Fives logo – a stylised number five

with José Olivarez

The last thing that made you smile

I don’t remember. I smile a lot. Here’s a brief list of things I can remember making me smile recently: how pretty Lake Michigan is, texts from my partner, random tweets, food, the SOLAR ECLIPSE, ice coffee. Shout out to ice coffee.

A secret

Lake Michigan isn’t a lake; it’s an ocean.

The last thing you wrote

I wrote many, many emails yesterday for my job. Shout out productivity.

Your favourite city

There are so many cities I love. I’ve lived in New York. Shouts to The Bronx. I’ve spent time in Los Angeles. I hear good things about Columbus, Ohio. I lived in Salvador, Brazil for a month. Fortaleza is beautiful. But for my favorite city, I’m going to go with a surprise pick. My favorite city is Chicago, Illinois. I know. I know. I surprise myself sometimes. Why did I choose Chicago? Chicago is the most beautifulest city and Capital Of The Universe. Shout out to thin crust pizza cut into squares. Shout out to Coyote’s in Pilsen. Shout out to The Elastic in Logan Square where me and my friends used to pay $5 to watch our friends rap. All those rappers were like superheroes to me. Shouts to Il. Subliminal. Shouts to the basement in Nate’s old house where we used to watch old poetry slam videos. Shouts to Halsted St. Shouts to the sushi spot on Chicago Ave. Shouts to the brilliant teens I work with at Young Chicago Authors. Plus, my mom doesn't live too far from Chicago. Hola, Ama!

What you’d place in a time capsule

If I’m building a time capsule, then this is what I’m putting in it. First of all, I’m taking this video of Scottie Pippen dunking on Patrick Ewing. Take a seat, Spike Lee. I’m taking Natalie Díaz’s When My Brother Was An Aztec. I’m taking a gallon of mild sauce. I’m taking Andre 3000’s guest verse on “Int’l Player’s Anthem.” I’m taking Crystal Galindo’s artwork. I want to take the group chat, but the future doesn’t need to know what’s in the group chat, so instead I’ll pack poems by everyone in the groupchat. I’m taking another gallon of mild sauce. I’m taking the Chicago skyline. I’m taking Joseph Chilliams’s guest verse on Noname’s “Forever.” I’m taking Toni Morrison’s books. I’m taking Toni Morrison’s essays. I’m taking Rita Dove’s poems. I’m taking Hayan Charara’s poems. I’m taking Patricia Smith’s poems. We’ll need to make room for Gwendolyn Brooks in the time capsule. Aracelis Girmay’s work has to be in the time capsule. There’s so much I love, but mostly books. We’ll need Nayomi Munaweera’s Island of A Thousand Mirrors. I don’t know what to pack in a time capsule, but I’m packing Hot Cheetos just in case.

José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants, the co-author of the book of poems Home Court, and the co-host of the poetry podcast, The Poetry Gods. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the Marketing Manager at Young Chicago Authors. A winner of a 2016 Poets House Emerging Poet Fellowship and a 2015 Bronx Recognizes Its Own award from the Bronx Council on the Arts, his work has been published in The BreakBeat Poets, Vinyl Poetry and Prose, The Chicago Tribune, & Brooklyn Magazine, among other places. He is from Calumet City, IL, and lives in Chicago.