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Events Tue Jul 17 2012

Time Warp this Friday at Printers' Ball

The Printers' Ball is back this Friday to celebrate the printed word. For those who are new to the ball, it's a ragin' party with music, readings, and tons of free publications (boxes upon boxes of materials are handed out for free). What makes this year a bit outlandish, as if that's never been said of this event in the past, is the Time Warp theme. Those event organizers -- Fred Sasaki (Poetry Foundation), Jill Summers (Columbia College), Nell Taylor (Read/Write Library), Mairead Case (lit-magnet about town), Sarah Dodson (MAKE literary publications), Susie Kirkwood (creator of the graphics campaign), and April Sheridan (Center for Book and Paper Arts) -- have warped this year's theme to the far reaches of the imagination. The event is further sponsored by Columbia College's Silver Tongue reading series (who will have a new zine out for the event) and Poetry Foundation (which will have issues of Poetry Magazine available).


(Time Warp graphic by Susie Kirkwood)

How does this full house of Chicago literati accomplish such a feat? "Some of it comes to us by thunderbolt," says Sasaki. The intense planning for the event takes months of meetings, emails, call outs to the literary community, and waves of enthusiasm. The theme is a mixture of sci-fi, fantasy and the '80s. "We realized that the best way to look at the past is to look into the future," says Sasaki. This makes sense when looking at the event's list of programming.

One of the night's activities makes the ever popular CAN-TV broadcasted dance-a-thon Chic-a-go-go go back in time to do the hustle with the legendary Soul Train. You get a dance party that defies time and space, hosted by Soul Train's own Clint Ghent plus Chic-a-go-go's Miss Mia and mascot Ratso.

Want more? OK, the Read/Write Library takes a Weekend at Bernie's approach by resurrecting the force behind the Little Review, editor Margaret Anderson, to host a Beach Party on Mars. How did they come up with this stuff? "No parental supervision," says Sheridan.

Thumbnail image for mars.JPG

(Flyer courtesy of Read/Write Library)

If the programming isn't enough, the main draw is the free literature (not the free beer, but that helps too). Dedicated volunteers from the Read/Write Library spend hours before the event unpacking and elaborately displaying boxes of give-away materials sent to the Center for Book and Paper Arts. "Most publishers are thrilled to be a part of the party and those who cannot attend live vicariously through the love they send us in the shape of heavy cardboard boxes," says Sheridan.

The Printers' Ball creates an outlet for publishers to release all their back issues collecting dust in garages and basements. "Sometimes people are surprised that we want those!" says Case. "It's cool for attendees to see all the different things a magazine has succeeded at or learned from, over the years. It's especially cool for publishers to share that kind of history with each other. I get excited when I crate-dig records, why shouldn't we feel the same about magazines?" New life breathes into the magazines and books when attendees flip through their pages before placing them into their full tote bags or full arms for future reading enjoyment. "Everyone in this industry is working really hard to produce work either for the love of the printed word or as their day job. It's been remarkable to get such enthusiastic responses," says Sheridan.

If that's not enough, the theme allows anyone attending a free pass at wearing that old outfit stuffed in the back of their closet. Dress up as your favorite '80s character like Mr. T or Cap'n Lou Albano (who Sasaki says is "hands down way cooler" because he appeared on WWF's Piper's Pit with Cindy Lauper). Sasaki himself might even come dressed up. Maybe keeping in with the Time Warp theme we could see a Dr. Frank-N-Furter. "Fred should not dress up," says Sheridan,"He'd have no place to hide his books."

Printers' Ball is Friday, July 20, at 6pm at Columbia College's Ludington building, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.

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