People’s poet Cin Salach

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It’s one thing to hone your talent as a professional poet — not easy in a field filled with sticky sentiment — but quite another to take it to a level where people entrust you to turn their most personal details into powerful verse.

Yet Cin Salach — the talent behind poemgrown — ranks as a poetess of uncommon ability, poise and sensitivity. Her business is simple to describe, but difficult to do as artistic disciplines go: Salach interviews clients to create custom poems often presented as gifts.

Italian on her father’s side via Sicily (Cellaccio was likely the family’s original last name) Salach describes her current calling as one that has brewed her entire life. “It’s a combination of everything I’ve learned so far and everything I love most: Poetry, ritual, relationship, love and collaboration,” she says.

In business now for two years, Salach began poemgrown almost by accident. Tapped to donate to a silent auction, she offered a custom poem. The winning bidder asked Salach to compose a poem for her daughter’s 7th birthday. “I asked a handful of questions, then took her answers and intentions and wrote a poem called ‘Frost and Feathers,’” she recalls. “When I sent her the finished piece, she sent an email back saying ‘Best gift ever!’ That’s when I knew, ‘This is what I want to do.’”

She adds: “A lot of people are intimidated by poetry. They think it is beyond them. When they see the poem I wrote using their thoughts, their memories, they are able to experience poetry in a whole new way, a real, tangible way: a way that will feed them for the rest of their lives.”

Salach’s talents extend beyond her business. She’s published two books of poems: “Looking for a Soft Place to Land” (Tia Chucha Press) and 2014 release “when I am yes” (JackLeg Press). She’s also released a CD with her band, ten tongues; on “A Wide Arc,” she sets her work to the experimental, electro-acoustic rhythms.

“Working with musicians, photographers, sculptors, dancers and painters has been a favorite part of my poetry ‘career,’” she says. And about a year ago, Salach started teaming up with ceramic artist Tracey Steffora: “Our poemgrown customers now have the option of choosing a line from their custom poem and having Tracey carve it on a hand-thrown stoneware mug, bowl or vase. Her work is beautiful.”

So is Salach’s. “Poetry often feels like prayer to me,” she explains. “Before I can write, I need to listen. Feeding my spiritual life, paying attention to my relationships, parenting, having a writing discipline, all help to keep the poetry well full.”

That spiritual side holds special meaning for Salach, who also facilitates a writers’ group through Chicago’s LaSalle Street Church. “I have a quote on my office wall from Frederick Buechner: ‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’ Poemgrown is that place for me.”

For more information on Cin Salach, visit or email


About Lou Carlozo

Lou Carlozo is award-winning journalist who spent 20 years reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune. He began writing for Fra Noi in 2007, and claims maternal and paternal southern Italian lineage. The monthly Lou&A columnist and a music reviewer/writer, his work has appeared in Reuters, Aol, The Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor and news outlets around the world. In 1993, he was a Pulitzer Prize team-reporting finalist for his contributions to the Tribune’s “Killing Our Children” series. He resides in Chicago with his wife of 21 years, a hospital chaplain, and their teenage son and daughter.

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