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Dark Noise Collective Part II: Franny Choi and Nate Marshall

Part II of F Newsmagazine’s profile of The Dark Noise Collective, a poetry and spoken word group here in Chicago.

By Arts & Culture

illustration by Amber Huff

illustration by Amber Huff


This week, F Newsmagazine continues its profile of the Dark Noise Collective. If you’re just catching up with this profound literary/performative force of Chicago, see their website, or Part I here.


PART II: Franny Choi and Nate Marshall


I first came across Franny Choi’s work when I discovered the poem “Pussy Monster,” which rearranges the lyrics of a Lil’ Wayne song to appear in order of frequency. She has taken the poetry world by storm with her humor, wit, and precision. Choi has been highly awarded as a VONA/Voices Fellow, a 2014 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship finalist, and a Pushcart Prize nominee.

Nate Marshall is a 2015 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship recipient and was the star of the award-winning documentary “Louder Than a Bomb.”

F News: To you, what do you think is the connecting factor or the impetus of dark noise?

Nate Marshall: We first started as friends, admirers, and colleagues. We all felt this gap in the poetry world and we were at a difficult point of trying to penetrating institutions that were white and old. We felt alienated and wanted to have a sense of comfort. Dark Noise gives us the real knowledge that you’re not alone and it has provided a great way for us to share resources with each other.

F News: I believe you are on book tour for your recent book “Wild Hundreds.” How is it going so far, and how are people responding to the performance of the poems?

NM: It’s been a lot of fun. It’s crazy, doing that and holding down a job. The response has been great from the audience, writers, and magazines. I would say the stand-out moments so far have been Sherman Alexie tweeting about the book. Also the folks I have known throughout my life picking up the book and telling me that they love it.

F News: Since you’re from the South Side of Chicago, how do you think the area has changed since when you were growing up there to what it is now?

NM: Depends on where you are. Change for us has been interesting the further south you go. Chicago is notorious for high rise projects, now those don’t even exist anymore. Those folks had to go somewhere and that movement of people has affected other sides of the city.

F News: How have things changed since receiving the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship?

NM: There’s definitely been an upswing in attention. It can be nice but it can also be unwanted. I’ve gotten crazy facebook messages campaigning for things, people wanting something from me. It’s just a lot of spam.

F News: You also have a rap album, Grown. Where do you make the distinction between rap and poetry, since the two art forms are so similar?

NM: They’re different art forms, different conventions and necessities. In poetry, the words are paramount. In music, sonics are more important. Sonics are still important in poetry. The hierarchy of how you consider them is just shifted.

Marshall is also the founder of the Lost Count Scholarship Fund, that promotes youth violence prevention in Chicago. His most recent book, “Wild Hundreds”  is described on Amazon as “a love song to Chicago,” that places personal histories side by side with our cultural milieu of race, grief, and injustice.

Follow the Dark Noise Collective on Facebook.


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