Poetry with a Pulse

Think Kerouac, Gwendolyn Brooks and Dr. Seuss. A poem shouldn’t be a riddle. It’s the sound of truth. The touch of common experience. The beat of a bass under your feet.


A life-long writer, Emily Calvo parlayed her love of words into an award-winning commercial writing career and began performing her poems in the mid 1990s. Her accessible, yet well-crafted work spans humor to commentary while straddling the line between academic and spoken word styles. She is widely published and has performed poetry throughout the Chicago area as well as Fontenay du Comte, France.


In 2014, she launched her book, Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd with a grant from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and debuted the book at the Uptown Poetry Slam at the Green Mill.

Calvo also spent three years as a poet-in-residence in the Poetry Center of Chicago’s Hands on Stanza program. She also performs and conducts workshops in schools.

Having survived two cancer diagnoses, Calvo has renewed commitment to artful work for its healing value and shares that message with others.

Chicago Rises Reviews Calvo’s Sulzer Library Reading

Calvo’s poems and paintings span from topics deeply personal and profound to ones light and humorous, moving seamlessly from smiling, frivolous observation, to wincing memories of family and painful personal crises.  Her first poem, for example, is called “Hunting Down Dinner on Highway 13,” a light-hearted recollection of dinner at a Missouri café called the Beefmaster.  After speculating cheerfully that the restaurant’s patriarch—presumably the Beefmaster himself—has “a past as checkered as the tablecloths,” she turns her eye on the rest of the diner’s supporting cast: Mrs. Beefmaster, Junior Beefmaster, and the ever-attendant swarms of flies making the rounds of the tables.  Ever insightful and good-natured, Calvo’s eye transforms a decidedly prosaic event and setting into an engaging character study and contemplation on the universal experience—part awkwardness and part adventure, part drudgery and part curiosity—of traveling the countryside.   --2017


Latest News

Guild Literary Complex

Recognizes Calvo as

One of 30 Writers to Watch

Best Reviews Ever

"This was really good. I brought my phone in here thinking I'd use it the whole time, but I didn't look at it once!"
                                     -- Jason, High School Student

"...sadly, poetry events are often our least well-attended. So, you can imagine my delight and surprise when our reading with Emily Calvo and Andy Karol drew a crowd of more than forty people! Their work deserves audiences of this size and even larger. Every one of us was enthralled by their multimedia presentation, featuring both visual and musical accompaniment. Crackling with energy, their deeply personal writing combined with their stage presence is fiercely engaging."

      — Sarah Hollenbeck, Co-owner Women & Children First