the 1993 Emmy Award-winning PBS special “World Stage.” In 1995 his choreography was presented in the ABC special “About Us: The Dignity of Children,” hosted by Oprah Winfrey.

Howard has provided expertise for Disney, Touchstone, Universal, and Dream Works, working with directors including Ron Howard (Backdraft) and Sam Mendes (American Beauty). He also instructed Lara Flynn Boyle (Twin Peaks) and Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) and served as the personal dance coach for actor Tom Hanks, while working on the film, “Road to Perdition.”

Howard has accumulated a multitude of national and international television credits, including several “The Tonight Show" appearances with hosts Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, and Conan O’Brien. He has also been a featured guest on “CBS This Morning,” “The Today Show,” “Live with Regis,” “Good Morning America,” “MARTHA," and “CONAN," among others. In addition, Howard has worked in many commercial and theatrical forums, as well as having been awarded numerous choreographer fellowships and grants in the arts.


Deep peace of the running wave to you.

Deep peace of the flowing air to you.

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.

Deep peace of the shining stars to you.

Deep peace of the gentle night to you.

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.

⎯ Ancient Gaelic Rune



Lee Lessack's graceful, lyric baritone vocals and sophisticated, yet endearing persona have made him a shining star on the international concert scene. Billboard Magazine calls his singing "cabaret romanticism of a high order."

By touring extensively in the United States and Europe to sold-out performances and releasing eight albums, Lessack is a consummate performer and recording artist. Chanteur, Lessack's concert and recording of the "Great French Songbook" celebrates music by Michel Legrand, Jacques Becaud, and Charles Aznavour, among others. Another ambitious recording, In Good Company, was released to great acclaim.

Intimate and impeccably produced, the album beams with outstanding performances. Lessack sings duets with notables including Michael Feinstein, Maureen McGovern, Amanda McBroom, Ann Hampton Callaway, and Stephen Schwartz. The recording earned a MAC and Bistro Award for Best Recording of the Year.

Among his other critically acclaimed albums is a live recording of Too Marvelous for Words: The Songs of Johnny Mercer, from the famed Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which was chosen for the 2002 Grammy Award preliminary ballot. His newest album, in collaboration with Johnny Rodgers, is a recreation of the Simon & Garfunkel Live in Central Park concert of September 1981.

Lessack sharpened his acting skills at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and, in 1996,  founded LML Music, which has a catalog of over 100 of the country's top live recording artists and performers.



An Artists Reception will be held immediately after the performance for artists, sponsors, and VIP guests. Guests will be invited to meet the artists and enjoy a relaxing after-set. Photo opportunities will be available, in addition to art gifts signed by Marco Rotelli and items offered by sponsors.


We play

from the time we wake

till the day ends.

We play

with the golden dawn,

we play

with the silver moon.




Poetry River will appeal to several target groups:


Cultural ConstituentsPoetry River is expected to garner high interest from local, national, and international cultural connoisseurs—the Art Crowd. Expo Chicago, an international modern and contemporary art exhibition, will be held on the same weekend, attracting over 32,000 guests. Poetry River will be promoted as part of Expo Art Week activities surrounding the event. Chicago’s well-established literary, music, and drama devotees will also likely be interested in this new performance art opportunity.


City and Metropolitan Residents – Residents of the downtown area are likely to be interested in Poetry River, as well. This middle-aged demographic is split between power singles, 43%, and double-income married couples without children, 41%, with average incomes of over $67,000. Also, through strong media promotion, Poetry River will be announced to the metropolitan area’s 8 million residents, many of who regularly come to the City for special events.


General Tourists – Hosted in a top tourist destination on the One Magnificent Mile, Poetry River should be of interest to the regional, national, and international tourists who visit Chicago to enjoy high caliber events and tours of the city.


Architectural Devotees - The Architectural Biennial, an international forum, is occuring on the same weekend as Poetry River and Expo Chicago. Architects, developers, and related industry professional should be interested in the unprecedented illumination of the Tribune Tower.


Friends of the River and Real Estate Developers – Chicago’s engaged environmentalists and developers should both be interested in Poetry River, as it will activate a riverfront performance space, in fulfillment of a key strategy of the City’s development goals.


No man ever steps into the same river twice:

for it’s not the same river,

and he’s not the same man.




The City of Chicago is an important international business and intergovernmental hub. Numerous nations have established consulates and business chambers in the City.

Every day, thousands of Chicago businesses interact internationally, growing Chicago’s stature as an emerging global, mega-city. Poetry River is positioned to advance intercultural understanding by providing an occasion to foster important relationships. Outreach will be made to consulates and international business organizations.

Participating governmental, cultural institutions, and affiliated chambers-of-commerce organizations will promote Poetry River on websites and through e-blasts to their members.



Poetry River’s events, participants, performance, and sponsors will be promoted to the media, through a well-planned press relations campaign.

Long-standing media relationships will be leveraged to provide opportunities for interviews, mentions, and articles to garner greater coverage. In addition to the following commitments, further coverage opportunities will be developed.


WGN Radio:  National WGN Radio will promote Poetry River for three weeks prior to the event and will feature promotional announcements, social media exposure, and on-air coverage, including interviews with participants and giveaways to build interest in the premiere. WGN Radio has a loyal local audience and reaches millions of listeners nationwide and internationally.


ABC Chicago: ABC will broadcast 10-second promotional spots for three weeks leading up to the premiere. Opportunities for additional coverage on ABC News programs will be negotiated. ABC reaches over 12 million viewers in the tri-state region.


EXPO Chicago/Expo Art Week: Expo Chicago has designated Poetry River as an official Expo Art Week event. Expo Chicago attracts over 32,000 discerning art connoisseurs and showcases 140 of the world’s leading art galleries, representing 17 countries and 43 cities. Poetry River will be promoted on the Expo Chicago website, listed in the “Expo Art Week Guide,” and included in general Expo Art Week digital promotions.


The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs: Poetry River will be listed on the City’s official events website’s schedule of events and promoted as a feature event for Mayor Emanuel's Year of Public Art.


Choose Chicago: Choose Chicago is the City’s primary, global business and tourist portal and its official sales and marketing organization. Choose Chicago will promote Poetry River on its mobile app and events calendar, which is presented to meeting, travel, business, and leisure travelers. Poetry River will also be featured in official Choose Chicago print publications delivered to high tourist venues throughout the City.


Poetry Foundation: The Poetry Foundation will feature Poetry River on its web page schedule of events



Creative Producer and Artistic Director, Kathleen Quasey, Principal, Exposition Management International (EMI), a consulting and creative productions company, will curate and direct production for Poetry River,  in collaboration with other organizations and key participants.

EMI has produced a variety of cross-media productions. An insightful strategist, Quasey has directed the development and led creative production teams, nationally and internationally, for multinational corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. She garnered cross-cultural expertise while working on a number of large, urban, consumer events and key constituent, external relations programs.

An Associate Member of the Dramatist Guild of America, Quasey's feature film screenplays have received multiple Worldfest Houston International Film Festival awards (Platinum, Gold, and Top Honor Remi Awards). Her poetry has been acknowledged by the Joann Hirschfield Memorial Poetry Award and the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic competition. Quasey's epic, multilingual libretto, the Rosary for World Peace: An Oratorio in Four Acts, has garnered the support of the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Vatican, the Russian Orthodox Church's Patriarch Department of Culture, and the Church of England, and other leading officials.

A highly skilled team of creative production specialists will create this unique, international caliber performance that will showcase many talented artists and contribute to the growing reputation of the City of Chicago as a global arts destination.



Carol Fox and Associates, a prominent cultural arts communications firm, will direct publicity, together with Riverside Plaza’s ESAM. Carol Fox and Associates is a full-service agency with award-winning expertise in arts, entertainment, and lifestyle marketing. Poetry River’s campaign will be fully integrated, increasing its impact and effectiveness, by building an audience for this premiere presentation.


Time is the substance

from which I am made.

Time is a river,

which carries me along;

but I am the river. 




There are several levels of sponsorship available for Poetry River:


Poetry River Title Sponsor: The Title Sponsor is the headline name for Poetry River and the highest visibility sponsor. The Title Sponsor has category exclusivity, opportunities for media interviews, prime placement in all advertising and promotion, a stage mention, a dedicated 15-minute cultural segment, best-placed seats, on-site promotion, invitations to the Artists Reception, media and VIP Gift Bag promotional giveaways, and photos with the participating artists.

In addition, the Title Sponsor has the rights to a special feature on the official website, with an optional link to its website; feature placement in the press kit; a full-page advertisement in the official program; a letter of endorsement in the official program; and signed artwork by Marco Rotelli. The Title Sponsor also secures the opportunity to integrate marketing planning with Poetry River for years to come through a multi-year and/or multi-city sponsorship.


Poetry River "Presented By" Sponsor: The "Presented By" sponsor is the second highest visibility sponsor category and will be strongly promoted in a cross-media marketing campaign. The "Presented By" sponsor has category exclusivity, opportunities for media interviews, high visibility placement in all advertising and promotion, a stage mention, a dedicated 15-minute cultural segment, best-placed seats, on-site promotion, invitations to the Artists Reception, media and VIP Gift Bag giveaways, and photo with the participating artists.

In addition, the "Presented By" Sponsor has the rights to a special feature on the official website, with an optional link to its website; feature placement in the press kit; a full-page advertisement in the official program; a letter of endorsement in the official program; and signed artwork by Marco Rotelli. The "Presented By" sponsor also secures the opportunity to integrate marketing planning with Poetry River for years to come through a multi-year and/or multi-city sponsorship.


Poetry River Poet Laureates: Poet Laureates are exclusive patrons of one of 6-8, approximately 15-minute segments of Poetry River performance, featuring a specific cultually representative poem performed by actors, augmented by Marco Rotelli designed illumination, and a musical and/or dance performance.

Poet Laureates are entitled to logo inclusion on all cross-media promotion, opportunities for media interviews, a stage mention, good seat placement, on-site promotion, VIP invitations to the Artists Reception, media and VIP Gift Bags giveaways, and photo with artists. In addition, Poet Laureates are entitled to a special feature on the official website, with an optional link to its website; feature placement in the press kit; a full-page advertisement in the official program; a letter of endorsement in the official program; and signed artwork by Marco Rotelli.


Poetry River Patrons: Poetry River Patrons represent individuals and organizations that support Poetry River's mission to advance intercultural understanding through artistic expression that appeals to the higher values of humanity.  Poetry River Patrons are entitled to logo presentation on promotional materials; a special feature on the official website, with an optional link to the sponsor's website; mention in the press kit; opportunities for media interviews; a half-page advertisement in the official program; a letter of endorsement in the official program; on-site promotion; reserved seats for the performance; invitations to the Artists Reception; media and VIP Gift Bag giveaways, photo opportunities with artists, and signed art by Marco Rotelli.


Poetry River Global Art Connoisseur: Capturing the artistry of Poetry River, by highly skilled photographers and broadcast-experienced videographers, audio engineers, and technicians, is important for promoting this unique installation worldwide and advancing the City of Chicago’s reputation as a global arts destination. Highlights of Poetry River will be recorded, edited, and produced into a memorable, high style, video. The digital archive will be used for media, commemorative, documentary, and development purposes.

The Global Art Connoisseur is entitled to a stage mention, acknowledgement in the final video, a profile in the press kit, a web page on the official site with a link to the sponsor's site, its logo on signage and advertisements, a half-page ad in the official program, reserved seats, invitations to the Artists Reception, on-site promotion, media interviews, media and VIP Gift Bag giveaways, photo opportunities with artists, and art signed by Marco Rotelli.


Poetry River Cultural Ambassadors: Cultural Ambassadors represent cultural institutions that provide performers for the Poetry River multi-media presentation. Actors, musicians, singers, and poets will participate in the production of 6-8, approximately 15-minute, culturally themed segments, woven together through a narrative story line.

Cultural Ambassadors are entitled to a stage mention, a profile in the press kit, a web page on the official site with a link to the sponsor's site, its logo on signage and advertisements, a half-page ad in the official program, reserved seats, invitations to the Artists Reception, on-site promotion, media interviews, media and VIP Gift Bag giveaways, photo with artists, and signed art by Marco Rotelli.


Poetry River Cultural Connoisseurs:  There are several opportunities for Cultural Connoisseurs to participate and enhance the overall Poetry River experience:


Poetry River Artists Reception: The Poetry River Artists Reception will take place immediately after the performance. VIP guests will be invited to enjoy a champagne reception and light music, while interfacing with the participating artists. As host of this exclusive reception, your organization will be entitled to a stage mention, a profile in the press kit, a web page on the official site with a link to the sponsor's site, a logo on signage and advertisements, a half-page ad in the official program, a letter of endorsement in the official program, reserved seats, invitations to the Artists Reception, an on-site promotional tent, media interviews, media and VIP Gift Bag giveaways, photo opportunities with artists, and signed art by Marco Rotelli.


Poetry River VIP Gift Bags: VIP Gift Bags will provide guests with a lasting memory of Poetry River. An event poster, a signed commemorative photo slick by Marco Rotelli, and other participating sponsor items will be included.

As patron of this hospitality service, your organization will be entitled to a logo on one side of the VIP Gift Bags, signage on-site at the Artists Reception Gift table, a profile in the Poetry River digital press kit, opportunities for media promotional giveaways, a quarter-page ad in the official program, a letter of support in the official program, a dedicated web page on the official site with a link to the sponsor's website, reserved seats, invitations to the Artist Reception, photo with artists, and signed artwork of Marco Rotelli.


Poetry River Commemorative Book: A large format, commemorative book and e-book will be produced featuring the original light art of Marco Rotelli, the poems, performers, and sponsors. As patron, your organization will be entitled to a front-placed dedication page, a logo on signage and advertisements, a profile in the Poetry River digital press kit, a letter of support in the official program, opportunities for media and VIP Gift Bag giveaways, reserved seats, invitations to the Artist Reception, photo opportunities with artists, and signed artwork by Marco Rotelli.



For more information contact:


                       Kathleen Quasey

                       Exposition Management International






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