Every few mornings, my mom will e-mail me my horoscope.
It's not that we take serious stock in the just-vague-enough-to-be-accurate predictions. We know it's silly. It's just a nice tradition; our kooky way of keeping in touch. I don't believe in what the horoscopes say, and that is the truth.
The truth, nine tenths of the truth, almost entirely true, so help me Libra.
Okay, I don't open those e-mails expecting to learn exactly what my day holds. It's only that, after reading them, they tend to sit in the back of my mind. If my horoscope tells me my "patience will be tested," and later that day I have to wait twenty minutes for the bus, a small part of me will think, "Oh! Thanks for the heads up, Mom/Universe!"
The reason my subconscious clings to the horoscope isn't that I actually believe it, nor is it a predictive measure comparable to data-based statistical forecasting (no offense, Cosmos). Rather, this behavior, and the popularity of astrology in general, is a prime example of the way in which we as a species tend to despise uncertainty.
In his book The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - But Some Don't, statistician Nate Silver pinpoints this very aversion to uncertainty as a major cause of faulty predictions. We are wired to detect patterns. We are predisposed to lean towards our subjective bias. We tend to see in the data what we want to see. And considering the ever-amassing amount of information available, it is not difficult to lose the signal (true, relevant data) amidst the noise (everything else).
Horoscopes may be a hoax, but when it comes to predictions, Mr. Silver is the next best thing. He has gained notoriety throughout his career for the astoundingly accurate predictions of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, various senatorial elections, as well as the performance of many Major League Baseball players. He was named one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People" by Time magazine, and his blog, FiveThirtyEight.com, was licensed for publication by the New York Times.
If you're looking to add to your cultural calendar this month the Chicago Humanities Festival is offering a special 25% discount deal on tickets to Stages, Sights, and Sounds --its international theater and performance festival.
You can get tickets to performances by any of the six international troupes by entering the code PROMO25 until Friday, May 17 at 9 am. At $5 for children and $11 for adults, tickets are already reasonable, especially considering the high quality performances the Festival delivers.
This Saturday, May 18, the Librarian Pub Crawl meets at at the Atlantic Bar and Grill (5062 N. Lincoln Ave.) at 6:15pm; click here for complete list of stops on the tour. Since 2010, the Librarian Pub Crawl has gathered librarians and literature fans of all stripes for fun and the support of a worthy charity (this year's is Bernie's Book Bank). Costumes encouraged; think literary character or sexy librarian. Prizes awarded for best costume (or winning raffle ticket if costumes aren't your thing). Wristbands are only $10 ahead of time, $15 day of (drinks not included but raffle tickets and other goodies are). Online registration encouraged.
The success of last month's Salon Splendor has prompted Chicago's Curbside Splendor Publishing to reprise the event with another night of readings, music, and world-class tea, on Thursday, May 16, at 7:30pm. The show will take place at Madame Zuzu's 582 Roger Williams Ave. in Highland Park.
Tomorrow night, May 10, Eve Ensler will be at the Swedish American Museum (5211 N. Clark St.). Best known for her international stage smash The Vagina Monologues, Ensler's latest, In the Body of the World, is a memoir about her lifelong feeling of disconnect from her body, her struggles with uterine cancer, and her work in the Congo. Poet Mary Oliver calls it "astonishing" and Isabel Allende says, "[Ensler's] heart and body are broken, her anger is like fire, and the passion of her writing rattles your soul. This is true literature and true activism." Event sponsored by Women and Children First bookstore. 7pm.
The reading begins at 7:30pm in the upstairs lounge at Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St.; doors open at 7pm and no earlier. Arrive early for a table and grab a beer from Mark at the bar (where credit cards are now accepted!) Admission is always free, but you must be 21 or older. And come early or stay late after for some great Belgian-style food downstairs. Hope to see you there!
This Saturday, May 6, Loren Glass reads from Counterculture Colophon: Grove Press, the Evergreen Review, and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde at Seminary Co-Op (5751 S. Woodlawn). An alternative press founded in 1951, and still around today as Grove/Atlantic, Inc., Grove went to court several times on obscenity charges (for Lady Chatterley's Lover, The Tropic of Cancer, and Naked Lunch). Grove was also the subject of the 2007 documentary Obscene. Of Glass' tome, Stanford University English professor Mark McGurl says, "I had such a good time reading Loren Glass's study of the Grove Press, I barely noticed that he had packed a whole education in the American reception of the European avant-garde into its pages. Brimming with as many colorful and brilliant personalities as it is with good ideas and cogent analyses, this book fills in a major gap in our knowledge of postwar American culture, and will appeal to anyone who has ever felt the lure of dangerously sexy ideas." 3pm.
This Thursday, May 2, the Book Cellar (4736 N. Lincoln Ave.) welcomes Richard Hell reading from I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp. A stalwart of the '70s New York punk scene, Hell was one of the founding members of Television; Patti Smith wrote one of the first reviews of the group. Book Forum says "There are many shivery, illicit pleasures in this louche memoir... Hell is a virtuoso of taste, a critic with a sensibility so fine and unconventional it bordered on its own form of art...weird and singular and superbly self-aware." 7pm.
"Life changes, but stories live on, right?" poses Reading Under the Influence hostess Julia Borcherts. Along with Amy Guth, and Rob Duffer, Borcherts is one of the founders and current hosts of RUI, which celebrates its eighth year on Wednesday, May 1, at 7pm at Sheffield's, located at 3258 N. Sheffield Ave. The reading series has become a staple in the literary community, known for great monthly lineups and energetic hosts and that readers are, as the name suggests, under the influence.
The series began in 2005 as a project to finance a formal thesis showcase by the hosts, then in graduate school in Columbia College Chicago's Fiction Writing Department. "And a way to legitimize going to a bar to have some drinks with our friends," jokes Borcherts.
The success of the series was modest at the start, garnering attention from friends and fellow classmates. Having a drink after class or work to share writing is something that others around the city wanted to be part of. These days, RUI books published writers, students, emerging talent, story tellers, and more, every month.
"We were having fun every month so we just kept it going," said Borcherts. "Good stories are a great way to bring people together and for strangers to become friends."
Self Publishers of Chicago (SPOC) celebrates their one year anniversary on Friday April 26 at Uncharted Books, located at 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave. SPOC is a community organization sponsoring workshops and skill shares for writers, zinesters, and artists.
Founder Nicki Yowell will deliver the he State of SPOC Address and do some first year reflecting. In its first year, SPOC released publications including Fire Dogs, Ghostly Stories (their Halloween issue) and a collage zine.
The evening kicks off at 7pm with a performance lineup that's as kooky as they come and worth nothing in full:
-Eric Bartholomew of Junk Drawer will regale the audience with an interactive survey of junk items the world over.
-Jonas Cannon will read his not-so-haunted tale from SPOC's second zine "Ghostly Stories."
-Meghan McGrath will bring back the glory of Fire Dogs, SPOC's first zine, with a fire dog career booth and performance.
-Grant Reynolds has a brand new SPOC theme song accompanied by a resplendent slideshow.
-Elizabeth Tieri of the Back to Print Publishing reads her poem from "Ghostly Stories" (about a black light poster).
This Sunday, April 28, Katherine Preston reads from Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice at Lovely Bake Shop (1130 N. Milwaukee Ave.). A stutterer since age seven, Preston left her London home at 24 to travel around America in search of a cure. Along with her own story, Out With It includes interviews with speech pathologists as well as celebrities, writers, musicians and a host of others who shared her struggles. Carl Bernstein (author of A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton) says "Katherine Preston is an extraordinary new literary voice and a triumphant storyteller of her generation. How she got there is a captivating tale and we are all the richer for her experience and her arrival." Event sponsored by The Book Table. 6pm.
This Friday, April 26, at 6:30pm, author Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors and Wolf at the Table) will be reading from his newest book This is How: Surviving What You Think You Can't. This unconventional self-help book addresses all of those areas you think you can't, and turns your self-defeating argument on its head. The book will be available with a signing to follow.
Next Monday, April 29, at 7pm, Unabridged hosts an exciting talk with Keith Koeneman, author of the forthcoming biography of former Chicago Mayor Daley First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley out on the University of Chicago Press. Koeneman is the foremost expert on all things Daley. The book showcases all sides of Daley's life, from childhood in Bridgeport to City Hall. There will be a short reading followed by an insightful discussion.
Seating at Unabridged is first come, first serve. Arrive early to catch either of these events.
This Thursday, April 25, Robert Perišic reads from Our Man In Iraq at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore (5757 S. University Ave.). Set in Croatia in 2003, the book is a satiric novel about a jaded journalist who sends his eccentric, ne'er-do-well cousin to cover the Iraq War and the complications that ensue. Publisher's Weekly said "What's most compelling about Perišic's novel are the relentlessly insightful one-liners, offering poignant commentary on the unsettled day-to-day of a society trying to find its footing after devastating violence and in the throes of nascent capitalism...this smart, cutting book powerfully illustrates the horrible hangover of war." The book was one of themillions.com's most anticipated books of 2013.
Perišic is a best-selling author in Croatia; Our Man In Iraq is the first of his books to be translated into English. The event is cosponsored by the Consulate General of the Republic of Croatia in Chicago and Asymptote Journal. 6pm.
Graze Magazine, a literary food publication with a personal essay bent, is throwing its issue 3 release party on Saturday, April 20, replete with delicious drinks and some serious culinary offerings befitting its food focused content.
Guests will have free reign over the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art's permanent collection, along with its special exhibit, "An Ill Wind Blowing." The museum, located at 756 N. Milwaukee Ave., is a unique experience in itself as the only non-profit organization showcasing outsider artwork. The setting feels connected with Graze's mission, too, as food can be very much intertwined with life on the margins, however individuals interpret that space.
Curbside Splendor Publishing and Madame ZuZu's cordially invite you to Salon Splendor, a night of intimate reading and conversation this Friday, April 19. Madame Zuzu's Teahouse, located at 582 Roger Williams Rd., right by the Ravinia Metra station in Highland Park, is notable for its selection of teas (and its owner, Chicago alt-rock luminary, Billy Corgan).
The night's theme is Origins is befitting for the event's first installment. Reading original work based on that theme will be Kathleen Rooney, Okla Elliott, and James Tadd Adcox. There will be light tunes, too, by Good Evening, all hosted by Curbside Splendor's Senior Editor, the outlandish Jacob S. Knabb.
Space is limited so reservations are strongly recommended. RSVP at email@example.com.
Festivities commence at 8pm. Get there early to grab a seat and to try Madame Zuzu's delightful teas and treats.
Gilbert Hernandez, one-third of the Los Bros Hernandez trio of Love and Rockets fame, will be at Quimby's this Thursday, April 18. He'll be presenting his brand new (out today!) graphic novel Marble Season, a semiautobiographical tale of growing up in suburban California in the '60s and the redemptive power of childhood storytelling. Corey Creekmur (in the aferword) says, "Perhaps no other current creators of comics recognize (or vividly remember) the ways actual kids think, talk, or even stand and walk as accurately as the Hernandez brothers, and no other comics artists so delicately intertwine moments of childhood trauma with the goofy logic that otherwise sustains kids when they begin to sense that they live in an irrational world." Quimby's, 1854 W. North Ave., 7pm.
Newly formed storytelling series Guts and Glory returns this Wednesday, April 17, at Powell's Bookstore, located at Chicago 2850 N. Lincoln Ave. The series calls forth performers to tell-it-like-it-is in this series, which prides itself on being uninhibited. Hosts Keith Ecker and Samantha Irby welcome this month's readers Lara Levitan (a fellow Gapers Block Book Club staff), Gwynn Fulcher, Jacob Knabb (editor of Another Chicago Magazine), Ellie Navidson, and Luis Antonio Perez.
Donations, all of which go to either children's or animal care charities, are strongly encouraged. It's BYOB, so consider the donation money saved from avoiding a bar tab. The show starts at 7pm.
Greetings from sunny Seattle, where women are “gals,” people are “folks,” a little bit is a “skosh,” if you’re tired you’re “logy,” if something is slightly off it’s “hinky,” you can’t sit Indian-style but you can sit “crisscross applesauce,” when the sun comes out it’s never called “sun,” but always “sunshine,” boyfriends and girlfriends are “partners,” nobody swears but someone might occasionally “drop the f-bomb,” you’re allowed to cough but only into your elbow, and any request, reasonable or unreasonable, is met with “no worries.”
Have I mentioned how much I hate it here?”
This excerpt, the first paragraph in a 15-page tirade against Seattle, is just a sample of the scathing witticisms Maria Semple has to offer in her recent novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette? The book is the latest in a long list of Semple’s accomplishments, including her first book, This One is Mine, as well as her work as a writer on a number of television series, including “Arrested Development,” “Mad About You,” and “Ellen.” Bernadette is also slated to be made into a motion picture, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ((500) Days of Summer) and produced by Nina Jacobson (The Hunger Games film series) and Brad Simpson.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Semple just before her reading and talk-back, “Printers Row: Maria Semple,” hosted at the Tribune Tower by Trib Nation. There we discussed Maria’s relationship with Seattle, her writing process, and her perspective on the success of her book.
As the bus pulls up to the curb outside Tribune Tower, I am nervous for two reasons. The first is, knowing I am about to meet face to face with a writer for “Arrested Development,” it will take every professional fiber of my being to not let this interview devolve into an episode of The Chris Farley Show. (“Remember Gob…? Yeah. He’s awesome.”)
The second reason I’m nervous I already acknowledge as ridiculous. But, having read Semple’s commentary on Seattle, I can’t help but wonder if her bite is as bad as her bark. I saw what she did to that city. Would she chew up Chicago with the same contemptuous mockery? I half expect Bernadette herself, enormous sunglasses atop her nose, to come marching in decrying our unpredictable weather and monochromatic wardrobes.
I know I’m to blame for this recent rift. I’ve been absent, unavailable—and even when I am around, our encounters are brief and unsatisfying. I look back longingly on all those wonderful Sunday mornings we spent together; those brief, flirtatious meetings on the El; the five alarms I snooze most mornings just to be with it…
It’s not that I don’t love Sleep. It’s just that for the past two days I’ve been distracted by the latest book occupying my nightstand: The Way We Sleep. An anthology of short and flash fiction, comics, and interviews, Sleep examines those moments in which the waking and sleeping life collide. The collection, at once comical and poignant, contains stories dynamic enough to stand alone, yet all the more enticing in their juxtaposition. From page to page the reader unfolds a richer, more complex notion of sleep; what it means to us, and the culture that surrounds it.
Some say I need a solid eight hours; I say I need a less interesting book.
If you, like me, are looking to catch a good read about catching z’s, The Book Cellar (4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.) will be honoring the recent publication of The Way We Sleep with a reading from the collection this Saturday, April 13, at 7pm. The reading will feature contributors Billy Lombardo, Ben Tanzer, Dakota Sexton, and Natalie Edwards, as well as a shadow puppet show presented by Jill Summers and Susie Kirkwood.
Copies of the anthology, and other books by contributors, will be available for sale at the event. RSVP at their event page.
This week the Chicago Public Library hosts three events at the Harold Washington Library Center's Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, located at 400 S. State St.
First, on Tuesday, April 16, join academy award winning director of classic films "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist," William Friedkin, as he discusses his new memoir The Friedkin Connection. The book takes readers from the streets of Chicago to the suites of Hollywood, and through time from the sixties to today. Adam Kempenaar, host of the film podcast Filmspotting, will moderate the discussion. Books will be available with a signing to follow.
Check out One Book, One Chicago's panel discussion on Wednesday, April 17, entitled The New Chicagoans, on this year's One Book selection The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. The panel includes Adolfo Hernandez, director of the Chicago Office of New Americans and Tuyet Le, executive director of the Asian American Institute. They will look at Chicago as a gateway for migrants today like Wilkerson's novel.
Close out the week's events on Thursday, April 18, with author Thomas Dyja's discussion of his new book The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream. The book tells the story of postwar Chicago and explains its profound impact on modern America. Books will be available with a signing to immediately follow.
All events begin at 6pm and are free and open the public.
Performance based comic reading Brain Frame hosts a fundraiser for CAKE (Chicago Area Comics Expo) on Friday, April 12 at Peanut Gallery, located at 1000 N. California Ave. Brain Frame supports the comics community giving artists a stage to perform their work, a natural collaboration with CAKE, Chicago's premier comics festival.
Winners who live in the Chicagoland area include Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg for You Were Never in Chicago in the adult nonfiction category, and Jonathan Messinger, former books editor for TimeOut Chicago, receives the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism.
Click here to see the full list of winners past and present.
This weekend, Chicago historical reenactment group Pocket Guide to Hell honors children’s entertainment past and present with an afternoon of acts that will knock your big, floppy shoes off! Join Pocket Guide performers Fred Sasaki (the Magician); Kenneth Morrison (the Clown); Professor Justin Amolsch and his Big Brass Band; and Martin Billheimer (the Star) in their second installment of The Chicago Television Project: a variety hour homage entitled The Chicago Children’s TV Show. The 50’s-era-style revue, which includes everything from music to magic to mischief, goes up at Gallery Cabaret (2020 N. Oakley Ave.) on Sunday, April 14.
Pocket Guide’s owner and proprietor Paul Durica says of the retro style and revue format, “Many early children’s shows, such as Super Circus, used the variety show format, which allowed for the program to stay fresh and flexible but also to highlight the talents of a range of groups and individuals… Each contemporary group will be linked to a historic show, such as Kukla, Fran, & Ollie or Garfield Goose, so that past and present will meet at this event. We want the event to be a celebration of local creativity and imagination.”
As if that weren’t enough incentive, there will also be an assortment of kids’ prizes, generously donated by Busy Beaver Button Company; Derek Erdman; Kathleen Judge; Hansen Mansion; Barrel of Monkeys; Poetry; Drinking & Writing Theater; the Haymarket Pub & Brewery; Victory Gardens Theater; Wee Hairy Beasties; Uncle Fun; and the Chicago History Museum.
So embrace your inner child and make your way to the Hideout for either of two performances: a 3 pm family-friendly run, and a 5 pm showing for everybody else. Free! RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Sunday, April 7, Mary Driver-Thiel reads from The World Undone at Women and Children First (5233 N. Clark St.). It's the story of Sylvia, a woman who goes in search of her sister Callie, given up for adoption, and how their lives and their mother's are changed when Sylvia goes in search of Callie. 4:30pm.
This Saturday, April 6 is the Willow Books Lit Fest at the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State University (9501 S. King Drive). Most events are free and open to the public but require registration. Events include workshops, manuscript sessions, panel discussions, an open mic and a Willow Brooks Literature Awards finalists reading and ceremony. Participants include social media expert Leslie McGraw and associate professor Quraysh Ali Lansana, among others. Radio personality Jay Scott Smith emcees. Event runs 8am-5pm; see full schedule of events here.
If you missed the Chicago Zine Fest last month, don't despair. The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., is hosting two programs this spring to help quench your thirst for underground, dissident and alternative publishing.
"Outsiders: Zines, Samizdat and Alternative Publishing" is a free panel discussion on Saturday, April 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Focusing on self-produced books and pamphlets that express individualized, unconventional, controversial, or prohibited messages, the panel will include alt publishing heavy hitters Anne Elizabeth Moore (New Girl Law: Drafting a Future for Cambodia), Lisa Gitelman (Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture) and Jenna Freedman (Pinko vs. Punk: a Generational Comparison of Alternative Press Publications and Zines), among others. Coffee will be provided, and Quimby's will be selling DIY and other alt press materials.
After the discussion, explore the historical roots of zine culture with the Newberry's "Politics, Piety, and Poison," an exhibition of French pamphlets from 1600-1800, through April 13. A highlight of the exhibit is a series of engraved scenes that depicts the crimes, trial and eventual execution of a Parisian grocer accused of poisoning the wife and son of an associate. This 18th century "zine" is a graphic depiction of a sensational case that captivated all of Paris. Mon dieu!
Reading Under the Influence has to be one of the city's most outrageous reading series. Following April Fool's Day, RUI is back Wednesday, April 3, at Sheffield's, located at 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., with the theme the Transmogrifier. Go ahead, grab your dictionary or get to Googling, unless you're a fan of Calvin and Hobbes and already know that the Transmogrifier is Calvin's invention that turns one thing into another. RUI should have picked this theme years ago as each month its event transmogrifies from a reading into an all out party.
The two-round reading begins with published works selected in keeping with the theme; in round two, readers present a piece of their original work and are encouraged to spice things up.
This month join Chicago writers Melinda McIntire (the host of the reading series Solo In The 2nd City and fellow Gapers Block Book Club staff), Shannon Cason (The MOTH Story Slam All-city Champion), Michael Meyer, and C.J. Arellano (of the comedy web-series, The Pathetic). The event begins at 7pm. Domestics are $2 and there is a $3 cover.
Attention Lyrics-Lovers! Looking for your next poetry fix? Look no further: Join MAKE Literary Productions, Rational Park, Black Ocean, and Danny's Reading Series as they celebrate Mark Zapruder's song collection Pink Thunder: an amalgamation of poetry and music that tests the bounds of artistic disciplines, and confirms that one-hundred-plus heads may just be better than one.
Born on 50-day poetry tour Poetrybus, Pink Thunder represents the collected influence of hundreds of poets and contributions from over forty musicians. The tour stopped in fifty cities nationwide, and now, Pink Thunder hits Chicago in a multi-part collaboration celebration. The first of these opened at Rational Park (2557 W. North Ave.), on March 22 and features a display of 22 portmanteaus, each containing a song from Pink Thunder. This exhibit is by appointment only through April 12.
Rather listen live? This Tuesday, April 2nd at 7:30 pm, Danny's Reading Series at Danny's Tavern (1951 W. Dickens Ave.) will host Michael Zapruder in one of his premier Chicago performances of songs from the Pink Thunder collection, along with Billy Blake and the Vagabonds, also performing songs from their most recent album. The concert will be followed by a Q & A on the performers' work and the nature of poetic collaboration.
The Pink Thunder vinyl album and CD will be available at the performance, as well as the book of poems, published by Black Ocean.
It's hard not to get knocked unconscious by the 2nd Story, especially these days. These story tellers have been all over the city promoting the release of their first anthology, Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck. Their next stop brings them to Logan Square where neighborhood, bookseller City Lit Books, is sponsoring a reading on Tuesday, April 2 at Revolution Brewing, located at 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Anthology contributors Bobby Biedrzycki (who is also the director of 2nd Story), Lott Hill, and Earliana McLaurin will read at 7pm but the drinks go until closing. The reading is free, but you can pick up a copy of the book if you like what you hear.
This Thursday, March 28, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will discuss Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead at at the the Palmer House Hilton (17 E. Monroe St.). Sandberg is one of Fortune magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. Building on her 2010 TED Talk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers, Lean In aims to uncover the root causes that stall womens' paths to success. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says "Sheryl provides practical suggestions or managing and overcoming the challenges that arise on the 'jungle gym' of career advancement. I nodded my head in agreement and laughed out loud as I read these pages. Lean In is a superb, witty, candid, and meaningful read for women (and men) of all generations."
Sandberg will be joined by Joycelyn Winnecke, vice president and associate editor of the Chicago Tribune. Presented by Trib Nation Events and sponsored by Nielsen. $40, begins at 6pm.
UPDATE: The event is sold out, and there is a considerable wait list (over 400), but a live stream will be available online beginning at 6pm.
Acclaimed food writer Elissa Altman visits The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Avenue, on Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m.
Altman will read from her freshly-released Poor Man's Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking (Chronicle Books).
In Poor Man's Feast Altman, who won a 2012 James Beard Award for Individual Food Blog for PoorMansFeast.com, tells the story of a childhood defined by "fancy." Altman writes: "In my family, we aim for the swank and the rococo, as if this way of living offers some sort of inherent security and protection from the...more unpredictable parts of life."
Replete with 27 recipes (from Poached Asparagus with Prosciutto and Duck Eggs to Warm Tomato Sandwich), the book chronicles Altman's evolution from the little girl who dined with her "food-fanatic" father at La Grenouille in secret from her "food-phobic" mother, eventually becoming a respected food writer and editor, to the woman who found love and, consequently, peaceful un-fanciness, in the kitchen and life.
This Thursday, March 28, poetry lovers rejoice as Poetry Made of Lions is at Uncharted Books, 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Join host Russ Woods and sponsor Love Symbol Press as they bring together poets, Laura Goldstein, Joshua Young, James Bakken, Erin Watson and Zack Baber (visiting from San Francisco). The words fly at 7pm.
This Saturday, March 23, Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series (8300 W. Cermak Road, North Riverside) welcomes Sara Ross Witt. Former co-producer and co-host of the Tuesday Funk reading series, Sara is a blogger, technical writer, New School MFA, and short story author. BYOB; open mic to follow. 7pm.
This Sunday and Monday, March 24 and 25, the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St.) presents Poetry As Comedy. This being the Poetry Foundation, don't expect to hear drunkards sharing limericks scribbled on the el that day, but the classics. Under the direction of Second City founder Bernard Sahlins, a trio of actors will bring to life bring the works of W. H. Auden, John Updike and Dorothy Parker, among others. Sunday program begins at 3pm; Monday program begins at 7pm.
Besemer is featured in the new anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books). The book, which features the poems and poetic statements of 55 poets, sold out at Nightboat's table at the AWP Conference last week. According to Besemer, Troubling the Line is the first anthology focused on "making space" for poets who identify as trans or genderqueer.
"This is a book that is not just for us, but for the young trans and genderqueer writers looking for mentors and role models," Besemer said. "It's important for our allies and families, too, because it helps to illuminate what being trans, being genderqueer, could mean."
All events are free and open to the public. Check out one of Story Week's hallmark events, Literary Rock and Roll, on Thursday, March 21 at 6pm at the Metro, located at 3730 N. Clark St.
This "Girl Trouble" themed rock and roll extravaganza will feature readings by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Jane Hamilton (Laura Rider's Masterpiece), and Joe Meno (Office Girl). Settle in for a post-reading set by the female-fronted The Right Now. Get there early to snag a seat.
The 'badass' storytelling series Guts and Glory is back on Wednesday March 20 at Powell's Bookstore, located at 2850 N. Lincoln Ave., at 7pm. Co-hosts Keith Ecker and Samantha Irby have prepared an envelope pushing line up that will no doubt bring the goods.
Featured guests include playwright Chris Bower, host of the literary series Essay Fiesta Willy Nast, writer Jill Summers, producer of Stoop-Style Stories Lily Be, and writer Amanda Glasbrenner. The event is free but donations will be accepted for charity (supporting puppies and children).
Want to avoid all things shamrock green this weekend and go for something a bit more high-minded? You are not alone. This Sunday, Pocket Guide to Hell is throwing a jubilant reenactment of the First Ward Ball at 8pm at the Hideout, located at 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. The ball unites aldermen, priests, madams, highfalutin' politician poets, and ladies of the night -- all long dead, of course.
Pocket Guide to Hell Tours maestro Paul Durica brings together steampunk and hobo-inspired musical acts (Spears and Gears, Meredith Axelrod, Jamie Alberts), Vaudeville comedy, burlesque (Lady Ginger), the scantily clad literati (Chicago Poetry Bordello), and history academics (Bill Savage), for his take on Chicago's most infamous turn-of-the-century celebration.
The First Ward Ball brought the Chicago underworld and political powerhouses together for a resplendent period from 1896 to 1909. Under the auspices of fundraising, the ball was a haven for characters like alderman "Bathhouse" John Coughlin and the Everly Sisters, Chicago's own impresario madams. Costumed partygoers took debauchery to new and epic levels, and converted the Chicago Coliseum into a palace of vice for one evening.
Durica, who has tackled other large-scale history-meets-performance events, including a reenactment of the Haymarket riots two years ago, is drawn to the ball's inherent contradictions.
"The ball was an event where high society rubbed elbows with the underworld," he said. "That social mixing is less common. [...] The same level of local corruption exists today but the characters aren't as colorful."
Several actors including Scott Priz, Elisa and Schoenberger will join Durica in bringing these figures back from the dead for schmoozing. To curb the cast of Victorian miscreants, Jerry Boyle will be playing a priest who busts the tawdry action.
Doors open at 7pm. The show commences at 8pm. Suggested donation of $10 to benefit Pocket Guide to Hell.
You always meant to go to one of those One Book, One Chicago discussions, right? Now that the "citywide book club" has expanded from a monthly, twice-a-year offering to a yearlong event, you'll have no excuse not to check out some of the excellent programming offered by the Chicago Public Library sponsored initiative.
The new format kicks off this April with Isabel Wilkerson'sThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. In Other Suns, Wilkerson, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in the history of American journalism, and the first black American to win for individual reporting, explores the Great Migration of black Americans from the American South to the North and West, changing the cultural and political landscape of America.
According to CPL Commissioner Brian Bannon, the book inspired the expansion of One Book, One Chicago. "The ideas and discussions [the book] sparks are simply too big to be contained in a single month," Bannon stated in a press release. "We look forward to engaging with all Chicagoans to hear their story, to hear how they helped to create the tapestry of our city."
This Saturday, March 16, stop by the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) at 2pm for Superhero Expo. WBEZ's Allison Cuddy hosts a panel discussion with comic artists Jill Thompson, Lyra Hill and Jenny Frison. In addition, there will be a screening of Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines. Film Threat magazine says of Wonder Women!: "It's the personal stories that really got to me. I'm a tough nut to crack in terms of crying at a movie, but when the little girls started talking about what Wonder Woman means to them and how their moms are the real heroes, it was Niagara-fucking-Falls. If you have a daughter, it is a moral imperative that you show her this film as soon as possible."
The event is presented by WTTW Channel 11 and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in partnership with Chicago Foundation For Women, Eileen Fisher Foundation, Project Onward and Quimby's Bookstore.
This Friday, March 15, Quimby's (1854 W. North Ave.) hosts readings from Hair Lit, Vol. 1. Edited by Nick Ostdick and released by local indie publisher Orange Alert Press, it's a tribute to the rockers and power balladeers of '80s and '90s metal bands. Contributors Matt Rowan, Lindsay Hunter, and Mike Joyce read their contributions, tales of sex and drugs and how Tommy used to work on the docks. Reading starts at at 7pm.
Ray's Tap Reading Series, produced and hosted by Chris Bower, will be presenting "Manners Please" at the Prop Theater (3502 N. Elston Ave.) on Saturday, March 16 at 9pm. The event is described as: "A show about Manners, Etiquette and Politeness and what other words might be out there to describe how we should behave and interact with each other and how we actually do."
The series is held twice a year and includes Chicago area writers, artists and musicians. Saturday's edition will feature Martha Bayne, Brian Nemtusak, Robin Cline, Ian Belknap, Mason Johnson, Dave Synder in tandem with Naomi Washer, Matt Test, Megan Larmer, Daniel Shapiro, Randall Colburn, Margaret Chapman, Chris Schoen, and the music of Tijuana Hercules.
The show is $15 or-pay-what-you-can. All proceeds go directly to the artists. A cash bar will be on hand, and audience members are encouraged to come and go as they please. The show should go late into the morning hours. A great lineup not to be missed!
Author Tao Lin's autobiographical novel Shoplifting at American Apparel has been turned into a documentary of the same name. The film is coming to the Logan Theatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave., on March 14 at 7:30pm as part of its national tour.
Lin, known for his unorthodox column in Vice magazine, worked with a crew of indie filmmakers to adapt his work for the screen. The film is a mix between Lin's novel and the crew's process of making the film. Presale tickets are available for $11.
A Q&A with director Pirooz Kalayeh and the film's screen writer, Brad Warner, will follow the screening, along with a reading in the theater's renovated lobby and bar. Readers include Cean Gamalinda, Dylan York, Scott McClanahan and Heiko Julien.
Featured guests which include Saphire (Push), Joe Meno (Office Girl), Audrey Niffenegger (Her Fearful Symmetry), and T. Geronimo Johnson (Hold It 'Til It Hurts). All events are free and open to the public.
Thursday, March 21, events feature author Jane Hamilton (Laura Rider's Masterpiece), whose work has been chosen by Oprah's Book Club, adapted to film, and named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. See Hamilton at a 1pm panel at Columbia College, located at 618 S. Wabash Ave., and later, at the festival's dynamic Literary Rock and Roll event at the Metro, located at 3730 N. Clark St. at 6pm.
Hamilton is as Midwest as they come, in fact, she grew up right in Oak Park. These days she lives Wisconsin, where most of her stories take place. Gaper's Block got to ask her some questions in preparation for her appearances next week.
The theme for Story Week this year is Vision and Voice. How did you find your voice as a writer?
I'm not a religious person per say, but in the larger realm, voice is a gift from god. In the more local realm, it's a result of a habit of being: reading, observing, listening.
How do you feel the Midwest has played an impact on your writing?
For the most part I've always lived in the Midwest. How can I step back and assess what even especially distinguishes the Midwest? I'm steeped in it; I am of it; it's in me. So, defining how it's impacted me is like having full self-knowledge, which I think is always somewhat impossible. I think one of the more defining pieces of my life is having been a deeply loved baby of the family. I am happy and trusting, and basically have the temperament of a golden retriever.
You were also a resident at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL. How did an experience like that help define and establish your process?
It made it possible for me to put my head down and write for weeks at a time, keep hold of the thread of the work, to sink into the pleasure of being in the work, and to feel, because of the peace and time, that all things were possible. A very heady feeling.
Having had the time to find your vision and voice as a writer, what would be one piece of advice you could share with emerging writers?
Throw away your smart phones.
What are you excited to experience during this year's Story Week?
The rock and roll night is bound to be riotous. The energy of the community will be beautiful.
This weekend, March 8 and 9, is the fourth annual Chicago Zine Fest. The Chicago Zine Fest is an independent event that provides an outlet for small press and independent publishers to showcase their work together in one place.
Events kick off Friday, March 8 at 1pm at Columbia College Chicago's historic Ludington building, located at 1104 S. Wabash Ave., with the panel Writing about Health, Disability, and Accessibility in Zines. Panelists include zinesters Kerri Radley (Deafula), Maranda Elizabeth (Telegraph), and Dave Roche (On Subbing).
Friday programming continues with a pair of youth readers, followed by a reading from festival exhibitors Zine at 826CHI 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. at 6pm. End the night with some fun at Zine, Lose or Draw event, hosted by Neil Brideau (Oh Boy! comics) at Quimby's bookstore at 9:30pm.
"We're excited about all the things we've put together and can't wait to enjoy the weekend with everyone!" says Leslie Perrine, a festival organizer since the inaugural year.
On Saturday, the festival's exhibition will be supported with workshops on various topics including self-publishing efforts, a hands-on kid's zine-making area, an art room full of exhibitor work, a photo booth provided by Glitter Guts, and demonstrations presented by Columbia's Center for Book and Paper Arts.
"It's great to see how many people are excited about CZF," says Lynne Monsoon, a first-time organizer for 2013. "We don't want anyone to think that the only way to enjoy CZF is by tabling. There's so much to do!"
Eric Bartholomew of Junk Drawer zine from the 2012 fest (photo by Oscar Arriola)
The Chicago Zine Fest is sponsored by Columbia College Chicago's Silver Tongue Reading Series, Quimby's Bookstore, Spudnik Press, and 826CHI.
All events are free and open to the public. Friday afternoon's panel will have CART (Communication Access Real Time Translation) services available. Friday night's readings will have ASL interpretation.
Tomorrow night, March 8, kick off Chicago Zine Fest weekend with "Zine, Lose or Draw" at Quimby's (1854 W. North Ave.). Neil Brideau, co-organizer of Chicago Alternative Comics Expo and creator of Oh Boy! Comics, hosts a Pictionary-style game with a self-publishing theme. Come mingle with the comics community and check out their spontaneous creations. Starts at 9:30pm. Quimby's is a co-sponsor of the Chicago Zine Fest; complete schedule of the weekend's events here.
Highlighting artists like Michael Jackson, Eartha Kitt, Grace Jones and Meshell Ndegeocello, Royster explores how the eccentric, offbeat or queer performances of post-civil rights black musicians were influenced by the civil rights, black nationalist, feminist, and LGBTQ movements, and how they've consequently influenced pop music today.
Sounds heady, but Royster's writing style is accessible and often playful, so fans of these artists, pop music, or African American or queer theory studies, might enjoy Royster's spin.
Reading Under the Influence encourages its readers to drink before they perform, so it makes perfect sense that the its March 6 reading should be "Madness" themed, right? Show up at Sheffield's, located at 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., at 7pm to partake in libations, literature and laughter.
Making sure madness ensues, featured readers include, 2nd Story member Darwyn Jones, author of Little Known FactsChristine Sneed, Columbia College fiction writing professor Shawn Shiflett, and Columbia College fiction writing undergrad Wyl Villacres.
Each performer will read twice, once from original work, and the second, from a piece of madness related published work. Following the readings, participate in a round of trivia for prizes including books and drink tickets. This usually consists of a free-for-all of shouts and half-joking responses. Come to think of it, every month at RUI could be construed as madness.
Drop in at 7pm and grab a drink. There is a $3 cover.
Louder Than a Bomb, the city wide slam poetry festival with over 750 teenagers and college students participating, will be hosting the preliminary, semi-finals, and finals over the next week.
Louder Than a Bomb, or LTAB, was founded in 2001 by poet Kevin Coval and Ana West through Young Chicago Authors. It has now become the largest youth poetry festival in the world. The festival was created to give Chicago youth the stage and the space to tell their own stories. Both teams and individuals compete in the festival.
Logan Square's City Lit Books hits a three pointer with their night of Books, Beer, and Basketball at Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Sunday, March 3.
Sports editor and author Jonathan Eig will interview local authors Rus Bradburd (Make It, Take It) and Michael Lenehan (Ramblers: The Team that Changed the Color of Basketball) about their latest books, which deal with basketball, of course. Order up one of Revolution's craft beers and settle in for the discussion. For the game winner, pick up a copy of the authors' books. The trifecta begins at 7pm.
Laydeez Do Comics, London's monthly comics salon now with a branch in Chicago, is set to host its next reading on Thursday, Feb. 28, at Quimby's Bookstore, located 1854 W. North Ave.
This will be the second Laydeez Chicago installment, bringing together female comics creators to discuss their past work, future projects, and creative process. Ladies this month include Laura Szumowski, David Mitchell, and MK Czerwiec.
After a being away for a brief second, this Friday, February 22, marks the triumphant return of reading series Funny Ha-Ha at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. Host Claire Zulkey will usher in performances by Samantha Irby; host of Story ClubDana Norris; Megan Stielstra from the 2nd Story; Christopher Piatt, curator of Paper Machete reading series; Amy Sumpter and filmmaker Steve Delahoyde.
This Saturday, February 23, is the Spudnik Press Hashbrown Chili Cookoff fundraiser held at their office (1821 W. Hubbard St., Suite 302). Twelve of Chicago's finest organizations devoted to printmaking and self-publishing will duke it out for the title of best chili. This year's participants include Chicago Printmakers Collaborative, The Printstitute, Center for Book and Paper Arts, Read/Write Library and Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, among others. In less than six years, Spudnik Press has enabled over 800 artists to create their own prints and has worked with many youths through field trips and in-school programs. This past fall, they added The Annex to serve Chicago's writing, comics and zine comunities. $10 gets you five tickets and $25 gets you a VIP package (five large chili portions, a golden spoon and a complimentary signature cocktail). Event runs 6pm-10pm.
After 20 years working as a Human Resources Director and Business Partner at a major corporation, Chicagoland resident Lori Fox quit her job. As a closeted transgender woman, she could no longer stand working in a business culture that didn't protect or support gender identity and expression.
After coming out at work in the corporate diversity office (which ultimately led to her
leaving), and also coming out to her family, Fox found success on her own terms--those that allowed her to be herself, completely. She started Lori Fox Diversity Consulting and now works with human resources and management departments at large corporations to create cultures of inclusion. She also consults with individuals to help guide their personal and professional transitions.
The envelope pushing reading series Guts and Glory will hold its next reading on Wednesday, February 20, at 7pm at Powell's Bookstores, located at 2850 N. Lincoln Ave. The hosts, Samantha Irby and Kieth Ecker, stay true to the series tag line, "Live Lit for the Lionhearted," showcasing the raw and gritty side of storytelling.
The night's performers include comedian Kelsie Huff, poet Emily Rose, comic Adam Guerino, Funny Story Show producer Caitlin Bergh, and Patrick Allen Carberry.
This event is BYOB. Collected donations go to charity.
Author Justin Maurer reads Tuesday, February 19, at Quimby's Bookstore, located at 1854 W. North Ave. Maurer, an LA based writer and musician, will read from his book Seven Television (Vol 1 Brooklyn), a humorous portrayal of life from mundane dead-end jobs to family crisis. His tenure as a touring musician in bands like the garage rock outfit, Clorox Girls, provides a wealth of experience to cull from.
Maurer will be joined by Ear Eater host and author of Throne of Blood (Solar Luxuriance), Cassandra Troyan, and zinester, teacher, and author of On Subbing, Dave Roche.
The free event begins at 7pm. Quimby's will have the authors' books in stock, so stick around to pick up a copy and talk with the writers.
If you wanted diamonds for Valentine's day, but didn't get them, there's still a chance. Poetry Made of Diamonds' reading series returns Sunday, February 17, at 7pm at Uncharted Books, located at 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Join host Russ Woods and sponsor Love Symbol Press for this Logan Square poetry series, aptly titled, Poetry Made of More Winter.
This Sunday, February 17, Women and Children First (5233 N. Clark St.) welcomes transgender author and activist S. Bear Bergman. The author (Butch Is A Noun), editor (Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, co-edited with Kate Bornstein) and award winning solo performer promises "not just a reading; a Speakeasy is a whole show. Expect jokes, stories, smut, and rough drafts, plus Improv Storytime, where the audience provides the story topic and Bear tells a fresh, unrehearsed story." Doors open at 6pm. Cover is pay what you can (suggested donation $15).
Come back to the Book Cellar (4736 N. Lincoln Ave.) this Saturday, February 16, when Ben Hellwarth reads from SEALAB: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor. The tale of the abandoned U.S. Navy program from the early '60s, author Neal Bascomb calls it "A remarkably stirring narrative filled with an awe-inducing cast of scientific adventurers who risked life and limb to not only explore the ocean's depths, but to make them their own. What Tom Wolfe revealed in such riveting detail of the space program in The Right Stuff, Ben Hellwarth matches here for underwater discovery." Reading starts at 7pm.
This Friday, February 15, the Book Cellar (4736 N. Lincoln Ave.) welcomes Rosie Schaap, reading from Drinking With Men. A memoir about time spent drinking in bars and partaking in the culture, it's no paean to new-found sobriety; rather, says author Kate Christensen, "there is so much joy in this book! It's a great, comforting, wonderful, funny, inspiring, moving memoir about community and belief and the immense redemptive powers of alcohol drunk properly." Schaap is a contributor to the This American Life radio show and npr.org and writes the monthly "Drink" column for the New York Times. Reading starts at 7pm.
Reading series Solo in the 2nd City has its one year anniversary tomorrow, Feb. 13 at 7pm at Beauty Bar Chicago, located at 1444 W. Chicago Ave. To commemorate the occasion, hosts Melinda McIntire and Carly Oishi, will welcome back guests who've appeared throughout the past year. This special b-day lineup includes performances by Samantha Irby, Charlotte Hamilton, Jasmine Davila, Chris Bower, and Blake Dinwiddie. Music will be provided by DJ Continental.
If that's not enough to celebrate, how about the fact that the first hour will have a free champagne reception with RSVP.
Stop by and raise a glass wishing this series another great year.
Chicago author Bree Housley will read and sign her memoirWe Hope You Like This Song: An Overly Honest Story About Friendship, Death, and Mix Tapes on Tuesday, February 12 at City Lit Books in Logan Square at 6:30 p.m.
Housley's book details her best friend Shelly's early death from complications of preeclampsia a week after giving birth to her daughter, and the ensuing adventure Housley and her sister undertook in Shelly's memory. The adventure--choosing a "Shelly-like" resolution each week and completing it in seven days--formed the premise for the blog fifty2resolutions, and eventually the memoir.
Tomorrow night, February 7, Myiti Sengstacke Rice will be at Radcliffe Hunter House (3800 S. Michigan Ave.) signing copies of her book Chicago Defender. The author is a direct descendant of Robert Sengstacke Abbott, who founded the Chicago Defender newspaper in 1905. Starting out humbly, printed in his land lady's kitchen, the Defender quickly made Abbott one of the few black millionaires of his time. The influential paper successfully promoted the "Great Migration" of 1.5 million Southern blacks to the North between 1915 and 1925. It also campaigned for anti-lynching legislation and integrated sports. Langston Hughes was a columnist and its pages published the early poems of Gwendolyn Brooks. Sengstacke Rice is the founder of Sengstacke Media Advisors and has been published in Ebony, Jet, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Reading begins at 6pm.
Wednesday, February 6, marks the 2013 return of the established Reading Under the Influence series at Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave. The month's theme, "Tainted Love," will be tackled by featured readers Zak Mucha, author of Heavyweight Champion of Nothing; Adam Guerino, host of the Word Is Out reading series and the Queer Comedy showcase at Zanies; Tyler Coulson, author of Attorneys After the Crash; and Jill Howe, the co-founder of Kindling Tales.
Guests read twice, starting with a piece of original work, and then an excerpt from a published work that reflects the month's theme. Readings are followed by trivia with prizes, including books and drink tickets (to make sure you are truly reading under the influence).
Drop in at 7pm and grab a domestic drink special ($2 Bud and Miller products). There is a $3 cover.
Local independent publishing group Back to Print celebrates its birthday Saturday, February 2, with the third annual Jubilee at Multi Kulti Q4 Gallery, at 1000 N. Milwaukee Ave. at 9pm.
Back to Print started during the winter of 2009 as a publishing apartment of storytellers that worked together to create publications like the now defunct monthly periodical The Deadline. Since then, the group's efforts refocused on bookbinding and zine print projects.
Back to Print does not have a website, in favor of working offline to build a community of writers and artists through face to face contact.
"Staying offline has been a large component of our mission since day one," says Elizabeth Tieri, the creative force behind Back to Print. "The best way to find out more about us or to connect with our community is by coming out to one of our events or by picking up one of our books around town."
Back to Print's birthday Jubilee is more about showcasing the local independent publishing community than it is promoting Back to Print's efforts.
"This annual event is truly a celebration of the community we have found and fostered," says Tieri. "A huge part of who we are is about connecting faces to names and being in the same room with all these creative people."
The Jubilee will also mark the release of the publisher's newest anthology The Family Album.
"[It] is a collection of family stories through fiction, poetry, and artwork that expresses the concepts of age, (dis)connection, and self that define each of us," explains Tieri. "The book is printed locally and is assembled and bound by hand by our crew." The care and construction for each publication is thanks in part to the support of their volunteers, friends, and fans who make up the Back to Print family.
The night's festivities include readings from the anthology, live music from the Bribes, raffles, and more. Donations will be accepted at the door (cash only) to benefit future Back to Print efforts.
"There will be cake," says Tieri. "It is, after all, a birthday party."
Tomorrow night at 7pm, the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St.) presents the Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize Chapbook Series. The prize is a first book award for emerging poets of color, a combined effort of Northwestern's Poetry and Poetics Colloquium and Northwestern University Press. Inaugural prize winner Kristiana Rae Colón will be joined by renowned poet Ed Roberson, with vocal performances by Timothy McNair and contemporary dance choreographed by Devin Buchanan and performed by Giordano Dance Chicago.
It's not news that ladies do comics. It is noteworthy, however, that Laydeez Do Comics, the UK based female centric comics salon is extending its operations to Chicago.
Quimby's (1854 W. North Ave.) will host the first monthly meeting, to fall on the last Thursday of every month, on January 31 at 7pm. Contrary to the event's title, the forum is open to everyone interested in hearing comics creators speak about their work, their process, and future plans.
In keeping with practices made standard by Laydeez founders, Nicola Streeten (Billy, Me, and You) and Sarah Lightman (The Book of Sarah, Graphic Details), three distinguished speakers will lead the event; Kris Dresen (Max & Lilly, Manya, She Said), Corinne Mucha (Freshman, My Alaskan Summer, Chicago Magazine), and Rinko Endo (Aggression Management Manga, The Cage) will kick off the series. All attendees are asked to come ready to discuss their own work, too.
MaryKay (MK) Czerwiec, a nurse and comics artist, is the Chicago point person for Laydeez events. Like many comic makers, her inspiration comes directly from grappling with the realities of her everyday life.
"I was an AIDs nurse during the AIDs crisis here in Chicago and during that time struggled with how to process what I was witnessing," Czerwiec said. "Drawing is an incredible way of thinking. I studied in the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program--the use of literature in Medicine--at Northwestern."
Czerwiec hopes that the monthly gathering will lead to a strong and vocal community of comic artists with diverse backgrounds.
"I realized I don't know the people who do comics in Chicago," Czerwiec said. "Nicola and Sarah's attitude is that it's important to create this environment in which they can talk about their work."
How much do you love Jane Austen? If it's enough to listen to or read selected chapters of Pride and Prejudice in public before an audience of passersby, you're in luck. On Monday, January 28, the Jane Austen Society of North America - Greater Chicago Region (JASNA-GRC) presents the first ever Pride and Prejudice: A Live Reading.
The event, to be held in the Block 37 pedway at 108 N. State St. from 7am to 7pm, is the brainchild of Debra Ann Miller of the JASNA-GRC.
"When Jane's own copy of Pride and Prejudice arrived at her home at Chawton, one of the elderly ladies from the village was expected for dinner that evening," Miller said. "Jane and her mother 'set fairly at it and read half the first volume to her.'"
The situation, described by Austen in a letter to her sister, inspired Miller's live reading idea.
But amateurs fear not--volunteers are still needed to fill the hour-long slots (an estimated three to four people are required for each hour), and acting experience and costumes are definitely not necessary.
"This live reading is all about the text," Miller said. "Perfect Hampshire accents are not required, just your own unique voice, and your love for Pride and Prejudice."
Email Debra Ann Miller at email@example.com for more info.
The 2nd Story hosts a reading from their recent anthology, Briefly Knocked Unconscious By a Low-flying Duck, at 6pm this Friday, Jan. 25, at 57th Street Books in their new location, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave. Enjoy lively performances from 2nd Story's Literary Director Megan Stielstra, Chair of the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing program Randy Albers and Columbia College faculty member Lott Hill. Readers are all featured contributors in the anthology. Pick up a copy and hang around after to chat with the readers.
MAKE literary magazine holds a release party for its current "Architectural" issue this Thursday, January 24, at 7pm at the Hideout, located at 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. The night will kick off with a Q &A with the city's official cultural historian, Tim Samuelson, hosted by comedian Adam Burke, followed by readings from issue contributors Tovah Burstein and Ted Mathys. The entertainment will be rounded out by musical performances from Like Pioneers and Soft Speaker. Come out and sign up for a MAKE subscription, get down on drink specials, and enjoy the night's programming. There is an $10 cover, 21+.
Brain Frame returns for its tenth show this Friday, January 18, at the Happy Dog Gallery space, located at 1542 N. Milwaukee Ave. on the 2nd floor. The series welcomes comics artists, illustrators and writers for a one-of-a-kind collaborative event unlike any other in the city.
Wednesday night, January 16, give your brain a workout at Automatic Writing: A Surreal Spin on Poetry at Spudnik Press (1821 W. Hubbard St.). Eric Unger will provide students with writing exercises inspired by poet Jack Spicer, the idea of "poet as a spirit medium" and channeling the outside world into their own poetry. Class is 6:30-9:30pm, $10 suggested donation.
The words fly between friends and foes on Tuesday, January 17, with Write Club at the Hideout, located at 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. Incase your need the refresher or are hearing about it for the first time, Write Club is a reading series that pits contestants against one other, as they write on assigned opposing theme. After three seven minute bouts, the the audience votes on the winners. All readers pick a charity to donate proceeds from the door if they win.
This month the literary combatants and their themes include Mason Johnson on Friend vs. Dave Snyder on Foe, Dana Norris on Pride vs. Natalie Edwards on Prejudice, and Keith Ecker on Show vs. Jim DeWan on Tell. The honorable Ian Belknap hosts. The event begins at 7pm and there is a $10 cover.
Kathryn Born's The Blue Kind begins with the main character, Alison, describing the city Neom, a place that has been taken over by drugs, or "mugs," as the character calls them. The drug pushers are taking over, and newer, harder drugs are entering the market. Everyone is high all the time, smoking, popping, pushing, and snorting every drug out there. The hipsters live in the part of Neom called Runaway Village where we find Alison, her husband Cory, and friend Ray living in an abandoned theater. Alison battles with her broken relationship with her husband and tries to escape from the rising drug lord, Atom, all the while drifting in and out of a drug haze that alters her memory.
Kathryn Born does not disappoint with her descriptions. I can vividly see the city of Neom as I'm reading the novel. Every part of the world that Born has created is beautifully colored in and etched out to the enth degree. Even the drugs are described in detail to the extent that you can almost see the characters getting high. She writes:
"Missy and Kota knick each other's legs with a straight razor, and then twist the cap off the bottle that looks like nail polish. Each girl brushes some mustard-colored liquid onto the cuts on their legs. They clean off the blade and hand it to Cory, and already they are blinking slowly, holding hands."
While the details are plentiful, the dialogue is lacking. The characters never develop their own voices, making it difficult to tell who is speaking. The dialogue has a teenage-like quality to it. I can't count how many times the word "like" is used, and the dialogue overall doesn't have much depth to it. While the dialogue may have been an active choice by Born, it takes away from the characters and is distracting from the story.
There are a lot of different themes in this novel, almost too many. Memory, codependence, drug addiction, and immortality get lost within each other. The chapters are short and as soon as new or important information is mentioned that would propel the story and characters forward, it abruptly ends. This occurs up until the very end making it hard for the story to move forward, and even harder to grasp onto what the characters are saying. I find myself wondering why certain pieces of information are offered at alll; some details of Alison's past are mentioned and never revisited. Some of this happens while the character is getting high and is chalked up to a drug-related memory problem. But, because the characters are constantly forgetting everything, it is hard to latch onto anything, making the storyline motionless.
Overall, this novel is very creative and the details make it come to life. But, there are some nagging issues with the dialogue and storyline that obscure themes and miss out on opportunity to expand on them. Pick up this science fiction novel for a short read at The University of Chicago Press.
This Sunday, January 13, Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., is hosting an open house. Learn about their classes, meet instructors, take a backstage tour, check out panel discussions with resident playwrights. There will even be baked goods and raffle prizes. Event is free and runs from noon to 5pm.
Throw up the horns for the night's readers and anthology contributors Ben Tanzer, Sam Weller, Matt Rowan, Megan Stielstra and Kyle Beachy. You won't get anything special for showing up in your sleeveless denim jacket and vintage Def Leopard tour t-shirt -- well except for a bunch of high fives and double takes -- but why not dress to impress nonetheless. Copies of the anthology will be available for purchase.
This Saturday, January 12, author Michelle Sussman presents "Tricks to Marketing Through Amazon" at the Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Ave. Sussman is a former freelance journalist who has sold 50,000 ebooks in less than two years of self publishing (under pen names Megg Jensen and Isobel Lucas). Event is free and runs from 10am to noon; RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat.
So the above average temperatures this week have you pining for some planting? If so, get psyched with Amanda Thomsen this Thursday, January 10 at the Barnes & Noble DePaul Center, located at 1 E. Jackson Blvd., at 6pm. The gardening blogger will promote her bookKiss My Aster: A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You.
Thomsen will discuss how to make home landscaping easy and sign copies of her book, which includes playful illustrations and a quiz to help you discover your inner gardener. What better way to forget that it's still only January?
Tuesday, January 8, offers a packed night of literary events. Check out the list below to see what tickles your literary fancy:
Acclaimed author George Saunders, known for his short story collections In Persuasion Nation and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, will be celebrating the release of his newest collection Tenth of December at Lincoln Hall, located 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., at 7pm. Saunders will read from the collection followed by a conversation with Chicago author Adam Levin (The Instructions). Admission is free with the purchase of the book or $5.
The new storytelling series The Seven Deadly Sins will kick off at Cafe Mustache, located at 2313 N. Milwaukee Ave., at 8pm. The series assigns readers one of the seven deadly sins as a topic to read on. The first show will include Ian Belknap on Lust, Wyatt Sparks on Gluttony, Dan Shapiro on Wrath, The Puterbaugh Sisters on Pride, James Tadd Adcox on Greed, Caitlin Bergh on Envy, and Danny Black on Sloth. That's all of them!
The self-publisher-friendly reading series Two Cookie Minimum returns with its first show of the year at Hungry Brain, located at 2319 W. Belmont Ave., at 9pm. Readers include Grant Reynolds, Thomas Simmons, Collin Brennan, Daniel Copulsky, Cyn Vargas, and Kevin Michael Gunderson. As always, there will be free cookies on hand.
Literary magazines Two With Water, and Graze magazine, will be hosting A Thousand Words, an exhibition of visual art from Chicago independent literary magazines, publishers, and newspapers at New Wave Coffee, 2557 N. Milwaukee Ave., from January 2 through February 8.
Both publications blend text and visuals in every issue. Graze is a Logan Square based literary magazine that focuses on what ends up on the dinner table and those who prepare it. Two With Water combines art and literature aiming to capture the voices of our contemporary landscape.
"We realized that all these pages of original artwork that we feature were the silent giants in both our magazines," says Cyndi Fecher, co-founder of Graze.
All original artwork will be exhibited alongside its published version, allowing the viewer to
sense the cohesion between text and image.
"We wanted to host an event that would spotlight the visual creativity within our publications that is sometimes seen as the 'accompaniment' to the literary content," says co-founder of Two With Water Amy Ganser. "The real brilliance of the art might get lost in translation with cropping or editing for use in print."
This collaboration makes sense for organizers conceptually, and provides a welcome opportunity to highlight other publications. You can celebrate with organizers at the opening reception Saturday, January 5, from 6-9pm. Participating publications will be available for purchase throughout the evening.
"I'd love it if this event were the first step in developing a stronger network of cottage publishers," says Brian Solem, co-founder of Graze.
The exhibit embodies the sense of community fostered among literary publications much like the recent Pop-up Book Fair in December.
"I personally see the Chicago literary community as thriving and hungry, although not absolutely unified," says Bobby Evers, an editor from Two With Water. "You will see different groups, like ours, and Graze, as well as Featherproof or Curbside Splendor, etc., trying to gather and collaborate and unite to include as many legs of the literary community as they can."
The work of Two With Water continues this year with a reading series and new literary journal. Graze will release its third issue in April and sponsor events throughout the winter months, such as a chocolate cook-off in February.
Story Club is set to begin the new year with a packed schedule of readings including its first of 2013 this Thursday, January 3 at Holiday Club, located at 4000 N. Sheridan Rd.
Being the first reading of the year, the theme for the night is "First." Featured performers include writer Jill Summers, essayist Kieth Ecker, and Chad the Bird. There is also an open mic with the sign-up beginning at 7:30pm. The show goes off at 7:45pm with a $5 cover.
If you can't make it this week, Story Club will be part of the Fillet of Solo Festival at Lifeline Theatre, located at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave.
Shows are scheduled for Jan. 5, 12, and 19. All shows are $10 and start at 7pm.
If you like comic books, Star Wars, and midnight toasts, then look no further than Nerd Year's Eve for your 2013 celebration. Scheduled for December 31 at Challenger's Comics and Conversations, located at 1845 N. Western Ave., this Star Wars themed party is aptly titled A Nerd Year's Hope. Beginning at 9pm, come for drinks, plenty of pizza, Star Wars Jeopardy, and a champaign toast when the Death Star ball drops. Redeye contributor and top geek Elliot Serrano and local singer Jess Godwin who will perform the traditional favorite Auld Lang Syne will play host. Tickets are limited so don't be left in hyperspace.
Reading series 2nd Story is back for its fifth annual New Year's Eve celebration on Monday, Dec. 31 in the bar at Caffe Baci, 225 W. Wacker. Ring in the new year with four stories by guests Eric Hazen, Earliana McLaurin, Julia Borcherts, and Darwyn Jones.
For those new to 2nd Story, this winter series organizers published an anthology, entitled Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck, of work by past series contributors, including some of those performing on NYE.
The stories begin at 9:30pm, followed by live music and a DJ after midnight. Tickets are limited and go fast so get them while you can.
Curbside Splendor Publishing is releasing the new anthology The Way We Sleep on Friday, Dec. 28 with a Pajama Party at Late Bar, located at 3534 W. Belmont Ave. The anthology collects short stories, interviews, and comics all dealing in one way or another with the theme of how we sleep. There's a wide range of talent, including authors Billy Lombardo, J. Adam Oaks, and Roxanne Gay, as well as comedians Maria Bamford and David Wain. Contributing comic artists, Jeffrey Brown and Ron Barrett, add visual interest.
For this pajama jam, you are invited to wear your jammies, PJs, nighties, or long johns to compete for best dressed. Whether or not you walk away a winner you'll enoy live DJs and door prizes. The biggest kick in your onesie's back door is that the $10 cover includes a copy of the anthology. The sleep over begins at 10pm and doesn't stop until 4am.
As the title says, you don't need to be a writer to attend the workshop; it's geared toward any "creative type" with an independent income. Presented by accountant David Turrentine, EA, the workshop will give advice on tracking income and expenses to save money on taxes.
Register here for the workshop on January 21st from 7-9:30 pm at Brasserie 54, located at 5420 N. Clark St. The fee is $40-- small potatoes considering how much you just might save in write-offs!
WRITE CLUB, Inc. will host the "1st Ever War on Xmas Benefit Show," on Friday, Dec. 28, at 6:30pm at the Hideout, located at 354 W. Wabansia Ave. Hosted by founder Ian Belknap, a line up of readers will read seven minutes on opposing ideas. Naturally, this edition is Christmas themed, with prompts such as Naughty vs. Nice, Santa vs. Jesus, and Giving vs. Receiving. The lineup includes Jen Ellison, Lisa Buscani, Robbie Q. Telfer, Megan Stielstra, and Mike O'Connell. The audience votes to choose a winner of WRITE CLUB glory.
This Saturday at 7pm, the Book Cellar (4736 N. Lincoln Ave.) welcomes Lincoln Schatz, presenting The Network, a collection of portraits of today's influential figures from the world of entrepreneurs, industrialists, scientists, politicians and more. David Granger, editor in chief of Esquire, says "Lincoln Schatz is the most important and daring portraitist of the twenty-first century. He brings a singular vision as well as technological wizardry to rendering the most influential people of our time. The Network is his most ambitious project yet: As a portrait of not merely a group of individuals but also a portrait of power, The Network is entirely new and destined to define our moment in time for ages."
Join international showgirl Michelle L'Amour and the girls Friday, December 14 for the next installment of Naked Girls Reading, this time from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The Naked Girls will read from other holiday selections as well, and the website promises spiked hot chocolate and nudity to "warm your chestnuts."
The monthly reading series hosts shows in ten other cities, including Los Angeles, New York and New Orleans, but Chicago is the flagship with readings held at Everleigh Social Club at 939 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop.
Tickets are $20, or two for $35. The reading begins at 7pm and required reservations can be made here. You can also ring in the New Year at Everleigh Social Club with a countdown by Naked Girls Reading. Reservations here.
Join the Columbia College reading series Silver Tongue, tonight, Wednesday December 12, for Bloggers Blogging About Blogging. Head to Columbia College's Conaway center, located at 1104 S. Wabash Ave., to catch Chicago blogging superstars Claire Zulkey, Dmitry Samarov (Hack), and Ben Tanzer (This Blog Will Change Your Life). Each will conduct a short reading followed by a moderated panel hosted by blogger and Columbia Fiction Writing studentWyl Villacres.
There will be door prizes and food--you know, all the things growing bloggers need. Stop by at 7pm for the fun. It is free and open to the public.
The Gumbo Fiction Salon is determined to get one last reading in before the year's end on Wednesday, December 12, at Galway Arms, located at 2442 N. Clark St. Featured readers include Eric Cherry, co-editor of Book of Dead Things, and Columbia College Fiction student Laura Uhl.
Host Tina Jens will kick things off at 7pm, and following featured readers she'll open the stage for an open mic. Interested parties should bring in about ten minutes worth of original work and rock the stage. Admission is $4 and check at the door for student rates.
This Sunday is the Chicago Writers House Book Fair at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave. Brought to you by the Chicago Writers House Project, Curbside Splendor and The Chicagoan, the event features over 20 different local independent publishers. Come have a drink and get some holiday shopping done. Live performances throughout the day TBA. Event runs from 2 to 7pm; $5 cover or free with RSVP.
Why should New York get all the single-girl-in-the-big-city stories? Ask Katie Leimkuehler, Jennifer Yih, Kate Clinesmith and MG Wilson, and they'll tell you Chicago holds its own as a setting for urban dating adventures. The local writers have sought to capture the essence of Windy City romance in the new four-part novel series Shy Town Girls.
"The series evolved from the idea that every girl has these moments...anything from wine nights with friends, to laughing over the ridiculous pick-up lines guys throw our way," said Leimkuehler. "How many times have I heard a girl in the bathroom at the bar having the same conversation with her friends that I just had with mine? My co-authors and I wanted to capture the real essence of what it's like to be young, single, and dating in the city in the digital age."
And with a thriving fashion, food and nightlife scene, Chicago's Gold Coast provided the perfect backdrop for the trials and tribulations of fictional characters Bobbie, Ivy, Meryl, and Ella, four working friends (along with their sage landlady, Barbara) who share more than just a brownstone apartment.
Leimkuehler, founder of the website Conquer the Edge, says she's always wanted to write a novel series, and when the opportunity to collaborate with Wilson, Yih and Clinesmith arose, she embraced it. Though they developed the overarching storyline and an outline for each book together, each author adopted a character and book.
"[Collaboration] has made the process of writing, editing and marketing much easier because we act as a team," said Leimkuehler. "And working with my co-authors often feels more like hanging out with my friends than work--you can't beat that."
The authors funded the books through PubSlush, and the first is now available on Amazon. Enjoy cocktails, hors d'oevres, a raffle, and giveaways among funky fashions at the December 8 book launch party at Akira, 645 W. Diversey Pkwy. at Clark St. from 7-9pm. The event is free. RSVP here.
If you've yet to chart Uncharted Books, Logan Square newest and only used book store, this Friday, December 7 at 7pm is the perfect time to visit as novelist Sarah Terez Rosenblum hosts a reading of local authors exploring the theme of obsession.
Rosenblum will read from Herself When She's Missing (recently reviewed by Curve magazine), a novel Rosenblum describes as "post-modern in form (lists, 3x5 cards, even the occasional screenplay), but classical in theme: a tale of a girl desperate for something like, but not quite love."
Reading Under the Influence has been known to drink a little too much and get involved with various characters. Their latest exploit is local Curbside Splendor Publishing. Being adults about things, the two pair up to celebrate Curbside's newest release, the anthology The Way We Sleep, Wednesday December 5 at Sheffield's 3258 N. Sheffield Avenue.
RUI lives up to their name, offering shots to readers before they perform. This month's readers include contributors from the anthology Megan Stielstra, Jeff Oaks, and RUI host Rob Duffer. Each will read twice, once an original story, the other a piece of previously published work relating to the the month's theme 'in bed'.
But the readers aren't the only ones able to get their drink on. Featured readers host a round of trivia after their readings offering the audience a chance to win free drinks (and books too). Even if you don't win, the bar offers specials on domestics.
The reading begins at 7. There is a $3 cover. Grab a copy of the anthology and some drinks (designated driver not included).
Madame Tracey Devlyn and Madame Adrienne Giordano aren't characters from that Jane Austen novel you always meant to read; they're the hosts of Lady Jane's Salon, a bi-monthly romance fiction reading series that celebrates one of the publishing industry's most popular genres.
Inspired by Lady Jane's Salon New York, Devlyn and Giordano--both of whom are romance novelists--combined their energies to develop a local version of the Salon, which features a gamut of romance writers, from newbie to well-established.
While listening to tales of love and lust you can enjoy a hot chocolate, "choctail", or a dessert likely to involve the word "sinful" from the Le Chocolat du Bouchard menu (the reading is on the second floor of the chocolaterie); but feel no guilt--the suggested $5 donation goes to Celebrate Differences, a non-profit supporting individuals with disabilities. Or you may pay your admission with one gently-used romance novel.
Reading series Two Cookie Minimum closes out 2012 on Tuesday, December 4 at the Hungry Brain, located at 2319 W. Belmont Ave., with a great variety on the line up.
Readers includes Neil Brideau, a comic artist and organizer of CAKE; Lisa Mrock; Piper Pennigan; Jason Fisk, author of Hank and Jules; Elizabeth Tieri, editor-in-chief of Back to Print Publishing; and the former editor of Gaper's Block Book Club, Rosamund Lannin.
The event is hosted by Johnny Misfit (me). Keeping with their moniker, there will be festive holiday cookies (maybe not exactly like the ones in the flyer, illustrated by Jaclyn Miller). Be sure to show up by the 9pm start to grab some treats.
This Friday at 7pm is the Third Annual Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington St. This year's inductees include Jane Addams, Sherwood Anderson, James T. Farrell, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes and Carolyn Rodgers. This year's event is free and open to the public (though ticket reservations recommended).
Tomorrow night is the debut of I Sh!t You Not! at Township, 2200 N. California Ave. Hosted by Chicago comedy scenesters Monte LaMonte and Michael Sanchez, ISYN! is an evening of grody gross-out stories "not for the faint of fart." Featured readers are Hannah Green, Joe McAdam, Valentine Soposky, CJ Toledano, Stephanie Douglass, Jesse Baltes, Donna Simon, and Xavier Retana. Audience members can also participate for a chance to win prizes. $5 cover, reading startst at 8pm.
Renowned Irish author James Joyce's short story, (40 pages hardly constitutes short) The Dead, is currently being performed through December 9 at the Court Theater, located at 5535 S. Ellis Ave. This translation from page to stage comes to life through Irish folk songs and dance. Could this be a new holiday classic? Find out before the production ends.
This Saturday is the book release party for The Hipsters at Club Foot, 1824 W. Augusta Blvd. The author, former Chicagoan Tim McAtee, based the book on his experiences arriving in New York after the dot com boom and his behind the scenes experiences at an MTV reality show. The Hipsters was brought to the world via hipster/Generation Y midwifery (i.e., it's a Kickstarter success story) and McAtee tells the Chicago Reader he'll buy a PBR for anyone buying a copy of the book. Reading starts at 8pm.
When writer/performer Christopher Piatt first conceived of the "live magazine" phenomenon known as The Paper Machete, he envisioned it hosted at the Green Mill, where the nightly jazz, the twinkling green lights, and the ghosts of gangsters past linger in every smoky corner. And beginning Saturday, December 1--after three rigorous years hosting and producing The Paper Machete at various Lincoln Square bars--Piatt's vision is realized as he takes his weekly "salon in a saloon" to the Green Mill with headliner Katie Rich of the Second City mainstage.
"I'm beside myself," said Piatt. "But I have a lot of work ahead of me."
Not that he doesn't already have a lot of work behind him. Piatt's been hosting and producing The Paper Machete, an aptly-described "part spoken-word show, part vaudeville revue" for nearly three years. It's a project he dove into full throttle after leaving his post at TimeOut Chicago, where he worked as a theatre critic and editor for five years. Upon leaving TimeOut, Piatt felt destined to put on a show of his own, but he found himself irrevocably "hard-wired" to the pace of a weekly magazine.
This Saturday, Quimby's presents All The Writers I Know, a queer reading co-produced by Mar Curran and Patrick Gill. The theme for the night is "Things Already Said" and features H. Melt, Ali Scott and Jayson Brooks (three other performers TBA). Quimby's, 1854 W. North Ave., Saturday, November 17 at 7pm.
This Saturday is Bookamania at the Harold Washington Library. The annual children's literature festival that kicks off the holiday season will feature characters including Olivia the pig and the Very Hungry Caterpillar, authors and illustrators including Tad Hills and live storytelling. Local institution The Puppet Bike will be stationed at the State Street entrance. Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State Street, Saturday, November 17, 11am-3pm.
The organizers of the Chicago Zine Fest, which celebrates independent publishers and small presses, are holding an open meeting this weekend on Saturday, November 17. They welcome community feedback and comments in the planning of the festival, which will return for its fourth year on March 8 and 9, 2013. You can also stop by to find out general information about the zine fest and how to get involved.
The free workshop will be presented as a Third Coast Listening Room, which is a lot like going to see a series of short indie films, only it's audio; or, as Third Coast puts it, "like a book club for radio." After the audio clips the NWA will provide creative writing prompts as participants explore the theme "body wisdom."
The workshop runs from 6-8pm. Though the event is free, seats are limited and reservations are required. RSVP to Rachel Hudak of NWA at (773) 684-2742 or email@example.com.
The Logan Center for the Arts is located at 915 E. 60th St.
When you read a story, you want to know the author has some authority over the subject matter. If it's set in Chicago, you better believe the author has to know the town, because any Chicagoan can detect an impostor.
Chicago author Scott Jacobs doesn't have to worry about that in his new book Never Leave Your Block: Adventures in Urban Living, released by Dead Tree Press earlier this fall. His resume marks him as a true Chicagoan; he is known for his Chicago centric work as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, the filmmaker behind Royko at the Goat, which centers around a conversation with journalist Mike Royko at the Billy Boat Tavern--how Chicago is that?--and as editor of online magazine The Week Behind.
Never Leave Your Block is set in Bucktown, and includes 33 stories that explore the gentrification of the neighborhood and surrounding area. The stories are supplemented by Jacobs' experiences of being a neighborhood resident.
Confirming that he truly cannot leave the block, Jacob will read on Thursday, November 15, just around the corner from Bucktown in Wicker Park at the loveable independent bookstore Quimby's, located at 1854 W. North Ave. at 7pm.
This year marks the Studs Terkel centennial, and as part of a series of celebratory events, historical re-enactors from Pocket Guide to Hell are performing an episode of Terkel's TV Show, Studs' Place.
This particular episode will take place in 2012, although actors will evoke characters of Terkel's era with situations that are period appropriate to the original series. The show is set to take place at the Hideout, located at 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., this Sunday, November 11, with WEBZ's Alison Cuddy and Bill Savage hanging out as special guests.
Studs' Place, which aired in the 50s, is one of the first TV shows produced in Chicago, and was improvised based on a single sheet of plot. Typical of Pocket Guide to Hell's dedication to historical accuracy, you'll be able to catch the show live on screen for the authentic experience in the back room, while the stage performance goes on in front.
This Saturday is the release party for Blab World #2 at the Save More Lounge. A wild and woolly comics anthology, Blab World is "like The New Yorker for mutants" according to the the Los Angeles Reader. Though the issues of their current incarnation can be counted on one hand, the Blab World has been orbiting ours on and off since 1986, published as BLAB! magazine by Kitchen Sink Press from 1988 to 1995 and Fantagraphics from 1997 to 2007. Edited by award-winning local art director and graphic designer Monte Beauchamp, Blab's past and present contributors include Chris Ware, Tony Fitzpatrick, and Shag. Pick up a copy, mingle with contributors and sway to the sounds of Crazee Heart. Save More Lounge, 4060 N. Lincoln Ave., Saturday, November 10 at 8pm.
With the election behind us and the beginning of a new presidential term just ahead, now's a great time to get a little more educated about foreign policy. And lucky for you, there's a chance to do just that on Tuesday, November 13 as the Society of Midland Authors welcomes independent foreign policy scholar Gregory Harms to Cliff Dwellers Club for a free reading.
A Joliet resident and author of three books about U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East, Harms will read from his latest book, It's Not About Religion, published by Viggo Mortenson's (yes, that Viggo Mortenson's) Perceval Press. In little more than 100 pages, the book seeks to answer how much religion plays a role in the media's portrayal of the Middle East.
Harms will speak at 7pm, but a social hour with complimentary snacks and a cash bar begins at 6pm, and reservations are not required. Admission is free but donations are welcome.
The Cliff Dwellers Club is located at 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor.
The long-running live literary event, The Encyclopedia Show is back this Thursday, November 8, with a theme followers have been clamoring for: Cults. The show has an out-of-this-world line up including illustrator Berto Saldana, poet Fatimah Ashgar, musician Roy Ivy, sketch comedian Tim Baltz, Oakland, California poet Jamie DeWolf, performer in BoyGirlBoyGirl Rachel Claff, and Kansas City poet Robert Brown.
Leading the masses to drink the kool-aid and take the spaceship with them are hosts Robbie Q. Telfer and Shannay Jean Maney.
Wear your black Nikes and join them at the Vittum Theater 1012 N. Noble St., at 7:30pm. Tickets are $9, $6 for students.
The novel explores what happens to the Middlestein family after matriarch Edie is abandoned by her husband because she's become overweight and completely obsessed with food. Attenberg, who's written explicitly about her own "history of being fat," has covered topics like sex, technology and graphic novels for magazines like Salon and The Awl, and is a former zinester with three novels under her belt: The Melting Season, The Kept Man and Instant Love.
Tomorrow Wednesday November 7, Reading Under the Influence partners with reading series 2nd Story for a mix of performances, readings, and trivia. Promoting the release of 2nd Story's new print anthology Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck readers will include anthology contributors Julie Ganey and Matt Miller. Rounding out the lineup will be Adam McOmber, author of The White Forest, along with Chris Terry.
This "The Hunt" themed edition of RUI showcases readings of original work, plus previously published work based on the night's theme, followed by trivia. Each reader takes a shot before reading to make things a bit more interesting.
Drop into Sheffield's 3258 N. Sheffield Ave.
at 7pm, $3.
This month the reading seriesTwo Cookie Minimum, lands on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6. In the spirit, it is offering something different from its usual reading and cookies schtick.
The night will begin with featured readers Stuart Ross, Patrick Andrews, and Hillary Stone. Simultaneously, there will be a live writing exercise with readers Mason Johnson (co-host of Karaoke Idol) and Matt Rowen (editor of Untoward magazine). Both will be writing on the spot according to an audience-supplied theme. After a brief intermission these two will share the results with the audience, which will vote for the better piece. The winner will receive a prize of immense proportions.
Cast your vote for Two Cookie Minimum, hosted by Johnny Misfit at the Hungry Brain
2319 West Belmont Ave., 9pm.
Tomorrow night is Found magazine's 10th anniversary show at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Founded by brothers Davy and Peter Rothbart, they have much to celebrate, including Davy's fourth book My Heart is an Idiot. Dave Eggers says, "Davy Rothbart has the humor and purity of heart you want and need in an observer of contemporary American life. Without guile and with a belief in small towns, underdogs, love at first sight, the pull of the road, and the soulfulness of strangers, Rothbart is a kind of new-styled Bill Moyers -- genuine, wide-eyed, and hopeful." Jim Carroll (yes, that one, obviously referring to an earlier work) says, "Davy's my kind of storyteller -- honest, hilarious, deeply feeling, and slightly cracked. This is the fresh voice we've been looking for."
They're also celebrating Peter's new album, You Are What You Dream, and the new issue of Found magazine, the voyeuristic celebration of found notes and photos. "I've been publishing people's most private thoughts in Found magazine for the last 10 years," Davy told the New York Times, "so I feel like it's only fair to put myself on the line." Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Friday, Nov. 2 at 8pm. $10.
Longtime reading series 2nd Story will be seeing some of their great live performances end up in their first print anthology, Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck. The book presents 23 selected essays culled from ten years of archived performances. To celebrate, they are hosting a book release this Friday, November 2, featuring performances from the anthology. Storytellers will include Eric May, Deb Lewis and Molly Each with music by Seeking Wonderland.
Get your book at the event as many of the authors found in the anthology will be on hand to sign copies. The event is at Underground Wonder Bar, 710 N. Clark St., at 7pm.
Author Kat Meads will read from her recently-released historical novel For You, Madam Lenin, this Thursday, November 1st at 7:30pm at Women & Children First Bookstore. The novel presents the Russian Revolution through the eyes of Nadezhda Krupskaya, the Jewish Bolshevik revolutionary and politician who married Vladimir Lenin. In the novel, Krupskaya's sharp mother is wholly unimpressed by her communist revolutionary son-in-law.
If you can't make the Thursday reading, Meads will also present at the UIC Friday Reading Series at Powell's Bookstore on Friday, November 2nd at 6pm.
Women & Children First is at 5233 N. Clark St., and Powell's is at 1218 S. Halsted St.
Tomorrow join The Chicago Way reading series for the release of local author Jamie Freveletti'sDead Asleep. Freveletti, trial attorney by day and author of thriller novels by night, will read from and sign her new book, and will be interviewed onstage by The Chicago Tribune's social media manager, Amy Guth. The Chicago Way loves to open the floor to the audience to ask questions of their guests, so stick around for an opportunity to do so.
Stop by the Hidden Shamrock, 2723 N. Halsted St., at 6pm to celebrate this event.
Two Cookie Minimum, the zinester-friendly reading series, is set to hold a special Dead Zine themed holiday edition on Monday, Oct. 29. The night welcomes zinesters to resurrect their oldest or out of print issues. Readers and dead zines include Lynne Monsoon (Shit I didn't Tell You), Aaron Cynic (Diatribe), and Mairead Case (Fabulous Color, and Ben Spies/No More Coffee).
Touring self-publishers and members of Pittsburgh's Cyberpunk Apocalypse, an anti-MFA independent writing project Nate McDonough and Daniel McCloskey will close out the night with readings from Don't Come Back and A Film About Billy respectively.
Two Cookie Minimum is hosted by Johnny Misfit at Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont Ave., at 9pm. Donations accepted for touring readers. As usual, there will be cookies, this time celebrating Halloween.
This Saturday, Janet Groth reads from The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker at Women and Children First. Kirkus Reviews calls it "a nostalgic, wistful look at life inside one of America's most storied magazines, and the personal and professional limbo of the woman who answered the phone...This bookish girl from flyover country who became a Mad Men-era hottie, and who found she had to leave this cozy nest in order to save herself, is very much an interesting character in her own right. For readers who can't get enough New Yorker lore, an amiable view from the inside." Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Saturday, October 27 at 6pm.
Earlier this year we reported that the 2nd annual Chicago Book Expo was scheduled for December 2. The Chicago Writer's House who organizes the event announced that the expo will be postponed, but not canceled. To generate more community involvement in organizing the event, they have scheduled an open meeting the week of November 12. If you are an interested party then this might be right for you.
In the interim, the Chicago Writers House will team up with publishers Curbside Splendor and The Chicagoan to host a mini version of the expo Sunday, December 9, at The Empty Bottle 1035 N. Western Ave. It will include twenty local presses with work for sale. This event comes at a great time to get some holiday shopping done.
Write Club is back with its 29th chapter. If you are new to this reading series, it's helpful to know the ground rules before you show up; rule number one is that contestants face off writing on two opposing themes; rule number two says the competition goes down in three seven-minute bouts; and rule number three about Write Club is that audience votes on the winner. All proceeds go to charities of winner's choosing, but they keep the names of those charities to themselves to keep voting impartial. Makes sense.
Making the bouts extra fun, all readers are actual couples! Contestants and themes include: Bob Stockfish/Together vs. Diana Slickman/Apart. Emmy Bean/Finance vs. Ira Murfin/Romance. And Ryan Walters/Rent vs. Dina Walters/Own.
In keeping with the couples theme, this edition brings on its first ever guest host, Bob "The Underlord" Stockfish, joining resident ringleader Ian Belknap.
The words start flying Tuesday, October 23 beginning at 7pm, at the Hideout located at 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. $10 at the door; 21+.
This Saturday is the 8th annual Drinking and Writing Festival (this year's theme: The Beats), hosted by Neo-FuturistsSteve Mosqueda and Sean Benjamin, hosts of the Drinking and Writing Brewery Radio Show (Sundays at 6pm on WLUW). This year's festival features performers from 16th Street Theater presenting pieces written by Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, Gary Snyder, John Chellon Holmes, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Bill Savage from Northwestern University will talk about The Beat Generation. There will also be writing awards for participants and a special beer created for the event called Naked Lunch (a collaboration made by local breweries Haymarket, Goose Island, Revolution, Half Acre, Rockbottom, Dry Hop and more). Haymarket Pub and Brewery, 737 W. Randolph St., Saturday, October 20, noon to 6pm. Tickets are $30 and include admission to all events and an opportunity to sample all the beers.
Tomorrow night, Richard Courage reads from The Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950 at 57th Street Books. The International Review of African American Art says "Finally setting the record straight, the book brings to the forefront the cultural awakening of black consciousness exploding in the Midwest during the first half of the 20th-century. [Co-author Robert] Bone and Courage masterfully blend the history of Chicago's South Side as the incubator of cultural expression and the black aesthetic in page-turning prose. The Muse in Bronzeville is a much-needed contribution." 57th Street Books, 5757 S. University Ave., Friday, October 19 at 6pm.
Curious George may have his own movie and TV series these days, but we know he's still the same old inquisitive primate from such mid-century classics as Curious George Rides a Bike and Curious George Flies a Kite.
In honor of the binocular-wielding monkey, and in celebration of reading and readers of all ages, Open Books is hosting Curious George Day this Saturday, October 20, from 10am-1pm.
The free event includes coloring, face painting, storytelling , a cake, and discounted children's books from Open Books' book store. Special guests Wishcraft Workshop (10 am), Emerald City Theatre (11 am) and Marsha's Music (12 pm) will host craft, drama, music and movement activities. And, especially since it's so close to Halloween, costumes are definitely encouraged.
According to Open Books' Marketing Manager Erica Hawkinson, Curious George is the perfect centerpiece for an event meant to nurture a love of reading shared between children and parents.
"Both parents and kids can identify with a character who has such a strong history with books," Hawkinson said. "Plus, he has a big following and appeals to girls and boys."
Hawkinson pointed out that parents can also find more literacy-oriented resources at the event, including tips about how to raise kids who love to read, and how to choose good books for kids and infants.
"Open Books wants to be that no-fail resource for parents," Hawkinson said.
Open Books is located at 213 W. Institute Pl. For more information visit open-books.org.
The monthly get-together that is Karaoke Idol is back Thursday, October 18 with more off key singing to encourage and organizations to benefit. The event helps raise funds for Chicago not-for-profits and culturally minded organizations whose representatives battle on the mic for proceeds collected at the door. Last month's winner Girls Rock! Chicago is back to defend its reigning title against Chicago Zine Fest, One Tail at a Time, Young Chicago Authors, Reversible Eye and Graze.
Judges include social media manager at the Chicago Tribune Amy Guth, Another Chicago Magazine editor Jacob Knabb and ex-P Fanatics series host Mason Johnson. The audience acts as the fourth judge, weighing in by cheering for their favorite performer.
Sunday marks the beginning of this season's Chicago Humanities Festival programming with Northwestern Day to be held on the university's Evanston campus. We've already alerted you to the fact that hot deals are to be had courtesy of the Fest, but there's also quite a rich selection of literary programming to choose from beyond the neatly packaged Short List:
Charles C. Mann, of The Atlantic, Science, and Wired, will discuss his books 1491, which delivers a look at the pre-Columbian Americas, and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, in a lecture titled, 1492: Before and After. Mann will examine the societal and ecological effects of that seminal year, a fitting introduction considering this season's theme is America.
Writer on shows Alias, Lost, and Fringe , Jeff Pinker, will speak to the rise of multinarrative storytelling in his lecture Transforming American TV: Alias and the Serial Drama, sponsored by Northwestern's MFA program in Writing for Screen and Stage. Not quite literary, sure, but the discussion will explore the way writing has shifted America's expectations for the undeniably iconic small screen.
For those interested in the playwright's process, a discussion with writer Matthew Lopez about his show The Whipping Man , to debut in 2013, is not to be missed. The play deals with conflicts unique to Jewish slave owners in 19th-century America, and the infrequently examined mix of cultural and social clashes that come out of this dichotomy.
The Daily Show's "resident expert" John Hodgeman will discuss the final installment of his trilogy, aptly titled, Complete World Knowledge trilogy, That is All. The essential text includes directions for making wine while on the toilet, as well as a day-by-day account of life in America in 2012 under Commander and Chief Morgan Freeman.
Tickets are still available to these programs for as little as $5, and are free to teachers and students. Visit the Chicago Humanities Festival ticket page for more details.
As you may already know, the selection for the Chicago Public Library's One Book, One Chicago program this fall centers on Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. The novel tells the story of a young foster girl who steals and reads books aloud to her neighbors during bomb raids in World War II Germany. With its serious subject matter the book asks many questions of its readers, including: How do we respond to war time injustice?
The Chicago Public Library presents two free events relating to the book, both taking place in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St.:
On Tuesday, October 16 at 6pm, WBEZ's Worldview host Jerome McDonnell will talk with humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina, who will speak from personal experience on some of the themes explored in The Book Thief. The film Hotel Rwanda, nominated for three Academy Awards in 2004, documents Rusebagina's struggle to shelter Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
On Monday, October 22 at 6pm, The Book Thief author Markus Zusak will join Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice for a conversation about the book and his reaction to its success.
The Chicago Public Library Foundation is hosting its annual Carl Sandburg Literary Awards dinner this Wednesday, October 17. Chosen for their significant contributions to the written word and international stature, this year's co-winners are Don DeLillo (Underworld, his new short story collection The Angel Esmeralda, among others) and Walter Isaacson (best known for his recent Steve Jobs biography). Also being honored is Nami Mun (Miles from Nowhere), winner of the 21st Century Award, which honors an emerging local literary talent. In addition, over 70 prominent local authors will be in attendance, dining alongside guests, including Scott Turow, Sarah Paretsky, Irvine Welsh and Check Please! host Alpana Singh. Prior 21st Century Award winners are also always welcomed back as guests. CBS Chicago anchorman Bill Kurtis is the master of ceremonies and NPR's Scott Simon will moderate an after-dinner discussion with DeLillo and Isaacson.
Navigating the sea of Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) programming is no mean feat. It's a testament to the organization's appeal that the selection is as enormous and diverse as it is, but it can be an afternoon's work to plan your personal Fest schedule. With that in mind, CHF created the Short List; this selection of five includes programs from across disciplines and is geared toward getting young professionals to gather in one spot over cocktails and culture. Like so much of CHF, most of the speakers on the list are prolific writers in their respective fields.
Also on the lineup, University of Chicago alum and FiveThirtyEight columnist on baseball and political stats, Nate Silver, will speak to his new book The Signal and the Noise. Silver discusses the problems built into the nature of predication through anecdotes with statistical analysis interspersed.
The sooner you sign up and get your ticket to all five programs (for a reasonable 25 bucks), the more likely you are to get a ticket to the sold-out program with Alinea chef Grant Achatz and the MCA's Madeleine Grynsztejn.
The package includes a cocktail reception with Hornswaggler Arts on November 2. There are only 50 of these special tickets, so don't delay!
This Thursday, the Book Cellar welcomes D. T. Max, reading from Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story, a biography of the late David Foster Wallace. Arguably the most influential writer of his generation (who else could get away with a 10 page, footnote-heavy, anti-lobster consuming write-up on a lobster festival for Gourmet magazine?), Wallace's 2008 suicide at the age of 46 devastated his fans. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times says Every Love Story "powerfully [provides] an emotionally detailed portrait of the artist as a young man." Mark O'Connell of Slate.com says "I'm having trouble remembering when I was last so consumed by any piece of writing, fiction or non... For anyone who felt a profound emotional connection to Wallace and his work, there's a strenuously cathartic dimension to this: the experience of knowing him more fully, and of thereby feeling more completely the force and finality of his absence." The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave., Thursday, October 11 at 7pm.
The Chicago Public Library welcomes esteemed writer Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) this Wednesday, October 10. Lehane will discuss his newest novel Live by Night with a book signing to follow. The reading is open to the public, but seating is limited and wil likely go quick. Catch Lehane at 6pm in the Harold Washington Library Center's Winter Garden located at 400 S. State St.
Celebrate Poetry magazine's 100th birthday with Poetry on Stage: Harriet Monroe & the Modernists. The humble beginnings of a local legend will be fleshed out by local actors reading from a script prepared by Second City Theater co-founder Bernard Sahlins. It all started with written correspondence between Poetry magazine founder Harriet Monroe and then-unknown writers Ezra Pound, Edna St. Vincent Millay, T.S. Eliot, Carl Sandburg, and countless others. The evening promises "romance, rivalries, supersized egos, financial difficulties, and sublime kindness, along with some of the greatest hits from the magazine's pages." Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior Street; Sunday, October 7 at 3pm (this performance is sold out; a limited number of standby tickets may be available) and Monday, October 8 at 7pm.
All throughout the week, City Lit Theater will be performing their annual Books on the Chopping Block performance series featuring 60 minute dramatic readings from the previous year's most banned or challenged books (including The Hunger Games trilogy). All performances are free and held at various Chicago Public Library branches (plus one stop in Evanston). Click here for a list of the reading selections and the times and locations of performance.
Also, tonight and Friday, Browne Parker Literary Press will host readings of banned books, including Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. Browne Parker Literary Press, 316 W. 103rd St., Monday, October 1 and Friday, October 5; times not listed, click here or call (312) 388-1650 for more information.
Poetry turned 100 this year, so of course the Poetry Foundation is at the center of celebratory efforts. Poetry Magazine editors, Christian Wiman and Don Share, have assembled an anthology, The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine, to showcase all the best of the past century. In an effort to create a new kind of collection, they waded through the archives looking for the most powerful and dynamic voices that "echo across a century of poetry."
A celebration in honor of both the wonderful medium of POETRY and of the anthology will feature special guests, including anthology contributor and Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich and Museum of Contemporary Art curator Naomi Beckwith. Thursday, October 4 from 7-10pm at the Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St. RSVP at (312) 787-7070 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The People of Color Zine Project presents the month long Race Riot! Tour, which stops in Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 30. The project aims to showcase zines by people of color, making materials easy to find, distribute and share. This inaugural tour will include discussions and multimedia presentations for audiences all over the country.
The POC Zine project was founded in 2010 by Daniela Capistrano, a producer at Current TV, whose work will be featured on tour. The lineup also includes zinester Osa Atoe, associate professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Mimi Thi Nguyen, musician Anna Vo, punk rock based Cuban-American illustrator and writerCristy C. Road and content coordinator at Maximum Rock and Roll magazine, Mariam Bastani. The night will be rounded out with music by Breathing Light and Dj Masisi.
The tour hits town at 7pm at Multikulti, 1000 N. Milwaukee Ave. The event is all ages, donations welcome.
Legs McNeil, self proclaimed creator of the term "punk" to describe the genre of music, will be appearing at Late Bar in Avondale on Tuesday, Oct. 2, to read from his oral history of Punk, Please Kill Me (1997). He'll also read a surprise portion of his new book, the details of which -- allusive even on the Internet -- he'll be unveiling at the event.
McNeil, co-founder of Punk Magazine and the former editor of Spin, is coming through town in a largely unpublicized (apparently he doesn't have a publicist) tour of his new book.
Chicago isn't often discussed as being a punk epicenter; the more obvious locales like London and New York City get most of the credit. But as the 2008 documentary You Weren't There: A History of Chicago Punk, 1977-1984 would have us believe, our city's ties to the genre are noteworthy.
Zine reading series Copy Code returns Monday, October 1, with the theme Firsts. Zinesters Chris Terry (Gullible zine), Heather from Stranger Danger Zine Distro (Dig Deep zine), Lynne Monsoon (Butch Nor Femme zine), and Nichole Baiel (Pieces zine) will read about their first publications, first time attending a zine fest, or the first time they sold a zine.
The event is curated and hosted by the writer of Your Secretary zine, Jami Sailor. Audience participation is encouraged, so bring your questions and share your own firsts. Show up to Copy Code at Uncharted Books, 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave., at 7pm.
This Thursday, Open Books celebrates J. K. Rowling's new for-adults book The Casual Vacancy with a Harry Potter costume contest (grand prize is two tickets to Potted Potter), live music by Tonks and the Aurors, readings by Rachel Bertsche, Michael Beckett and Sheila Johnson, a visit by the Samich Box and 20% discounts on used books and pre-orders of The Casual Vacancy. Open Books, 213 W. Institute Place, Thursday, September 27 at 8pm.
This Thursday is the latest installement of Light of the Male, Dark of the Female: Women Writing About Horrible Things at Uncharted Books. Host Meghan Lamb welcomes readers Halle Butler, Heather Cox, Samantha Irby, Robyn Pennachia, and Heather Marie Vernon. Drinks provided. Uncharted Books, 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave., Thursday, September 27 at 7pm.
Chicago is a city of creatives and literary types; I think that's pretty clear. And one of the things that makes its arts community particularly remarkable is its relative inclusivity compared with other big cities in the country. But it's also a massively segregated city that doesn't often make the voices of the poor readily available to the rest of the population.
The Neighborhood Writing Alliance (NWA) runs writing workshops for low income adults to help combat the problem, and publishes The Journal of Ordinary Thought, which compiles lots of the writing they see. Lest you doubt that writing is getting out there for the public, they've distributed more than 163,000 copies of 83 issues so far.
Monday night, September 17, at the Park West, 10 storytellers competed for a chance to be named the GrandSLAM Champion of storytelling by the Moth. The Moth is a New York based non-profit organization dedicated to the art of storytelling. The Moth currently has 10 cities participating in Story Slams across the country and expanded to Chicago three years ago to host two different monthly Story Slams at Haymarket and Martyrs' each month.
The GrandSLAM gathers the winners of each of those monthly competitions to compete to become the ultimate Champion. The 10 participants were challenged to tell a story themed around "Fall From Grace" in five minutes or less, with no paper or reading, just the teller and a microphone. Some of the stories the audience heard were from a former monk who quit the monastery, a young religious girl who lost her devout mother and rediscovered herself, a young husband whose wife came out to him as bisexual, and an atheist opening up the secular world to his Mormon girlfriend. Brian Babylon, a radio host at Vocalo, served as host of the event.
There were three teams of judges to rank between 1 and 10 comprised of at least two to four people who have been to a slam before, or have participated as a storyteller. This year, Dana Norris, host of Story Club Chicago was one of the people selected to serve on a judging team.
"The stories were heartfelt and often dealt with the most difficult moments in the tellers' lives," Norris said. "The audience was eager for the stories and I based my judging as much on the audience reaction as my personal opinion. Judging was difficult, especially when we had to knock off points for going over time. The experience overall was great and I learned a lot effective storytelling by being on the judging panel."
Alvin Lau was named the Grand Champion. As Grand Champion, he will be invited to attend the Moth Ball, a ball hosted for the champions across the country in New York.
Out of all the storytelling events throughout the city, The Moth tends to be geared to popular audiences, marketed similarly as a comedy show. Tickets for the event were sold out at $26 a pop and the venue was standing room only. While the stories were heartfelt and personal, and tellers possessed talent, they seemed over-rehearsed and lacked the genuine aspects of the art of storytelling that smaller scale events tend to showcase. The venue and content were shiny and at times overdone. The event ran 3 hours for only 50 minutes of actual stories. The GrandSLAM seemed concentrated on the theatrical, comedic aspects of the evening, and items like VIP seating and fancy cocktails, rather than the stories themselves.
The Moth is a huge non-profit entity compared to the local, grassroots shows and artists who produce and create locally. The Moth may have a broader audience, but if you're looking for a genuine storytelling experience, I would recommend attending one the many events located all over the city in different neighborhood venues throughout the month. Overall, I enjoyed the evening and the stories.
Chicago press Curbside Splendor is releasing a new book, May We Shed These Human Bodies, by Washington, DC based author Amber Sparks. Although she is an East Coaster, the release is taking place here in Curbside's home town on Saturday, Sept. 22 with way too many great writers showing up in support.
Readers joining Sparks will include Chris Bower, Franki Elliot (Piano Rats) , Lindsay Hunter (Daddy's), James Tadd Adcox, Jac Jemc (My Only Wife), Tim Jones-Yelvington, Ben Tanzer (Lucky Man), Heather Marie Vernon and Daniella Olszewska.
Copies will be available at the event before the book's official October release. And if you buy a book the day of for $10, you get a complimentary shot of Maker's Mark.
The release happens at Cole's Bar in Logan Square, located at 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave., at 7pm.
DePaul University's English Department is sponsoring a Visiting Writer's Series this fall. The first installment, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 20, will focus on area writers and is aptly titled "Local Authors: Chicago's Own." There will be readings by Nami Mun, Aaron Baker and Eugene Cross. The event will be in DePaul's Richardson Library, located at 2350 N. Kenmore Ave., Room 115, at 6pm. It is free and open to the public.
This Saturday the Book Cellar presents Carmen Bugan reading from her memoir Burying The Typewriter. The book centers around her childhood in Romania and her relationship to her dissident father imprisoned under the Ceauşescu regime. The winner of the Bakeless Prize, judge Lynn Freed says "Bugan delivers neither a memoir of blame nor a hagiography. What she has drawn, within the story of her own childhood, is a complex portrait of an exasperating father, a man who happens to be a hero in the eyes of Amnesty International and the Western world, a hero in the service of a just cause. ...while he may be the driving force behind her story...it is her world that is revealed here, a world she was forced to leave behind and that she looks back on now with sorrow, pride, longing and rage." The book's title is derived from her father's need to hide his political pamphleteering, which often included literally burying and re-burying his typewriter. The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., Saturday, September 15 at 7pm.
This Friday the Poetry Foundation hosts poet Joanne Kyger. A central influence on the Beats and New York School and language poets, she has authored 20 books of poetry and prose (you can read a smattering of her poetry here and here). Kyger is the recipient of the 2008 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award for Poetry and occasionally teaches at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute. The Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St., Friday, September 14 at 6:30pm.
The Bad Grammar Theater reading series is fusing Chicago's visual art and literary scene on the second Friday of every month. Hosted by author Brendan Dentzer, the series is part of the Chicago Arts District 2nd Friday in Pilsen, which features gallery openings and artists' studio events around 18th and Halsted streets.
"I first found out about second Fridays when I came by to check out a show at Rooms Gallery, and was immediately impressed by the whole scene," says Dentzer. "I've been running the event for a little over a year now and enjoying it enormously. I thought 2nd Friday would be a good venue for a new series."
Readings begin at 6pm this Friday, Sept. 14, and occur every half hour. Be part of the night and stop by 1743 S. Halsted St. to check out this unique lit series.
The Corpse Performance Space, the physical realm of Green Lantern Press, is set to host a celebration of the 100th birthday of composer John Cage on Saturday, September 8. Attendees will have the rare opportunity to "listen to the sounds and be people, centered within ourselves where we actually are," as Cage himself once described it.
The collaboration between the late artist and the contemporary Corpse Space has come together fittingly to showcase some of the experimental stuff of Chicago's artistic community. Entertainment will range from a remote performance art piece "Imaginary Thoughts of a Dedicatory Nature: A Mycological Consideration from the Woods to Chicago" by creators, Elizabeth Metzger Sampson and Eric VanDemark, followed by I Ching readings by oral historian, writer, and frequent customer of the U.S. Postal Service, Meghan McGrath.
"Our invitation says, 'we will listen to sounds and be people,'"McGrath said. "This stuff (Cage's work) is really all about being a human--particularly about being a creative human. It's relevant because artists and creators in any medium can benefit from being surprised. We're probably too structured for this to be a legitimate 'happening,' but it should be a really fun and playful event."
The rest of the performers, Ira S. Murfin, Emmy Bean, Devin King, Jessica Speer, and Peter Speer, who will be reading work, or lecturing on John Cage, boast multimedia expertise, enjoying theatrical, literary, and sometimes musical lives, too. As with any successful birthday celebration Cupcakes and other appropriate treats will be available for the taking.
Check out the show on Saturday, September 8 from 3-5pm at the Corpse Performance Space at 1511 N. Milwaukee Ave. on the second floor.
(Photo Credit to Datakid Musicman via Creative Commons.)
This Wednesday September 5, celebrate school being back in session atReading Under the Influence. This month's theme is one that most teachers would scoff at, Truant. See how guests interpret this theme with published readings and trivia. Then settle in for some of their own work. Readers include Newcity fiction editor Naomi Huffman, Danny Laloggia, co-host of the Chicago Way reading series Mary Beth Hoerner, Jill Winski, and JD Adamski.
RUI is at Sheffield's 3258 N. Sheffield Ave.beginning at 7p, $3.
A new female centric reading series Dark of the Male, Light of the Female: Women Writing About Horrible Things hits the lit scene with its first event this Thursday August 30.
The first installment has some impressive names on the bill includingJac Jemc (My Own Wife), Hillary Stone, Amanda Marbais, and Cassandra Troyan. Drop into Logan Square's Uncharted Books 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave. at 7pm. The series will continue on the last Thursday of each month.
Monte LaMonte and Jill Howe are both avid storytellers who you can catch at most of Chicago's storytelling events sharing stories or taking photos. Through their love for stories and photography, LaMonte and Howe became fast friends and found a connection for storytelling in unexpected locations.
Howe and LaMonte are kicking off a new type of storytelling event, just in time for fall, titled Kindling Tales, debuting Wednesday, August 29 at 7:30pm. You'll find the group in Evanston, outside 2603 Sheridan Rd. encircling a bonfire.
Most literary readings and storytelling events take place in bars but this, Howe explained, is about a new and creative space:
I had a birthday party at my apartment earlier this year, and asked my friends to bring stories instead of gifts. It was such a special night, and those stories are gifts I will never forget. That evening got me thinking about how environment and occasion can really enhance stories, but it wasn't until I heard Monte's idea for a campfire setting that the idea of producing it came up. We began with a simple shared passion for bringing people together in a great outdoor space. There's something you get in nature that you can't find anyplace else.
The space, Howe explained, is a throwback to the roots of campfire and primitive storytelling. She envisions the event more as "sharing" rather than a "show". And of course, the opportunity to roast some marshmallows by the fire adds to any experience.
The storytelling lineup includes veterans looking for a new venue, as well as new storytellers who will get the opportunity to share their tales campfire style.
Lily Be is looking forward to the evening. "My story is not for the faint of heart or those with weak stomachs," said Be, who will close out the night.
Come check out Kindling Tales, eat some s'mores, and enjoy some outdoor stories, Wednesday at 7:30pm at 2603 Sheridan Rd. in Evanston by the fire pit.
Next Friday, Sept. 7, the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame celebrates the induction of Native Son author Richard Wright. On hand will be musical performances by Artemas and Louis Wright (the author's cousins), readings by Melvin Smith, playwright and actress Nambi E. Kelley, Paul Durica, sculptor Margot McMahon (creator of the award sculptures), Zarinah Ali from Realize Theatre Group and University of Chicago scholar Kenneth Warren. Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., Friday, September 7. Doors open at 5:30pm, performances begin at 7pm. $40 includes appetizers and performances; donations to the event are tax deductible. Click here for tickets.
This Thursday Chicago literary publication Criminal Class Press (CCP) is holding a fundraiser aptly titled, "Punks Promoting Literature." Not bad, considering the press is known for publishing punks and is run by one--the Editor-in-chief Kevin Whiteley. Money raised at the event will support the California-based Yardtime Literacy Project, run by writers/brothers Keith and Kent Zimmerman. Its initial success came from providing writing programs for inmates in San Quinton Prison's H-Unit. Now, Yardtime is looking to expand to juvenile detention centers, which is where the fundraiser comes in. The Zimmermans worked with CCP this past year as guest editors to the Prison issue (featuring work by inmates from their prison writing programs). "What the Zimmermans are doing enables their students to have a creative outlet," said CCP's Junior Public Relations representative Alex Kretchmar. "Their goal is that Chicago and other major cities will realize that there is hope for the forgotten and unfortunate," said Kretchmar.
CCP is looking to release a new edition of its review before year's end. In the meantime, the press is working on building its web presence. "Our revamped website is dedicated to journalism of the CCP kind," says Kretchmar. Where its print product incudes mostly literary stories and poems, the website will expand to include gritty journalism, entertainment reviews and guest columnists.
The event will mix music and readings for what the press is billing as the "the Rock 'n' Roll-infused Event of the summer." Readers include author Dmitry Samarov (Hack), with Luke "Diseased" Crumley and Kathryn Morrill, both reading from works published in the Criminal Class Review. Listen to music from Rufis Roberts & The Smoking Rabbits, The Island of Misfit Toys, and The Hamburglars.
Stop by Beauty Bar at 1444 W. Chicago Ave. at 7pm on August 30, $5.
This weekend is the third annual Evanston Writer's Workshop Conference. Billed as the Midwest's only multi-genre writer's conference, it features workshops on topics such a memoir writing, publishing tips, writing a synopsis and finding the time to write. Featured speakers cover a range of genres including nonfiction, romance, thriller, science fiction/fantasy, horror and graphic novels. Orrington Hilton, 1710 Orrington Ave., Evanston, August 24-26. Click here for registration information and pricing.
The new bi-monthly event, Karaoke Idol, part game show part charity work, is back this Thursday August 23. Each event benefits a different local not-for-profit. This month's candidates include; Dill Pickle Co-op, Homeroom Switchback Books, Girls Rock! Chicago, and Chicago Writers House. Much like that show on Fox where people sing and get judged (not sure the name of that series), each organization will have a designated member sing and battle to determine who will win the whole ball of wax.
The night begins with an hour of open Karaoke for all, so come sign up early. Then on to the battle to select which organization the night will benefit. The audience gets to vote, so they need you there to do your best Paula or Simon impressions (those are the hosts to that show I couldn't remember).
Mark your calendars! The date of the second annual Chicago Book Expo has been scheduled for December 2. The event is still going to be held in the Uptown neighborhood, however, it's moving to a new location inside the Aragon Ballroom.
The Expo brings together many of the city's presses, non profits, and literary organizations for a weekend of sales and programming. The specifics and schedule have yet to be announced. Check out event sponsor Chicago Writers House's website for more info.
The Chicago Humanities Festival has officially announced its programming for fall. CHF will usher in election season with its theme, America, kicking off on Oct. 14.
From a literary perspective, the CHF will look at notions of the Great American Novel as it defines the way Americans see themselves, and the way the rest of the world regards us. CHF explicitly states that it "had no intention -- none! -- to contribute to the shrillness that passes for present-day political discourse. What was needed, in fact, was a counterweight."
What's going on with the literary scene this month? Last week, the beloved reading series P. Fanatics had its final show, and this weekend, punk rock reading series Neutron Bomb is following suit. Maybe it's the weather, or the shifting of seasons. "We're stopping because, at the last event, Benny said he didn't want to do it anymore, and Mike from Cal's told me that the bar is closing at the end of the summer," said "C.T." Chris Terry* one of the show's hosts. "Since the average punk band only lasts a couple years, it seemed about right."
The series got its start when three friends, all grad students in Columbia's Fiction Writing department, Chris Terry, Benny Kumming and Maggie Ritchie, decided they wanted to put together a reading series unlike any other series around town. I had a class that fall semester with Benny and remember him asking me if I knew of a place that would be good for punk bands and readers to get together. There weren't that many places in Chicago I knew that would accommodate that request. When they gave me a flyer, with the Misfits Crimson Ghost on it, I knew they were onto something. And Cal's was the best place for their series, set up for having bands, yet intimate enough for the audience to interact with readers.
This Thursday, Martha Rosenberg reads from Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health at the Evanston Public Library. David Healy, author of Pharmageddon and Let them Eat Prozac, calls it "the perfect treatment for the epidemic of common sense deficiency sweeping America today. Reading this will cause your eyes to pop with amazement and jaw to drop with astonishment and might also save your sanity and your life." Rosenberg is a freelance writer and editorial cartoonist, and is a frequent contributor to numerous publications including the Chicago Tribune and a regular health columnist at several websites including the Huffington Post. Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave., Evanston, Thursday, August 16 at 7pm.
Calling all Zinesters, Self Publishers and fans of Indie lit, Wednesday marks the inaugural
Copy Code series at Uncharted Books. Copy Code aims to deliver an all-zine centric event each month ranging from readings, panels, and workshops.
The first event will kick off with readings by zinesters: Marisa Over (debuting "Warning Signs"), Jim Joyce (Let It Sink), Jonas (Cheer the Eff Up), Georgi Johnston (Cursive is Cryptic, Cave Girl) and Quinn St Quinn.
For almost two years now Mason Johnson and his cohost/sidekick Dan Shapiro have been the driving force behind monthly reading seriesP. Fanatics. From their humble beginnings at Moe's Tavern (being heckled by regulars, none too happy with this interruption to their drinking) P. Fanatics has kept up its irreverent blend of talent with a variety show, readings, stand up, a live house band, and off-the-wall banter between the hosts. But now, this Sunday to be exact, they are calling it quits.
"A year ago we had no one to disappoint by quitting. Now that there's an audience, there's people to disappoint," Johnson said. "We had nobody to disappoint last year. Zero fans. It was just me and Dan Shapiro trading turns being in front of the mic/in the audience. I'd tell slow, somber stories for maybe 30 or 40 minutes at a time as Dan sat in front of me, making varied voices to represent a group of people. He'd grunt like a construction worker, than let out an exasperated gasp like a Southern belle. Then Dan would get up in front of the mic and I'd pretend to be the audience. He'd give a simple joke, something with a one-two setup. Something dirty."
Johnson's stage persona is at work in his answer, known to offer half truths embellished cleverly for laughs. That's what the series was really about; the two could make the audience enjoy the show without realizing how much work went into putting it together each month.
To be expected, Johnson and Shapiro can't completely break from doing P Fanatics. Both will be moving onto somewhat similar projects. They're hardworking showmen who haven't yet lost the itch. "Dan's going to try hosting an open mic at Cole's every month," says Johnson. "It'll be meant for writing, poetry, whatever you can think of. It'll ideally be funny, weird and awkward. It won't be P. Fanatics though."
Johnson will focus on writing, stepping off the stage for a while. His short fiction recently appeared in Pangur Ban Party . "I'm going to write more sad and funny stories (they can be both) that are meant to be read on the page/screen, instead of being performed."
Sunday brings P. Fanatics to a close. The lineup is packed with literary elite: Chris Bower Jill Summers,Chris Terry, Shanny Jean Maney,Patrick Somerville, and Lindsay Hunter. House band Hawaiian Death Folk Presents and a reading by Dan Shapiro will open the show. Get there at 7:30 sharp (for the last time ever) at Cole's Bar, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave.
So you may have missed C2E2 this spring, but don't fret. Blow the dust off your Thor helmet, lace up those thigh-high boots, freshen up that face paint and get out to the Wizard World Comic Con this weekend, Friday Aug. 10 through Sunday Aug/ 12 (with limited pre-gaming today). Dork out when you see special guest Star Trek Captains (the ones that count for real) Patrick Steward and William Shatner, legendary Marvel comics creator Stan "the man" Lee, or local WWE star CM Punk.
Being Book Club, we want to turn your focus to panels led by author Larry Tye in a discussion about his new book, SUPERMAN: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero (held on Friday). Or check out the Legacy of Ray Bradbury on Thursday, a panel led by horror writer Mort Castle (Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury), Joe Meno (Hairstyles of The Damned), and Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife).
And when all else fails, you can bump into Bruce Campbell or Scott Bakula, you make the call. Then take Monday off to decompress.
This Saturday, Eliza Frye reads from Regalia, featuring the Eisner-nominated short story "The Lady's Murder," at Quimby's. Frye is in town for the Wizard World comic convention (find her at Artists Alley 3418). Quimby's, 1854 W. North Ave., Saturday, Aug. 11 at 7pm.
Women & Children First bookstore is having a poetry reading Friday, Aug. 10 featuring Daniela Olszewska, Stephanie Anderson and Melissa Severin. Daniela Olszewska, a Chicago resident has written books, chapbooks, and poetry, and is the Associate Poetry Editor for H_NGM_N and, Another Chicago Magazine. Stephanie Anderson's poetry has appeared in several chapbooks and she is the poetry editor for the Chicago Review. Melissa Severin has a chapbook available at Dancing Girl Press, and like Daniela and Stephanie she also resides in Chicago.
The Encyclopedia Show hosts its annual Anthology show Wednesday, Aug. 8. The organizers, Robbie Q. Telfer and Shanny Jean Maney, curated this Best Of show, carefully selecting from the show's past lineups. Talent includes Lynda Barry, an interview with Joaquin Vieira, LeKeja Dawson, David Kodeski and musician Naomi Ashley, Peter Cook (ASL performance poet), Jamila Woods, Chris Bower, Dan Shapiro and Janna Sobel.
The extravaganza begins at 7:30pm at 1012 N. Noble St. in the Vittum Theater. Tickets are $9, or $6 for students.
The Chicago Way deviates from its regularly scheduled reading night, moving to Tuesday August 7 for a special occasion. The series celebrates the release of crime author Sean Chercover's novel, The Trinity Game. If that's not enough, he will be joined by local crime novelist Markus Sakey.
The night will consist of a short reading by Chercover followed by Chicago Way's trademark audience interactive discussion with both writers. Get a book signed, participate in trivia (and win prizes) and chat with two great crime authors. It all goes down at Hidden Shamrock 2723 N. Halsted St. at 7pm.
StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit that gives average citizens a chance to share their anything-but-average stories. It is broadcast nationally on NPR's Morning Edtion and the StoryCorps "Listen Pages." Interviews are recorded, archived and aired for all to share and this month they're coming to Chicago to showcase the diversity and history of our communities and the people who call them home.
One-on-one interviews allow people to ask silly, interesting, challenging questions of an important person in their lives, and then sit back and enjoy the process of learning from the answers. Now's your chance to be a part of the storytelling. RSVP and attend one of the recording sessions when they drop anchor in town from August 15-September 16 with two locations.
Participation is free but RSVP and a credit card for holding the reservation are required. Register online or by calling 1-800-850-4406.
Two Cookie Minimum will celebrate its second anniversary Tuesday, Aug. 7. Naturally, cookies will be involved. Zinesters Ben Spies, author of No More Coffee zine. L.B. creator of Truckface zine, and Natalie Edwards will provide your reading entertainment. A shadow puppet show by sisters Jill Summers and Susie Kirkwood will kick off the night.
Hosted by Johnny Misfit at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont Ave., starting at 9pm. Party hats are optional. (Flyer by Peter Dicamillo.)
Essay Fiesta, a monthly live lit readings series, is gearing up for its third anniversary in November. In the meantime, organizers Keith Ecker and Alyson Lyon are taking a break from reading submissions. But there's still opportunity to bare your entire embarrassing self to audiences before the Thanksgiving season rolles around.
Interested parties are invited to submit entires to be read at a mini fiesta to take place at the Chicago Writers Conference on September 15. Ecker and Lyons are curating this event just like they do their monthly readings with a preference for funny and often painfully revealing work.
This Thursday, Rose Laws (along with her co-author, Dianna Harris) reads from Gold Coast Madam: The Secret Life of Rose Laws at Uncharted Books in Logan Square. Laws, now a 77-year-old retiree residing in Florida, began "arranging dates" for men and women in 1960s Chicago to help support her family. She moved on to working a "four hour rate" motel and ultimately downtown, where she had a 5,000 person client list including politicians, judges, athletes and movie stars. Gold Coast Madam is set to be released by Lake Claremont Press this November. With chapter titles like "1985 Chicago Bears Superbowl," "Pretty Woman Stories" and "Grinding Through the Day," it sounds like a juicy read. SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project) Chicago will also be making an appearance. Uncharted Books, 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave. Thursday, August 2 at 7pm.
Also known for her musical talents, Sabrina Chap with guests Kate Bornstein & Stephanie Howell will be presenting her anthology of essays, artwork, and stories in Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction. The subject matter of the anthology deals with violence against women. The various contributors to this anthology some of who include Margaret Cho, Patricia Smith, and Nan Goldin, show how they delt with the violence inflicted upon them by using art as a means to cope instead of self-destruction.
See Sabrina Chap present her latest creation on Thursday, Aug. 2 at 7:30pm at Women & Children First bookstore, 5233 N. Clark St.
The monthly reading series Reading Under the Influence is back and Camp themed on Wednesday, August 1. Talent in this month's line up will have you reminiscing about s'mores and ghost stories (the kinds that gave you nightmares). Featured readers include Geoff Hyatt, author of At the World's End, host of the Tamale Hut reading series, Jenny Seay, blogger and regular on the lit performance scene Samantha Irby, and Patrick Wensink who wrote Broken Piano for President. Wensink is being sued by Jack Daniels over the likeness of a logo used on his book cover, so someone, please, make sure to buy him a shot.
RUI's home is the back room of Sheffield's 3258 N. Sheffield Ave. beginning at 7pm, $3 cover.
The biggest used book sale of the year, the 28th Annual Newberry Book Fair, is this week, July 26-29. Browse over 120,000 books most of which are priced at $2 or less. The book fair is held at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton Thursday and Friday from noon to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Don't forget to bring a reusable bag to haul away all your purchases!
The brains of the operation, Lyra Hill, began the reading to help an out-of-town comic artist looking for a show. What came to follow was an experience. "From the beginning, I have maintained that there is no standard way to read a comic, and I invite the performers to interpret their work in the strangest ways possible," says Hill. "I want people to surprise me, and I want to understand good comics from the artists' perspectives." The show has kept the energy going now through its first year.
Here in the Second City, there is a flourishing storytelling community formed of writers, comedians, actors, and just people with a personal tale to tell. The New York Times covered this new art form recently, and just like New York (but better), Chicago's storytelling scene is booming with shows and readings most every night of the week throughout the city.
Shannon Cason is a veterans of this small scene, both as a storyteller and show producer. A Detroit native, father to two daughters, writer, stand-up comic, and past Chicago Moth GrandSLAM Champion, Cason is a well established voice. I first met Cason at the Windy City Story Slam Semi-Finals back in April at the Chicago Urban Arts Society. The ease and confidence with which he told his stories is magnetic. When I sat down with Cason, we talked about storytelling as bravery. Many storytellers get the best response when they tell personal, heart-wrenching, or embarrassing stories--the stuff that makes a listener simultaneously cringe and relate--and for the most part, these tales are shared with complete strangers. "Sometimes the best stories are the ones you don't want to share," Cason said. "A lot of people can relate to the stories because you had the bravery to be vulnerable."
Cason credits Chicago's story scene to the city's "low tolerance for B.S." and the desire for something real to hold on to. The support of the Chicago storytelling community, he said, and the lack of competition compared to that felt among his comedian cohorts, doesn't hurt either. "Storytellers are just people sharing experiences." He would like to see a diversified audience and performers, as the shows getting attention are almost exclusively on the Northside.
Cason got his start in storytelling when he attended Story Club, a long standing live literature show at Uncommon Ground produced by Dana Norris. He was hooked. He, along with fellow storytelling veteran, Scott Whitehair, founded and co-produce the show Do Not Submit. DNS is a storytelling open mic, but unlike many, it is an opportunity for storytellers to experiment with a piece or a rough draft and engage a small audience. It's also an opportunity for first-time storytellers who may not be ready for a massive audience, to get up and test the waters. Cason and Whitehair connected one night in a bar and just like that Do Not Submit was born. Both have a lot of stand-up comedy experience throughout Chicago and lamented the abundance of amateur open mic nights for comedy, while storytelling open mics were only for readers and writers who had fully fleshed out pieces for performance.
Do Not Submit is hosted upstairs at Trace at 3714 N. Clark St. in Wrigleyville at 8:00pm, with sign up at 7:30pm. The next shows are set for Monday, July 23 and Monday, August 20. Check out where you can find Cason's upcoming events here.
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.
Ray Bradbury's personal autobiographer, Sam Weller, will appear at the Wrigley Building on Thursday, July 19 at 4pm to present his new short story anthology assembled to pay tribute to Bradbury's legacy. Nice to know, especially in the wake of a literary giant's death, that the notables remaining are still cranking out new material for us to enjoy. Shadow Show, under a joint imprint, Gauntlet Press and Borderlands Press, wrangles together short stories by 26 authors including Margaret Atwood, who will be in attendance via Skype. She'll read an excerpt from her story included in the collection and also virtually sign copies via some new fangled Fanado technology. Sounds interesting!
The event is part of a salon series by Energy BBDO, a local ad agency, that focuses on iconic Chicagoans in the creative industries.
The event is free and open to the public. Check out the show at 401 N. Michigan Ave. at 4pm on Thursday July 19.
LSLR will be holding future summer readings August 14 and September 11. All readings are at the Comfort Station 2759 N. Milwaukee Ave. right near the square and the Logan Square blue line stop. Admission is free and back issues, including current issue 10 released spring 2012, will be available for purchase.
Nelson Algren's Chicago: City on the Make, tells 120 years of Chicago's history from the perpectives of those seldom given license to tell their stories. Ex-cons, hoboes, and blue collar workers dominate the 1951 text to show what the world looked like for most people. Local historical reenactment group, Pocket Guide to Hell, promises to deliver a Chicago past in a three part program that takes its name, Like A Secondhand Sea, from Algren's project. The afternoon will show how human interaction has reshaped the Chicago River and Lake Michigan over time. Find the group assembled at the park across from the River East Arts Center (435 E. Illinois St.) from 12-2pm.
The day begins in 1673 with explorers Marquette and Joliet as they trace the original coastline of Lake Michigan in voyageur canoes (on wheels). Next, experience Streeterville in its former glory as the "District of Lake Michigan," founded by Captain George Wellington Streeter in 1886. Read more about the Captain's attempt to claim the "District of Lake Michigan," where his sailboat was marooned, as a new territory of the United States in this New York Times article published in 1915. He even went to Washington D.C. seeking admission to Congress as the new land's first delegate. According to Pocket Guide founder, Paul Durica, Streeter stories are often shrouded in some bit of legend, but the article's claims are echoed by other sources.The third and final part of the day will transport you to the 1892 dedication of the reversal of the Chicago River.
The event is completely free, save for some crafts, including tintype photographs by Chris Olsen and paper silhouettes by Nina Nightingale, which can be purchased with "Streeterville Dollars" (get yours on site). There will be lots of opportunity for audience participation, too.
Uncharted Books opened in Logan Square at the beginning of the year, and has been nestling itself into the literary life of the neighborhood since then. There are plans in the works though, spearheaded by resident event planner, Robin Hustle, that may help to further engrain the shop into the scene.
As prose editor of The Land Line, and a writer in her own right, Hustle is a fine candidate to take on the event revamp. The store is collecting input from survey responses to formulate plans for ongoing events as well as special occasion affairs. Aside from events planned by the shop, the staff invites any event planner looking for space to use the shop for free. Hustle says they're prepared to do a reasonable amount of promotion for those events, too.
Email Hustle at email@example.com to plan your next event.
Tuesday, July 10 brings to us another rendition of This Much is True, a monthly story-telling series at Hopleaf in Andersonville (5148 N. Clark St.). The show commences at 7:30pm sharp and is free to the public. Arrive early to secure a seat and a craft beer of some sort. This one is always a fantastic bet, and they will reach capacity quickly. Doors open at 6:45pm.
This month's performers include Alison Cudy from WBEZ, Mare Swallow, founder of Chicago Writers' Conference, Mike Speller, and Eric Warner.
No matter how much a kid likes school, you'd be hard pressed to find one who isn't looking forward to summer with serious intensity. Once it arrives though, it can be a struggle for both kids and parents to make sure hours are filled with sitting-in-front-of-the-TV alternatives.
StoryStudio is holding a week-long creative writing intensive for kids in grades 6 through 1o beginning July 30, at its North Shore location. The camp will offer ample time for writing and workshopping, plus electives that rival that of some college curricula. Electives to choose from include a graphic novel class, memoir and personal essay writing workshops, poetry performance, and short story writing.
As is the case with adult classes at StoryStudio, these will be administered by working writers with plenty of wisdom to bestow upon students, young and old alike. Instructors include Cecilia Pinto who was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for poetry and won the Esquire short fiction contest; a Staff Writer for Sports Blog Nation, Fraser Coffeen; and teacher and playwright Gillian Hemme who taught a class reading, drama, and Speaking for Justice.
Lyra Hill of Brain Frame will perform her horror comic Go Down via live projection at the Burlington Bar in a mixed media show on Thursday, July 12. Videos of her performances--mixed media events in themselves as she brings reading material alive on screen--from CAKE and at Brain Frame are available online, but videos certainly don't stand in for the real thing. There's eerie music the accompany the creepy, sexy show and Hill's narration, too.
Reading Under the Influence will going on this Wednesday July 11, making up for the regularly scheduled session it missed due to the raucous celebration of last week's national holiday. This month's theme will be Prodigal Son, and rightly so as RUI co-founder Joe Tower returns from L.A. as a featured reader. Joining him will be Michael Czyzniejewski (Chicago Stories), Lauryn Allison Lewis (Solo Down), Chris DeGuire (Columbia College Fiction Writing professor) and Patrick Andrew (Grad student at Columbia College). Each will read twice, mixing it up between a piece of their own writing and a selection from a published work relating to the night's theme.
The show starts at 7pm In the back room of Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave. Admission is $3.
The 8th annual Printers' Ball takes place Friday, July 20, and invites guests to come in costume and enjoy the evening's TIME WARP! themed events. Entertainment will include an Ayn Rand game show, airbrush artist Andrew Hannigan, and Numero Group DJs Rob Sevier and Dustin Drase.
The Poetry Foundation, in partnership with hundreds of literary arts organizations, presents the Printers' Ball every year on Columbia College's south loop campus. It is free and open to the public but you can preregister and get a free poster!! The theme comes just in time for Poetry's centennial, and encourages guests to come in costumes that conjure a particular time period, be it past, present, or future.
There will be letterpress, bookbinding and papermaking demos, quizzes, readings, music and various special exhibits. Be one of the first through the doors and experience a commencement by 80's icon Max Headroom and, if you're one of the first 100, a free Silver Tongue tote bag that you can take to be airbrushed later in the evening.
The event is in the Ludington Building at 1104 S. Wabash Ave. from 6pm-11pm.
The Seminary Co-Operative Bookstore will feature Jac Jemc and Patrick Somerville in the next edition of its reading series, Doppelgangers. The series, set in Hyde Park, focuses on two books that have a similar theme. This Tuesday the theme, horrifying disappearances, is shared by Jac Jemc's My Only Wife and Patrick Somerville's This Bright River.
Show up this Tuesday, July 10@7pm at Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap, 1172 E. 55th St., Chicago. And remember, if you buy a book, they'll buy you a beer!
Pocket Guide to Hell is putting on a site specific spectacular in just a couple of weeks that will fuse reenactments of Marquette & Joliet's Expedition, Captain Streeter's District of Lake Michigan, and the Dedication of the Reversal of the Chicago River. Yes, this will all occur in one day. This local group does not mess around. Check out this preview of the event and expect more details soon...
The Beach Poets, a tradition since it was started in 1990 by Cathleen Schandelmeier, brings poets together on the beach every Sunday in July. This Sunday will feature the editor of SEEDS Literary Journal, Lakeesha Harris and writer Janean Watkins.
Soak up some rays and verses on Sunday, July 8 from noon to 2pm at Loyola Beach at Greenleaf Avenue & the lake. The Beach Poets tent will be south of the Heartland's Stand in the Sand and north of the restrooms.
Tomorrow night, The Hideout presents The Lowbrow Reader Variety hour, a book release party. The Lowbrow Reader is a yearly comedy journal featuring long articles and funny illustrations, now collected in book form in The Lowbrow Reader Reader (Drag City Books) and featuring the work of Lee Hazlewood, Patton Oswalt and Jonathan Richman, among others. The evening features musicians Ezra Furman, Daniel Knox and comedian Charlie Bury. The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., Thursday, July 5 at 9pm, $10.
Featured readers include: Greg Baldino, T.W. Townsend, and Nikki Dolson. With music by Kat Kidwell. Plus the magazine's editrices Liz Baulder and Laura Rynberg will read pieces from previous issues. Hosted by Johnny Misfit.
Stop by on July 3 at the Hungry Brain located at 2319 W. Belmont Ave. at 9pm. You have the next day off work, so come on out for a great night of local literary fare, and as the reading series name suggests, there will be cookies.
With such titles as "Scarface," "Some Like it Hot," Wuthering Heights," and "A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago," on his resume Ben Hecht is one big name. And he, like many other similarly prestigious men and women of the pen, spent much of his early career writing right here in Chicago. Ben Hecht's House Party, set to take place next week, on June 27 at 7pm, in the writer's former Hyde Park home at 5210 S. Kenwood Ave., is no doubt one of the more unique events you'll have an opportunity to attend in the foreseeable future. And perhaps the last opportunity of its kind as the house is about to return to private residence status.
We hope to see all of you at the release party for Patrick Somerville's new book, This Bright River, on Tuesday, June 26, at 7pm at the Book Cellar Bookstore. The book has been lauded by critics already, including Kirkus, and Oprah herself...okay, maybe not Oprah per se, but O Magazine had some lovely things to say about the book. And really, the book is a lovely, touching, and addictive collection of life's riddles -- the kinds many of us humans have percolating on some mental back burner everyday, making life at once heart wrenching and significantly more interesting.
For a bit more about the book, and for a sense of Somerville's voice, read this interview conducted with the author by Gina Frangello for The Rumpus.
Neutron Bomb features a reading series under a punk rock backdrop, as writers read punk themed writing while a band plays in the background. This show will feature writers Alice Bag, L.B., Natalie Edwards, and Cyn Vargas, with music by the Calendar Boys.
Rock it out this Saturday, June 23 at 7pm at Cal's, 400 S. Wells St. This show is 21+ and free admission.
Just in time for Pride weekened, St. Sukie de la Croix reads from Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago Before Stonewall at Women and Children First this Friday. Kathie Bergquist, editor of Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast, calls it "a groundbreaking book. Chicago Whispers connects LGBT life in Chicago to national historical events and firmly places the city in the social/historical spectrum of gay life in America before Stonewall." Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Friday, June 22 at 7:30pm.
Cool off with some spine-tingling horror this Thursday at the Gumbo Fiction Salon. Featured readers are Martin Mundt and Lawrence Santoro. Mundt is the author of Reanimated Americans and The Crawling Abattoir. Santoro has received multiple Bram Stoker award nominations and has a new short story collection out called Drink For The Thirst To Come. Galway Arms Irish Pub, 2442 N. Clark, Thursday, June 21. Doors open at 7pm and readings begin at 7:30pm. Discounted parking is available at the Children's Memorial Hospital, 2515 N. Clark St. Bring your parking stub to the bar, get a matching stub, feed both to the machine as you exit the lot to claim the discount.
The Open Books Store is quite the unique establishment, funding youth literacy programs through the sales of donated books. This weekend the store is ushering in droves of bargain hunting book buyers with the entire store's inventory on sale for half price. From 10am until 7pm on June 23 and 24, most books can be yours for just a couple of bucks.
Visit The Open Books Store, located at 213 W. Institute Pl.
This Thursday, June 21, join hometown girl Lauryn Allison Lewis as she celebrates the release of her first book, Solo/Down. The book a "apocalyptic hyper-modern fairytale" is being published by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. Following with the rest of the CCLaP Hypermodern editions, the book will be hand made with a hardback cover. Signed copies will be available. Stop by Cole's Bar, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave., at 7pm for a reading and drinks.
Registration is now open for the Chicago Writers Conference, to be held Sept. 14-16 at the Tribune Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave. A limited number of tickets are available at the early bird rate of $175; once those are gone, the price is $200 for three days of workshops, talks and panels on the topic of writing -- as well as special editions of two reading series, Tuesday Funk and Essay Fiesta.
The Chicago Writers Conference's aim is to help aspiring writers learn how to sell and promote their work. The keynote speaker at the conference will be Alexander Hemon, author and MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipient. More than a dozen other speakers include authors, publishers, agents and literary event producers. (Disclosure: I'm speaking at the conference, as is Gapers Block contributor Cinnamon Cooper.)
This weekend I periled the outrageously hot weather to walk the booths at the Chicago Tribune's annual Printers Row Lit Fest. The city's most recognizable literary celebration brought together all walks of the lit community including publishers, authors, and organizations. I walked off the Red Line, snagged a free sample of hummus, and was on my way to peruse what the fest had to offer. Right off the Harrison entrance, I heard a reading already in progress at the Mystery Writers of America tent. I made my way through the crowd, stopping at the Small Press Tent where local presses such as MAKE Magazine and Grow Books Press.
Alyson Beaton, the creative force behind Grow Books, had Grow's line of activity books for children on display, including a street graffiti art book and mini house kits. I walked around the tent, finally purchasing that issue of the Chicagoan (the new endeavor by JC Gabel of Stop Smiling) I'd been meaning to snag, before heading toward Grace Place to hear author Richard Russo and his daughter Kate Russo, discuss their collaborative work, Interventions.
Book Club is thrilled to present the release of Patrick Somerville's new book, This Bright River, at the Book Cellar Bookstore, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., at 7pm on June 26. The celebration will include a reading plus a moderated question and answer period with the author.
This Bright River takes place in Wisconsin, Somerville's home state, where his characters' lives intersect and become intertwined. In both The Cradle and The Universe, lives are woven together by the subtleties of insecurities in common as well as through running themes. Those connections are at once impressive from a technical point of view and believable as true to life despite slight stretches from realism.
Keep your eye out for opportunities to get your own copy of the book before the release!
So another Printers Row Lit Fest has come and gone. Needing to watch my pocketbook, I kept browsing to a minimum. I saw the Poetry Foundation tent, the McSweeney's tent, a fellow singing French tunes, a puppet show and things that didn't seem to have much to do with books (Stanley Steemer? An ABBA musical?). It was a sweltering weekend; I split a cookie with a friend and it was so melty the chocolate got everywhere and I felt like Frankenstein caught while attacking a sheep. Luckily the panels I penciled in to attend were indoors and air conditioned.
The first was the "Changes in Reading and Writing" panel presented by WBEZ in the Fountain Room at the University of Chicago.
The Chicago Literary Alliance in partnership with Chicago Publishes of the Department of Cultural Affairs is inviting all of you bookish Chicagoans to air your thoughts and concerns at a meeting on Wednesday, June 13 at Powell's Bookstore. From 6-7:30pm the future of publishing and literary programming in Chicago--quite the crucial question if you ask us at Book Club--will be on the table for discussion. The gathering is set to take place at the UIC neighborhood shop located at 1218 S. Halsted St. RSVP for the event at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Book Cellar's affinity for bringing great things together under the same roof to build a unique experience out of them extends beyond things (books, wine) to people (writers, readers). On Local Author Night, Chicago-based writers come to share their work and add to the mix of enjoyment. This month's guests include AGS Johnson, author of The Sausage Maker's Daugher. Wednesday, June 20 at 7pm at the Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave. Free; books for sale.
Tomorrow night Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo (Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs) presents Interventions, a collaboration with his artist daughter Kate Russo. Interventions is a set of four novellas in one volume, tales of obsession and intervention, each accompanied by an original painting by the younger Russo. Published not by Random House (his usual publisher) but by Down East Books, a small Maine publisher, the elder Russo tells USA Today it's "an experiment in local publishing." A celebration of the tactile experience of reading, no e-book will be released. Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Friday, June 8 at 7pm.
Poet and NAACP Image award winner Reginald Dwayne Betts will be reading from his memoir A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, as well as his book of poetry Shahid Reads His Own Palm. The Poetry Foundation will also be conducting a Q&A session with Betts and will be giving free copies of their June issue of Poetry magazine.
See Reginald Dwayne Betts on Friday, June 8 @ 6pm at Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St. This event is free.
I am Logan Square is debuting a new exhibit this Friday, June 8, with literary roots. The show, Inspired by the Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges, features the work of seven artists taking inspiration from the creatures depicted and described in the 1957 publication. The book is a compilation of 120 "strange creatures conceived down through history by the human imagination." The work, meant to be consumed piece meal rather than in one sitting, is ripe for the visual reinterpretation taken on by this group of local crafts people.
For those new to RUI, the format is split with an intermission. Each reader performs twice, first sharing their work then reading published work followed by trivia (a crowd favorite). Oh, and readers take shots before they read (hence the name). Nothing like this series exists in Chicago so check it out.
RUI is always in the back room of Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., 7pm, $3.
What's a better partner to cookies than cake? Two Cookie Minimum reading series will hold a fund raiser on Tuesday, June 5, for the first ever Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, dedicated to independent comic artists and publications. The reading features a cast of visual artists including; Corinne Mucha, Sara Drake, Ezra Claytan Daniels, Leslie Perrine and Marian Runk with host, Johnny Misfit.
Expect cookies, as per usual (and hopefully cake). The reading is on the first Tuesday of each month at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont Ave., 9pm. All donations accepted will go to support CAKE.
In a the spirit of giving, a fundraiser will be held this Thursday, May 31, for John Fullmer, an editor of Knee Jerk magazine and employee at the Book Cellar, and his expecting wife. The couple lost everything in a recent house fire, and their friends are coming together to show support and offer a great line up of entertainment.
There will be a reading featuring the talents of Lindsay Hunter, Jonathon Messinger, Amy Sumpter, Chris Terry, Adam Levin, Keith Ecker, and Robbie Q. Telfer. The event will be at The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., at 7pm. Show support and hear from some of Chicago's best in the literary scene.
This Thursday, Evanston resident John Huston will show a multimedia presentation from his book (cowritten with Tyler Fish) Forward: The First American Unsupported Expedition to the North Pole. The book tells the story of Huston and Fish's 2009 travels to the North Pole without resupply. Will Steger, author and National Geographic Explorer of the Century, says "Forward is the fascinating inside story of a knock-down, drag-out expedition to the top of the world, a journey that separates the dreamers from the doers. This is a real story of real adventure!" Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave., Evanston, Thursday May 31 at 7pm.
Read/Write Library Chicago will host a conversation about independent art spaces, this Wednesday May 29, welcoming artists Rebecca Conroy and Tessa Zettel. Both artists, hailing from Sydney, Australia's Bill+George art space, are on a US tour conducting research on DIY art culture. They will share their findings, supplemented by a presentation of their own works at the library. The discussion aims to rally local artists and creatives to share personal stories, and will feature local speakers from Read/Write as well as a presentation from the Peanut Gallery, a neighboring art space.
Join the conversation at 8pm at The Read/Write Library, located at 914 N. California Ave.
Get ready for music and bawdy storytelling this Friday as the Hideout presents Story Night Chapter Two: Sex Legends of Rock. Starring British punk legend turned ChicagoanJon Langford and Martin Billheimer, they'll be joined by James Elkington & Sally Timms, Brian Keigher and "bizarre visitations from the crew of the SS Panto." The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., Friday, May 25 at 6pm, $10. Order tickets here.
This Thursday, May 24, local journalist and author John Conroy will be a featured guest on the Chicago Tribune's weekly radio show Chicago Live! . Conroy is known for his articles on the CPD torture scandal (which are housed in the Chicago Reader archives). Musical guest Kelly Hogan will be joining him on the broadcast along with a comedy performance from Second City.
Be part of the live audience recording, 7pm at UP Comedy Club at Piper's Alley, 230 W. North Ave. Chicago Live! airs on WGN Radio Saturday nights at 11pm.
The Printers Row Lit Fest is upon us, scheduled to take place on June 9 and 10. There's a plethora of programming open for the RSVPing now, right now. It's actually kind of dizzying.
As always there will be hundreds of tents, occupied by publishers, big and small alike, plus literary organizations. Buy books, hear wisdom, enjoy being outside. My eyes started to hurt before I reached the end of the list, but here are some programming highlights, in my humble opinion:
The posters make their debut at a reception Friday night, May 18, from 6pm to 10pm at The Coop coworking space, 230 W. Superior St., 2nd floor. Refreshments will be served, and sets of the posters will be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting Open Books.
Writer Molly Backes will be celebrating the release of her young adult novel The Princesses of Iowa this Friday, May 18, at 7pm at StoryStudio's Chicago location. In addition to her work as a writer and as a teacher at the North side school, Backes works as its assistant director. The event billed as both celebration and networking opportunity, is open to the public and free of charge.
Backes is gearing up for the approaching chaos of her book tour, but managed to set aside time for us to discuss the task of writing a young adult novel. She spoke to the particular challenge of depicting the in between place that we all occupy at one time or another in which we figure out that adults aren't always right and begin to discover who we want to become.
"It's about my protagonist going from being a young woman shaped by society's idea of perfection and, by the end, she's leaning to listen to her own voice," Backes said. "That's the crux of the teenage experience."
Unlike some writers whose work is reformulated and marketed towards a young adult audience, Backes, a former middle school teacher, set out to appeal to the junior high crowd. While teaching 7th and 8th grade English in rural New Mexico, Backes became uniquely attuned to the complicated dynamics that define teenage life.
"I wanted to write something challenging, literary, and realistic," Backes said. "As a teacher I saw all these girls who woke up at 5am to curl their hair to look perfect. I got really interested in the idea of how we forget that there's something under the surface. No one is perceiving anyone else correctly; that's how high school feels."
When the story begins we find Paige, presumably living a life that's as close to perfection as one in his or her formative years could possibly imagine. A "could have been so much worse" car accident following a night of partying ends all of this, however, and leaves her shunned from the social scene she'd been so successful at navigating. Left without options, Paige locates comfort and a newfound interest in figuring herself out apart from the social hierarchy in her creative writing class.
"As I was trying to publish it everyone was saying, 'why do I care about a spoiled princess?'" Backes said. "But that's the point. It's interesting that people can't get passed their prejudices. So much of how we behave towards people is based on who we think they are, and when they don't live up, we're uncomfortable with that to varying degrees."
The book, published by Candlewick Press, is set in Iowa, the site of Backes's student teaching career, as well as her college state. She wrote it while isolated in New Mexico, still adjusting to the move.
"I felt homesick," Backes said. "I grew up in the Midwest and part of me always wants to write about the place I love. Having gone to college in Iowa, it's where I feel like I really came of age and figured out who I was. In retrospect, it's very appropriate that I wrote a coming of age story set there."
StoryStudio is located at 4043 N. Ravenswood Ave., #222.
This month's edition of the Gumbo Fiction Salon, which books a lineup of readers in any fiction genre and concludes with an open mic, is set to take place Thursday, May 17. Designed as a fundraiser for the John Schultz and Betty Shiflett Story Workshop Scholarship fund at Columbia College, all readers are Columbia College Fiction Writing faculty, alums, or students including Jeff Jacobson, Patricia Rosemoor, Geoff Hyatt, Jenine Arteaga, Ellis Wylie, John Dowds, and Michelle Cachey. There will be an auction featuring books by some of the night's readers, as well as gift certificates to local restaurants and more.
There is a $4 cover, $2 for students, with two-for-one admission this month. The event is upstairs at the Galway Arms Irish Pub, 2442 N. Clark St., beginning at 7pm.
Young Chicago Authors has also teamed up with WBEZ for a series of discussions exploring the Chicago aesthetic and how teachers can integrate YCA teaching methods of hip-hop poetic/prose workshops in their classrooms. There will be a series of three talks. The first is this Wednesday, May 16 at the WBEZ West Side Community Bureau, 2531 W. Division St. at 6pm. Free, but reservations are recommended (click here to reserve). The other two talks will be held on May 23 at the WBEZ South Side Bureau and May 30 at the WBEZ North Side Bureau.
This Thursday, Young Chicago Authors presents the Yolanda Showcase. A fan art show of sorts, the show features original work inspired by the character Yolanda from the gospel musical Crowns. Yolanda is a young woman from Englewood who is sent to live with (and learn from) her Grandmother in South Carolina after her brother is shot down on the street. The poets have created a series of pieces that explore Yolanda's story through their own eyes. Performers include finalists from the Louder Than A Bomb competition. The free showcase will take place at Young Chicago Authors, 1180 N. Milwaukee Ave., May 17 from 6-8pm. Check out the Facebook page for more information.
Studs Terkel — author, historian, radio host and listener extraordinaire — may be gone, but his legacy of the importance of listening and the power of the human voice has inspired one heck of a party.
On Wednesday, May 16, the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Newberry Library (60 W. Walton St.) will host a birthday party to celebrate him, "one of the most prolific writers and cultural critics in the history of Chicago letters."
"It is rare that a person is widely seen as the greatest raconteur in a big city and as its best listener," said Roediger, a professor at the University of Illinois. "Studs was remarkably both and his legacy leaves us pondering how the two are connected."
Inspired by his "spirit of aurality, storytelling, and memory," Heather Radke of the Hull House has established a "Studs Memory Hotline" of sorts, to continue the tradition of oral histories by creating a repository of how Studs has inspired others.
"I thought that both the medium and the content of recorded stories would be a nice tribute to Studs," Radke said. "He was a huge proponent of the power of the human voice. As a radio producer myself, I know how transporting it can be to hear someone telling their story rather than just reading it. With the help of some of my brilliant co-workers at the Hull-House Museum, I decided that it was also important to be able to participate in the project even if you have no particular affiliation or knowledge of Studs, which is why there are two questions: What does Studs mean to you? and When has listening closely changed the way you thought about the world?"
Some of these Studs-related stories, all of which will be archived by the Newberry, are available for your perusal online, and anyone can participate by calling 559-546-1661.
"For me," continued Radke, "Studs is the rare historical figure that is celebrated for his ability to midwife the voices of others, and whose work is as much about listening as it is about talking. I'm glad that others are excited about his legacy of dedication to the People's History, and I am excited to hear all of the jokes, anecdotes, memories, and thoughts on the phone line and at the event."
Bucky Halker and Jon Langford will provide music, and a special 'zine pairing anecdotes from Garry Wills, Sydney Lewis, and others with illustrations from Chicago artists will be distributed.
"Studs was a living link to the Chicago/America I never knew," said Langford. "His comments on WBEZ after 9/11 impressed me greatly, elevating him to level of all seeing oracle. Thanks to miracle of recorded sound people can go on listening to the man forever."
Wednesday, May 16
Newberry Library (60 W. Walton St.)
5:30pm reception; 6pm program
This program is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.
This weekend Quimby's, the legendary North Side comic/books/zine shop, will be opening a pop up shop in Bridgeport. They'll be one of many pop ups participating in Version Fest 12, a month-long event billed as "what happens when you invite cultural workers, community developers, urban entrepreneurs, artists, designers, foodies, public space hackers, urban planners, cultural geographers, and dreamers to swarm a neighborhood and transform it for one month." Quimby's Bridgeport can be found at 755 W. 32nd St., May 11 and 12 from 11am-6pm.
This Thursday, Bucket o' Blood Books and Records welcomes Isaac Adamson. He'll be reading from his latest thriller, Complication. A tale of serial killers, thieves, family secrets and Eastern European intrigue, Publisher's Weekly says "Adamson's atmospheric and satisfyingly twisted tale...could easily have collapsed under the weight of its own complexity, but [he] pulls it off with style and a whopper of a twist." (Fun fact: Adamson's first novel, Tokyo Suckerpunch, is being made into a film starring Tobey Maguire). Bucket o' Blood Books and Records, 2307 N. Milwaukee Ave., Thursday, May 10 at 7pm.
Although theater is not necessarily of the literary persuasion, I think the Chicago Humanities Festival's presentation of The Postman, as part of the spring theater festival Sights & Sounds, is well worth noting here. Unlike most plays--and books for that matter--this one, for young children ages for four and up, has zero dialogue. The hour-long show comes across more like a child's imagining of a picture book than a play.
A production by the Velo Theatre Company, founded in 1981 in Angers, France by Charlot Lemoine and Tania Castaing, this like all of the company's work prominently features a bicycle. In fact, the bike in question is actually the backbone of the set, which develops in a sort of diorama fashion, taking shape and unfolding from within the postman's boxes as they're opened. Velo was built on the notion that an actor's connection to physical objects on stage can be as much a form of expression as words. This particular show surely does the mission service.
The scenes themselves are tiny, built with the keen eyesight of a young person in mind, and easily come to life at the hands of the Postman turned puppeteer, played by Charlot Lemoine who has been performing the show around the world for the past 30 years. Lemoine's excitement is simultaneously palpable and muted to allow for focus on the intricate scenery and palm sized action.
There are only two more showings of this particular production left to run. If you are lucky enough to catch one, expect, mermaids, dragons, a surprisingly effective rendering of the ocean, and a sweeping mountaintop. The show features moments of slight tension, namely when the lights go off save for a dragon's illuminated eyeballs, as well as a fairy tale quality, especially during an underwater scene.
I never once felt remotely bored during the show despite my separation from its target demographic. One of only two or three adults without a kid on her lap, I felt myself transported back to the first floor steps of my childhood home where I often looked through books with my mother, making up the story based on the illustrations.
Visit the Chicago Humanities Festival website for a complete listing of the springtime lineup and to purchase tickets.
On Wednesday, May 9, local author Jac Jemc will read from her first novel My Only Wife. The book was released in early April on Dzanc books. Join her to hear from what writer Blake Butler (Scorch Atlas) calls, "a novel concerned with timeless dedication, love, and respect." Stick around after the reading to snag a copy (and get her to sign it). The reading is set for 7:30pm at Women & Children First, 5233 N Clark St.
Bang Bang Pie Shop is sort of the most exciting thing that's happened to me since moving to Logan Square. The shop started as a food truck, but co-partners Megan and David Miller and Michael Ciapciak parked for good, opening the storefront at 2051 N. California Ave. in early April. The baked goods were thrilling enough, but then I discovered the place has its own reading series, Bang Bang Fiction & Poetry, which focuses on local readers and invites the well established and the burgeoning alike.
On a daily basis Bang Bang serves up delicious coffee, blended specially for the shop by one of its owners, David Miller, biscuits that achieve moistness unlike any other I've ever eaten, and pie that brought my anti-chocolate boyfriend back for seconds, hunched over the tin in our dining room with the lights off.
I am not, however, here to talk about food, tempting as it might be. The reading series is carried over from Ipsento Café, which David Miller co-owned before moving on to pie. Organizer Ryan Lang worked at Ipsento with Miller when Bang Bang was just an idea.
"I've tried to raise the bar here because at Ipsento, I could only do so much with the space--we had the coffee grinders going, and though we were in a separate room you could still here them," Lang said.
This month's edition, scheduled for May 10, will feature readers A.D. Jameson, who is pursuing a doctorate in creative writing from UIC. Jameson is the author of two books, has taught classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lake Forest College and StoryStudio Chicago, among others and is the nonfiction and reviews editor of the online journal Requited. He also writes for HTMLGIANT.
Robin Hustle is prose editor of The Land Line, a literary endeavor she embarked on with close friend Edie Fake who has since split due to his packed schedule. The Land Line is still hard at work, though, producing a cross section of content that marries comics and long form essay in a way that's all its own. Hustle also maintains her own blog, which offers a mixed media of long form essay, artwork, and sometimes video.
"We're trying to break down the line between these different disciplines, especially in terms of bringing interesting nonlinear comics together with long form essays," Hustle said. "We're balancing out the seriousness of some of the writing with the weirdness of the comics."
As a very much inexperienced party when it comes to the world of Chicago's comics, Hustle was the perfect source for me as she's attune to the literary and the comic art community alike. With Free Comic Book Day around the bend on Saturday, I decided to ask what she could tell me about Chicago's comic landscape, particularly what women are doing in the scene, in time for the day of freebies.
"I do think that there's a pretty amazing queer feminist angle to the comics being made here that's not really present in a lot of places," Hustle said. "Edie and I were just talking about this the other night; we both love and support the making of queer comics, but a lot of the stuff isn't really pushing the aesthetic boundaries of what can happen within a comic."
Chicago, however, is home to a collection of innovators, many of whom are female, producing work that functions in a cross discipline format, like The Land Line. Chicago's lit performance scene is unmatched, even on a national level according to organizers, but there's a less widely known comic performance culture changing the way readers access the art form.
"Lyra Hill puts together a comic reading series called Brain Frame and it's totally one of the most exciting things going on in comics," Hustle said. "Sara Drake is another woman making really gorgeous, incredible comics. For the last Brain Frame she did a live overhead projection using transparency. It was unbelievably intricate. Every single little movement was perfectly timed."
Drake's work took her to Cambodia where she taught classes to some of the first Cambodian women to attend college alongside writer and fellow SAIC graduate Anne Elizabeth Moore. It's a bit of an aside, but it's an inspiring story that speaks to the wide reach Chicago comics have.
Brain Frame is giving comics an alternative ground to stand on in Chicago--a stage. And with the city's background in improvisational theater, perhaps this doesn't come as a surprise. Hustle also discussed comics as playing a major role in the visual art world.
"Ruby Thorkelson, who makes really incredible comics of her own, is also a curator at Woman Made Gallery, and last spring she put together a show there called Underground that was all women and queer artists," Hustle said. "It was an incredible blurring of the comics world and the fine arts world. The exhibit also had a reading library put together with the help of Spudnick Press, which is a woman run collective print studio."
The "Morbid Curiosity" exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center runs through July 8 and features 14,000 square feet of artwork exploring the universality of death in different cultures. Check it out tomorrow night to hear the history of Chicago's Bangs sisters, 19th Century seance hostesses extraordinaire. The evening will include a live seance and readings from the winners of the Chicago Publishes Morbid Curiosity Poetry Contest. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Thursday, May 3 at 7pm.
Holy Freebie Batman*, it's Free Comic Book Day! The world of comics' annual holiday is Saturday May 5. There are specific titles available for free, printed solely for the purposes of slinging free goods. "Who couldn't use a free comic book?" says W. Dal Bush co-owner of Challengers Comics + Conversation in Bucktown. The print medium is supported by independent stores like Challengers, striving to bring new and old fans something to enjoy.
There is a wide variety of free titles for any age this year, with content ranging from aliens, dinosaurs, and zombies to Sonic the Hedgehog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars and even Peanuts.
"FCBD remains an event that is just awesome for families with small kids as well as long time fans, without being filled with speculators," Terry Grant, owner of Third Coast Comics in Edgewater says.
Large publishers like mainstays DC and Marvel use the event to show fans what's in store for their titles in the year to come. Introductions to new stories such as Marvel's Avengers, or DC's new 52 are showcased to excite readers to follow titles throughout the year.
"Each year we order more comics to give away, and each year we're left with fewer books by the end of the day," says Bush.
The allure of free comics is only part of what the day offers. Most stores hold events such as artist and writer signings, art demonstrations, and interactive events.
"Every year, we make sure that we have an artist from one of that year's free comics at Challengers, signing and sketching for fans," Bush says. His store will feature artists Chris Mitten and Mike Norton, and writer Tim Seeley.
There is a sense of community in Chicago's comic world, evident in the support avid readers give their favorite neighborhood shops. This is supplemented by the audience of casual fans, families and inquiring minds that show up for the day's offerings. An event like this, which attracts the attention of so many, promotes comic books, sure, but stores are winning too, solidifying a neighborhood presence and attracting new business.
"I think FCBD does a great job bringing new faces to shops and new readers to comics by virtue of the fact that I'm still having new people coming up to me from last year's FCBD and mentioning a book, artist, writer or publisher that I suggested for them," says Grant.
Free Comic Book Day runs during store hours, but some shops book later events, too.
Challengers' adjoining art space, the Rouges Gallery, will curate an art print exhibit with thirteen different local artists. Third Coast is having Comic Book Karaoke as its after event.
FCBD is a great way for families, children, comic book enthusiasts, and newcomers to check out their neighborhood comic store. Go the Free Comic Book Day website to find a location nearest you.
Challengers Comics + Conversation is located at 1845 N. Western Ave.
Find Third Coast comics at 6234 N. Broadway Ave.
*Yes there will be a free comic book this year based on Burt Ward, the actor who played Robin in the 1960's Batman TV show.
Wednesday, May 2 marks the seventh anniversary of the reading series Reading Under the Influence. The monthly series has a unique format, showcasing featured writers who read their work, plus published work, followed by trivia. Series co-founder Julia Borcherts reflects on RUI's place as one of Chicago's notable monthly literary events.
"Chicago's literary scene has just exploded over the last seven years -- in any given week, there's more than a dozen fantastic reading and storytelling events going on all over the city," Borcherts says. "It's a really collaborative rather than competitive community, and there's nothing like this scene anywhere else in the country. We're so proud to have played a part in changing people's perceptions of what a 'reading' could be -- making literature and stories come alive in a way that's approachable and just plain fun."
Over the years, the series has made certain to make room for work that runs the gamut of Chicago's literary scene from established writers to self publishers.
"We always wanted for RUI to feel like a place where everyone in the literary community would feel like they belong, whether they're established authors or talented emerging writers or book, journal or zine publishers or literary enthusiasts," Borcherts says. "We love it because we have such an interactive format that it's easy for people to make new friends and learn about other great opportunities around the city just by meeting the others who come to RUI."
To celebrate its anniversary, RUI will feature readings by co-founders Rob Duffer and
Julia Borcherts, longtime co-hosts Amy Guth and Jesse Jordan and RUI co-founder emeritus, Carly Huegelmann.
RUI is the first Wednesday of each month in the back room of Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave. The show starts at 7pm, and admission is $3.
This Friday, comic artist Alison Bechdel (Dykes To Watch Out For) presents her new graphic memoir Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama. Jonathan Safran Foer calls it "a work of the most humane kind of genius, bravely going right to the heart of things: Why we are who we are. It's also incredibly funny. And visually stunning. And page-turningly addictive. And heartbreaking." Gloria Steinem says "many of us are living out the unlived lives of our mothers. Alison Bechdel has written a graphic novel about this; sort of like a comic book by Virginia Woolf. You won't believe it until you read it - and you must!" University of Chicago, Rosenwald Hall, 5801 S. Ellis St., Friday, April 27 at 5pm.
Revolving Door has been welcoming poets, writers and passersby to enjoy their ongoing readings, showcases, workshops and other events for the past year and half. Centered around a core mission statement, Revolving Door strives to build culturally-infused communities throughout the city by showcasing unique talent and building bridges between artists and those who seek inspiration from the written word.
The reading series takes place on the fourth Thursday of each month and features a dynamic array of local poets and writers. April's edition will feature CM Burroughs, who has been awarded fellowships and grants from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, among others, and has worked with Studio Museum of Harlem and the Warhol Museum to respond to art installations with her poetry. The reading will also feature Chicagoan Cristina Correa whose work has appeared in the likes of Ariel, Latina Voices, Say What Magazine, and Ghost Factory Magazine. Plus, she published a chap book this year. Stick around to enjoy music by FathomDJ, a monthly staple at Revolving Door.
You can swing by any fourth Thursday to enjoy a poem, or two, or recommend that your friend with the latent poetic streak take to the mic!! There's also a great opportunity to join a summer workshop to hone your skills of expression and expand your social and creative networks. In their own words, Revolving Door says they are "...enticed by each encounter." Bring your curious spirit and add to the intrigue at Ultra Lounge, 1270 N. Milwaukee Ave. on Thursday, April from 7:30-10pm.
This Saturday at Cole's is the release of Curbside Splendor's latest book, Chicago Stories: 40 Dramatic Fictions by Michael Czyzniejewski. The book tells Chicago stories through the personae of its famous citizens. Author Alan Heathcock says "an absurdist Chi-town Spoon River Anthology on crack, Chicago Stories is an explosion of imagination, a relentless churn of intellect and wit. In true Chicago style, this book tells it straight to your face and pulls no punches." Actors will be reading in the voice of Gary Dotson, Ann Landers, Jane Addams, Hugh Hefner and Rod Blagojevich, among others. Cole's, 2338 N. Milwaukee, April 21at 7-10pm.
Whatever your passion, be it comics, collecting, music, movies or games, there's something here for everyone. Special guests include John Cusack, Sean Astin, Anne Rice and even Svengoolie (to add a bit of local flair). Each day has a variety of programming including guest panels, autograph sessions and a show floor packed with artists, shops and more.
Tickets are available online or at the door. The event is open to the public on Friday at 1pm and Saturday and Sunday at 10am. C2E2 is held in the North Building at McCormick Place, located at 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Translator and Harvard University Professor Anna Deeny will be reading from her translation of Raúl Zurita's book of poetry, Dreams for Kurosawa (Sueños Para Kurosawa). Anna Deeny previously translated Zurita's work Purgatory. She will be joined by Daniel Borzutzky who wrote The Book of Interfering Bodies.
Join Anna Deeny & Daniel Borzutzky as they read from Raúl Zurita's Dreams for Kurosawa at Read/Write Library, 914 N. California Ave, Saturday, Apr 14 @ 8pm.
The San Francisco based queer poetry and performance troupe Sister Spit will be shakin' things up in Chicago this Saturday. The troupe was founded in 1994 by author Michelle Tea and was such a rousing success that in 2003, Tea founded the SF-based literary nonprofit Radar Productions to help produce the show as well as other literary concerns. The featured reader of the night is novelist and Columbia College advisory board member Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina). Other performers include Ms. Tea herself, writer/musician/dancer Brontez Purnell of Gravy Train!!!, writer/performer Erin Markey, singer/comic book artist Cassie J. Sneider, and transgendered, nationally ranking slam poet Kit Yan. The show is part of the Chicago International Movie and Music Festival. The show is at the Wicker Park Art Center, 2215 W. North Ave., Saturday, April 14, at 8 pm, followed by an afterparty at Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave., beginning at 10:30 pm. Admission to the performance is $12 and the afterparty offers a sliding-scale admission of $5-$10. Tickets can be purchased here.
This week brings two readings of the punk rock variety.
On Thursday, April 12, Columbia College Chicago's Silvertongue reading series presents Sam McPheeters, LA based writer and punk musician from such bands as Born Against and Men's Recovery Project. He'll be reading from his novel The Loom of Ruin; you can read the first three chapters on Vice. Student readers will open the show, which will conclude with an author Q&A. Catch the show at 2:30pm at 618 S. Michigan Ave. on the fourth floor.
Then 7pm on Saturday, April 14, stop on by the punk-themed reading series Neutron Bomb for a mix of storytelling and music. This month features Kim Morris, Rebecca Lyon, Jill Westerfelhaus and Wyatt Roediger-Robinette. The night will wrap up with a musical set from Little Dave Merriman (of the Arrivals). The series is at Cal's bar, 400 S. Wells St.
Yesterday's Mini Tools of Change affair at the Cultural Center was absolutely too informationally massive to give you a properly comprehensive account of the day. I will, however, attempt to provide the general gist of the all day whirlwind of publishing tech lectures, Powerpoints--one of which included a photo of a pizza with hotdog-filled crust--and eye opening dialogue.
O'Reilly Media's Tools of Change Conference, the non-mini one that is, takes place annually in New York, heading out on the road in miniature to bring the new fangled stuff of publishing to the discussion around the country. Yesterday's conference, put on in partnership with Chicago Publishes, hosted 250 publishing pros, writers, editors, newspaper folk, and more. Speakers included Chicago literary regulars like JC Gable behind The Chicagoan magazine, Doug Seibold of Agate Publishing, Dominique Raccah of Sourebooks, Nick Disabato of brand spanking new Distance, and Founder of the Read/Write Library Nell Taylor, among many others.
Clay Johnson, author of The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption, spoke on the topic of his book, which served to infuse the day's many discussions with a particular urgency. The diet refers to weaning ourselves off of what Johnson suggests is our country's dependence on media outlets that present diluted coverage on the national level that operates on assumption and inference rather than the facts of actual events. Instead, he says, we should focus our attention at the local level and work to effect politics at home.
"We industrialize agriculture and they produce what we want the most and it makes us fat," Johnson said. "We've also industrialized media, and these companies have a responsibility to create cheap popular media. These are the people who tell us what we want to hear not what we need to hear. If you're working under these guidelines the only chance you have of getting paid is to sensationalize and write as quickly as you can."
Johnson provided national scope for the importance of the work attendees and many of the other speakers do on a regular basis--producing much of the written matter of our generation, providing the narratives that we live by. Other speakers offered insights based on their experiences in the field.
Dominique Raccah took a technical, though unimaginably engaging, angle in her lecture about better publishing tactics. She cited The Lean Startup by Eric Reis as providing some of her inspiration to treat every book like its own startup venture.
"We started by thinking how to develop reader centric models developed around key verticals, which means based on your readers needs," Raccah said.
On this note, Raccah discussed several methods through which Sourcebooks is improving, including getting to know the target community of readers and developing books they want, plus creating a better (i.e. less frustrating) experience for authors. More than one speaker focused on generating online based discussion between authors and readers by posting pieces of books online before they are published to get a sense of reader response before too much time and money is invested in a project.
Though this account of the day is arguably bare bones, I hope it serves to provide some sense of the wonderful work being done in Chicago to fine tune the craft of publishing.
"Chicago gets this second city syndrome tying to compare itself to New York and it's really moot," JC Gabel said. "We deserve substance and style and there's never been a more interesting time since I've been alive, and I grew up here, than now. How can we make this different?"
The Chicago Humanities Festival tends to attract the most passionate among us, those who cling to a chosen humanities field with vigor and the enthusiasm of a kid in front of an ice cream sundae. I am lucky that I'm not starved for the company of "book bums," the term Princeton Professor Anthony Grafton used to describe himself and the subjects of his studies at his lecture, "The Book: Past, Present, and Future." (You can listen to the full audio recording here.)
"As a book bum I often find myself wondering what my current students will look back to as they sit in our beautiful smooth libraries seamlessly downloading PDFs from websites all over the world," Grafton said. "Texts with no ink, with no smell, with no signs of use."
Grafton is a book historian, studying scholarly tendencies of generations of book bums before him, usually via the marginalia of 16th century texts. His knowledge is so exacting, so intimate, that he was even able to casually refer to one subject's bathroom habits. And in addition to delving deeply into the worlds of past readers, Grafton is busy considering what legacy the next generation--one that studies in digital libraries and seldom sets foot amongst the stacks--will leave for future scholars like himself who revel in the physicality of libraries.
"I came to know books not as texts, as we say in university, but as materials objects printed on creamy paper with type that left an actual impression, bound in solid leather or vellum and then marvelously scarred like human beings by all the bumps and rattlings inflicted by life," Grafton said. "The stigmata that meant they'd meant something to someone in the past, books that bore marginalia that wound up the sides of pages of renaissance books draped up like ivy, magnificent and old facades. Even the books that had been damaged by little animals, even they gave the sense of their rich materiality."
See, that's passion.
The Festival's springtime programming will conclude with a presentation by Etgar Keret and Nathan Englander on Thursday, April 26. On May 2, their annual international theater and performance festival Stages, Sights, and Sounds kicks off with family appropriate programming that will appeal to anyone with an interest in avant-garde and experimental performance. Looking forward some more, the Festival just announced its plans for fall program, which is America. Events and lectures will engage the topics surrounding America as a literary and cultural theme from local and global points of view. Full listing will be available in August.
Have you always wanted to join a book club but haven't been able to find one that seems like a good fit? Check out Open Books' Open Book Club, where you'll meet a dynamic group of Open Books staff and other members of Chicago's amazing literary community who come to share their love of reading, enjoy thoughtful conversation and bring a little freshness to the traditional book club model.
There is no monthly commitment; it's all about great books, lively discussion and meeting new people. The book club meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6pm at 213 W. Institute Pl. and is always free. Once you go, you know! The book for April 10 is Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman.
And while you're in the area you can check out the awesome Open Books bookstore for a copy of next month's read or that title you've had on your list but haven't gotten around to. All books are really affordable and all proceeds go to the year-round literacy programs that Open Books offers to Chicago elementary and high school students.
The Poetry Foundation presents Poesía en Abril: Miguel Barnet and Ana Rossetti as part of their Poetry off the Shelf series. Barnet, known for his novel Biography of a Runaway Slave, was born in Cuba and began publishing poetry in the 1960s. He is also known for his work as an ethnographer. Barnet will be joined by Ana Rossetti, a Spanish poet who began her career in the 1980s, and whose work is noted for containing an erotic flair.
Come hear Miguel Barnet and Ana Rossetti read at the Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St., Saturday, Apr 7 @ 7pm. There will be a bi-lingual reading of the poets' work. Tickets for advanced reservations are sold out, but stand by tickets will be available on a first come, first serve basis on the day of the event.
Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer will be in town this Saturday in honor of the 51st anniversary of The Phantom Tollboth. He will also be signing copies of his memoir, Backing Into Forward. A National Jewish Book Award finalist, Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times says "[Backing Into Forward] succeeds in sounding like the best of Mr. Feiffer's cartoons: funny, acerbic, subversive, fiercely attuned to the absurdities in his own life and in the country at large." Jean Albano Gallery, 215 W. Superior St., April 7 at noon to 3pm.
Two literary series team up for two nights of readers, zines and cookies. Two Cookie Minimum and P Fanatics first mash up is scheduled for Tuesday, April 3. The lineup includes Dan Shapiro, Maggie Ritchie, Laura Szumowski, Dave Snyder, Kieth Rosson (Avow zine from Milwaukee), Jill Summers, and Adam Drent.
Join hosts Mason Johnson and Johnny Misfit. The event will take place at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont Ave. at 9pm.
On Wednesday April 4, Reading Under the Influence celebrates the book release of one of it's co-founding members, Jesse Jordan. In keeping with its regular format, this month's theme is the name of Jordan's debut novel, Gospel Hollow. Along with Jordan, readers include Jamison Spencer, Joan Friedrich and RUI's most-requested-reader ever, Darwyn Jones.
RUI is always in the back room of Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., 7pm, $3.
April always brings spring...and National Poetry Month. Today is the first day for you to get involved, go out and celebrate, or just curl up with a chapbook--all in the name of poetry. Poets.org has a ton of ideas and activities--not to mention a national event calendar--to keep you busy with poetry all month long.
Chicago's own Poetry Foundation also has a host of happenings all over the U.S. and right here at home, such as readings, performances of music and poetry, and a Children's Poetry Day. Check it all out here.
Wendy McClure's The Wilder Life is taking on new forms, of the paperback and e-book varieties. She's set to appear at Women & Children First at 7:30pm on April 4 to give a reading in honor of the paperback release.
The book is a tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder of "Little House on the Prairie." In it, McClure writes about striving to glimpse prairie living in the midst of her utterly modern existence. She describes her experiences--churning butter, traversing South Dakota by foot in inclement weather--in search of Laura's, to get a sense of childhood, and particularly girlhood, in Laura's America.
McClure was born in Oak Park and lives in Chicago proper these days. Her writing is nothing if not prolific; her words have appeared in the likes of The New York Times Magazine, The Chicago Sun-Times, and a number of anthologies, including Love Is A Four-Letter Word (Plume), Feed Me (Ballantine) and Sleepaway: Writings on Summer Camp (Riverhead). She's been heard on radio shows, too, including Writers Block Party on WBEZ, and has spoken at literary events at The Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Festival and StoryStudio Chicago. She has an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writer's Workshop.
See her wednesday at 5233 N. Clark St., Women & Children First.
Are books-as-physical object going the way of the dinosaur? Or is that an overly alarmist view? Come to First United Methodist Church this Saturday for the lecture "The Book: Past, Present and Future," presented by Anthony Grafton. Grafton is a professor at Princeton, a leading historian of the book, and the author of The Footnote: A Curious History. The lecture is part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Get tickets here or call (312) 494-9409. First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington St., Saturday, March 31 at 2pm. $10; $5 for teacher and students.
Friday night the Book Cellar welcomes Benjamin Busch. He'll be signing his new memoir, Dust to Dust, which chronicles his childhood in upstate New York, his time as a Marine in the Iraq War and the deaths of his parents (including his famous father). Author Doug Stanton says "Busch is a brilliant prose stylist for whom every pause counts, a man of three worlds - the heart, the mind, the earth. Dust to Dust is a stunning literary work about this mysterious trinity, and a return to home." Busch is also an indie film director and actor on the TV show "The Wire." The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., Friday, March 30 at 7pm.
On April 1, Here's the Story will celebrate one year. If you haven't checked them out yet, their anniversary show would be the perfect time to do it! Come to Stage 773 (1225 W Belmont Ave.) Sunday, April 1 (no fooling, we promise), at 7:30 to share some food, some fun, and, of course, some stories. Admission is $5, but if you bring food to participate in the potluck, you get in free. Click here to check out the great line-up of story-tellers they have for you!
Break out your calendars and save the date for the largest lit event in the city: the Printers Row Lit Fest. Sponsored by the Chicago Tribune, the event celebrating its 28th year, returns June 9-10. This free outdoor festival will span two days, and offers panel discussions, readings, children's programming and more than 200 booksellers from across the country displaying new, used and antiquarian books. Traverse Dearborn Street, from Congress to Polk, from 10am-6pm both days. Programming will be announced in the coming months.
And folk, pop, and country. On Thursday, March 29, at 6pm, the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior) invites you to watch a modern interpretation of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience, performed by Billy Blake and the Vagabonds. The set will run the gamut from folk, pop, country, and gospel music, so it's a must see! Especially considering attendees will receive a free edition of the April 2012 Poetry magazine and an Edie Fake print of "The Little Vagabond" by William Blake. The event will also celebrate Billy Blake and the Vagabonds release of Billy Blake and the Vagabonds Live in Concert.
Admission is free, and you can save yourself a seat here.
Unfortunately I speak from experience when I say that it's no picnic making friends in Chicago. And I take comfort in the fact that it's not just this Windy City transplant who's found it rather challenging.
Like me, writer Rachel Bertsche moved to Chicago with an impressive friend-making track record. She discovered, however, that this sprawling city doesn't afford the friendless with easy platonic match making opportunities; you've got to be willing to put in some work. And work she did, embarking on a long line of friend dates--52 to be exact--in search of friendly connection. These stories make up the bulk of her book, MWF Seeking BFF. Berstche will appear at The Open Books Store, located at 213 W. Institute Place, on March 22 at 7pm to read from her book, and discuss her often-hilarious experiences.
Chicago's literary scene has been on a nonstop bender these last few weeks. But it will be wrapping up shortly with the 16th annual celebration of the Story Week Festival of Writers. Made possible by the efforts of the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department, the week long event is packed with readings, panels and discussions from March 18 through March 23. All events are free and open to the public with a schedule available on their official website.
The festival began as an experiment by Fiction Department Chair Randy Albers. This year's theme, "Surviving the American Dream," will be represented through panels and sessions that aim to provoke discussions focused on the future of creative work. Due to Columbia's efforts to re-prioritize, the future of the festival ironically aligns with this theme.
Two publishing panels will grapple with the state of publishing, and how its future may be shaped by current creative and economic factors. "Text/Image: A Conversation on Seeing Narrative," to be held on March 22, will feature panelistHeidi W. Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (recently selected as a city-wide read in Portland). Durrow loves the interaction with attendees at festivals like Story Week.
"I've written a story that has excited readers to share their stories," Durrow says. "That was really evident last week when I visited Portland. I am still buzzing from the wonderful and moving stories that people shared with me during my time there." She brings authority to this panel as an author, as well as from her work as co-founder and co-producer of the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival.
Chocolate and poetry--do we need to say any more? On Friday, March 16, The Sweet and Sour Poetry Hour celebrates its third edition with an open mic (starting at 7pm) and special guest performances (starting at 7:30pm), including Kevin "Bam" Smith and D-Nick the Microphone Misfit, at Andersonville's Let Them Eat Chocolate. Bring some of your own poetry, stories, or monologues at 6:30pm to sign up for the 7 open mic slots. Or come at 7pm, buy some delicious chocolate, and settle in for some seriously sweet fun. (Admission is free!)
Historian and Rolling Stone magazine columnist Rick Perlstein will discuss his upcoming book, The Invisible Bridge: The 1970s and the Rise of Ronald Reagan, on Tuesday, March 13 at 7pm at the Cliff Dwellers Club (200 S. Michigan Ave.).
The event, part of the Society of Midland Authors programming, will start off at 6pm with a social hour, with complimentary snacks and a cash bar. You don't need to register and admission is free, but the Society will appreciate donations to defray the cost of programs.
Having been to my share of sparsely attended poetry readings where you can hardly hear people over the classic rock blaring in the front of the bar, it's heartening to hear people do get excited about literary events. Two hot tickets this weekend are sold out, but first-come, first-serve tickets will be made available:
This Saturday is the final team competition in the Louder Than A Bomb teen poetry fest. The largest such festival in the world, it was founded in 2001 to bring teens together across racial, gang, and socioeconomic lines through self-expression and community. The Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., Saturday, March 10 at 6 pm. $20, $10 students.
The Poetry Foundation welcomes playwright Beau O'Reilly and actor John Starrs in The Boho Dance, which imagines a conversation between Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg; comedy and entertainment ensues. The Poetry Foundation, 61 W. Superior St., Saturday March 10 at 7pm and Sunday, March 11 at 3pm. Free.
Chicago Zine Fest returns for its third year this weekend, March 9 and 10, with a packed schedule of activities, workshops, discussions and more. The zine exhibition is the weekend's main attraction, and will be held on Saturday from 10am to 6pm in Columbia College's Conaway Center at 1104 S. Wabash Ave. The expo will showcase work from over 200 small press and independent publishers. Demand for such a festival has grown notably, as table registration sold out in 24 hours. Jen Twigg, festival organizer heading up exhibitor coordination explains, "We've had overwhelming support and enthusiasm from the zine community all over the country, from Canada, and even as far away as the UK this year!"
Friday events kick off at 1pm with a reading and panel discussion sponsored by Columbia College's Silver Tongue reading series. "Our Friday afternoon event will discuss Race, Gender and Sexuality with three amazing women in the self-publishing scene: Anne Elizabeth Moore, Mimi Thi Nguyen and Cristy Road," says Leslie Perrine, an organizer focused on event programming. "We couldn't be more excited!"
Friday night continues with help from two more festival sponsors. There will be a youth reading at 6pm, followed by a 7pm reading with zine exhibitors at 826 CHI, located at 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. Festivities are capped off with the city's first Zine Olympics (it's exactly like it sounds; there will be rounds of zine related activities such as speed stapling, precision folding, and a medal ceremony), at 9:30pm at Quimby's, located at 1854 W. North Ave.
Saturday welcomes the zine expo with ancillary activities such as a DIY film fest, kids' zine making area, workshops, and panel discussions. "This year, we are excited to offer attendees a chance to preview exhibitors' publications in our Reading / Art Room," says Heather Colby, volunteer coordinator for the festival. "It's a quiet space where they can look through some of the self-published works that are being sold at the event, and view artwork created by zine fest participants."
The festival has something for everyone. All events are free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible. All Friday readings and the panel will have ASL interpretation.
As a bonus, anyone presenting a Chicago Public Library card will receive a copy of the One Book selection. Don't have a card? Bring proof of residency and sign up for one at the event (and then get a copy of the book).
RUI is always in the back room of Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., 7pm, $3.
Just in time for Chicago Zine Fest, the Two Cookie Minimum reading series is back, Tuesday March 6, with an all zinester reading. Zinesters will be showcasing new works, before the zine fest. Featured zinesters include Jonathon Cannon, Liz Baudler, Nicole Baiel, Carrie Colpitts, Dave Roche, and Eric Bartholomew.
As always, the event boasts free cookies for all. Stop by Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont Ave. at 9pm.
As the new biannual Chicagoan magazine gains steam, editor-in-chief J. C. Gabel shuts a door: to the former Stop Smiling storefront. As founder of the late Stop Smiling magazine (and current publisher of Stop Smiling Books), Gabel hosts one last hurrah in the the space at 1371 N. Milwaukee Ave., starting at 7:30 on March 2.
"Not sure who deserves mastermind credit," says host Zach Dodson co-publisher of Featherproof books, "but the Literature Party last year was cooked up by Gene Morgan from HTMLGiant, Adam Robinson from Publishing Genius, myself, and a bunch of help from all of our sponsors."
Last year the event took place at AWP in Washington DC, and in keeping with its mission, benefited local literacy programs. "We cut a big check to 826DC, and this year Young Chicago Authors was chosen because what they do here in town for kids and literacy is just plain awesome," says Dodson.
The event is what you would expect; it's a mix of readings, performances and a huge party.
"The idea is to have fun, with awesome writers and publishers, to dance a lot, and not worry about much else," says Dodson.
There are scheduled readings by Tim Kinsella, Dorothea Lasky, Mary Miller, and a shadow puppet show by Jill Summers and Susie Kirkwood set to text by Jesse Ball. As for the party side of things, the event kicks off with an opening DJ set by James Yeh and Lincoln Michel of Gigantic, and a closing dance party by Matt Roan. Lindsay Hunter, of Quickies reading series, will share hosting duties with Dodson.
Join the party Friday March 2, 8pm at Lincoln Hall 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
This Saturday, Sy Safransky, founder and editor of The Sun magazine, will be reading at The Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park along with authors Poe Ballantine, Krista Bremer and Cheryl Strayed. The Sun is an independent, ad-free magazine that has been around for more than 30 years. Author Bill McKibben says, "[it] is the most real of magazines, a monthly reminder that everyone has a story to tell and a voice to tell it in;" the Utne Reader says "whether it's a lusty paean to a writer's fat lover or reflections on 21st century feminism, there's always something delightful to read in The Sun." The Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood Ave., Saturday, March 3 at 8pm.
This week the Chicago Public Library announces the latest One Book, One Chicago selection: Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li. Of the collection of nine short stories set in China between the 1970s and the present, author Francine Prose says, "Yiyun Li's tenderness toward her characters, her respect for the richness of their lives, and the subtlety and gentle humor with which she portrays them make the experience of reading Gold Boy, Emerald Girl consistently heartening." One Book, One Chicago events will commence in April, so you've got plenty of time to read. Highlights include a book discussion with Li and Achy Obejas at the Harold Washington Library on April 19, a tour of Chinatown with the Chinese Cultural Institute, and an exhibit of artwork inspired by the book by Chicago area high school students. For a complete list of events, click here.
As part of the humungous literary convergence that is AWP, local reading series Quickies teams up with Orlando, Florida based reading series There Will be Words on March 2. The "Chicago meets Orlando" connection was fostered by Quickies host and author Lindsey Hunter who is a transplant from Orlando. There Will Be Words is an outlet for Orlando's Burrow Press.
"I had participated in Burrow Press's 15 Views of Orlando," says Hunter, "a point of pride as I hail from Orlando. That's how I got to know Ryan Rivas, who runs BP. We just started planning a show with the idea that it'd be like "Chicago meets Orlando."
Quickes fosters flash fiction with its formula, allowing readers only 4 minutes to perform. The time limit is maintained by the hosts who blow a whistle to emphasis this. Mary Hamilton, the other force behind Quickies, moved to LA this past fall, but returns to reprise her roll manning the whistle. Joining them will be TWBW host Jesse Bradley.
"We chose the readers to rep Quickies by trying to select writers who make us proud to be in Chicago," Hunter says. "We also wanted to include Natalie Edwards and Jill Summers, as they are Chicagoans who hail from Central Florida."
The rest of lineup includes: Jocelyn Bartkevicius, Andy Farkas, Kirsten Holt, Samantha Irby, Jonathan Kosik, David James Poissant, Joseph Rippi, Jess Stoner, and Chris Terry.
As a supplement, Burrow Press will release a chapbook including pieces from all the readers, available at the reading for $5.
With some many other events happening, the event begins early at 3pm in School of the Art Institute Chicago Ballroom, 112 South Michigan Avenue.
Finding local flavor in any of the AWP events this weekend isn't hard. On Thursday, March 1, check out the Fiction Feed reading sponsored by Dzanc Books and Joyland Press, spotlighting local writer and 2nd Story collaborator Megan Stielstra.
Stielstra speaks on what it's like to be part of a small press (Joyland released her short story collection Everyone Remain Calm), reading in Chicago, and her thoughts and excitement surrounding the conference.
Your story collection came out on Joyland, which provides a home to short fiction. How has it been working with them?
I was a long time fan of Joyland and its mission to promote short fiction, and I love how they have an editorial staff across Northern America -- so much diverse, delicious new stuff to read that really challenges me as a writer, and as a human being, too. The best stories do that, I think.
This Wednesday, February 29, on the eve of the 2012 AWP conference, come watch Monster Mags of the Midwest: Reading II, right across from Wrigley Field. Mary Biddinger, Brock Clarke, Matthew Gavin Frank, Keith Lee Morris, Michael Robins, and Laura Van den Berg will celebrate the start of AWP by doing a fiction and poetry reading at Murphy's Bleachers (3655 N. Sheffield Ave.) from 7-10pm. Admission is free, but you have to pay for your own hot dogs and beer...
Challengers Comics hosts a monthly graphic novel book club called Chattingers (lending meaning to their name). On February 29, the book will be Neil Gaiman'sBooks of Magic. Join attendees in a discussion of the work. Stop by the store and pick up a copy before the event, then show up at 8pm to Challengers Comics + Conversation, located at 1845 N. Western Ave.
Author and historian Michael Beschloss will speak at Columbia College (Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., eighth floor) on Thursday, March 8 at 7pm. This free and public lecture will close out Columbia's Conversations in the Arts 2011-2012 series (now in its eighth year), which this season has focused on issues prevalent in the liberal arts and sciences curriculum. Previous speakers in this year's series were writer Gloria Steinem and political commentator Donna Brazile.
Beschloss, "a preeminent historian and wonderful speaker," said Eric Winston, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Columbia, will speak on presidential courage — what it is, and which presidents have made "courageous" decisions. Author of nine books on American presidents — covering topics such as Lyndon Johnson's secret tapes and JFK and the Cold War — Beschloss, a Chicago native, has also served as NBC News presidential historian and as a commentator for "PBS NewsHour."
The event will be moderated by WBEZ's Steve Edwards — journalist, interviewer and host of "Afternoon Shift," a daily conversation about news, culture and ideas.
While the event is free and open to the public, a reservation is still recommended.
A creative influence in the African-American community, Lowell Thompson was the first African-American hired in advertising after Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. His activism in the African-American community did not begin until the 90's when he published his first book, WHITEFOLKS: Seeing America Through Black Eyes. He is now discussing his latest novel, African Americans in Chicago.
Come see Lowell Thompson read and discuss his novel on Tuesday, Feb 28 @ 6pm at the Harold Washington Library, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State St.
Help kick-off AWP 2012 at the official party held at the Empty Bottle (1035 W Western Ave.). Starting at 8pm, enjoy readings and music and more for free! All you have to do is RSVP: email email@example.com with "AWP Party" in the subject line and your full name in the body of email. If you forget, it'll cost you $8.
If you haven't heard of the Association of Writers & Writers Programs (AWP), then you're going to get a big surprise as people from all over flood the city next week for the 2012 AWP annual conference. Celebrating authors, teachers, writing programs, literary centers, and small press publishers, the conference has hundreds of presentations that range from readings and lectures, to dances and informal gatherings. Registration for all AWP site events is now closed; however, there are plenty of literary off-site events to attend. Check out the off-site event schedule and start freeing up your calendar!
Logan Square coffee house Nothin' Less Cafe hosts an open mic for poets and acoustic musicians, this Wednesday and every Wednesday. Jose Isael Gonzalez and resident poet Luis Tubens host. Nothin' Less Cafe, 2642 N. Milwaukee Ave., February 22, 8:30-10pm. Donations accepted.
This Thursday at The Hideout is the Chicago release party for Baratunde Thurston's How To Be Black. Part memoir, part tongue-in-cheek self-help guide, Publisher's Weekly calls it "a hilarious blend of razor-sharp satire and memoir;" Fast Company calls it "an assault on nostalgia - a satirical, biographical attack on the idea that 'blackness' or any label should be derived from historical description." Thurston inhabited many worlds growing up. He attended D.C.'s prestigious Sidwell Friends School (whose alumnae include Chelsea Clinton and the Obama girls) while at home he watched his friends turn from delivering Domino's pizza to dealing drugs almost overnight. He later attended Harvard and is now the Onion's digital director, a standup comedian and the co-founder of Jack and Jill Politics. The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, Thursday, February 24 at 7pm. $8 cover.
On Thursday, February 23rd, the Read/Write Library Chicago is hosting its first Open Mic Reading (hopefully an ongoing event)! Reader slot will be signed up on a first-come-first-serve basis. Prose, Essays, Poetry and the like are welcome. Time per reader is 7 minutes. The event begins at 7pm and will go through 9:30pm, depending on how many readers come out (that means you!). Light refreshments will be provided. The event is free so stop by the Read/Write Library's new space at 914 N. California.
"These eight stories display Englander grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language and the imagination that place him at the forefront of contemporary American fiction."
The event is free and no registration is required, but keep in mind that seating is on a first come, first serve basis.
It's been in the making for a year, and you'll probably want to see it. And hear it.
FJORDS, a multi-media collaboration between a poet, a composer, musicians and puppet artists, will premiere at Chicago's Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St.) on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7pm — and tickets are only $10. The show will only be here four nights, so don't wait too long.
Kyle Vegter, the composer, tells the story of how this meeting of the minds — and mediums — came to be.
"It was basically a series of things all coming together at exactly the right time." Vegter happened to pick up a copy of one of Portland transplant, poet Zach Schomburg's, books: From the Fjords. "His poems really resonated with me. They are emotionally devastating in a beautiful and nuanced way, he fits so much into a paragraph of poetry. I couldn't put his book down."
The path to the finished FJORDS project turned out to be a reverse of how Vegter and Manual Cinema have collaborated in the past. This time, instead of crafting the music to accompany an already-made visual performance, the puppets came last.
Vegter wrote a series of short musical pieces for the Q Ensemble, each inspired by one of Schomburg's poems — 15 all told. The recorded music was then passed along to the puppeteers, who, on the basis of both the poems and the music based on them, created "the visual world."
By "picking out motifs and creating character maps," the puppeteers — through overhead projectors, human silhouette and manipulated video — tell the story of "a young man through haunting surrealist landscapes as he struggles with work, family, love, and what would kill him."
Each show will begin with Schomburg, who will read through the adapted poems before the cinematic shadow puppetry begins — not your standard poetry-reading fare. "The visual, musical, and experiential approaches to poetry combined to make something wholly new — something that went far beyond the typical poetry reading," said Stephanie M. Hlywak, media director for the Poetry Foundation. "These kind of creative partnerships — ones in which artists forge bold new interpretations of poetry — reinvigorate the art form and help bring it to new audiences."
Starting at 10am this Friday, February 17, Chicago high school students who made it to the Regional Poetry Out Loud finals will compete for a chance to go all the way to the National finals in Washington DC in May. The event is free and will be held at the Poetry Foundation (61 W Superior). It is also open to the public, with standby tickets opening up an hour before the start time. Come support the students as they flex their mental memorization and recitation muscles!
This Thursday, poets Jessica Savitz (Hunting Is Painting) and Catherine Theis (The Fraud of Good Sleep) read at Women and Children First. Both are Iowa Writers' Workshop alums; Theis' book won the 2011 Cranshaw Prize and Savitz won the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer's Residency Prize. Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark, Thursday, February 16 at 7:30pm.
David Ansell author of County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital will be at Revolution Books. David Ansell is on the Board of Directors for the Cook County Health System, and was once training as a doctor at Cook County Hospital where he was exposed to the injustices of racial inequality of the uninsured. Ansell will discuss his novel about what he and other doctors witnessed at Cook County Hospital.
Listen to David Ansell on Thursday, Feb 16 @ 7pm at Revolution Books, 1103 N. Ashland Ave.
Wanna spice up your Monday? Check out the annual Erotica Exotica Poetica open mic at Weeds (1555 N. Dayton) tomorrow, February 13, starting at 10pm. Gregorio Gomez hosts as poets bring their "most sexiest, seductive, sensual, and orgasmic poetry" to read to (and turn on) the audience. Admission and parking are free, but it's 21+ only! (IDs will be checked.)
Last night at the Women & Children First bookstore, Chinelo Okparanta and Nami Mun read from their work, and conducted a question & answer session afterward. Despite the wintery weather, a good sized crowd made it out to hear the authors read. The authors were reading to promote famed British magazine Granta. Chinelo Okparanta, a graduate from the Iowa Writers Workshop, and a professor at Iowa University, read from her story "America" in Granta's 2012 Winter edition titled "Exit Strategies." Nami Mun, a professor at Columbia College in Chicago, who's story, "The Anniversary" is in Granta's 2011 Spring issue titled, "Aliens." Nami decided to read from her 2008 novel Miles from Nowhere from a chapter called "At the Employment Agency."
Aspiring writers from Columbia College, where Nami Mun is a professor, and a few from Iowa, where Chinelo Okparanta teaches at Iowa University, asked the authors questions pertaining to plot line, inspiration, being put into a category, and how to know where to end a novel. When answering the questions, both authors showed their difference in style, and writing process. Chinelo Okparanta starts with a location first, while Nami Mun starts with the characters. But, the commonality they share is their enjoyment for writing, which is what keeps them writing.
This Friday is the Urban Sandbox poetry reading at Comfort Station featuring Kevin Coval, No Se (Team Westinghouse) and hosted by Dan "Sully" Sullivan. Comfort Station Logan Square, 2579 N. Milwaukee, Friday, February 10 at 7:30pm. All ages, $5 cover.
Challengers Comics hosts yet another great event for the release party of Sarah Becan's Shuteye Saturday, February 11th. Becan's new graphic novel will be available for purchase, with the opportunity to get it signed. Challengers will provide some beer and wine for those 21 and over as well as snacks for all. Join the party 6pm, Challengers Comics + Conversation, 1845 N Western Ave.
Prestiges British magazine Granta will be featuring it's 2012 Winter issue "Exit Strategies" at Women & Children First bookstore. Reading from their work will be Chinelo Okparanta, and Nami Mun. Chinelo Okparanta studied at the Iowa Writer's Workshop and her work is featured in Granta's Winter issue. Nami Mun is the award winning author of Miles From Nowhere, and a professor at Columbia College in Chicago.
Come see Chinelo Okparanta and Nami Mun read as part of Granta magazine's debue of their Winter issue. The event will be held at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Friday, Feb 10 @ 7:30pm.
Iraqi novelist, and instructor at De Paul University, Mahmoud Saeed will be reading from his latest novel, The World Through the Eyes of Angels at The Book Cellar. Mahmoud Saeed has written over 20 novels, among them, Saddam City.
Join Mahmoud Saeed at The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave, Wednesday, Feb 8 @ 7pm.
This Tuesday February 7th, attend the the School of the Art Institute's Spring 2012 Visiting Artists Program series as they invite authors Sam Lipsyte and Ben Marcus. Both will be reading, followed by Q&A. Books will be on hand for purchase and possibly signing. The event begins at 6pm in the Columbus Auditorium, 280 South Columbus Drive.
Get some poetry in before the Super Bowl with the Myopic Poetry Series. Resident Chicagoan and author of The Fraud of Good Sleep, Catherine Theis, will be joined by Rebecca Lehmann author of Between the Crackups, to read their poetry.
Listen to Catherine Theis and Rebecca Lehmann read at Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee Ave, Saturday, Feb 4@7pm.
There's still time to sign up for World Book Night! A volunteer event designed to get more people reading, World Book Night was started last year in the U.K. and has expanded this year to include the U.S. Not your typical clutter-clearing donation, the idea is to distribute specific, hand-picked books they think more people should read. To participate, you apply and agree to distribute 20 copies of your promised book (don't worry, they'll hook you up; "there is no charge for these special, not for resale editions"). Then, on April 23, 2012 (the UNESCO International Day of the Book), World Book Day ambassadors go forth in their communities to distribute the books to "non or light readers." The deadline to participate has been extended to February 6; click here to apply.
As part of the humungous literary convergence that is AWP, on March 2nd local reading series Quickies teams up with Orlando, Florida based reading series There Will be Words. The "Chicago meets Orlando" connection was fostered by Quickies host and author Lindsey Hunter who is a transplant from Orlando. There Will Be Words is an outlet for Orlando's Burrow Press.
"I had participated in Burrow Press's 15 Views of Orlando," says Hunter," a point of pride as I hail from Orlando. That's how I got to know Ryan Rivas, who runs BP. We just started planning a show with the idea that it'd be like "Chicago meets Orlando."
The format that Quickies follows is one that fosters flash fiction, allowing readers only 4 minutes to perform. The time limit is maintained by the hosts who blow a whistle to emphasis this. Mary Hamilton, the other force behind Quickies, moved to LA this past fall, but returns to reprise her roll manning the whistle. Joining them will be TWBW host Jesse Bradley.
"We chose the readers to rep Quickies by trying to select writers who make us proud to be in Chicago. We also wanted to include Natalie Edwards and Jill Summers, as they are Chicagoans who hail from Central Florida," says Hunter.
The rest of lineup includes: Jocelyn Bartkevicius, Andy Farkas, Kirsten Holt, Samantha Irby, Jonathan Kosik, David James Poissant, Joseph Rippi, Jess Stoner, and Chris Terry.
As a supplement, Burrow Press will release a chapbook including pieces from all the readers, available at the reading for $5.
With some many other events happening, the event begins early at 3pm in School of the Art Institute Chicago Ballroom, 112 South Michigan Avenue.
Reading Under the Influence aims to celebrate Mardi Gras at their February reading (the first of 2012). On Wednesday, February 1, readings will feature Patricia Ann McNair (author of The Temple of Air), Seth Alexander (writer and religious scholar), Quinn Stephens (writer and animator of Laser Dragon University) and Kyle Chaney (a RUI co-host). The month's theme will be "carnival", just in time for Fat Tuesday.
Stop in to at the back-back room at Sheffield's, located at 3258 N. Sheffield Ave. 7pm with a $3 cover.
Write Club is back with its 22nd chapter, titled "Race Wars." For those who don't know, Write Club is a reading series that pits contestants against each other with competing assigned themes. There are three bouts, each seven minutes long. The audience votes on the winner. Oh, and all proceeds go to charities of winner's choosing. You're intrigued.
Race Wars bouts include Black by host Ian Belknap vs. White by Samantha Irby, Gay by Mairead Case vs. Straight by Whit Nelson, and Cat by Daniel Shapiro vs. Dog by Natalie Edwards. Write Club is on Tuesday, January 31st, at 7pm, at the Hideout 1354 W. Wabansia. $8 at the door; 21+
Two Cookie Minimum returns in 2012 with a lineup of readers culled from the laundry list of guests that appeared at the series in 2011. There's a mix of zinesters and writers, featuring
Lara Levitan, Carrie Colpitts (my aim is true zine), Tom Lynch, Georgi Johnson (cursive zine), and Jim Joyce (or let it sink zine).
The event is back at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont Ave., at 9pm. As always, there will be cookies.
The Chicago Way literary series is at it again Sunday, Jan. 29. They change up gears a bit, shifting from crime to romance and style. Guests include romance novelist Sherrill Bodine and woman-about-town Candace Jordan discussing writing about Chicago society.
Audience participation is encouraged during a Q&A session. Stick around after the discussion for an opportunity to purchase books and get them signed. The discussion takes place in the back room of the The Hidden Shamrock, 2723 N. Halsted St., at 7pm.
Quimby's bookstore is celebrating the results of their 24 Hour Zine Challenge with a reading from those who participated in this momentous occasion. Zinesters and artists will read from work they completed or began during the zine challenge. Stop by the store Saturday January 28th at 7pm. Quimby's is located at 1854 W. North Ave.
The University of Chicago's Poem Present Reading and Lecture Series is welcoming poet Ben Lerner. The university familiarizes students, and the community with poets and their work. Since 2001 they have been giving the students the chance to direct questions to the poets regarding their work, as well as the contemporary poetry scene.
Ben Lerner will be sharing his poetry and conducting a question and answer session. This event is free and is open to the general public. It will be held on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 4:30pm at the University of Chicago in Rosenwald Hall 405, 1101 E. 58th St.
Northwestern MFA graduates, poets Christine Pacyk and Lana Rakhman, will receive a grand introduction by established poets Ron Gibbons and Simone Muench at a reading and reception this Friday, January 27, at the Stop Smiling storefront (1371 N Milwaukee Ave)at 7pm. Admission is free, so come congratulate the new grads!
This Wednesday, Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) signs his new young adult novel Why We Broke Up at the Skokie Barnes and Noble. Illustrator Maira Kalman will also be there. The novel tells the story of a breakup from a teenage girl's point of view. The L.A. Times says "it's easy to predict how Handler's story will conclude from the book's few pages. It's more difficult to take such an everyday tragedy with a predictable ending and elevate it to an end point of enduring, emotionally effective art." Barnes and Noble, 55 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, Wednesday, January 25 at 7:30pm.
This Wednesday, Bob Riesman presents I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy. The Chicago Tribune says "[Broonzy] was one of the most celebrated blues artists of his era, a visionary Chicago singer-songwriter who mentored Muddy Waters, introduced the music to Europe and inspired no less than Eric Clapton, Ray Davies and Pete Townshend (as they've all acknowledged). Broonzy has been virtually forgotten by the popular culture he helped shape...which is why an important new book, I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy, comes not a moment too soon." Singer/songwriter Chris Walz will be on hand to play Broonzy's music. Chicago Public Library, Blackstone branch, 4904 S. Lake Park Ave., Wednesday, January 25 at 6pm.
The always interesting 2nd Story keeps going with their 2011-12 season Know Thyself with a reading January 26th themed Shhhh! Don't Tell: Stories of Secrets. That might mean skeletons in the closet, love affairs or anything that is too taboo to mention. The idea will be presented by storytellers Megan Stielstra, Margaret Marion, Rebecca Anderson, and Darwyn Jones. Get a glass of wine and settle down at 7pm at In Fine Spirits 5418-5420 N. Clark st.
Come see to the Best New Poets 2011 anthology as they release their latest edition and give readings of their work. The poets attending the event will be Brittany Cavallaro, Natalie Giarratano, Virginia Konchan, Nancy Reddy, and David Welch.
To see the release of this anthology come to The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave, Saturday, Jan 21 @ 7pm.
Also tomorrow night, Gerber/Hart Library in Edgewater presents readings from the anthology Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches From the Third Coast. Editor Kathie Bergquist will be joined by contributors Karen Lee Osborne, Aldo Alvarez, Gerard Wozek, Deb Lewis and Emma Vosikey. Author Michelle Tea says "I'm so into so many of the writers in this smart collection, and at the end of it have a whole new gang of funny-deep-weird-brainy authors to get obsessed with. So many ways to be queer plus so many ways to be a writer - all are indulged and investigated against the constant hum of Chicago and its singular Midwestern urbanism." Gerber/Hart Library, 1127 W. Granville, Ave., Thursday, January 19 at 7pm.
Tomorrow night author Lori B. Andrews presents I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court. Kirkus Reviews says "Unnerving narrative about the misuse of personal online information - without our knowledge - to track, judge and harm us in innumerable aspects of our lives. ...Authoritative, important reading for policymakers and an unnerving reminder that anything you post can and will be used against you." The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, 811 Elm Street, Winnetka, Thursday, January 19 at 7pm.
Two With Water reading series starts the new year focusing on the resolutions we all attempt so early in the year. Their theme on January 22nd will be Resolved. Readers include James Kennedy, JW Basilo, Maggie Ritchie, Brandon Will, Mason Johnson, and Aubrey Scheffey.
The event starts at 7pm with an open-mic sign up at the Beauty Bar 1444 W Chicago Ave.
This Thursday, January 19th, the Gumbo Fiction Salon, a multi-genre story stew (hence the name), welcomes Chicago crime fiction and thriller author Libby Fischer Hellman. There is an open mic sign up for ten minute spots.
This series meets on the third Thursday of every month, 7pm upstairs at the Galway Arms Irish Pub, at 2442 N. Clark. $4 entrance fee, $2 for students.
The Chicago Literati will gather once more on February 2, from 6-9pm at the Hidden Shamrock (2723 N. Halsted), thanks to Dana Kaye, who doesn't want writing to be more solitary than it has to.
LeRoy remembers meeting Kaye six or seven years ago — back when he used to run Bleak House Books — at another Love is Murder conference. "Many Chicago writers were at that conference. It was a bonding of what is now the young lions of the Chicago crime fiction scene."
And the Chicago literary scene, in general, has kept him and many others coming back. "There's a working ethic to the literary scene in Chicago, and there's a realness that's missing in much [literature and media]. Chicago is more grounded and rooted in its fiction and nonfiction. It all feels much more human and tangible to me. Chicago is the everyman."
At this next installment of Kaye's networking events, LeRoy looks forward not only to continuing the bond among his fellow creatives, but also to see what stories he can find. "I'm big on getting pockets of the country that are completely unrepresented. Part of my mission is to really capture what it is to be alive in fly-over country. There is really so much life to be lived here."
In addition to LeRoy, also in attendance will be:
— Jon and Ruth Jordan - Co-founders and editors of Crimespree Magazine, a publication dedicated to the mystery genre
— Sherrill Bodine - author of All I Want Is You and other contemporary romances set in Chicago
Thursday, February 2
The Hidden Shamrock, 2723 N. Halsted
$15 in advance/$20 at the door
Free appetizers, and cash bar with drink specials
And the first 30 people who register get an all-coveted swag bag.
This past Saturday, The Book Cellar hosted the Chicago Writers Association's first ever Book of the Year Awards. Winners of the award were Krista August for Giants in the Park: A Guide to Portrait Statues in Chicago's Lincoln Park.
James Finn Garner won for his novel Honk, Honk, My Darling: A Rex Koko, Private Clown Mystery.
James Finn Garner
Christine Sneed won for her novel Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry.
The ceremony started with a speech from the president of the Chicago Writer's Association, Randy Richardson. The awards were then presented and each author read an excerpt from their novel. Afterwards, the authors signed their books for their fans.
James Finn Garner packs in the laughs with his new hardboiled detective novel Honk, Honk, My Darling: A Rex Koko, Private Clown Mystery. Garner will be one of the authors awarded The Book of the Year Award by the Chicago Writers Association, which will be held on Saturday, Jan 14. This punchline loaded novel follows Rex Koko, a clown with a booze-soaked past. Rex is hired by Carlozo the flying trapeze artist to track down his wife Adeline. But, as Koko trails the femme fatale through the shady parts of Top Town, he finds himself in the center of a three-ring-circus.
To see James Finn Garner awarded for his new novel, visit The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave on Saturday, Jan 14 @ 7pm.
Also this Thursday, local mystery author Sara Paretsky will be appearing at Women and Children First. Her new novel, Breakdown, is the 15th novel following V. I. Warshawski, female private investigator. The Chicago Sun-Times says "Warshawski presents an irresistible combination - a cranky, vulnerable woman with
a messy life, but a superhuman willingness to put herself in harm's way for the sake of
justice." The event marks the 30th anniversary of the series. "Champagne, of course, and other refreshments will be served." Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark, Thursday, January 12 at 7:30pm.
Tomorrow night, Northwestern University law professor David Scheffer discusses his new book All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals at the University of Chicago Law School. Scheffer spearheaded the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1993. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, says "David Scheffer tells the inside story of the creation of international justice for victims of atrocity crimes. As the picture of astronauts walking on the moon embodied the evolution of technology, this book captures eight years of a controversial process that is changing humanity forever." University of Chicago Law School, 1111 E. 60th St., Thursday, January 12 at 6pm.
"Solace in So Many Words, featuring Wilmette writer J. Scott Smith, along with contributors Joan Corwin, Pamela Miller, Pat Rahmann D. J. Lachance and editor Ellen Wade Beals. What does solace mean? Come hear these distinguished writers share their poetry, fiction and essays on the very pertinent subject of solace."
For all you crime and mystery fans out there, join The Chicago Way literary series Tuesday, Jan. 10 as they bring out authors Charlie Newton (whose new novel is Start Shooting) and Chicago native Jonathan Eig. The series is hosted by local author Michael Harvey, writer of the Chicago Way crime novel series.
Audience members are encouraged to ask the authors about the research of their novels, the subject matter and writing process. Invited guests include some of the real-life people Newton based many of his characters on, as well as some members of the Chicago Police Department.
There will be interactive Chicago-crime themed games with prizes, cocktails and a book signings. Stop in at the The Hidden Shamrock (back room), 2723 N. Halsted St., at 7pm.
P. Fanatics was touted in Newcity's Top 5 of Everything 2011 as one of the city's best reading series. The theme this month is Fame; how coincidental. If you haven't checked it out, take a chance on Sunday, Jan. 8.
Performers include Daniel Shapiro, Jac Jemc, Kathleen Rooney, Benicia Blue, Vanessa Pegram, Patrick Allen Carberry, and Jason Bredle. Join host Mason Johnson at Cole's, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave., 7:30pm.
What do the White House, cooking and mystery novels have in common? Author Julie Hyzy who has been releasing a series of mystery novels that involve the oval-office's chef. Her newest title in the series, Affairs of Steak, (they all have fun titles) is released this month. She will be holding a launch party Saturday, Jan. 7 at 1pm at Centuries and Sleuths bookstore, 7419 W. Madison St. in Forest Park. Refreshments will be served, some made from the recipes in her books. Stop on by to check it all out.
Story Club, a monthly reading series, hits Uncommon Ground tomorrow night. "We give you a mic and 5-8 minutes. You tell us a story." They're going with a new year's theme this month (Reboot) and the featured readers are Adam Guerino and Jen Bosworth. Uncommon Ground Cafe, 3800 N. Clark. Thursday, January 5. Open mic signup at 8pm; start time 8:15pm.
Did you know January is National Hobby Month? To honor the occasion, Quimby's is hosting its first 24-Hour Zine Challenge. Starting at 7pm on Saturday, January 14, and running until 7pm Sunday, January 15, Quimby's will have a sleepover at the shop. But instead of playing Light-as-a-Feather, Stiff-as-a-Board, participants will create their own zine with provided supplies. Space is limited, so RSVP before January 11, and come with "sleeping gear, ideas, stamina." Click here for more information on how to reserve your spot!
Tomorrow night, Sara Levine reads from her novel Treasure Island!!! at Women and Children First. Treasure Island!!! tells the tale of a disillusioned college grad who uses the Robert Louis Stevenson novel as a map for how to live her life. Library Journal says "this highly original, farcical novel will keep you entertained in spite of (or more accurately, because of) its toxic narrator." Levine is the chair of the writing program at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark, Thursday, January 5 at 7:30pm.
The new year bring us a new release from prolific romance author Sherrill Bodine. To coincide with the release of her newest novel, All I Want is You, on January 5th Bodine comes to Chicago for a night of reading and discussion along with champagne and hors d'oeuvres. The event will be in the Palm Court at the Drake Hotel 140 East Walton Place, 6pm.
Watch the story of Carl Sandburg--his life and his work--at the Chicago premiere of Bonesteel Films' The Day Carl Sandburg Died. After the screening, Marc Smith, the founder of slam poetry, will discuss all things Sandburg with the filmmaker, Paul Bonesteel. Friday, January 6, at 7pm and Saturday, January 7, at 3pm at The Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St.). Reserve your spot for free!
The Encyclopedia Show kicks off 2012 this Wednesday, January 4th. The theme will be Mesopotamia. The hosts of this over-the-top extravaganza showcase point out, "everything in your whole life probably came from Mesopotamia, including Jesus." Spoken like true wise men.
Performers and their assigned topics include: Sam Irby (Sunday Night Sex Show) - Lamassu, Chris Bower (Ray's Reading Series) - Gilgamesh and Enkidu,
Jonathan Messinger (Featherproof Books) - Babel and its Tower, Cydney Edwards (First Wave) - Ashurbanipal, Laura Berger (Visual Artist) - Cuneiform, Laura Yes Yes (How To Seduce A White Boy In Ten Easy Steps) - Enuma Elish Creation Myth.
The show goes off at 7:30pm, $8, at the Vittum Theater -- 1012 N. Noble St.
Challengers Comics hosts its annual Nerd Year's Eve celebration this weekend, Saturday, Dec 31st. Hosts will be singer/songwriter Jess Godwin and comic book writer Elliot Serrano. There's a $20 cover that includes drinks, snacks, a $10 Challengers Gift Certificate and a champagne toast. Hostess Jess Godwin will debut her new music video "Out With The Old" after the stroke of midnight. Get your comics fix in before then. Tickets are on sale now at Challengers Comics and Conversation, located at 1845 N Western Ave.
Tribune columnist Jon Yates (the "Problem Solver") has heard a lot of people's problems. Enough to fill a thrice-weekly column for the past six years.
If you've missed out on those 900-odd advice columns and could use a helpful synopsis, then you may want to check out Yates' new book — titled, appropriately enough, What's Your Problem? Cut Through Red Tape, Challenge the System and Get Your Money Back.
On Thursday, Jan. 5 at 6pm, Yates will be promoting his new advice compendium at the Billy Goat Tavern, 430 N. Michigan Ave., lower level. Go for the tips, stay for a burger.
Watch the story of Carl Sandburg--his life and his work--at the Chicago premiere of Bonesteel Films' The Day Carl Sandburg Died. After the screening, Marc Smith, the founder of slam poetry, will discuss all things Sandburg with the filmmaker, Paul Bonesteel. Friday, January 6, at 7pm and Saturday, January 7, at 3pm at The Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St.). Reserve your spot for free!
This Friday, Eliza Frye signs her new graphic novel, Regalia, at Challengers Comics + Conversation. Regalia is a collection of short stories, one of which was nominated for an Eisner Award. Derik Badman of COMIXTALK says "Frye has a powerful style. I had an immediate, almost visceral reaction to the images." There will be a reading, a display of Frye's paintings and baked goods for refreshments. Challengers Comics + Conversation, 1845 N. Western, Friday, December 30 at 6pm.
Next Tuesday, Young Chicago Authors starts the new year off with WordPlay 2.0: A Young Chicago Authors Open Mic & Workshop. There's a writing and performing workshop at 6pm followed by an open mic and featured artist at 7pm. The series will run once a month until April, with a new featured artist each month. January's featured artist is YCA Master Teaching Artist Idris Goodwin. At the YCA office, 1180 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Floor, Tuesday, January 3 at 6pm.
Looking for a literary start to the new year? 2nd Story's NYE celebration can do just that. The experimental storytelling series has a packed lineup with guests Stephanie Chavara, Julie Ganey, Deb Lewis, and Doug Whippo. The event is curated by Bobby Biedrzycki, directed by Thrisa Hodits and sound by Seeking Wonderland.
Tickets are $40 in advance ($50 at the door) which includes a drink and a champagne toast. The festivities begin Dec 31st at 9:30pm at the Morseland 1218 W. Morse Ave.
The Reading series Write Club is back in time for the holidays with an appropriate theme: The War on Christmas - Boxing Day Massacre. Like the series' name suggests, there are bouts between writers, each given an opposing idea:
GIVE (Ian Belknap) vs. RECEIVE (Jen Ellison)
NAUGHTY (Annie Kincade) vs. NICE (Bilal Dardai)
SANTA (Keith Ecker) vs. JESUS (Steve Walker)
This happens Tuesday Dec 27th, 7pm, $8 with all proceeds going to charities selected by the winner of each bout. As always its at the Hideout 1354 W. Wabansia.
Chicago's punk reading series Neutron Bomb hits Saturday, December 17, with their mix of storytelling and live music. This month they welcome Lindsay Hunter (on Featherproof books), Dave Roche (On Subbing zine)
and Eliza Fogel (Columbia College Fiction Writing grad student)
There will be a stand-up comedian and live music by Daylight Robbery (male/female vox playing punk new wave).
Stroll in to Cal's Bar (400 S. Wells) at 7pm before it gets rowdy.
The Chicago Way reading series welcomes New York Times bestselling author Frank Calabrese, Jr. reading from his book Operation Family Secrets. Following this will be a conversation regarding his experiences in organized crime, his role with the FBI, working with the Zimmerman Brothers to document his story, and his current lifestyle.
The series welcomes audience interactive with a quiz, prizes and a book signing.
It all happens December 18th, 7:30pm at the Hidden Shamrock, 2723 N. Halsted.
This Friday, check out the Dollhouse Reading Series, a "casual, salon-style, Chicago-based BYOB reading series every six to seven weeks, because who doesn't love a good party with their poetry?" Held in a private residence ("and if that weirds you out, get over it"), the Dollhouse is hosted by Dolly Lemke and Stephen Danos. This week's featured readers include James Shea, Kelly Forsythe, Susan Yount and "virtual guest" Heather Christle. It all goes down Friday, December 16 at 1850 W. Belle Plaine Ave., #3, doors open at 7:30pm, reading at 8pm.
The Logan Square Literary Review drops their 9th issue in style with a reception at an art gallery in Humboldt Park (they support their neighboring communities). The cast of readers are contributors to the current issue. All past issues will be available for sale. Also, art work from the gallery will as well. Think about a one stop shop for some holiday gifts.
The event is free and open to the public Wednesday, December 14, 7pm Peanut Gallery 1000 N California ave.
To celebrate, they offer a packed lineup of local readers, including:
A D Jameson, Russ Woods, Meghan Lamb, James Tadd Adcox, Dan Shapiro, John Thurgood, Ben Tanzer, Samantha Irby, Lindsay Hunter, Chris Bower and Joshua Young.
Hosting will be magazine staffer Matt Rowan, P. Fanatics Reading series host Mason Johnson, and Jon Mau. Come out Wednesday December 14th, 7pm at Beauty Bar 1444 W Chicago Ave.
In connection with the Poetry Foundation's Beautiful Outsiders exhibition, this event features Poetry senior editor Don Share talking about how important design is when it comes to independent presses. The exhibition itself revolves around independent presses Black Sparrow, Burning Deck, and Fulcrum and their histories and aesthetics. The talk takes place at The Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior) on December 14 at 6pm, first-come, first-served. And free!
P. Fanatics reading series leaves you hearing double as their December show offers only team ups (the kind you find in comic books).
Pairs will feature the series hosts Daniel Shapiro with Mason Johnson, Russ Woods with Christopher Kelly, Ian Belknap with Samantha Irby, a presentation by Jill Summers with Susie Kirkwood, and the Encyclopedia show's Tim Stafford with Robbie Q. Telfer.
Bring a friend so you don't feel out of place Sunday, December 11, 7:30pm at Cole's Bar 2338 N Milwaukee Ave.
This year's holiday edition of Poetry Off the Shelf will feature Nicholas Rudall reading Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales." Other seasonal poems, both old and new, will be read by Chicago actors, directed by Second City founder Bernard Sahlins. After the performance, enjoy a small reception (with refreshments!). There are two performances scheduled, at the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior): December 11 and 12 at 7pm.
He will be lecturing on his new column "drug-related photoshop art" for Vice magazine. Afterwards, participants from the audience will be called up to take part in an interactive conversation with the author. The event is at 618 S. Michigan, 2nd floor, Stage Two, at 6pm, and is free and open to the public.
The Encyclopedia Show returns with their December show themed Xtreme Sports. Appropriately, entertainment will feature an interview with professional mixed martial artist fighter Shonie Carter. There will be a presentation from Anne Elizabeth Moore (zinester and author of Cambodian Grrrl) on the appropriation of skateboard culture. Plus Susan McLaughlin-Karp (BoyGirlBoyGirl) on the Iditarod, Jamila Woods (National Poetry Slam Finalist) on Kobayashi's Retirement, Dominique James (Louder Than a Bomb Champion) on Murderball, Natalie Edwards (local writer on Nickelodeon Guts and Guybrush Taylor (visual artist) on Extreme Ironing!
This all happens Thursday Dec 8th, at the Theater (1012 N. Noble), 7:30pm, $8 gets you in the door.
Reading Under the Influence returns tonight, 7pm. This historical date, "a day that will live in infamy", lends itself to this month's theme: Infamy. Featured readers are Dennis Frymire (SKALD storytelling champion), Cyn Vargas, Brandon Will (worker at The Book Cellar) and Ray Lumpp (a RUI co-host). All will read original work and then host trivia segments. Stop by RUI in the back room at Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave. $3.
Tomorrow night is the next Reading Under the Influence at Sheffield's. Featured readers are Dennis Frymire, Cyn Vargas, Brandon Will, and RUI co-host Ray Lumpp. The theme, in honor of Pearl Harbor Day, is "infamy." $3 cover. Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., Wednesday, December 7. Readings are in the back room and begin at 7:30pm; get there early for a seat.
The last 2011 monthly and oh so legendary So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel happens tonight at 8pm. This edition is more musical than most. They will have a house band, Good Evening, and as always host Harold Ray will croon for your entertainment.
Writer Jac Jemc will read, enjoy some stand-up by Natalie Edwards, a pairing surprise by Mason Johnson & Daniel Shapiro, and more.
The series is always at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont.
This theatrical performance is inspired by poet Anna Kamienska's "Notebooks" and brings together text, music, and dance to spotlight the work of making art. All Your Paths in a Single Pocket runs for three more days, December 8-10 at 7:30 at the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior). Admission is free but first-come, first-served!
Chicago Publishes is offering an At Work Forum on book design. The event, which will take place at the 5th floor of the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington Street) on Thursday, December 1 at 6pm, will feature:
— James Goggin, Director of Design, Print and Digital Media, Museum of Contemporary Art
— Ellen Gibson, Regional Marketing Manager, University of Chicago Press
— Annie Heckman, Artist, Book Designer, and founder of StepSister Press
Stay tuned, because the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) will host its Annual Conference & Book fair at the Hilton Chicago (720 South Michigan Ave.) and the Palmer House Hilton (17 East Monroe St.) from February 29 to March 3, 2012.
Why care? Maybe because this conference is the largest literary gathering in North America. The keynote address will be given by Margaret Atwood, and it will also be an occasion for a reunion of eight Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, two Poets Laureate, six National Book Award winners, and nine recipients of the National Book Critics Circle Award — not to mention, hundreds of other readers, speakers, and panelists (including Jennifer Egan, C. K. Williams, Jane Smiley and Marilynne Robinson). There will be a mind-boggling 400 events, as well as exhibits by more than 550 presses, magazines, and literary arts organizations, so start planning now!
-From now through January 23
-Rates for the three-day conference are $155 for members and $225 for non-members -On-site registration starts February 29 at the Hilton Chicago
-On-site registration rates are $190 for members and $265 for non-members
More details, courtesy of the press release:
On Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3, the following events at Hilton Chicago will be free and open to the public: The Poetry Foundation presents Philip Levine and Carol Ann Duffy; Columbia College Chicago Poetry & Nonfiction Programs present Esmeralda Santiago and Jeanette Walls; The Academy of American Poets presents Lyn Hejinian and Edward Hirsch; Columbia College Chicago Story Week and Bath Spa University present Ronnie Baker Brooks, Aleksander Hemon, Audrey Niffenegger, and Irvine Welsh. Event locations and details can be found at awpwriter.org/conference/2012awpconf.php.
On Saturday, March 3, the AWP Bookfair at Hilton Chicago will be free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Exhibitors include Chicago Review, Dalkey Archive Press, Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions, n+1, Ninth Letter, Northwestern University Press, Poetry, Tin House, and W.W. Norton.
This weekend marks the inaugural Chicago Book Expo, Saturday November 19th and Sunday 20th. The Chicago's Writer House, in partnership with Uptown United , delivers a festival in the vein of pop-up galleries across the city. The Book Expo in a sense is a pop-up bookstore, taking over the historic Goldblatt's building, the recent home of the bankrupt Border's bookstore in Uptown. There focus is on Chicago publishers and literary organizations celebrating the rich tradition of Chicago literature. The location is symbolic, a book event at site where one of the largest chain bookstores once was housed.
"Whether you loved them or hated them, Borders was a part of the publishing world and the local landscape," says John Rich, founder of the Chicago's Writer House and one of the Expo organizers. "Their demise has impact. With the Expo, we are relying on the history of the building as a literary destination. [T]hat the memory of the old Borders is evocative, but the compelling symbol for us is that a strong, accessible book industry does and can exist in Chicago, without Borders and beyond Borders."
Participants during the weekend include over 40 Chicago publishers of fiction and poetry. "Our focus has been on creating a support mechanism, a platform, for Chicago publishers of fiction and poetry," says Rich. This list is varied, featuring: Agate Publishing, Ampersand, Another Chicago Magazine, Curbside Splendor, Featherproof Books, Green Lantern Press, MAKE Magazine, Short Pants Press, and Zoo Mouse Key Press, to name a few. "We hope that people will come and browse, just like they would at any other store, but here they can also talk directly to publishers, learn about the mission or aesthetic of a press first hand, and hear a range of published authors read," says Rich.
Saturday will showcase a non-profit fair. Keeping with the overall theme, these are literary organizations rather than publishers. Those booked will include: 826CHI, Center for Book and Paper Arts, Chicago Architecture Foundation , Chicago Filmmakers, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Writers Association, Chicago Zine Fest, Friends of the Uptown Neighborhood, Poetry Foundation, Read/Write Library (formerly Chicago Underground Library), St. Augustine College, and Uptown United. Each will have a table staffed with members on hand, presenting more information about their group and how one can get involved.
Entertainment also includes a Saturday performance by local indie rockers Joan of Arc, commissioned to write a new soundtrack to Charlie Chaplin's first Chicago-made film His New Job (which was shot in Uptown as well). Opening the show will be poet and performer Luis Humberto Valadez. The showcase is at St. Augustine College 1345 W. Argyle Ave. Then on Sunday the Chicago Architecture Foundation will conduct walking architectural tours of the Uptown neighborhood. Both are ticketed events.
Throughout the weekend, Chicago Public Library will available to register attendees for library cards. And local bookseller Open Books will be accepting donations of gently used books for their bookstore. Any purchase from them will go to support literacy programming and events.
During the Expo there will be scheduled readings sponsored by Curbside Splendor and more, workshops sponsored by Read/Write Library and more, panels lead by writers from the Chicago Reader, TimeOut magazine and others, plus kids activities lead by Grow Books Press authors and 826 CHI.
"We want people to discover the depth of Chicago's literary publishing efforts, big and small, and find their next favorite book," exclaims Rich.
Browse the Chicago Book Expo 2011, November 19-20 at Borders Books (4720 N. Broadway), and the basement of the Uptown Broadway. Hours are Saturday, November 19th, 10am-6pm and Sunday, November 20th, 12-6pm. The book fair activities are free and open to the public.
Graphic novelist Craig Thompson reads from Habibi at the Book Cellar on Friday. Habibi is a sprawling, 672 page tale of love in the face of adversity set in the Middle East. Zadie Smith calls it "exquisite...a remarkable feat of research, care, and black ink, and a reminder that all 'People of the book,' despite the division of their individual traditions, share a mosaic of stories." Thompson's other books include Blankets and Goodbye, Chunky Rice. Seating will be limited; the Book Cellar advises arriving a good 20 minutes early. Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, Friday, November 18 at 7pm.
Two Cookie Minimum's next reading (Tuesday, November 15th) will feature an all female line up of local zinesters and writers including: Curiouser Jane (Apple Pickers Union zine), Amy L. Hayden (writer for Time Out Chicago), Nichole Baiel (Pieces zine), Emily Witte (Chicago Way literary series organizer), Jac Jemc (forthcoming novel My Only Wife on Dzanc books), Liz Mason (Caboose zine), and Jami Sailor (Your Secretary zine). The event is at the Hungry Brain 2319 W. Belmont, 9pm, Free. As always, there will be cookies.
Winter's approaching, and as the weather becomes varying degrees of inhospitable, a cab is more and more an appealing option. There are stories behind the yellow and white vehicles that dot the city, and Russian-born cab driver, artist and writer Dmitry Samarov captures some of them in Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab. On Dec. 8 at 7pm, come talk to the author about what goes into his mobile vision of the city -- or any other questions you might have had about the book or his experiences. Free.
Here's what you do:
1. Read the book sometime in the next few weeks.*
2. Come to The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., with your comments and questions, and share them with Dmitry Samarov and the group. Get your book signed if you feel like it.
3. Hang out with other readers, meet the the Book Club editors, feel part of a greater reading community.
Questions? Let us know in the comments. Thanks, and hope to see you there!
*You can still come if you haven't read the book, but we really, really encourage it -- discussions are way more fun when everyone's on the same page (har har).
On Saturday and Sunday, the Chicago Book Expo fills what was formerly the Uptown Borders book store. The work of Chicago Writers House and Uptown United, the event features over 40 publishers of fiction and poetry displaying their author's works, and free events such as a reading series, a non-profit book fair, author's readings, children's workshops, and more. Ticketed events include Chicago Architecture Foundations Tours and a performance by rock band Joan of Arc.
For hours, additional locations, and more, head here.
This weekend marks the grand opening of the new Read/Write Library Chicago (formerly the Chicago Underground Library). The opening of their new space and re-branding will take place this Friday (tomorrow!), November 11th.
Visitors can expect this celebration to have some live jazz (form Studio 914), Reading/Writing performances, activities, crafts and games to help you explore the stacks.
Tomorrow night, David David Katzman reads from his second novel A Greater Monster (click the link and he'll tell you all about it) at Quimby's. A psychedelic fairytale chockfull of illustrations, author Jen Knox calls it "brilliant, insane and utterly unique." Illustrator Caitlin McKay appears as well. Quimby's, 1854 W. North Ave., November 10 at 7pm.
The Encyclopedia Show is back rolling down the tracks with their theme this installment being: the Railroad! Readers will include Second City's Tim Baltz, experimental MC Emanuel Vinson, blogger Susannah Breslin, mysterious writer Abigail Vic, John "Jughead" Pierson of The Neo-Futurists and legendary punk band Screeching Weasel, plus a lecture from Jason Rothstein the author of Carless in Chicago . The train leaves the station at 7:30 at the Vittum theater 1012 N Noble, $8 (or $5 for students). All aboard.
Winter brings out the escapist impulses, and reading choices are often no exception -- let The Chicago Way reading series help you down that myth and magic-dotted road with their November edition, featuring an all-female, all-fantasy author lineup. Tina Jens (Twilight Tales and Gumbo Fiction Salon founder), Patty Templeton (Naked Girls Reading winner), and C.S.E. Cooney and Jeanine Vaughn (owners of the former Uptown bookstore, Kate the Great's Book Emporium) present readings and an interactive game, along with the opportunity for Q&A. 11/20, 7:30pm-9pm Hidden Shamrock (2723 N. Halsted St.).
"O, Dose Market,
a curated selection of food & design for self & home.
Do not forget,
as you stroll the booths, to commission an artisanal poem!"
Dave Landsberger, Eric Plattner, and Kathleen Rooney are once again taking part in Poems While You Wait. They will be composing poems on demand via vintage typewriter at Dose Market (River East Art Center, 435 East Illinois St), on Sunday, November 6, from 10am-4pm. For $5 (or whatever you have in your pocket--lint not accepted) you can command them to write on any topic you'd like. Proceeds will go to independent publisher Rose Metal Press.
Tonight at the Book Cellar, join some of Columbia College's established Fiction Writing department faculty members as they read from their recently published works. Authors Patty McNair (The Temple of Air), Sam Weller (The Bradbury Chronicles), and Geoff Hyatt (Birch Hill at World's End) will be on hand to read and sign their books as well as engage in discussions on writing. The event begins at 7pm at the Book Cellar 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave.
Emerging Ukrainian American writers Askold Melnychuk, Alexis Buryk, Roman Skaskiw, and Virlana Tkacz read at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art 11/5 (this Friday) at 7pm. $10, $5 for students. 2320 W. Chicago Ave.
Reading Under the Influence brings you the Truth (that's this month's theme). Wednesday, November 2nd the theme will be tackled by Scott Whitehair (host of This Much Is True), Jill Summers (recent winner of Literary Death Match), John Wawrzaszek (host of Two Cookie Minimum reading series) and Cortez Bryson (writer and jazz musician). For those who don't know, each reader gets to read original work and then a published work followed by trivia. RUI's home is Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave, $3, 7 p.m.
At age 13, Meghan O'Rourke tried to write a novel. It was science fiction with "many princesses," including one named Cassiopeia.
Now 35, she's since published two poetry collections and a written a memoir, The Long Goodbye, about the death of her 55-year-old mother from cancer.
"It embarrasses me," she said Thursday night at Maxim's (24 Goethe St.), an event sponsored by Chicago Publishes. Mark Bazer, host of the Interview Show, led a conversation with O'Rourke and writer Rachel DeWoskin. "I never thought I'd write a memoir."
The 33 Reading Series. Composed of Columbia College Chicago's Poetry and Nonfiction graduate students, the latest reading will take place tomorrow, October 27, at 600 S Michigan (Room 205), starting at 4:30pm. Featured readers are: Toni Nealie and Colleen O'Connor from the Nonfiction program and Leif Haven and Steve Roggenbuck from the Poetry program.
Do you ever miss story time at the library from the days when you were younger? Well, tomorrow, gather up some kids and take them to Poemtime at the Poetry Foundation! Every Wednesday, the library at the Poetry Foundation hosts a story time, where they teach children about poetry using readings and games. Admission is first-come, first-served, at the Poetry Foundation building (61 W. Superior St.) at 11am.
The 2nd Story, Chicago's amalgamation of music, literature and performance art, will celebrate a book release of the show's longtime director Megan Stielstra tomorrow Oct. 26 at 7:30pm at the Morseland 1218 W. Morse. Her book, Everyone Remain Calm, will come to life with stories and music inspired by the book. Storytellers will include Megan Stielstra, Bobby Biedrzycki and J. Adams Oaks. Tickets are $15.
Write Club is back tomorrow, Oct. 25 and spookier than ever. Like its name sounds, Write Club is a literary bout, with words. There are three rounds of two opposing writers each with two opposing ideas. They get seven minutes apiece and after both are done, the audience selects the winner. Don't let the fact that each writer chooses a charity which benefits if they win.
The matchups are Halloween themed as follows:
• DEAD (Emily Rose) vs. UNDEAD (Samantha Irby)
• DUSK (David Isaacson) vs. DAWN (Noelle Krimm)
• TRICK (Ian Belknap) vs. TREAT (Whit Nelson)
The event is at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 7:30pm, $8, 21+.
Chicago Zine Fest is holding its first fundraiser for their 2012 festival by holding a zine and comics reading tonight October 24th. Self-publishers reading include Ben Spies (no more coffee zine), Corinne Mucha (Is it the future yet?), Dave Roche (On Subbing), Sarah Palin/aka C-Span (Jayonce fan fiction), Marian Runk (Inbox) and Ben Bertin (MIOK). Following the DIY nature of zine fest, the cover is $3-5 and is at a house, the Moving Castle, at 3317 N. Kedzie. The event is all ages and begins at 7:30pm.
The Handshake literary magazine holds its second issue release show this Saturday the 22nd. Readers, which are published in the issue, include Dmitry Samarov, Lindsay Hunter,
Winter Goebel, and Wyatt Roediger-Robinette. They cap the night off with a dance party in the upstairs lounge with Wholesome Radio DJ Matt Fields. The $10 cover also includes a copy of the issue. You can't beat that. Join Handshake at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., 10pm, 21+.
If you've an itch for cartooning, scratch it at Lill Street Art Center. The next three Saturdays they're offering an intensive workshop on the art of storytelling taught by renowned local cartoonist Nicole Hollander (Sylvia). Touching on a wide range of influences from cave painting on, students will choose a significant moment from their lives and put it together with images to create their own personal story. Lill Street Art Center, 4401 N. Ravenswood Ave., October 22 and 29 and November 5 from 1-5pm. Class is $225 ($220 for LAC members); click here to register.
Learn where to rub elbows with ectoplasm in our fair city as the Book Cellar welcomes author and parapsychologist Ursula Bielski. Bielski is the founder of Chicago Hauntings, Inc. and the author of Creepy Chicago: A Ghosthunter's Tales of the City's Scariest Sites, More Chicago Haunts: Scenes from Myth and Memory, among others. The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, Thursday, October 20 at 7pm.
Tomorrow night is Local Author Night at the Book Cellar. Laura Enright debuts her novel Vampires Most Wanted, former West Chicago police officer Ray Johnson discusses his new book Chicago's Haunt Detective, David Rocklin reads from The Luminist and Dinesh Sharma discusses Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President. The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, Wednesday, October 19 at 7pm.
The Neutron Bomb is a punk rock reading series which lives up to its name on their fifth installment Saturday, October 15th. Readers include Chris Connelly (Former member of Revolting Cocks and Ministry), Sarah Ryczek (local punk rock story teller), Anthony McBrien (comedian), and Alex Bonner (Windy City Story Slam champ). A punk reading wouldn't be anything without music, so local female-fronted hardcore band Calendar Boys plays (and it's their first show, totally punk!). Come out to Cal's Liquors 400 S. Wells, 7pm, Free, 21+, no squares allowed.
Columbia College associate professor Patricia Ann McNair reads from her short story collection The Temple of Air this Wednesday. Author John McNally says "The Temple of Air isn't just a story collection. It's a seance of dark secrets, a confesionall booth, a therapist's couch, a thin wall I press my ear up against. Often haunting, always beautiful. I can't wait to read more." Columbia College Library, 624 S. Michigan, Wednesday, October 12 at 6:30pm.
Heads up: The University of Chicago Press is hosting a Great Chicago Book Sale on October 13, 1pm to 6pm, and 14, from 8am to 2pm. Over 10,000 titles will be available, at bargain prices ($5 for paperbacks and hardbacks!), making you think twice about splurging on one of those e-readers. Learn more about the sale here.
The Last Nerve, a High Tea Poetry Brawl, goes live Monday, October 10th. It pits two veteran female poets from coast-to-coast.
Rachel McKibbens (Pink Elephant) the 2009 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, VS, Mindy Nettifee (Rise Of The Trust Fall) Director of Write Now Poets.
Opening performances include Kristiana Colon, Krista Franklin, Emily Rose, and Marty McConnell. The event is the up-and-coming DIY art space West Side School For The Desperate. The poetic fisticuffs begin at 8pm, $5, 18 and over.
As part of Chicago Public Media's Off-Air series, WBEZ's Alison Cuddy will moderate a panel discussion in honor of the recent release of the famed style manual's 16th edition. The focus will be the role of The Chicago Manual of Style, which has been published since 1906, in an era of quick communication — tweets, texts, emails have encouraged expediency over accuracy.
Panelists include Anita Samen, Managing Editor books division, University of Chicago Press; Carol Saller, Senior Manuscript Editor, University of Chicago Press and editor of the Chicago Style Q+A; Jason Riggle, Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Chicago Language Modeling Lab; and Ben Zimmer, Former writer of the New York Times Magazine's "On Language" column and Executive Producer of Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com.
Tuesday, 8 November at 7pm
University of Chicago International House
1414 East 59th Street
$15 general admission
$12 WBEZ members
Tickets may be purchased here.
Alternatively, you can try to win them. The U of C will award a pair of tickets to whomever uploads the most creative photo of a copy of the CMS. Submissions will be taken through 21 October, and the winner announced on 25 October.
Next Wednesday the Chicago Writers Association hosts a silent auction and cocktail party fundraiser for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. Hosted by ABC's Janet Davies, items for auction include vacations, artwork, writing workshops and more. Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan, penthouse. Wednesday, October 12, 5:30-8pm. $20 admission includes open bar and appetizers 'til 6:30 and a Kovel whiskey tasting from 6:30-8pm.
Started by Robert Frost in 1955, Poetry Day has brought out distinguished poets (Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Carl Sandburg) from around the country to be featured readers. Today is the 57th annual Poetry Day, and to celebrate, stop by Harold Washington Library, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium (400 S. State St) to hear this year's featured poet, W.S. Merwin, read. The fun begins at 6pm, and admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
"So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel" is a live variety show, held on the 1st Tuesday of every month. The October edition has entertainment all linked in some way to the 2nd Hand, who is the sponsor of this reading series.
Entertainment includes Live visual-art by Rob Funderburk, former 2nd Hand illustrator. The 2nd Hand co-editor C.T. Ballentine plays with his band Young Coconut.
Editor Todd Dills will perform with writers C.T. Balletine, Matt Pine and others. Contributors Joe Meno, Marc Baez and Fred Sasaki also join the festivities.
See it all tonight, 9pm at The Hungry Brain, 2319 West Belmont Avenue.
Reading Under the Influence breaks their tradition by having five readers and celebrating three book releases with their theme this month: Undressed.
The event features local authors Gina Frangello (reads from her new "Men Undressed" anthology), Megan Stielstra (reads from her new short story e-collection "Everyone Remain Calm"), Gus Rose (author of the forthcoming "Conman"), visual artist and blogger Philip Hartigan and Curbside Splendor publisher Victor David Giron (celebrating the first anniversary of his book, "Sophomoric Philosophy". Come for readings, trivia and a good time on Wednesday October 5th, 7pm, $3 at Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave.
The 2nd Hand literary magazine celebrates its 10th year anniversary with the book release of the anthology, All Hands On. Editor of the 2nd Hand Todd Dills hosts this book release. Featured readers who appear in the anthology include Jill Summers, Jonathon Messinger, and Kate Duva. The event is on tonight, 7pm, at Quimby's 1854 W. North Ave.
Today marks this years 24-Hour Comics Day. Join others in their attempt to create a complete 24 page comic book in 24 continuous hours. Simple right? Participants have to come in without any preconceived work and generate a story, art, layout and final copy all in the same day. You can take breaks and naps but need to complete the 24 pages in order to legitimately finish.
Indie punk legend Bob Mould (of Husker Du and Sugar fame) will be in town for a pair of shows promoting his memoir See a Little Light The Trail of Rage and Melody. The memoir (aptly titled for the hit off his first solo album Workbook) chronicles his 30-plus year career.
For this tour, Mould will be mixing in readings from his new book with solo acoustic performances from his catalog. Shows are Friday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 1, both at 8pm, at the Montrose Room: 5300 N. River Rd. in Rosemont. The shows are 18 and over.
The Logan Square Literary review celebrates the release of their Autumn 2011 issue (number 8) tonight. They will feature live readings by contributors published in the issue, including: M. Marie Barnhart, Brenton Harper Murray, Muyassar Kurdi, Lara Levitan, Thom.M.Murt, Vincent Truman, and Emily Wilensky. Past issues of the review will be available for purchase. Join them at 7pm, Cole's Bar 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave
Next Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 6pm to 9pm, you can join Chicago's second ever Literati event, aimed at "building a community of authors, playwrights, and literary professionals."
You'll find far more than authors and theater folks, however. Founder and host of the event, publicist Dana Kaye, aims to include anyone involved in the making (or selling) of words: from publishers to sales reps, from journalists to filmmakers, and even those from the rad world of comics.
Mingle, gab, network, collaborate, eat, drink, win. Who doesn't like that?
The basic idea is this: While writing is often a lonely, solitary endeavor, it doesn't have to be. Before hosting her first event last February, Kaye knew Chicago was chock-full of writers — but many of them didn't know each other. She wanted to create an opportunity for diverse people in the industry to come together in a relaxed, bar atmosphere where everyone could let down their guard.
Featured speaker Byron Hatfield went to the first event last February, and was a quick convert. Writing is already a "withdrawn profession," and those who devote their lives to it may tend toward the "weird" side of things. Why not get all those weird people together and see what happens?
Essentially, this is about putting people into the same room who would otherwise have never met, in a "no wall scenario" to encourage communication and collaboration.
For those of you getting ready to polish your manuscripts in the hopes of finding an agent — put them away. The goal of this event is not to get you a book deal, or a job. But it is about building up social capital, to see what may come down the road.
While this is only the second time she's held this event, Kaye knows what she wants to do in the future. Ideally, Chicagoans will be able to schmooze and brainstorm (at least in this setting) three times each year, and she also hopes to build an increasing presence of New York-based literary professionals at the gatherings.
Write Club's Chapter 18 is upon us. For those who do not know, Write Club has three bouts where authors are assigned a theme which their material has to reflect. They get seven minutes to square off. Then the audience votes on a winner. The best part is that proceeds collected go to charities of winners' choosing.
This time themes and writers chosen to represent them will be:
REVENGE (Dina Walters) vs. MERCY (Scott Whitehair),
ORDER (Ian Belknap) vs. CHAOS (Don Hall), and
ROOTS (Susan Karp) vs. BRANCHES (Patrick Carberry).
Match ups begin at 7pm. Tuesday September 27th at the Hideout 1354 W. Wabansia.
Missed Anne Elizabeth Moore talk about Cambodian Grrla couple of weeks ago? You're in luck -- this Thursday (the 29th), the current columnist for Truthout and former editor of Punk Planet and the Comics Journal talks about her Fulbright-sponsored journey teaching self-publishing to young Cambodian women. Joining Moore will be local cartoonist and writer Sara Drake, who has her own plans involving comics and Cambodia. 7pm, 1854 W. North Avenue.
September 24 to October 1 is Banned Books Week all over the U.S. To celebrate here in Chicago, check out Books on the Chopping Block, an hour-long program of readings from the most challenged books of 2010. Presented by City Lit and the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom, seven readings will take place at libraries in and around Chicago, ending in a final reading in suburban Glencoe. For times and locations, click here. If you don't feel like following the banned books around, you can take part in a Virtual Read-Out instead: submit a two-minute or less reading from a banned book or a three-minute eye-witness account of a banned book challenge in your area. Videos will be posted on a special YouTube channel. Get instructions on how to participate here. Happy Banned Books Week!
Black Flag member, band-creator (the Rollins Band), record maker and author Henry Rollins can add photographer to that list: his recently released book of photos, Occupants, bears witness to some of the world's starkest places, where upheaval and fear are the norm. These images are given context via his writing, and observe the inevitable bad and uncommon but very present good that occurs from Ireland to Iraq.
The Tamale Hut reading series will host a special night for one of its frequent readers, Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney, who will be debuting her new play. The festivities Saturday Sept 24th, 7pm at the Tamale Hut Café, located at 8300 W. Cermak Road in North Riverside, IL. Lots of tamales plus great stories.
Tomorrow night, author Amina Gautier reads from her short story collection At Risk at Women and Children First. Centered around a group of Brooklyn teens, author David Haynes says "in these always engaging stories, Amina Gautier reminds us that behind the disturbing headlines are vibrant young people whose lives matter immeasurably. Gautier employs unflinching honesty to capture those lives, and she does so with clarity, dignity and genuine insight. At Risk will break your heart even as it leaves you full of hope. It is a truly lovely book." Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark, September 22, 7:30pm.
Friday, September 23, poet Douglas Kearney will be on hand to inaugurate the first Harriet Reading Series. Future series events will have readings and presentations by the "Craft Work" and "Open Door" writers on The Poetry Foundation's Harriet Blog. The reading starts at 7pm at The Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St). Admission is free, but please RSVP here.
Mira Bartok, SAIC alum and author of several children's books, promotes the paperback release of her memoir, The Memory Palace. Bartok will read excepts from her work this Thursday September 22, 7pm at the Book Cellar 4736 N Lincoln Ave, # 1.
Wednesday September 21 Anna Solomon will read from her first novel, The Little Bride. Special guest Audrey Niffenegger will introduce the event. This begins at 7:30pm at Women and Children First 5233 North Clark Street.
First up is the Brinksmen Press reading, Revolutions: The Gamble, part II.
There will be some emerging writers and experimental music performances with featured readers to follow. Dan Duffy (editor of The Handshake magazine) and Patricia Ann McNair (author of The Temple of Air) will close the night. This event begins at 7pm at Brando's Speakeasy, 343 S. Dearborn St.
Second is Two and a Half Cookie Minimum. Two Cookie Minimum is a reading series promoting self publishers and writers. For this event, they team up with Half Nelson press, a self-published literary journal. Readers will include contributors to Half Nelson issue two alongside Mairead Case (co-conspirator of Dil Pickle Club) and Mason Johnson (host of P. Fanatics reading series). The event begins at 9pm at at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont Ave.
Make it a literary night of sorts, stopping early at Revolutions and end with Two Cookies. Not a bad way to spend a weeknight.
Over the years, the Alternative Press (Ken and Ann Mikolowski) made and sent out to their followers "poetry postcards," written by such poetry notables as Anne Waldman, Robert Creely, and Ted Berrigan. These postcards will be exhibited as The Alternative Press Multiple Originals Project at the Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior) from September 21 to November 4. And to celebrate, the Foundation will host an opening reception on September 22 at 6pm, where poets Bill Berkson, Andrei Codrescu, and Emily Warn talk with Ken Mikolowski about The Alternative Press's unique project. For more information on The Alternative Press Multiple Originals Project, the poets who participated, and examples of poetry postcards, check out this article by Emily Warn.
On Thursday evening, bibliophiles had an opportunity to attend an informal meet & greet with two authors, both with Chicago roots: Elizabeth Berg (Once Upon a Time, There Was You), now an Oak Park denizen, and Jacquelyn Mitchard (Second Nature, a Love Story), a Chicago-to-Wisconsin transplant, dished with Tribune literary editor Elizabeth Taylor to a room full of women (and perhaps two men, give or take).
The tone of this installment of the Tribune's Author Talks, part of an effort to "extend journalism to a live format," was set from the start. In her introduction, Taylor relayed an anecdote about her husband, who apparently responded to learning who the chosen authors for this particular event were by saying, "why don't you just sit around drinking wine and talking in your pajamas?"
Although she was quick to add her husband's respect for these authors, there's much to be said for the comfort and intimacy (not to mention, honesty) of pjs and a bottle of wine. Throughout the evening, the audience (myself included) was so comfortable that I'm not sure we weren't dressed more informally than we actually were. If the Trib's goal was to hold these events as intimate "salons", where the conversation on stage feels personal, then they succeeded.
Berg and Mitchard began, obligingly, by sharing their "Oprah Stories" - both have had books chosen for the infamous book club, with Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean being the first ever. Mitchard, who got a testy, fourth phone message from Oprah asking her to please have the courtesy to return her call, initially thought the whole thing was a joke.
To justify juxtaposing these two stories together, they obviously need more in common than Lady O - which they most certainly do. Both books explore what happens after tragedy, and how people cope - be it the personal tragedy of a divorce and worrying about your child, or the medical risk of transplant rejection. Both, said Berg, "acknowledge sorrow, but offer comfort."
That gift of comfort, perhaps, has gotten them some stern reviews, most of which focus on writing and themes that are allegedly overly sincere and sentimental. Unsurprisingly, this sort of criticism tends to follow women authors who write about the lives of women. It is a testament to the organizers of this event that they don't succumb to the erroneous conviction that "women's literature" (aka, "chick lit") is thereby relatively uninteresting and unimportant (check out this interview with author Augusten Burroughs, who sees truthfulness and honesty where others see maudlin).
While many writers may be "deeply insecure" about bad reviews, Berg and Mitchard seem to take it in stride. "Good criticism finds places [I've] been dishonest," Mitchard admitted. Operative word being "good" - some detractors may well be railing against anything resembling a happy ending.
"Not every book ends like a Cormac McCarthy book," Mitchard continued, "with a guy eating an egg and thinking about the end of the world."
Maybe McCarthy should write in his pajamas more often.
CWIP will hold its fall kickoff event on Thursday, September 22nd, at the Gleacher Center (450 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive), from 6:30pm - 8:30pm.
The keynote speaker will be Jennifer Parello, director of marketing and communication for World Book. Come for her tips for successfully navigating the publishing industry today, and stay for networking and hors d'oeuvres from Wolfgang Puck. Win-win.
You can register here, or call 773-508-0351 (extension 2).
Here's the pricing breakdown:
If you register on or before September 20
• CWIP members: $30; nonmembers: $40
If you register after September 20
• CWIP members: $35; nonmembers: $45
Students with ID
• $30 for registration before September 20;
Join Here's the Story's Journey to the End of the Night this Saturday, September 17. Part tag, part scavenger hunt, and part race, you'll roam the streets of Chicago, following a set storyline that involves robots, maps to freedom, and safe zones. Show up at Harrison Park to sign up at 6pm, and at 7pm, let the game begin. There's no charge, and all you need to bring is yourself and your sense of direction. Running shoes might help, too. You know you're interested now...so check out all the important info here.
Tonight Anne Elizabeth Moore (teacher, zinester, activist) reads from her new book: Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh. The book chronicle's Moore's travels in Cambodia teaching writing and self publishing in an all-girls' university. There will an opening dance performance by the Cambodian Association of Illinois, then Moore will be interviewed by Mara Shalhoup, editor of Chicago Reader. It all happens September 13th, 6pm, at the Claudia Cassidy Theater in the Chicago Cultural Center 78 E Washington. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Poetry Foundation invites you to check out a staged reading about poet William Butler Yeats, with Chicago actors performing his biography and reading his poems.
The important details, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation:
What:Meet Mr. Yeats Who: Directed by Bernard Sahlins with Bruce Jarchow in the title role and cast members Timothy Kazurinsky, John Mohrlein, and Suzanne Petri. When: Two performances
Sunday, September 18, 7:00pm
Monday, September 19, 7:00pm Where: Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior Street
Best of all, admission is free! You can reserve your seats now by going here.
The Chicago Way reading series focuses on Chicago authors (who can ask for more). Local authors Michael Burke (What You Don't Know About Men), Geoff Hyatt (Birch Hills at World's End), Patricia Ann McNair (The Temple of Air) and Megan Stielstra (Everyone Remain Calm) read from their new novel (Hyatt) and story collections (Burke, McNair and Stielstra) and discuss their stories, their writing processes and offer publishing advice and answer any questions the audience might have. Have your journal and pen handy when attending this Sunday, Sept. 11 at the The Hidden Shamrock, 2723 N. Halsted, at 7pm. Free admission.
TWW presents TMI: Totally, Maybe, I Don't Know at Beauty Bar (1444 W. Chicago Ave.) Sunday September 11th, 7pm. The reading series starts with a quick open mic, then moves onto stories from Gina Frangello, Lindsay Hunter, Muyassar Kurdi, Ben Tanzer, Richard Thomas, and Brandon Tietz.
Not looking forward to the cooler weather? Well, there's a silver lining: The Poetry Foundation has announced their Fall 2011 Literary Series. From readings to exhibits to Poetry on Stage, you're sure to find something to keep you warm this fall. Check out the full list of events here.
Join the punk rock reading series Neutron Bomb collaborate with The Handshake (an online literary publication) for a Columbia College-centric "Back II Cool" extravaganza.
Readings by Columbia College fiction writing grad students Jessie Morrison, Noelle Hufnagel, Kevin Kane and Dan Duffy plus a college faculty member too cool to name. Throw in a Handshake contributor, Dmitry Samarov. And what would a punk rock reading be without a band, who plays after all the readings are done. Quite the back to school bash (Rodney Dangerfield would be proud). Stop by Cal's Liquors, 400 S. Wells St., Saturday, Sept. 10 at 7pm if you're cool enough (and you're 21).
The monthly series that marries reading and drinking is back this month with their theme being the Apocalypse. Why that theme, well Reading Under the Influence is holding this as a release party for featured reader Geoff Hyatt's book Birch Hills at World's End. Other readers will include James Finn Garner, Ilana Shabanov and Nick Delehanty. RUI lands on the first Wednesday of each month -- this month being tomorrow, Sept. 7. It's at Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave, at 7pm with a $3 cover.
Not literally, of course. But The Poetry Foundation is having another open house -- this time to showcase its library's programs and expanded hours. The library at the newly built Poetry Foundation building has around 30,000 books and is open to the public. Why not stop by and celebrate it? The open house, dubbed Collections and Cocktails, is Wednesday, September 7, from 5:30pm to 8:30pm and will feature library collection readings from local poets, poetry fortune-telling, and more. Admission is free but first-come, first-served, so make sure you're in line early at the Poetry Foundation (61 West Superior St)! RSVP here.
The monthly series "So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel?" is back Tuesday, Sept. 6, with a variety of performers, including Brandon Will and Nick Bitonti with some sketch comedy of sorts, the poetic styling of Dave Snyder, literary stand-up by Daniel Shapiro, plus a screening of a short film and talk by Xan Aranda of the Chicago Short Film Brigade. Host Harold Ray may challenge you to a drinking match so come prepared. The series is on the first Tuesday of every month at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, at 9pm.
The Encyclopedia Show kicks off its fourth series with the theme "saints." All featured performances of music, poetry, visual art, and spoken word will have some insanely saintly tie in. Featured contributors include Seth Dodson (The Show 'N Tell Show) as St. Elmo's Fire, Robin Gelfenbien (comedian, storyteller) as St. Vitus Dance, LeKeja Dawson (Louder Than a Bomb All Star) as Santa Muerte, Billy Lombardo (Author of The Man With Two Arms) as Maximilian Kolbe, and Marty McConnell (HBO Def Poet) as St. Anne. As always, the regular show cast members will be on hand to host. They all take the stage Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7:30pm at the Vittum Theatre, 1012 N. Noble St. Tickets are sold at the door; $8 for adults and $5 for students.
Tomorrow night David Ansell reads from County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital at the Roosevelt branch of the Chicago Public Library. Ansell is a Chicago based physician and health activist who currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer at Rush University Medical Center and was part of a Chicago-based effort that provided medical relief after the Haiti earthquake. The Chicago Tribune says "...the many ways in which poor patients were mistreated and devalued on its premises are the true subject of this book - a valuable addition to the historical record of Cook County and its problem-ridden health care system. Ansell takes readers behind the scenes for a look at deplorable conditions." Chicago Public Library, Roosevelt branch, 1101 W. Taylor, Wednesday, August 31 at 6pm.
What began 15 years ago as a single sheet circulated among friends has grown into a collection recently published by Montreal's Drawn & Quarterly. Big Questions, over 600 pages of them, are asked by a group of birds -- pondering the meaning of life and, naturally, tasty things to eat.
Nilsen's own life certainly prompted his own questioning. As he put it to the Reader, "I've lived in four different cities, in eight different houses, and had seven different day jobs. I've been engaged twice, married once, divorced, and weathered a death." If you think the melancholy evoked by the cartoons feels all too real, it probably is.
To catch some of these metaphysical musings, consider attending the book release event, sponsored by Quimby's, on Tuesday, August 30th at Lula Cafe (2537 N. Kedzie, 773-489-9554), starting at 7pm.
From Alphonse Mucha to Chicago's Will Bradley, art noveau artists have created curving, colorful pieces of art, often featured on book covers, that continue to inspire today. Come find out more Thursday, September 15, Second Presbyterian Church (1936 S. Michigan Ave). SAIC Professor Rolf Achilles will lead the discussion, starting at 7pm. Contact historic2ndchurch [at] yahoo [dot] com for more details.
Tomorrow night, and every last Thursday of the month, is Chattinger's, the graphic novel book club at Challengers Comics. This month's selection is A Drifting Life, Yoshihiro Tatsumi's autobiography of growing up in post World War II Japan. Purchase not required; 20% discount on featured book. Challengers Comics, 1845 N. Western, 2R, August 25 at 7pm.
I just finished Children of Men, and started Oryx and Crake, so telling you about an apocalypse-themed literary event seems like a logical next step. Hosting John Yingling of Gonzo Chicago, anti-sex blogger Donny Kevin Rodriguez of Wood Sugars, columnist Andrew O'Connor, Tomasz Jurczak of The Last King of Poland, Jeff Phillips of Wood Sugars, XIII Pocket, Turban Tan and Whiskey Pike, Aaron Cynic of Diatribe Media and political writer for Chicagoist, and Liz Mason of Caboose Zine and Quimby's.
This line-up reads and talks Sunday, August 28th, at the Black Rock Pub on 3614 N. Damen. Starts 8:30pm. Head over for $3 Bloody Marys and writing about the end-times.
Columbia College Chicago's Center for Book & Paper Arts explores an old-made-new form of printing, wood type, with a display of works from Swiss designer Dafi Kühne. Kühne is currently researching modern and fresh ways to utilize wood type and letterpress, delving into materials like laser cutters and the more old-school cardboard to produce the written word. Other artists shown include David Wolske, Bethany Heck, Brad Vetter, Alex Cooper, Rose Gridneff, and David Shields.
This will run September 8 - December 10. Gallery hours are 10am-6pm, Monday-Saturday. The gallery is located at 1104 S. Wabash Avenue, Second Floor.
The monthly reading series Orange Alert is hosted by Jason Behrends, who also runs the imprint of the same name. Orange Alert Press has its August event this Sunday the 21st. Readers will include local talent: Brett E. Gallagher, Steve Roggenbuck , Jason Bredle, Keith Ecker, and AD Jameson. It all goes down at 6pm at the Whistler 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.
From the creators of the reading series This Much is True, comes Story Lab, a reading series that brings new voices telling new stories. Performing this month will be: Willy Nast (a creative writing graduate from Northwestern), Marie Scatena (professor at Columbia University, NY), Rhiannon Koehler (an actress, writer, and student at Loyola Marymount University, LA) among others.
Story Labs fall on the third Wednesday of every month, which is August 17th, 7:30pm, at the Black Rock Pub (3614 N. Damen). Story Lab is interested to hear your story go to the series -- contact them, and we might be seeing you there in the future.
Tonight! Generation Y night at Reading Under the Influence. Featured readers are Kyle Chaney, Ray Lumpp, Erin Nedero and August 3 audience winner Michelle Pretorius. Unlike most RUI readings, there's no cover tonight, and the first 20 attendees win a door prize. Sheffield's , 3258 N. Sheffield, Wednesday, August 17. Readings start at 7:30pm in the back room; get there early for a seat.
If you like poetry, entertainment, and top hats, then the Chicago Poetry Brothel is for you. Tucked away in Thalia Hall, in private rooms in Ristorante al Teatro (1227 W 18th St), the basement bar has been turned into a Victorian brothel by the brothel's madam--Madam Black-eyed Susan--her "poetry whores," and the good doctor (there to supply laudanum for the poets with a case of the nerves). After paying the entrance fee ($5 if you're dressed in Victorian period clothing, $10 if your Victorian period wardrobe is at the cleaners), grab some wine or whiskey at the bar, and wait for the show to start.
The Poetry Brothel typically follows a standard format: After patrons get the chance to settle, Madam Black-eyed Susan introduces her poets with a few descriptive sentences about each, and each poet gets a chance to read a bit of their work to entice the crowd. Once everyone has gotten just a taste of the evening's finest lines, the poets mix and mingle with the crowd, peddling their poems, every so often taking the floor again to tease the patrons with more of their work. Because for a mere $5, you can purchase a token that gets you, not only the poetry whore of your choice, but an intimate reading with that poet, inside a velvet tent, complete with chairs, a table, and gold tassels. In this private space, the poet will recite anything the patron wants--be it the poet's own work or a poem the patron has in mind--on any topic. Being face-to-face and knee-to-knee with the poet is a very personal experience--ask the poet anything you want about the piece, ask for it to be read it again, ask pretty please for more than one poem. You might think that you'll get the same kind of work from each poet, which is definitely not the case. The poetry whores each have their own style that ranges from sultry jazz (Serafine LaCroix) to dark and haunting (August Rose). Plan ahead--check them all out so you can come to the next brothel prepared. And if you're interested in more than one, feel free to purchase more than one private reading!
But poetry isn't the only entertainment--the brothel also invites guests and musicians to showcase their talent. At the August 6 Poetry Brothel, Pearl Pistol performed her alluring vaudeville burlesque show, and the White City Rippers kept everyone moving with what they call their "old-timey mad-scientist steampunk music." (The October brothel will feature Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City, and The Loneliest Monk, master of the electric cello.)
Intrigued? You should be. By the end of the night (the Poetry Brothel parlors are open from 8pm to midnight), you may leave with the poetry whores' books (on sale throughout the evening), and you may leave a little tipsy (the bar is open all four hours), but you certainly won't leave uninspired and unimpressed. And to tantalize you just a little bit more--see what Madam Black-eyed Susan herself has to say about the brothel, her poetry whores, and much more after the jump.
The next installment of Ray's Tap Reading Series is August 12th with the theme Imaginary Birds. It is not being billed as the series' last reading of all time, but then again there's really no way to know for sure. There's a huge line up of readers featuring:
Matt Rowan, Jacob Knabb, Jayita Bhattacharya, Matt Test, Troy Martin, Dave Snyder,
Daniel Shapiro, Scott Whitehair, Natalie Edwards, Mason Johnson, Brian Nemtusak,
Mark Chrisler, and Tim Racine.
The series is named for its location, Ray's Tap 3047 N. Kimball Avenue. Bar opens at 8 and the readings commence around 9pm.
MAKE magazine will host the Chicago book release for L.C. Fiore's first novel Green Gospel (Fiore is also MAKE's associate fiction editor). Joining will be Lindsay Hunter author of Daddy on Featherproof books. Bookending the readings will be music by Steven Hendershot of the Spares. If that's not enough enjoy complimentary beer and snacks. The event is Friday August 12th, 6:30pm at the Gentner Showroom, 228 W. Kinzie.
Everyone has a story to tell, and if you come to Here's the Story, you can listen to some and even tell one of your own. Taking place every second Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm, at Stage 773 (1225 W Belmont), Here's the Story features five invited readers and holds a "story slam" for anyone who signs up. If you're selected as a "slammer," you get the floor at your designated time, share your story, and then keep your fingers crossed that the audience likes it--because they assign points to their favorites. The slammer with the most points gets to be one of the next month's featured readers. What makes Here's the Story different from tons of other readings, slams, and open mics around the city? It's also a potluck! Bring a dish to pass, fill your plate, and settle in for some serious storytelling. Get more info, see how to submit to be a featured reader, and check out past events here. Next show is September 14!
This fall, the Trib offers a cracker-jack lineup of intimate conversations with authors. Helmed by Chicago Tribune Literary Editor Elizabeth Taylor, the "salons" allow you to have your burning questions answered by the writers, who will also attend a "meet & mingle" reception where you can continue the dialogue up close and personal.
While the series itself may be relatively new (having only just begun in February), the impetus behind it is not. Taylor explained that the talks are an outgrowth of the success, enthusiasm and joy of the Printer's Row Book Fair and the Tribune's literary awards, and are a way to extend that throughout the year.
Crafting the talks as "intimate salons" is a response to an increasingly electronic culture. "In this electronic age, people are yearning to come together and enjoy this communal aspect of reading." The selection of authors is made with an eye toward achieving a range and balance between fiction and non-fiction and, most importantly, to find "books and authors that we think will resonate with readers."
While you may have missed the talk Monday, August 8, with Sapphire (whose novel Push became the recent film Precious), you can still attend the rest.
The Author Talks series continues on Thursday, Sept. 15 with Elizabeth Berg (of the recent Once Upon a Time, There Was You, and before that Talk Before Sleep) and Jacquelyn Mitchard (of the upcoming Second Nature, A Love Story, and previously The Deep End of the Ocean). This installment of the series takes place at the Tribune Tower (435 N. Michigan) at 6:30pm, and costs $20 -- which includes reception and book signing.
Left: Jacquelyn Mitchard; photo by Virginia Sutherland. Right: Elizabeth Berg; photo by Curt Richter
The next installment features Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides) and takes place on Friday, Oct. 21 at the Murphy Auditorium (50 E. Erie Street) at 6:30pm, and costs $30 -- which includes a copy of The Marriage Plot, his much-anticipated follow-up to Middlesex.
The final talk, in co-presentation with the 22nd annual Chicago Humanities Festival, will be with writer and philosopher Umberto Eco (of the infamous Foucault's Pendulum, and the upcoming The Prague Cemetery), who will appear at the Thorne Auditorium of Northwestern University Law School (375 E. Chicago Avenue), on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 3pm, and costs $15.
Left: Jeffrey Eugenides; right: Umberto Eco
After all this, if you're still thirsty for more (and who wouldn't be?), stay tuned to see who the Trib will bring for the spring.
Read 'em and Weep, an aptly titled zine reading tour consists of four Chicago zinesters, will hit the road this week. The tour includes zinesters Dave Roche (On Subbing and About my Disappearance zines), Leslie Perrine (mini-comic/fiction zine and an organizer of Chicago Zine Fest), Xavier Maldonado (poetry zine Explorers are We) and Jim Joyce (personal/nonfiction zine Or Let it Sink).
Joining them will be local zinester special guests Rosy Phinick (Bacterial Turned Viral zine) and Sara Drake (Arty Party comic zine).
The reading is Thursday, August 11, at 7pm at 826CHI, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. It's free and there will be some refreshments. How DIY!
Come by and usher these guys outta Chicago on a good note.
Tonight! Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLAP) presents their quadruple book release party at Beauty Bar, featuring readings from all four authors - Sally Weigel (Too Young To Fall Asleep), Ben Tanzer (99 Problems), Mark R. Brand (Life After Sleep) and Jason Fisk (Salt Creek Anthology). Books available for $20 each or the whole shebang for $50. Free food, cash bar, DJ and dancing afterward. Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave., August 10, 7pm.
Belmont Avenue is where it's at this week for reading and writing: just a short distance from where Britney Spears 101 takes place tonight is a reading series that delves into first times and the experiences they bring. A couple of differences: it's happening tomorrow night, it's at the Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont Ave) and sponsored by CHIRP Radio, and it's not about Britney Spears. Probably. I guess it could be.
Liz Mason self-publishes the zine Caboose, its current issue #7 is titled: Britney Spears 101," touching on topics of Brit as well as her experience undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer. Next up is Christopher Smit, PhD, an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan who authored the book The Exile of Britney Spears: A Tale of 21st Century Consumption. Last on the Brit train is Judy Hoffman, an award-winning filmmaker/cinematographer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago who directed Stages: 3 Days In Mexico, about Britney Spears' 2002 concerts in Mexico City.
The not-to-be-missed event is Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 9pm at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont.
Is at it again! This month's Poetry Brothel is once again at Thalia Hall, inside Ristorante al Teatro (1227 W 18th St), tomorrow from 8pm to midnight. Hear a private poem from one of the madam's best poetry girls; get your fortune told; and enjoy Victorian parlor songs, The White City Rippers, and burlesque beauty Pearl Pistol. Saturday is for food and drinks, celebrating Chicago's saints and sinners, and of course: poetry! (The price of admission is $5 if you come dressed Victorian, $10 if you don't!)
Chicago teen poetry group Louder Than A Bomb (which you may remember from such films as Louder Than A Bomb) announce a collaboration with Victory Gardens Theater. The partnership will launch new playwriting curriculum for LTAB, with courses designed to explore the intersections of poetry, hip-hop and theater. Their first show, English Class Heretics, a "best of" LTAB showcase, runs this weekend. Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, Friday, August 5 at 7:30pm and Saturday, August 6 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
It's not until October but here's the early heads-up: actress, comedian, and singer Jane Lynch will grace Women & Children First 10/9, talking about her autobiography, Happy Accidents (available from Women & Children First on 9/13). In Happy Accidents, Lynch discusses how her career path and life have intertwined, as well as the issues of sexuality that have accompanied her on that journey.
August 14th from 1pm-3pm at the Smart Museum (5550 S. Greenwood Avenue), poet Matthias Regan presents the second of two workshops combining the sensibilities of reading and looking. Intended to "explore the relationship between figures and genres of personhood," this (free!) workshop consists of a brief lecture, tour of exhibit "Go Figure," and a conversation about related stories and poems.
This last of the two-workshop series, "Bodies Among Other Things," pairs Sylvia Sleigh's painting The Turkish Bath with passages from Lord Byron's mock epic poem Don Juan, "in order to contemplate how sexualized bodies receive, hold onto, and return the viewer's desire."
Over the summer, the well-known Encyclopedia Show, a variety show hosted by poet Robbie Q. Telfer, takes a break from its monthly installments and celebrates a year in review, kinda. Cue the Best of Season 3, their anthology show. The event takes place at the Vittum Theatre (1012 N Noble Street), 7pm. Get tickets at the door; $8 for adults and $5 for students.
Today, A New Road Home tour hits Chicago. The tour is a collaboration between Nomy Lamm and DavEnd, nationally know queer-core artists, who will remix notions of gender, sexuality, dis/ability, community and family. Local legends Jami Sailor, Mia Beatrice, Dalice Malice, and The Ovens are on the bill. Stop by 826CHI aka The Boring Store (1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.) at 7pm.
Two Cookie Minimum's One Year Anniversary falls on Saturday July 30. This series showcases emerging writers and local zinesters. Plus it's at a bakery, Fritz Pastry (1408 W. Diversey).
Readers include: Carrie Colpitts (brilliant mistake zine), Cyn Vargas, Erin Nederbo (intern at Reading Under the Influence), Dan Copulsky (editor of Concisely zine), Kevin Kern,
Jill Summers, John Wawrzaszek (the Muse, the News, and the Noose zine)
If you haven't had enough at Printers' Ball, here's a few post events that should sate you.
Directly following the ball on Friday, July 29 join ALARM Press, publisher of Design Bureau magazine, for an after party at Villains Chicago (649 South Clark Street). Mingle with local publishers and Ball attendees. The event is free. Come out at 11 and stay until closing.
Then wake up the next afternoon and get your costumes ready for the Slumber Party Massacre Saturday, July 30, 9pm at Beauty Bar (1444 West Chicago Avenue). RSVP to Beauty Bar.
Entertainment will include DJ sets by Gabriel Feijóo (WLUW-FM), Miles Raymer & J.R. (of the Chicago Reader), and Dark Wave Disco, a photo booth by Glitter Guts, plus costumes contests for Best Costume and Best Couple's costume.
Thrilled, and maybe a little overwhelmed, by all the amazing literary wonderfulness at this year's Printers' Ball? What would it be like if you couldn't read well enough to enjoy any of it? Join Gapers Block and the Chicago Literacy Alliance Friday, July 29, from 6:30pm to 7:30 pm for a special Printers Ball Edition meetup (1104 S Wabash) to learn more about the literacy crisis in our city and the organizations that are banding together to fight it. Then head out with your new meetup friends to explore all that the Ball has to offer. Anyone and everyone with an interest in books, reading, literacy, and meeting like-minded people is welcome!
Gapers Block and Chicago Literacy Alliance will be located in a prime spot on the first floor in the Northwest corner next to the bar. Look for a banner!
Men Undressed: Women Writers and the Male Sexual Experience is the theme for one of the Printers' Ball lead up events.
Susan Solomon and Gina Frangello read selections from newly published Men Undressed, a book featuring contemporary women writers taking on the point of view of male characters during their sexual experiences. Davis Schneiderman follows reading a story by Cris Mazza. All readers will be dressed up as the opposite sex.
Check it out Wednesday 27th at 6pm. The event will be located at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College 1104 South Wabash Avenue. Oh and it's free.
Printers Ball is annual celebration of print culture with this year's theme -- It's Alive. The Ball takes place on Friday July 29th, 6-11pm at 1104 S. Wabash. Stop by and pick up some free lit, sit in on paper making and letterpress demonstrations and enjoy live music all presented by Poetry Magazine and Columbia College Chicago.
We'll be there, too! Check us out and pick up a free pencil and sticker. We'll be next to the Chicago Literary Alliance.
Who doesn't like foraging through great books for even greater deals? If you count yourself among those so inclined, stop by Women & Children First next weekend for their annual used book sale. You'll find steals on "fiction, nonfiction, children's books, LGBTQ titles, CDs, DVDs, and collectables" -- all for a good cause. Proceeds from the weekend benefit the bookstore's non-profit arm, the Women's Voices Fund, which supports all the wonderful programming they make free to the public. July 30 - 31st, 10am-7pm.
Writer Cassie J. Snider reads from her new book Fine Fine Music, a collection of stories about the other side of rock and roll and coming of age in NYC, playfully promoting it as "Sex, Pugs, Rock and Roll." Joining her will be readers Danny "Ratso" Rathbun (author of the zine Don't Tread on Me) and local Dave Roche (author of the zine My Disappearance). Saturday July 23rd, 7pm at Quimby's 1854 W. North Ave.
This Sunday the 24th from 1pm-3pm at the Smart Museum (5550 S. Greenwood Avenue), poet Matthias Regan will begin a series of two workshops combining the sensibilities of reading and looking. Intended to "explore the relationship between figures and genres of personhood," each (free!) workshop consists of a brief lecture, tour of exhibit "Go Figure," and a conversation about related stories and poems.
The first of the two workshops, "Bodies Among Other Things," pairs Kerry James Marshall's painting Slow Dance with a short story by detective novelist Walter Mosley.
Palabra Pura is a bilingual poetry reading series that takes place monthly and features Chicano and Latino artists. At each reading, a local poet is paired with a visiting writer, and an open mic is thrown in to foster interaction. Tonight's reading starts at 7:30pm at La Bruquena restaurant (2726 W. Division) and is curated by Rafael Franco Steeves with Rey Andujar and Carlos Vázquez Cruz. Admission is free!
"O Wicker Park Fest/ What souvenir should I take home?/ A hangover? A corduroy hipster vest?/ Or an original poem?"
At this Saturday's Wicker Park Fest, two of the Poetry Brothel poets, Dave Landsberger and Kathleen Rooney, will provide poetry on demand from 2pm-9pm at the Chamber of Commerce Booth. Tell them your topic of choice, and they will type out a fresh, related poem on their vintage typewriter. Donations of $5 are suggested, though pay-what-you-can is also accepted. All proceeds will benefit the after-school program 826CHI (The Boring Store) and Rose Metal Press. Read on below for sample poems from Landsberger and Rooney.
WICKER PARK by Dave Landsberger
Men cheat at chess and chug Big Gulps
as children run shirtless to stranger's puppies.
Fat guys on fat softball teams watch skinny dudes
tai-chi into Derrick Rose--the shoes are insults,
the sockless are gods here. O, to be barefoot,
eating a sandwich, under a tree, hopefully no one's Labrador
will release their morning upon me. And look, the sun,
it bombasts above the fountain as if to draw a straight line:
a pyramid, an ancient geyser of goats, gargoyles, a pizza from above .
Even hipsters cannot reappropriate such wonder.
Nor the drunken centrifuge of the Blue Line,
the sad-looking babes in leggings, the elderly who sit and watch,
holding hands. The only force that can steal it away is the winter,
and even then, the poinsettias win. Their roots, barefoot.
SIX-WAY INTERSECTION: A CINQUAIN by Kathleen Rooney
The street, a girl
Just threw her cellphone at
A bus. Man--where can we get a
Young Chicago Authors (along with The Art Institute of Chicago, The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, New School Poetics, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago) is proud to present Check the Method: A Summer Spoken Word Camp. In a session for young writers (ages 16-24; July 25-29) and a session for educators (classroom teachers, teaching artists, future teachers; August 1-5), these five-day camps will focus on writing techniques and practices, as well as writing education. Co-lead by Kevin Coval and Roger Bonair-Agard, both sessions take place each day from 10am-3pm and will provide lunch. Interested? Click here for more information and registration.
The Chicago Way, a literary series that mixes readings and trivia, will host author Michael Harvey who penned the book The Chicago Way. He will be promoting his newest book, We All Fall Down, with copies available to sign. The event takes place on Sunday July 17th, 7pm at the Hidden Shamrock (2723 North Halsted Street).
Way back in May, we told you about poetry slams turning 25 this year, and the big bash YCA is having to celebrate on Saturday, July 30, from 8-11pm. Haven't gotten your tickets yet? Well, we have an exciting update: Discounted student tickets are now available for $10! Go to the events page, click on the ticketing link, and enter the promotional code "student." When you pick up your tickets at will call on July 30, flash your student ID or mention "YCA." Happy slammin' poetry!
Wednesday night, Columbia College assistant professor Samuel Parkreads from his novel This Burns My Heart at Women and Children First. The story of a woman struggling for identity in post-war South Korea, This Burns was named one of amazon.com's Best Books of the Month for July, 2011. Audrey Niffenegger calls it "...quietly stunning - a soft, fierce story that lingers in the mind." Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Wednesday, June 13, 7:30pm.
Tomorrow night! Slip into the air conditioning for the This Much Is True reading series at The Hopleaf: "Revealing the humorous, embarrassing and poignant moments that make up a life remembered." Tuesday's reading features:
Bobby Biedrzycki, Columbia College instructor and co-curator of the 2nd Story Development Team.
As you may have noticed on our right sidebar, we've got a new Book Club event coming up and it's full of history, revelations (both funny and serious), and many miles of prairie.
Wendy McClure will join the GB Book Club staff at Sheffield's on July 27 to discuss The Wilder Life, her story of a road trip through the land of Little House on the Prairie, and the actual events, culture (remember the TV show?) and ideas that entails -- both for the book's characters and real-life inspirations, the author, and the people that feature in her journey into the life and times of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Sheffield's is located at 3258 N. Sheffield Avenue. The event starts at 7:30pm. There will be some sort of Little House-themed surprise for attendees. Email rl@gapersblock with any questions.
On Sunday July 10th, P. Fanatics host Mason Johnson brings another round of literary hijinks. The event is at Cole's bar (2338 N. Milwaukee), 8pm, no cover. Readers include: Jill Summers, Dan Shapiro, Lindsay Hunter, Robbie Q. Telfer and more.
But we promise, these classes will be fun: DePaul is having its Summer Writing Conference again, from July 15-17. This year's conference will feature Alex Kotlowitz, journalist and best-selling author, as opening speaker and Miles Harvey, award-winning fiction writer (and DePaul assistant professor), as closing speaker, as well as other notable poets and writers who will help you learn more about craft, publishing, and surviving as a writer. Interested? Get registration information and a schedule of classes here.
A group of Librarians by day and Zinesters by night are taking their talents on the road, touring around in the Fly Away Zine Mobile, a bookmobile dedicated to DIY and self-publishing.
Tour participants are Jenna Freedman (Lower East Side Librarian and Barnard Zine Collection); Jami Sailor (Your Secretary zine and Chicago Public Library Near North Branch Librarian); John Stevens (Dilettantes and Heartless Manipulators); Celia Perez (I Dreamed I Was Assertive and Atlas of Childhood); and Debbie Rasmussen (former publisher of Bitch: Feminist Response to Popular Culture) who's latest venture is the Fly Away Zine Mobile.
The tour stops by Chicago July 6th, 7pm at Quimbys 1854 W. North ave.
Sprung from the minds of Think Galactic, a science fiction-based book club out of Wicker Park, leftist sci-fi convention Galacticon happens July 8-10 at Roosevelt University. Find out more about the con in Time Out Chicago's recent article, or go straight to the website.
The monthly reading series Reading Under the Influence (RUI)offers up the theme "Poison" on Wednesday July 6th. Featured readings by Adam McOmber (fitting as he authored the book, This New and Poisonous Air), 2nd Story contributor Eileen Dougharty, Mason Johnson and Adam Wood. Join them at Sheffield's (3258 N Sheffield Ave) 7pm, 21+, $3.
Tonight author and filmmaker Daniel Kraus will be on hand at Bucket of Blood books and records reading from and signing his new horror novel, Rotters. The event starts at 7:30pm, but get there early and check out the shop's selection of horror and science fiction books (2307 N. Milwaukee Ave).
Mandy Van Deven reads from Hey, Shorty! A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and On the Streets at Women and Children First tomorrow night. Ms. magazine says "If you want to read about some truly inspiring young feminists, pick up Hey Shorty! This book is full of great ideas for youth organizing and coalition work. [It] encouraged girls to articulate their issues and goals, and then worked with them to learn the skills they needed to achieve their goals. The result? A whole new generation of smart, knowledgeable, articulate and empowered young women. Women who will change the world." Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark, Friday, July 1, 7:30pm.
If you're out in the suburbs and can't make it to the Gapers Block event tonight, David Ansell will be reading from County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital at the Oak Park Public Library. Ansell is a Chicago based physician and health activist who currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer at Rush University Medical Center and was part of a Chicago-based effort that provided medical relief after the Haiti earthquake. The Chicago Tribune says "...the many ways in which poor patients were mistreated and devalued on its premises are the true subject of this book - a valuable addition to the historical record of Cook County and its problem-ridden health care system. Ansell takes readers behind the scenes for a look at deplorable conditions." Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake Street, Thursday, June 30, 7pm.
Camille Noe Pagan reads from The Art of Forgetting tonight at the Book Cellar. A novel of female friendship and the shifting roles they entail, author Sarah Pekkanen calls it "lively, thoughtful...This book captivated me from the first page, and I couldn't bear to put it down." The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, Thursday, June 23, 7pm.
Way back when, we told you about the construction of The Poetry Foundation's new building. Well, the new building will open to the public this weekend, on June 25! And to celebrate, the foundation is inviting you over for a two-day open house on June 25 and 26, starting at 10am each day. Plan to not only be wowed by the beautiful new space but also by the entertainment, with readings from poets that include Billy Collins, Robert Hass, and Jack Prelutsky; a presentation by the building's architect, John Ronan; discussions; book signings; and much much more. Check out the schedule of events here, and reserve FREE tickets to any event(s) of your choice.
Haven't decided if you're going to attend The Poetry Foundation Open House this Saturday? How about this as an incentive: Singer-songwriter Neko Case will perform a special show at 8:30 pm on June 25, at the new building (61 W. Superior). FREE tickets will be given out through a lottery system -- 90 pairs in all. Go to The Poetry Foundation's lottery website between now and Tuesday, June 21, at 5 pm to enter and read full contest rules. After all entries have been received, winners will be drawn and then notified by email on Wednesday, June 22. Good luck!
There's no guarantee you'll actually get to do those things, but the Young Chicago Authors Fundraiser & Poetry Expo (Elastic Arts, 2830 N. Milwaukee Ave.) will be fun nonetheless! Your $5 (under 25) or $10 (over 25) will get you food and drinks, as well as performances by a wide range of people, including poets, singers, DJs, and MCs. Your money will also be put to good use: it will help send YCA youth to the Allied Media Conference in Detroit. So mark Tuesday, June 21, on your calendar, because from 7-10pm, you'll be enjoying the talent at YCA's concert and expo!
Tomorrow is Bloomsday, where bibliophiles around the world celebrate all things James Joyce. Chicago will represent at the Galway Arms Irish Pub where Puddin'head Press and Collage Productions will host their 7th annual reading from James Joyce's Ulysses. Fifteen excerpts will be read in a two-hour presentation encapsulating the events of June 16, 1904 as experienced by Stephen Dedalus, Leopold and that saucy Molly Bloom (I read her soliloquy in a speech class ages ago and got an "is this X-rated??" comment in red pen). Chicago playwright and novelist Jeff Helgeson returns as emcee with performances by local actors and Puddin' head Press authors. Galway Arms Irish Pub, 2nd Floor, 2442 N. Clark, Thursday, June 16, 6:30pm. $5 donation.
Chicago State University writing professor Nnedi Okorafor reads from and discusses her latest novel Who Fears Death? tomorrow night. Centering around genocide in a far-future, post-apocalyptic Saharan Africa, the book has won a number of awards and was honored as a "Best Book of 2010″ by Publishers Weekly, Library School Journal, and the Nobbie Awards. 57th Street Books, 1301 E 57th St., Thursday, June 16, 6pm.
Tuesday is the final event for the 18th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, and they're doing it up "American idol-style." Each of the 22 finalists will read their poem on stage, and the audience gets to decide who wins the $500 prize. Come to the Chopin Theatre (1543 W Division) tomorrow night at 7pm to watch the poets in action and cast your vote. The entrance fee is $7 ($5 for students). To get a preview of the competing poets, click here.
Got some books you need to get off your hands? Donate them to the Prison Resources Foundation, whose initiative is to "provide free books to libraries in prisons and jails across the country." Like free drinks? There will be those as well. This all happens Saturday, July 2, 1pm-7pm, at 3281 W. Wrightwood Avenue. Go here for more details.
All donations accepted, but the following are in high demand:
Contemporary bestsellers, especially mysteries and thrillers
Love poetry and romance novels
Self-help, especially positive thinking and anger management
Kiss of Snow is an especially sexy sounding title this time of year (what with the Unwelcome Embrace of Humidity upon walking out the door). It's also a paranormal romance ("Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness"). Hear more at best-selling author Nalini Singh's appearance at the Book Cellar tonight. Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, June 8 at 7pm.
It's a literary debutante ball (of sorts) at Women and Children First tonight: Leslie Jamison reads from her debut novel The Gin Closet and Kiki Petrosino from her debut poetry collection Fort Red Border . Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Thursday, June 2, 7:30pm.
If you haven't been to The Dollhouse Reading Series yet, you won't want to miss this one. Friday, June 3, the series (1850 W. Belle Plaine Ave, Apt 3) has a celebrity theme: it's BYOB and bring your favorite celebrity quote (they've specifically requested no Charlie Sheen -- everyone's probably heard enough by now). Featured poets include Nick Demske, Sarah Fox, Daniel Borzutzky, and Sarah Carson. The doors open at 8pm, and the reading begins at 9pm. Admission is free.
This edition (happening Wednesday, first day of June, 7-9pm) features writing professors Daniel Hoyt and Shawn Shiflett (Kansas State and Columbia College, respectively), local authors Rick Markley and Erin Nederbo. The theme is "Boxes." 3258 N Sheffield Ave, (773) 281-4989.
The Poetry Foundation's brand spankin' new building will open to the public on June 25! And to celebrate, the foundation is inviting you over for a two-day open house on June 25 and 26, starting at 10am each day. Plan to not only be wowed by the beautiful new space but also by the entertainment, with readings from poets that include Billy Collins, Robert Hass, and Jack Prelutsky; a presentation by the building's architect, John Ronan; discussions; book signings; and much much more. Check out the schedule of events here, and reserve FREE tickets to any event(s) of your choice. It's only a month away! And you know how time flies when you're...reading poetry.
Did you know poetry slams began right here in our fabulous city? And that they're turning 25 this year? In honor of the birth of poetry slams, Chicago Slam Works is hosting a birthday bash that will blow the top off of slams everywhere. The Poetry Slam 25th Birthday Extravaganza will take place at Cabaret Metro (3730 N. Clark) on July 30. The party will feature Slam Champions and slammers from all over the globe, including a group from Germany! And as if that isn't enough, there will also be live slam translations and music. Get your tickets now: the 6pm Pre-Show VIP reception package is $100+, and the 8pm Main Floor/General Seating is $45, with Standing Room tickets at $25. Go to the Metro website or the Chicago Slam Works website to buy. If you want to get in on some slam action early, check out the Slam History Salon at the Chopin Theater (1543 W. Division) on June 18. Just $12 gets you 3 hours with historical figures discussing their behind-the-scenes slam stories AND a "generous brunch." Call (847) 556-8679 for reservations.
Schoooool's...out...for...summer: Share readings from your hard-earned MFA manuscript at the Tamale Hut Café Presents tomorrow night for their first-ever MFA open reading invitation. Raise a glass to Randy "Macho Man" Savage as host Jenny Seay reads from her novel-in-progress steeped in the world of wrestling. Bring your student ID and get three tamales for the price of two. BYOB. Tamale Hut Café, 8300 W. Cermak, North Riverside, May 21, 7pm.
A zookeeper, professor, and two shadow puppet-wielding sisters present their interpretations of black and white tonight at a gathering of the zine-based Dil Pickle Club, with a bonus return of the Dil Pickler. There will also be music, and a man in a gorilla suit. Takes place at the Original Billy Goat Tavern (430 N Michigan), Sunday May 22nd, 7pm-10pm. Free.
Rebecca Skloot reads from The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tomorrow night. Henrietta Lacks was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cells (dubbed HeLa cells) were taken without her knowledge and were of vital use in developing the polio vaccine, in cancer research and in gene mapping, among other things. Her cells helped launch a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, yet her family never saw any of the profits. Seed magazine says "The history of HeLa is a rare and powerful combination of race, class, gender, medicine, bioethics, and intellectual property; far more rare is the writer that can so clearly fuse those disparate threads into a personal story so rich and compelling. Rebecca Skloot has crafted a unique piece of science journalism that is impossible to put down - or to forget." Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State, May 19, 2011 at 6pm.
Bomb & Bird is the latest reading series taking place this Thursday, May 19, at Innertown Pub (1935 West Thomas St), starting at 7:30pm. Bring poetry, prose, what have you (the brave souls even say they'll accept your worst work as well as your best). The event is free, and you get five minutes of open-mic floor time -- first come, first-served. And the founders would like to leave you with these words...
"There you are, coy and considering, and with nothing to do but show up, sign up, and speak up."
The Logan Square Literary Review features authors they've published tonight at Ipsento Coffee House (2035 Western): Larry O. Dean, Lara Levitan, and Kristiana Colon serve up some local talent, starting at 7:15pm.
Kim Barker brings to life her at times black-humored experiences as a correspondent covering the rising militancy in both Pakistan and Afghanistan in The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She was also the Tribune's South Asia bureau chief from 2004 to 2009, and on Tuesday, May 17 she'll be at After-Words (23 East Illinois ) at 7pm, telling stories, taking questions, and signing.
Late night talk show host Chelsea Handler will be at Macy's (née Marshall Field's) tonight signing copies of her new book Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me before her performance at the Chicago Theater. Contributing comedians Josh Wolf, Brad Wollack and Heather McDonald will also be appearing. Macy's , 111 N. State Street, lower level, Candy Department, May 11, 5pm.
You and the ballerina princess bookworm kid in your life are invited to Princess Aurora's tea party, a celebration of Aleksandra Efimova's new children's book, The Sleeping Beauty Ballet. Sponsored by the Joffrey Academy of Dance, the party includes treats, Lilac Fairy's creation stations, and a performance of Sleeping Beauty by Academy of Dance Trainees and students.
I know, I know, it's not even spring weather yet, much less beach weather. But give yourself something to look forward to in addition to warmer temps... Chicago author Jen Lancaster's (Bitter is the New Black, My Fair Lazy) latest, If You Were Here, came out on Tuesday. See her read at the Barnes and Noble on Webster (1441 W. Webster Ave.) at 6pm this Saturday, May 7, and then add the new novel to your summer reading list!
On May 13 Open Books is holding Make the Case, their first ever bookcase decorating contest where literature-loving teams will turn ordinary bookshelves into artistic masterpieces. Tickets to the event are $35 and include appetizers, drink, a discount coupon, a chance to vote in the People's Choice winner and more. At the end of the event, judges Jonathan Messinger, Patrick Somerville, and Amy Guth will award prizes to the bookcases that best convey the theme. The week following the event, Open Books will fill the bookcases with books and donate them to other local nonprofit organizations. The event is a great chance to support the Open Books cause and watch the art and literary love fly. 6pm-9pm at Enclave, 213 W. Institute Pl. Tickets can be purchased here.
Bradley P. Beaulieu is the author of The Winds of Khalakovo and an L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Award winner.
Brooke Wonders is a Ph.D. student at UIC, where she studies trauma theory and nonfiction. A dark fantasy author on the side, this summer she will be attending the storied Clarion Writers' Workshop in San Diego on a partial scholarship.
Ed Roberson, Northwestern's Distinguished Artist in Residence in the Department of English, reads tomorrow at Northwestern in The Hagstrum Room (#201), University Hall (1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston). The reading starts at 5pm and is presented by UniVerse. Admission is free!
Local mystery writers. Literary research. Archives and libraries. These things are interesting on their own, even more so when related, as in the case of this panel discussion at Sheffield's, where Libby Fischer Hellman, Frances Dean McNamara and Michael Harvey talk about where the find the information to flesh out their tales of intrigue and suspense.
It's happening Wednesday, May 4, 6pm-8pm, 3258 N. Sheffield Avenue.
Cindy Pon (author of Silver Phoenix, named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association's Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA) and Malinda Lo (author of author of Ash, a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and named one of the Kirkus Best Young Adult Novels of 2009) want to show that Young Adult fiction is a genre of many faces, both in terms of writers and characters- it is this with this mindset that they embark on the Diversity in YA tour, which comes to Chicago on Tuesday, May 10. In addition to Pon and Lo, the presentation will feature local authors Claudia Guadalupe Martinez and Nnedi Okorafor.
The event will take place at Barbara's Books (1218 S. Halsted St), from 5:30-6:45pm.
We hear more and more about saving the environment these days. What's going on? Brute Neighbors tries to answer your questions with poetry, photography, and essays. Come to the launch reading at The Book Cellar on Thursday, April 28 at 6pm for a reading by the contributors. You won't be disappointed: you'll hear from some of Chicago's finest!
Live erotic fiction contest readings along with silent auction to benefit Chicago Women's Health Center. At The Whistler, 2421 N. Milwaukee. Pay-what-you-can sliding scale. Thursday, April 21. Readings at 7pm, dance party follows at 9:30pm.
Local author Wendy McClure will discuss her latest book Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie tomorrow night. Author Julie Klam says "The Wilder Life evoked so much of an almost palpable nostalgia that I felt like I was walking into my childhood dollhouse every time I opened the book. I absolutely loved this book." The Book Cellar will be hosting a contest for the finest prairie bonnet in honor of the festivities. The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, April 21, 7pm.
Remember when we talked about Poetry Cram 11? Well, the poets/poems have been selected for the 11th volume. See the list here. And don't forget, you can get your free copy of the journal on Saturday, April 30, from 10am to 4pm at Harold Washington Library.
This Saturday, April 16, the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian will host its first Native American Poetry Night. Kimberly Blaeser, Mark LaRoque, and Thirza Defoe -- Native American poets from the Midwest -- will read and talk about their poetry from 5 to 7pm at the museum (3001 Central St, Evanston). Admission is $8 for the public and $5 for Mitchell Museum members. For more information, visit the museum's website.
This Friday the Book Cellar celebrates the posthumous release of David Foster Wallace's The Pale King. Esquire calls The Pale King "the final, beautiful act of an unwilling icon...one of the saddest, most lovely books I've ever read. DFW writes sentences and sometimes whole pages that make you feel like you can't breathe." Readers at the event will include Patrick Somerville, Marcus Sakey, Adam Levin, Kyle Beachy, and Jon Baskin. The evening will feature readings of favorite DFW pieces, original essays on his work, a brief discussion with the authors, and DFW trivia with a free drink for correct answers (yes, the Book Cellar has a bar). The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave., Friday, April 15 at 7pm.
Catherynne M. Valente will be at the Book Cellar this Thursday to read from her latest novel Deathless, a retelling of the Russian folktale of Koschei the Deathless. Cory Doctorow says "romantic and blood-streaked, and infused with magic so real you can feel it on your fingertips - Deathless is beautiful." Lev Grossman says "stories, unlike people, don't stay dead forever, or not always. They can live again - but only under very special circumstances. They must be revived by the miraculous touch of a very rare class of being, a kind of multi-classed genius/scholar/saint, who can restore them to life. Catherynne Valente is such a being." The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave., Thursday, April 14 at 7pm.
Reginald Gibbons and Cornelia Maude Spelman are married. They are also the authors of Slow Trains Overhead: Chicago Poems And Stories and Missing: A Memoir, respectively. On Tuesday, April 12, they will come together to present their poetry and prose in a program by the Society of Midland Authors at the Cliff Dwellers Club (200 S. Michigan Ave, 22nd floor). Complimentary snacks and a cash bar will be available starting at 6pm, with the reading beginning at 7pm. And admission is free, but the Society would be grateful for any donations to offset the cost of their programs.
Joshua Dumas and Christy LeMaster gave brand-spankin' new rolls of 16mm film to 12 Chicago-based experimental filmmakers, and then asked these filmmakers to respond to Chicago poet Li-Young Lee's "The City in Which I Love You," while adding in their own creative experiences in Chicago. The end result is The City in Which, a Chicago cine-poem, which is a short film made from splicing all of the filmmakers' work together. The film's premiere is Friday, April 8, at 8pm, with a second showing on Saturday, April 9, at The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee). Lee's poem will be read live to accompany the film, and a cine-poem program, curated by LeMaster, will follow.
If you've some extra tax return money rattling around in your pocket, consider putting it to a good cause. This Thursday, April 7 is the Well Read Affair at the Chicago Cultural Center, a benefit for Literacy Chicago. The Affair features music from the Myles Hayes Quintet and the a capella punk rock Blue Ribbon Glee Club as well as food, cocktails, a silent auction and readings from Literacy Chicago students. Emmy award winner Catie Keogh hosts. Literacy Chicago is a nonprofit organization that empowers individuals to achieve greater self sufficiency through language and literacy instruction. Their programs include ESL, adult literacy, GED and workforce literacy tutoring. They offer tuition-free classes to the greater Chicago community and are always looking for volunteers. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., (312) 744-6630. Thursday, April 7, 6-9pm. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased here.
If the words "spelling bee" bring to mind grade school grudges (you purposely misheard me, Sister Ann!), here's your chance for a do-over amongst friends and well-crafted beer. Head out to the Rocking Horse in Logan Square this Wednesday for the Spleling Be, brought to you by the Louisville, Kentucky-based Idea Festival. You can compete in teams of up to three people; if one team member wears a bee suit, you get a round of immunity, meaning you can misspell one word and remain in the competition. The winner(s) get handmade trophies and all-access passes to the Idea Festival (worth $400 each) held this September. Similar to TED Talks, The Idea Festival has been bringing together leading thinkers in science, the arts, business, design, technology, education, medicine and more in a heady cocktail of ideas since 2000. Yes, redeeming the passes will involve travel to the Bluegrass State (road trip!). Rocking Horse, 2535 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647 (773) 486-0011. Wednesday, April 6. Sign-up starts at 7:30, spelling bee starts at 8:30. Free.
Story Club's show this Thursday, April 7, at Wrigleyville's Uncommon Ground (3800 N Clark St) will feature Rites of Passage stories by Jen Bosworth (Stories at the Store) and JT Berg. There are also 5 open mic spots -- get there for open mic sign-up from 8 to 8:15pm. The event is free, but if you want to make sure you get a seat, call for dinner reservations (773/929.3680).
The Poetry Foundation's Poetry Off the Shelf welcomes Mary Karr to the Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium (230 S Columbus Dr) on Tuesday, April 5 at 6pm. Karr is an accomplished poet and memoirist (you may have heard of The Liars' Club), not to mention a winner of various awards and fellowships. Admission is free and first-come, first-served, so don't be late!
Tonight at 6pm, Michael Moreci (author of the zombie graphic novel Quarantined, profiled last year) kicks off his class at the Newberry Library; "Writing for Comics," designed to give a better sense of the creative process, industry, and scripting behind authoring comics and graphic novels. It's not too late to sign up.
If you missed him at Bookman's Alley last weekend, Josh Alan Friedman (Black Cracker) will also be at Quimby's tomorrow night. Black Cracker is the story of Friedman's childhood at New York's last segregated school in the early '60s. L.A. Weekly says "Friedman splits sides, breaks hearts and always remains ruthlessly honest about the real world, a place that doesn't conform to the politically correct wishes of liberals or conservatives." Friedman will also be performing on acoustic guitar. Quimby's, 1854 W. North Ave., March 29, 7pm.
Are you Good, Giving and Game? Do you know It Gets Better or could you use some proof? Author and Savage Love advice columnist Dan Savage will be in Chicago tomorrow. He and his husband Terry Miller will be discussingIt Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living. In response to news reports of the suicides of bullied LGBT teens several months ago, Savage and Miller uploaded a short YouTube video about their lives. The aim was to reach vulnerable gay teens, encourage them to accept themselves and provide living proof that with determination they can design happy lives of their choosing. The video sparked the It Gets Better project, in which over 6000 people uploaded similar videos about their own lives. It Gets Better distills the videos into essay form. Sponsored by Unabridged Bookstore, the reading will be held at Nettelhorst School, 3252 N. Broadway, March 23 at 7pm.
This Thursday at the UIC Student Center East Building, Cardinal Room (750 S. Halsted St), join bestselling author David Sirota and The Onion A.V. Club's Nathan Rabin at 7pm for a 1980s themed evening. Sirota just published Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain The World We Live In Now, and he and Rabin will try to stump you with '80s trivia and get you talking about how '80s culture still affects us today. Event is free, and a book signing will follow.
The Oak Park Public Library is getting in on the graphic novel scene! Their new From the Gutters series will meet on the fourth Wednesday of every month to discuss a particular graphic novel. The series kicks off March 23 at 7:30pm at the Main Library (834 Lake St, Oak Park) with Persepolis I & II by Marjane Satrapi. From the Gutters is open to anyone interested in reading and talking about books (and refreshments will be served!). Future graphic novels to be covered include Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman, Watchmen by Alan Moore, and The Dark Knight by Frank Miller.
This Friday, poster artist Brad Klausen (whose resume includes many Pearl Jam covers, gig posters, and prints) presents From a Basement in Seattle: The Poster Art of Brad Klausen, a collection of his posters, stories, and sketches. Joining him will be local legend Jay Ryan with 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels: A Decade of Hot Dogs, Large Mammals, and Independent Rock, an updated treasure trove reflecting the Chicago music scene, and the artists (both visual and aural) that make it up. 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave, 7pm. Free!
On Sunday, March 27th, the Wicker Park institution hosts Erika Jo Brown (founder of the Chinatown reading series Floetry at 169, author of the chapbook, What a Lark!), Matthew Klane (editor and co-founder of Flim Forum Press), BJ Love (Michigander, the upcoming We are Two Bastards), and Adam Roberts (author of the chapbook Poem in Four Parts). All connected to University of Iowa by being prospective MFAs, post-graduate fellows, and more, they come to 1564 N. Milwaukee Ave at 7pm. Free!
What is Dzanc Day? Is it celebrated with folded pastries? No, but feel free to bring some and make new friends at this writing workshop sponsored by Dzanc Books. On April 9, Dzanc Books is sponsoring dozens of workshops throughout the country. These two-to-four hour sessions in fiction, poetry and nonfiction are led by professional writers, authors, and editors. Workshop fees partially go toward charitable endeavors, including the Dzanc Prize and their Writer in Residence Program, which places professional writers into classrooms to provide creative writing instructions in underserved communities. The workshop being held in Chicago is "Spontaneous and Anonymous," a short fiction workshop led by author and editor Charles Blackstone. May Street Cafe, 1146 W. Cermak, April 9, 3-5pm. $30.
If words with pictures are more your thing than a Joe Meno reading and discussion, we respect that -- and have a cool event for you. On Thursday, March 24th the School of the Art Institute Chicago hosts the Small Press & Comics Symposium, featuring local small press and comics panelists aplenty: Chris Ware, Caroline Picard, Corrine Mucha and many more.
Fans of fly fishing, mysteries, and stories set up in the Upper Midwest take note: John Galligan's series of books (The Nail Knot, The Blood Knot, The Clinch Knot, and most recently the soon to be released The Wind Knot) centers around Ned Ogilvie, or "Dog", an unwilling detective who keeps himself going with a potent cocktail of fly-fishing, mystery-solving, and vodka-Tang. Galligan will be signing books at the 10th anniversary of Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters (1279 N Clybourn) on Saturday, March 12, from 12pm-4pm.
On March 16, Poetry Off the Shelf presents Luis J. Rodriguez at a reception and reading at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (800 S. Halsted St). Rodriguez helped start Tia Chucha Press, a poetry publisher, that began in Chicago in 1989. He has since moved to L.A., and, as an activist in gang intervention, he published a 1993 memoir of gang life, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., and is set to release It Calls You Back: An Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing this fall. The reception will begin at 5:30pm, with Rodriguez doing a reading of his work at 6pm. Admission is free, but it's first-come, first-served, so don't be late!
The finalists are Northside College Prep, Kenwood Academy, Oak Park-River Forest HS, and YOUmedia Chicago. Judges will be Rhymefest, Haki Madhubuti, Executive Director of Jane Addams Hull House Dr. Lisa Lee, and the hip-hop group BBU (Bin Laden Blowin' Up).
Get a chance to see the new film version of Jane Eyre (happening next Wednesday, March 16 at AMC River East) by e-mailing your full name and address to full name and address JaneEyreChicago[at]43Kix.com. Find out more information on the Chicago Public Library's Facebook page.
A Q&A session with Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips, cultural critic Julia Keller and movie and theater reporter Nina Metz will follow.
Louder Than a Bomb 2011: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, the phenomenon recently made into a feature film, has been booming live on stage since February 19 and wraps up this week. There's still time to catch the final two events. Individual poetry finals will be held at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, March 9 at 7pm, $10 adults and $5 students. Team finals will be held at The Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield, Saturday, March 12 at 6pm, $20 adults and $10 students. Tickets available here.
On March 10, author and UIC professor, Luis Alberto Urrea, will be presented with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences distinguished professorship. At this time, Urrea will also give a presentation entitled, "Awakening to the World: From Tijuana to Here." Urrea is a UIC professor of English who teaches creative writing. He was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and has won awards for his writing, including the Lannan Literary Award and the Kiriyama Prize in fiction. Urrea's presentation will begin at 3pm in Student Center East, Room 302. Admission is free!
Bernadette Jones recently spoke at West Chicago Library about Choices, a novel of 2 African-American girls growing up in Chicago's Austin neighborhood, their 20-year friendship, and the decisions, both good and bad, that make up their relationships and lives. Listen to her here.
On March 10, at Barbara's Bookstore - UIC, Jeffrey Rasley will be discussing his trek to a village in Nepal and his philanthropy there. For 15 years, Rasley has led Himalayan mountaineering treks, and he's in charge of fund raising for Basa Village Foundation, a Nepal-based non-governmental organization. He also wrote a book about his experiences, published in October: Bringing Progress to Paradise. Come to Barbara's at 7pm to see Rasley's slide show and hear about his good deeds in Basa village, which include finishing a school and a hydroelectric system.
From Sunday, March 13 through Friday, March 18, Columbia College celebrates stories and the people who tell them through a series of events and activities, courtesy of their Fiction Department. It's a week of readings, conversations with authors, panels, performances, and book signings throughout Chicago -- all free and open to you, me, and everyone. Coming up on its 15th year, authors featured include Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting), Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad), National Book Award Finalist Karen Tei Yamashita (I Hotel), Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife) and more. Go here for the full schedule of events.
As we mentioned awhile back, the physical Book Club is not gone but changing forms: from a monthly, more traditional book club to a quarterly author discussion. We're excited to be kicking off this new format with local and national favorite Joe Meno and his latest novel, The Great Perhaps! There will be an author discussion and signing March 24, 7:30pm-9pm, at Sheffield's (3258 North Sheffield Avenue). Free!
Here's what you do:
1. Read the book sometime in the next month.*
2. Come to Sheffield's with your comments and questions, and share them with Joe Meno and the group. Get your book signed if you feel like it.
3. Hang out with other readers, meet the the Book Club editors, feel part of a greater reading community.
Questions? Let us know in the comments. Thanks, and hope to see you there!
*You can still come if you haven't read the book, but we really, really encourage it -- discussions are way more fun when everyone's on the same page (har har).
Tomorrow night the popular 2nd Story reading series takes it up a notch with their Wine Tasting Series. In addition to storytellers (Jennifer Shin and Doug Whippo), the price of admission gets you a ticket to Laura Eason's play Sex With Strangers. A break-out hit at Steppenwolf's 2009 First Look Repertory, Sex with Strangers explores what happens when our online and offline identities intersect. Tomorrow's event is the third of five performances in conjuction with each of the five Steppenwolf Subscription Series plays in their 2010-2011 season. Wednesday, February 23, Steppenwolf Theater, 1650 N. Halsted Street, 6pm, play begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are $55, available online.
Next installment of Tamale Hut Cafe Presents is this Saturday. Featured reader is Scott Blackwood, Director of Roosevelt University's MFA Creative Writing Program. His novel We Agreed To Meet Just Here is the winner of the 2007 AWP Award for the Novel. Contest judge Robert Eversz calls it "...a lyrical mystery about disappearance, told in precise and luminous prose. The absences are so keenly felt, in the drifting lucidity of the author's sentences, that every reappearance reads like a small miracle." Tamale Hut Cafe, 8300 W. Cermak Road (between 10th and 11th Ave.), North Riverside, IL, (708) 442-0948, February 19 at 7pm. BYOB. Reading is free, but you'll want to bring money for Jaime's tamales. There's also an open mic, so bring stories, poems, essays or songs.
Local lit mag Two With Water hosts a fundraising party this Saturday, featuring booze, literary games, and a live show by Chicago band Helicopters. $5 cover. Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave., February 19, 7-10pm.
On Sunday 2/27, the the Historic Pullman Garden Club and the Pullman State Historic Site host an author discussion featuring Joan Naper (Beautiful Dreamer) and Frances McNamara (Death at Pullman), and Allium Press Publisher, Emily Victorson. Their works focus on Chicago women who lived, thought, and acted during a period of incredible and often tumultuous social and industrial change, and will be available for purchase.
The event takes place at the Hotel Florence (11111 S. Forrestville Ave) at 3pm and is free of charge. For more information, call (773) 868-8377.
To celebrate Elizabeth Bishop's 100th birthday, Thursday, Feb 17, at 6pm, actors will read letters between Bishop and her New Yorker editors at the University of Chicago, Home Room, International House (1414 East 59th Street). As an added bonus, Joelle Biele, editor of Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. Admission is free, but space is first-come, first-served, so make sure to get there early!
This Thursday Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder will discuss his book Mountains Beyond Mountains, this year's One Book One Northwestern selection. Mountains tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard-trained physician and infectious disease specialist. Farmer founded a hospital in Haiti and helped bring treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis to Peru and Siberia, achieving cure rates comparable to those in the United States. The book gets its title from the Haitian proverb "beyond mountains there are mountains;" as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too. Author Stacey Schiff says "is there anything Tracy Kidder can't do? This is a beautiful book, and a masterful one. Even better, Mountains Beyond Mountains is a page-turner that will crack your conscience open." Northwestern University, Harris Hall, room 107, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston. Thursday, February 10 at 4:30pm. Please RSVP on Facebook or at email@example.com. Please note that an RSVP does not guarantee admission.
Elizabeth's Crazy Little Thing brings poetry, music, comedy, performance art, "and whatever you can come up with" to Phyllis' Musical Inn the second Wednesday of every month. This months' feature is Kate Cullan (The Demented Kewpie Doll Manifesto), a fixture in the Chicago performance community for ten years. This month's theme is Love Sucks. Phyllis' Musical Inn, 1800 West Division Street. Wednesday, February 9, 10pm. Phyllis' is near the Division Blue Line stop and the #70 Division, #9 Ashland, and #50 Damen bus stops.
The reading series this Friday will feature K. Bradford, whose poems dabble in "the spectacle of drag, pageantry & disco balls." Sound intriguing? Come to Mess Hall (6932 N. Glenwood Ave. in Rogers Park) at 7:45pm to take it all in. If you wanna read your own stuff, come early for the open mic that starts at 7pm. And it's all free!
This Friday is the Naked Girls Reading Series featuring Michelle L'Amour and a rotating cast of burlesque performers. The February theme is (naturally) Love Stinks. The evening will feature readings from Harper Perennial's new book Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love by Andrew Shaffer. Martha Stewart Whole Living magazine (who knew they did book reviews?) says "if you're in Dutch with your valentine, give him Andrew Shaffer's book, which recounts the tortured love lives of 37 thinkers. Compared to them, you'll look as saintly as St. Thomas himself - who, Shaffer tells us, once chased a prostitute out of his room with a hot poker." Throw a live reading from naked girls into the deal and you'll be "out of Dutch" and in running for girlfriend of the year. Everleigh Social Club, 939 W. Randolph. Tickets are $20 or two for $35; available here. February 4, doors open at 7pm.
Reading Under the Influence, "because everyone needs a literary hangover," takes place at 7pm on Wednesday, February 2 (also know as Groundhog Day), at Sheffield's (3258 N. Sheffield). This month's theme is "Love, Baby!" Stop by to hear readings by Chicago writers, along with readings of the late Ric Hess's original works. Admission is $3.
ETA: From an RUI mass e-mail:
"Due to hazardous weather and travel conditions, RUI is canceled tonight and tentatively rescheduled for Wednesday, February 16th. But Sheffield's is open, so if you're in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello to the friendly bartenders."
The Chicago Tribune adds a new element to its Literary Series in the form of Author Talks, a monthly series of authors discussing their newest work, classics, and more. It kicks off with Amy Chua and her controversial Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Tribune Tower event space, 435 N. Michigan Avenue, Thursday, February 17. Free.
Get your tickets now for 826CHI's annual prom fundraiser. This year's theme is Keep Promme and Carry On. The dress is second-hand formal and/or dress as a person, landmark or theme from England. Tickets include open beer bar, snacks, performance by Rod Stewart impersonator Steve Bobbitt (wow, he's a dead ringer), silent auction, music and dancing. Must be 21+, tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door. All proceeds go to 826CHI, which tutors students aged 6 to 18 in creative and expository writing skills. You can check out pics from prior years' proms here and order tickets here. Pulsaki Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk, March 5, 8pm.
This Monday, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) presents a free wine and chocolate tasting, a silent art auction, and a presentation by author Julian Sher. Sher is an award-winning investigative journalist and the author of Somebody's Daughter: The Hidden Story of America's Prostituted Children. Rachel Durchslag, executive director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, calls Somebody's Daughter "a brutally honest look into the hidden world of prostituted children in the United States. A compelling book that will touch hearts and minds and inspire people to take action." Norma Ramos, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women, calls the book "masterful, absorbing...to date the most definitive account of sex trafficking of children in the United States and the culture that supports it." All the evening's proceeds will benefit work to help victims of sexual exploitation in Chicago. Free. 1130 W. Adams, Monday, January 17th, 6pm-9pm.
Have a New Year's resolution to write more? Try Story Studio Chicago's Write-A-Thon this Saturday. Come and go as you please, caffeine, food and fellowship provided. Registration not required but recommended. $12 for non-members, $7 for members. Story Studio Chicago, 4043 N. Ravenswood, #222. Saturday, January 15, 9am-7pm.
Celebrate Printworks Gallery's 30th anniversary throughout January and a little of February (ends February 12) with 68 artists' vision of the book jacket, that outer covering that presents the contents to the world. 311 W Superior St, Tuesdays-Saturdays (11am-5pm).
Diane Torr will be at Women and Children First this Thursday to talk about Sex, Drag and Male Roles: Investigating Gender as Performance, co-written with Stephen J. Bottoms. Torr is a pioneer in the drag king scene and has been performing since 1976. She's been featured on HBO, BBC, and NPR and runs "Man for a Day" workshops internationally. Anna Burnside of living.scotsman.com says Torr "pok[es] a sharp feminist stick into issues of gender and identity, showing women that male superiority was as much of a construct as a fake willy." Women and Children First, 5233 North Clark Street,Thursday, January 6 at 7:30pm.
First Tuesday Funk of the new year tonight. Come up to the second floor lab and see what's on the slab. Tonight's featured readers are:
Suzanne Clores is a fiction/memoir writer from New Jersey. Her book Memoirs of a Spiritual Outsider has just celebrated its ten-year anniversary with a Kindle edition re-release. She teaches writing and yoga and is working on a novel.
Mare Swallow is a writer and former actress. A business communication consultant, she's working on a book, tentatively titled Stop Whining, Start Speaking.
Christopher Sweet "has one foot in the nineteenth century and the other in the twenty-first. By this he means: his grandmother, who helped to guide him through his childhood and adolescence, was born in 1875. His iMac was born last year."
Native Texan and shutterbug Valerie Jupe has worked as a video editor in TV for over seven years. She lived in New York City for several years and has been featured at various poetry readings throughout the country.
Hopleaf, upstairs lounge, 5148 N. Clark St., January 4 at 7:30pm.
For a low-key, literary New Year's Eve, join 2nd Story at Morseland (1218 W. Morse Avenue), to hear holiday tales from storytellers Molly Each, Bobby Biedrzycki, Andrew Reilly and Megan Stielstra. Doors open at 9:30, and stories start at 10. With the $40 ticket ($35 in advance), you get a complimentary drink ticket, buffet, and live music -- plus a post-performance DJ until 2am.
If you want to party hard on the Eve but calm your aching head with some good writing, head over to the Haymarket Pub & Brewery (737 W. Randolph St.) for Drinking & Writing Theater's first show of 2011. They promise that "Drinking & Writing Volume III: To Cure A Hangover will cure what ales you...yes, ales." Tickets are $15, and brunch (and booze, if you can handle it) will be available for purchase. Hair of the dog, folks, hair of the dog.
The life and work of Ted Kooser, 2004-2006 Poet Laureate, takes to the stage with song in the Chicago Dramatists production of the musical Local Wonders. The Chicago Tribune calls Kooser "a clear-eyed, populist poet of the prairie" and says "if you hail from Iowa or Nebraska, especially the southeastern reaches (what Kooser calls "The Bohemian Alps"), and you find yourself missing home this holiday time, then Local Wonders should offer some balm." Prairie Home Companion fans would probably dig it, too. Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. The remainder of show runs December 30 through January 9, Thursday through Sunday. Click here or here for tickets.
For their Jan 5 production, The Encyclopedia Show is taking on the word BRAINS and featuring writers, composers, and even a special interview with a professional neurologist! The show starts at 7:30pm at The Vittum Theatre (1012 N Noble St), with tickets at the door ($8 adults, $5 students).
Still on holiday vacation? Fantasy author Hilary Wagner will be in Beverly tomorrow for an Author Afternoon. She'll be reading from her debut young adult novel Nightshade City, which tells the tale of an underground city of anthropomorphized rats living under a brutal dictatorship and the ragtag heroes that stage a coup. Author Medeia Sharif said "When I was reading it I thought to myself, 'if Dickens wrote about rats, he would have written Nightshade City.'" Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago, (773) 445-3838. $5 admission, $4 for center members. Wednesday, December 29 at 2pm.
In the suburbs for the holidays (or year-round)? Brewed Awakening in Westmont, in conjunction with the Illinois State Poetry Society and the Westmont Area Friends of the Arts, hosts their last Sunday of the month poetry reading this weekend. Poetry from noon to 1:30pm, music from 1:30 to 2pm. Cover charge of $5 includes refreshments. Bring a few poems to share at the open mic. Brewed Awakening, 19 W. Quincy, Westmont. Sunday, December 26, noon.
Write Club pits two opposing writers against each other, each given 7 minutes to argue their side, winner chosen by audience. This Wednesday is the first ever holiday-themed installment. Featured readings include Jesus (Ian Belknap) vs. Santa (Mike O'Connell), Naughty (Edward Thomas-Herrera) vs. Nice (John Pierson), and Give (Bilal Dardai) vs. Receive (Shannon Maney-Magnuson). The Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia, (773) 227-4433. Wednesday, December 22 at 7pm. $8.
The Companion is designed for fellow TV aficionados. And while it might be helpful if readers liked Christmas at least a little, the book documents television programs that "broke the rules" of holiday entertainment. "The Companion is divided into 50% cult shows and 50% weird and unusual takes on the holiday tradition," Wilson explained. How weird can Christmas be on TV? Wilson devotes an entire chapter to Christmas-themed, macabre horror shows, Sci-Fi, and other unique and irreverent TV takes on Christmas, like the Native American tradition of the raven explored in Northern Exposure's 1991 episode "Seoul Mates."
On Saturday, Dec. 11, from 2 to 4pm, Chicago Publisher's Gallery (78 E. Washington) will host the Cricket Magazine Holiday Fair. The writers, editors, and artists of Cricket will be on hand to help kids make their own magazines, read stories, write poetry, and even check out science experiments and take-home tricks. Admission is free!
Did you miss The Second City founder Bernard Sahlins directing The Misanthrope in October? Don't despair, he's directing again! This time it's a staged reading of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood (the radio play written by Thomas just a month before his death). Presented by Poetry Foundation at Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater (2433 N. Lincoln), there will be two performances: Dec. 12 and 13, both at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10 ($5 for students) and can be purchased here.
It's the first Tuesday of the month, time to warm up with Tuesday Funk at the Hopleaf. Tonight's featured readers are Johanna Stein, Anne Calcagno, Jotham Burrello, Fraser Coffeen, and Naomi Buck Palagi.
Anne Calcagno teaches in the School of the Art Institute's MFA in writing program. She is the author of the short story collection Pray For Yourself, editor of Travelers' Tales: Italy, and a novel about dog fighting in Chicago called Love Like a Dog. Calcagno is a dual national of Italy and the U.S.
Jotham Burrello teaches in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago where he directs the Publishing Lab. He runs the multimedia company Elephant Rock Productions. When not teaching he lives in Ashford, Connecticut, with his wife and three sons. You can read his essay about moving to New England here.
Fraser Coffeen is a theatrical blood effects artist (will these talents be unleashed tonight?). He is one of the founding editors of and a regular contributor to HeadKickLegend, dedicated to the world of kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Mixed Martial Arts. Coffeen has worked with numerous Chicago theaters and is the creator of the two-person sideshow act Numbskull, the Human Blockhead.
You don't know about the Indie Lit Roadshow? Well, read up! The best indie lit comes together all over the nation this weekend, and the Chicago roadshow will be held on Dec. 12 at The Green Lantern Gallery (2542 W. Chicago) from 10am to 10pm. Come on over to experience the best Midwest indie lit, random performances, AND a papier-mâché cave.
The original entrance to the Dil Pickle Club, from wbez.org
No, it's not a club for vinegary cucumber fans. In the 1900s, the Dill Pickle Club was a speakeasy/caberet/theatre that became the center of the "Chicago Renaissance." Formed by Wobbly Jack Jones, and located in Tooker Alley (now Tooker Place), off of Dearborn downtown, the Dil Pickle Club was frequented by many activists, writers, and speakers, such as Clarence Darrow, Elizabeth Davis, Upton Sinclair, and Carl Sandburg. These "Dil Pickle Artisans" convened to promote arts, crafts, science, and literature, the club was a place for debates and sharing ideas, as well as a spot for plays, opera, poetry readings, and jazz. Once the Great Depression hit, the club began to decline, and finally shut down in 1934.
Well, on Thursday, Dec. 9, the Dil Pickle Club is coming back! From 7 to 11pm at the Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee), join a discussion group rife with prominent speakers and be prepared to delve into controversial, off-beat, and intellectual topics. The Dec. 9 club emphasis will be on FIGHT/FLIGHT, which will include:
How to Take a Punch by Bill Hillmann, with an interlude about Chicago Park District Boxers by Fred Sasaki and Jacob S. Knabb
Flight Painting by Peggy Macnamara and notes on Nathan Leopold's Warblers by Paul Genesius Durica
Rocket Launch by Nat Ward and Kenneth Morrison
And much, much more!
The Dil Pickle Club Revival is free and open to the public, and beverages will be available for sale. (Because you can't have the revival of a controversial club without beverages!)
The Pilot Light reading series at Green Lantern Gallery brings together writers at varying stages of their career, each reading from their own work, then engaging in discussion. Tomorrow night's reading features Vanessa Place and Jennifer Karmin.
Vanessa Place is a writer, a lawyer who works with sex offenders, and co-director of Les Figues Press. Place is the author of several books, including The Guilt Project: Rape, Morality and Law. Kirkus Reviews says "...in richly allusive, frequently witty prose, [The Guilt Project] asks important questions about what it is exactly we want from our criminal laws. A sophisticated, brave look at a topic that too often provokes merely panic, prejudice and posturing." Poet Kenneth Goldsmith has called Statement of Facts, Place's book of conceptual poetry, "arguably the most challenging, complex and controversial literature being written today."
Jennifer Karmin co-curates the Red Rover Reading Series and is a founding member of the public art group Anti Gravity Surprise. She teaches creative writing to immigrants at Truman College and works as a Poet-in-Residence for the Chicago Public Schools. She is the author of Aaaaaaaaaaalice, a book of poetry.
Green Lantern Gallery, 2542 Chicago Ave., Thursday, December 2 at 7:30pm.
Sulzer Regional Library (4455 N. Lincoln) hosts The Poets' Club of Chicago's Poetry Wheel tonight at 7pm. An impulsive, collaborative effort, the Poetry Wheel starts with a kick-off poem, and then other Club readers chime in with poems related by image, theme, subject, or form. After the first finished rotation by the Club, audience members are welcome to join in with their related works. Stop by and watch the wheel go 'round and 'round.
On Sunday, December 5, Kenning Editions, Oracle Productions, and The Poetry Foundation are proud to present an evening where six poets will present their work -- which they've come up with just one day prior. The poets will meet for the first time, conceive their brilliant ideas, and rehearse on December 4 and then perform for you the next day at Oracle Theatre (3809 N. Broadway) starting at 6pm with a round table discussion, followed by the performance at 7:30pm. Admission is free but reservations are strongly recommended. Reserve your seat here.
Get ready for the Festival of Lights with stories, stiff drinks, and prizes this Wednesday: December's Reading Under the Influence features local horror author Jeff Jacobson, the Columbia Fiction department's own Ann Hemenway, and Robyn Pennacchia, one half of The Burlington's popular "Sunday Night Sex Show". 3258 N Sheffield Ave, 7pm-9pm.
Shake off the Thanksgiving coma, summon some ambition, and head to Columbia College's Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash Ave.) Tuesday to see National Book Award winner and "Godmother of Punk" Patti Smith talk about Just Kids, a reflection on her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Be aware: the event is full, though walk-up registration will be provided.
The next installation of 2nd Story is tonight at the Morseland Tavern. 2nd Story is produced by the Serendipity Theater Collective and features well-rehearsed tales with musical accompaniment for maximum dramatic impact and audience engagement.Tonight's reading is a night of pre-holiday catharsis. The theme? Family. Tonight's featured storytellers are C. P. Chang, Whitney Dibo, and Aimee Perkins. Morseland Tavern, 1218 W. Morse Ave. Wednesday, November 24. Doors open at 7pm, music starts at 7:30pm, stories start at 8pm. Tickets are $10, available at the door or here.
Ever paid a two drink minimum for mediocre stand-up "comedy?" Fritz Pastry, a European-style bakery in Lakeview, offers a sweeter spin on the standard entertainment fee. The price is two cookies for an evening of readings by top-notch literary pupils from Columbia College's Fiction Writing Program.
Featured readers include:
Jenele Anderson (Grad Advanced Fiction)
Liz Baudler (Advanced Fiction/editor of the Toucan Magazine)
Kate Kirk (Arts, Entertainment and Media Management/writer of Glass Sea zine)
Benny Kumming (Grad Advanced Fiction)
Lauryn Allison Lewis (Advanced Fiction)
Frank Migacz (Advanced Fiction)
John Wawrzaszek (Advanced Fiction/writer of the Muse, the News, and the Noose zine)
Two Cookie Minimum promotes self publishers, new writers, and the Chicago zine scene. While the event is free, donations will be accepted towards the upcoming 2011 Chicago Zine Fest. There should be plenty of opportunity to exchange zines and ideas with other self-published writers and artists who just can't wait until the March fest.
Fritz Pastry is located at 1408 W. Diversey Pkwy (between Southport Ave & Janssen Ave). Two Cookie Minimum Reading starts at 4pm on Saturday, November 27.
Friday night, Columbia College professor Joe Meno presents the new paperback edition of his story collection Demons in the Spring. Booklist says of Demons, "Intriguing and eccentric, Meno's stories never distract with their surreal flights of fancy but instead draw the reader in deeper to their magical reconfiguration of the modern world." Each of the 20 stories, including the tale of a girl who discovers she is dying from the mysterious construction of a miniature city inside of her chest cavity, features an illustration from a prominent artist. Proceeds benefit tutoring center 826CHI. Free event. Book Cellar, 4736 N Lincoln Ave (773) 293-2665, Friday, November 19, 7pm.
Evanstonian and DePaul assistant professor Christine Sneed reads from her debut story collection tonight. Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry is the winner of the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction. Publishers Weekly calls Portraits "ten finely delineated tales featuring protagonists entangled in less-than-ideal romantic scenarios." Steve Almond says "I can't recall a time I tore through a story collection with such unbridled gratitude. Christine Sneed is fearless." Women and Children First, 5233 N Clark St., (773) 769-9299, Wednesday, November 17, 7:30pm.
Patrick Somerville's latest, The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, is out now from featherproof Books. And to celebrate, featherproof is hosting a release party at The Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia) on Thursday, November 18 from 8 to 11:30pm. Entrance is free, and if you come dressed as your favorite alien, the first 15 aliens will receive a copy of the book! Other fun stuff: featherproof authors Benjamin Nugent and Hannah Pittard will put in an appearance, along with DJ Fabulette. There will also be an alien costume contest, judged by a surprise guest.
The Guild Literary Complex, a community-based organization that aims to represent literary excellence in diverse, divergent, and emerging voices, has announced the winners of its Annual Prose Awards in Short Fiction and Non-Fiction. Come hear them read in a few hours at a bar that serves Purple Martins (Goose Island grape soda, coconut rum, lemon), a host of other less diabetes-inducing cocktails, and tonight, award-winning words. 1002 N. California Ave., 8:30pm. Free!
Tomorrow night, writer and anthropologist Will Fellows reads from Gay Bar: The Fabulous True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s. Helen P. Branson, a savvy and tender mother hen type, owned and operated a gay bar in the 1950s, providing a rare safe haven for a marginalized community. Gay Bar is a meld of her true memoir (she notes she didn't use parentheses because her typewriter didn't have any) with Fellows' contemporary analysis. Windy City Times calls Gay Bar "a major contribution to gay history." Publishers Weekly says "this stimulating account of support for gay rights pre-Stonewall is an eye-opener." Women and Children First, 5233 N Clark St., (773) 769-9299. Thursday, November 11, 7:30pm.
Tomorrow, Krista Franklin will teach you how to channel your dreams into insightful, beautiful (and perhaps nightmarish) poems. Bring paper, a pen, and your creativity to Near North (310 W. Division) at 6:30pm. Free!
On Saturday, Nov. 20, Chicago journalist and radio personality Rick Kogan will emcee the inaugural induction ceremony for the fledgling Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.
The ceremony will be honoring notable writers Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Studs Terkel and Richard Wright for their contributions to local literature. Among those accepting the posthumous honors of their famous writer relatives will be Greg Bellow, Nora Brooks Blakely, Dan Terkell, Dana Smith (grandniece of Richard Wright) and Taye Hansberry (grandniece of Lorraine).
This special event takes place at Northeastern University auditorium at 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. in Chicago and starts at 6pm. Tickets are $45 and can be ordered online here.
It's the first Wednesday of the month, time once again for Reading Under the Influence. This month's theme seems especially cathartic: "I Hate My Family" (just in time for Thanksgiving). Featured readers are Robert McDonald (A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago), Two Cookie Minimum reading series founder John Wawrzaszek, local writer Kristen Fiore and RUI's own Jesse Jordan. All read original short stories and host trivia segments related to this month's theme. In the back room at Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., $3 cover. Wednesday, November 3. Get there by 7 for a seat (or earlier; it's popular show and seats are scarce). Readings begin at 7:30.
First of all, what's wrong with you? Secondly, you better get a move on -- Friday, Nov. 5 is the last Chicago Poetry Brothel of the year. Come to the House of Blues Foundation Room (329 N. Dearborn) at 8pm to see the them take a burlesque twist, featuring Columbia College's recent MFAs, as well as Chicago favorites such as Kathleen Rooney and Susan Slaviero. As always, admission is $5 if you're dressed Victorian and $10 if you're not. Don't miss out this time!
The Society of Midland Authors hosts a great monthly lecture series, all open to the public. Next Tuesday, November 9, journalist Jonathan Eig, author of Get Capone, will speak about Chicago's most famous gangster. (Capone has recently been brought back to life thanks to the HBO series Boardwalk Empire -- played by Stephen Graham, he's what Eig says is "maybe the best Capone I've ever seen," including De Niro!)
Some other Society of Midland Authors highlights for the next year include:
A discussion of the history of Chicago's mayoral race (Tuesday, January 11).
John Hagedorn, UIC criminal-justice professor and author of A World of Gangs: Armed Young Men and Gangsta Culture, will discuss gangs in Chicago and other cities (Tuesday, February 8).
After you vote, grab a drink and take a break from election updates at November's installment of Tuesday Funk. Tonight's featured readers are novelist Lori Ann Stephens, novelist-in-progress Lauryn Allison Lewis , poet Kristin Lueke, poet Sondra Morin, and poet/Huffington Post blogger/rooftop gardener Dave Snyder. Upstairs at the Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St., November 2, 7:30pm.
On Nov. 9, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is launching a new website dedicated to the publishing world: chicagopublishes.com. In a show of support for the creative industries, the site will play host to industry news, Chicago Publishers Gallery featured books and periodicals, and a calendar of area literary events. It will also provide readers with a database of Chicago publishers, as well as the usual social media stuff (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Read more about the site and what you can get out of it here. Then attend the Nov. 9 public launch event at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) from 4 - 5:30pm.
Award-winning literacy non-profit Open Books presents The Revelry: A
Night Fair this Friday, a gala celebrating the organization's expansion and mission. Featuring music from The Flat Cats and entertainers like a magician, juggler, stilt-walker, and caricature artist, it's sure to be a night to remember. Drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and a silent auction are also included in the ticket price of $100, which can be purchased here. 11/5, 7pm -10:30pm, 1840 West Hubbard Street.
Marked by Guy Fawkes' Night, increasingly frigid temperatures, and Thanksgiving, November has a new meaning for Chicago's literary-minded: Starting Wednesday, November 3, Richard Louv kicks off Chicago Public Library's Free November Authors Series, a number of free events heldat the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State St.), and at several branch locations throughout Chicago. Authors and speakres include Mexican-born cellist Carlos Prieto (The Adventures of a Cello), Max Grinnell (24 Great Walks in Chicago), and Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, the 18th Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service. More information and full schedule here.
Remember that mammoth, 1000+ page book about the 10-year-old who forms an army of misfits, by the Chicago author now being compared to David Foster Wallace? Yeah, he's reading from it tonight. Oak Park Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park. Wednesday, October 27, 7-9pm.
Got creative stuff you're fiddling around with - comics, zines, poetry, screenplays? Need some input or just tired of toiling in silence? Head out to Works In Progress at Quimby's tonight, or any last Wednesday of the month. They'll bring the snacks! Quimby's, 1854 W. North Ave. Wednesday, October 27, 7pm.
Though he dislikes the term "classical music," 20th Century classical music likely has no greater champion than New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. Stop Smiling magazine calls him "perhaps the best music critic this nation has ever produced." Ross will be at the Stop Smiling storefront this Wednesday to discuss his new book, Listen To This. The Chicago Reader says "[Listen To This] ping-pongs around from Mozart to Björk, recording technology to the history of a bass line. Ross offers a master class in music writing that will likely sell you not only on some music you never thought you'd like but on the importance of criticism to the form." Ross will be joined onstage in conversation with Chicago Sun-Times and WFMT music critic Andrew Patner. Stop Smiling storefront, 1371 N. Milwaukee. Wednesday, October 27, 6:30pm. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Revolving Door reading series is turning one year old. Stop by Red Kiva (1108 W. Randolph) at 7:30pm tomorrow to help them celebrate with poet Kevin Coval, soul-singer Candice Marie, and FathomDJ. Word is, there's also going to be goodie bags and balloons!
Head to the Stop Smiling storefront tonight for an evening with Chris Lehmann. The Baffler and Book Forum editor will be discussing his new book Rich People Things,
a critical and witty look into the overburndened lives of the well-to-do. Not a mere listing of ridiculous trinkets, the titular "Things" are defined very broadly - he mentions the iPad, sure, but also Malcolm Gladwell, Ayn Rand, and the Democratic Party ("One can think of many descriptors for a party that plods so relentlessly down a path of upward-tending, corporate-driven economic aims - but 'populist' and 'socialist' are definitely not among them"). The book is available exclusively from the publisher's website, Lehmann says, "since my publisher has his own separate anti-Amazon crusade, which most definitely should prevent me from joining the ranks of the Rich People." Journalist Tom Frank says "Chris Lehmann gives the mountebanks and plutocrats of this world the drubbing they deserve. His scoffing is a tonic." Nickel and Dimed author Barabara Ehrenreich calls the book "social criticism at its scorching-hot best." Stop Smiling, 1371 N. Milwaukee. Thursday, October 21, 6:30pm. RSVP to email@example.com.
Just like cupcakes and bacon, zombies are trendy (and, also like cupcakes and bacon, some might argue that it's not just a trend). But cult favorites like Dawn of the Dead, World War Z, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies all feature the brain-eaters as the antagonists. Scott Kenemore, zombie enthusiast, takes a different route with his books, which look to zombie behavior for ways to better our lives.
His recent manual, The Art of Zombie Warfare: How to Kick Ass Like the Walking Dead, for example, offers advice like, "If you want to fight like a zombie, you need to begin by thinking of ways to withstand massive amounts of damage." And "A zombie army is always moving." My personal favorite -- and one I'm going to heed tonight, probably: "Fight like you're already dead."
Yep, the founder of The Second City is directing two performances of The Misanthrope by Molière, presented by the Poetry Foundation. Intrigued? Then come see Chicago actors do a staged reading of the French satire, as translated by Richard Wilbur. Performances are Sunday, Oct. 24, at 7:30pm and Monday, Oct. 25, at 7:30pm at the Richard Christiansen Studio, Victory Gardens (2433 N. Lincoln). Tickets can be purchased here for $20 ($10 for students).
The Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies' Feinberg Theater audience was pin-drop silent last Thursday during a talk by scholar and writer Daniel Goldhagen. He was speaking on his 2009 book and documentary Worse than War, a product of his nearly 30 years of research on genocide. Goldhagen, who lives in Boston, was in Chicago thanks to Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that educates teachers, and, through them, generations of students, to understand the civic responsibility needed to prevent human-rights violations.
I'd had experience with Facing History -- just after graduating from college, I taught seventh-grade English at a small private school outside of Boston, and we used Facing History resources in our Holocaust unit. We'd brought students to listen to Holocaust survivors speak at local temples, and there were there were students from local schools at Goldhagen's talk, listening rapt as he spoke about our world's history of genocide and the ways we can prevent it from happening in the future. Both Goldhagen and Facing History senior program associate Chuck Meyers made clear that the post-Holocaust mantra, "Never again," has failed. Since World War II, there have been millions killed in Communist China and Cambodia, and hundreds of thousands killed in Darfur and Rwanda.
Goldhagen is not a Holocaust survivor, but his father, retired Harvard historian Erich Goldhagen, is -- and his research on genocide was what inspired the younger Goldhagen to follow his path. Starting with his 1996 book Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, which claims that ordinary Germans not only knew what Hitler and the Nazis were doing but also that they supported their actions, Daniel Goldhagen has been controversial. That doesn't change with Worse Than War, in which he argues that more people have been murdered by genocidal killers than by regular military operations during war: "And almost no one knows it."
Looking at genocide from our position, he said on Thursday, it's hard to imagine being able to help in Darfur or in Rwanda, where people were murdered with machetes every day. We're struck with "emotional helplessness," and our leaders don't consider it a matter of national interest. But, Goldhagen argued, it is in the interest of humanity, and it's not beyond our control. The decision of one leader or group to eradicate a whole group of people is a political choice, and the international community "can change that decision-making moment." One way to do that: put a bounty on the heads of genocidal leaders, Goldhagen suggested, declaring genocide a "war against humanity." A bounty program for terrorists already exist, and both Democratic and Republican administrations have used it. It may sound radical, he said, but, really, "what's radical is the status quo -- standing by while millions of people are being slaughtered."
It's the third Monday of the month and that means you need to be at the Mental Graffiti poetry slam at Butterfly Social Club. Tonight's feature is two-time National Poetry Slam champ Kyle "El Guante" Myhre from St. Paul, MN. A quick Google search tells me "guante" means "glove or gauntlet." They'll be ready to throw down - will you? $5 cover, 21 and over. Butterfly Social Club, 722 W. Grand. Monday, October 18, 7:30pm.
When poet Arielle Greenberg says "Gurlesque," she means "an emerging Third Wave feminist aesthetic that foregrounds the girly in work that is subversive, carnal, performative, grotesque, and brash." And Greenberg, along with poet-critic Lara Glenum, have edited an anthology of Gurlesque work for everyone to enjoy. On October 20, hear them tell you what it's all about -- for free! -- at Hokin Hall, Room 109 (623 S. Wabash), at 5pm. Catherine Wagner will also be on hand to read some Gurlesque poems.
If you like pizza, or zines, or both, this event is for you: ŒZa the Pizza Zine makes its saucy debut at Quimby's on 11/10. Created by Nicki Yowell, the Chicago part of its bi-coastal contributors include Ramsey Everydaypants of List, gore
poet Mason Pierce and Dining with Words' Caroline Liebman. 1854 W North Ave. Actual pizza will be served.
An Evening With Dancing Girl Press @ Potbelly Sandwich Shop (55 E. Jackson), 7pm: Brainchild of Kristy Bowen, Dancing Girl Press strives to promote and publish work by women. (DGP also has a studio/Etsy shop with lovely items for sale. Check them out!)
Luis Humberto Valadez @ Barnes & Noble, DePaul University Loop Campus Bookstore (1 E. Jackson), 6pm: Valadez performs some of his new work, followed by a book signing of his March '09 release, "what i'm on."
This Saturday, October 16, the Unity Temple in Oak Park (875 Lake St., Oak Park, Il.) will host Madison, Wis., poet Robin Chapman. Open mic starts at 8pm (7:30pm sign-up) and Chapman goes on at 9pm. A $3-5 donation is suggested.
Book Club selection author James Kennedy (The Order of Odd-Fish) is once again joining forces with Collaboraction to present a Dome of Doom Dance Party on Saturday at Pritzker Park. Yes, in front of the giant eye. The Dome of Doom brings to life the memorable Odd-Fish scene in which the protagonist and her foe dress up as Eldritch City deities, hurl insults at each other, and fight their battle atop flying ostriches. There will be no ostriches at the park, but there will be a large geodesic dome and people of all ages are invited to come in costume and duke it out Odd-Fish style. (If you can't come up with a costume last minute, don't worry--extra costumes will be handily provided.) The picture at the right is from this summer's Dance Party in Logan Square. Free and open to everyone on October 16, 2pm-5pm, at the Northwest corner of State and Van Buren.
Bike on down to Quimby's this Thursday for readings from two of Chicago's "active transportation" experts. Jason Rothstein will read from and sign copies of Carless in Chicago. Greg Borzo, author of The Chicago L calls it "very timely, practical not preachy, up-to-date advice about thriving in the Windy City without owning a car. Rothstein coolly lays out some real benefits of selling your car: More cash and better health; more free time and less stress; a cleaner environment and a more human-scale city. This book that will change the way you think about cars. It might even change your life." Local journalist and occasional Gapers Block contributor John Greenfield will read from and sign copies of Bars Across America. It's the story of his 5,000-mile bike journey from Oregon to Maine and the 48 taverns visited along the way. Dave Glowacz, author of Urban Bikers' Tips and Tricks, says "as John spins his yarn across the U.S., you'll wish you'd gone along." As if that's not enough, John will also perform a few songs about cycling at this event. Ride on! Free. Quimby's, 1854 W. North, Thursday, October 14, 7pm.
Started by Robert Frost, the Poetry Day reading series has been around for 56 years. This year, spend your Poetry Day with poet Frank Bidart this Thursday, October 14, at the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium in Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State St.) starting at 6pm -- for free!
Rumored to be an "authentic alternative reading series," POW-WOW runs every Tuesday at Jeffrey Pub (7104 S. Jeffrey). For the $5 cover, you get food served at 7:30pm with an open mic at 8:30pm. Tuesday, Oct. 12, POW-WOW will celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Week with African drumming (with Yaounde Olu) + poetry readings. Come out in support of boobs! And poetry!
If you'd be an Olympic athlete, were laughing at yourself (or others) a sport, then find "personal redemption through public humiliation" this Thursday at the nationwide phenomenon Mortified. Since 2002, countless participants have willingly shared writing, art or media created before the age of 21 to exorcise their demons for laughs. The concept is such a hit they're making a movie and they've already published twobooks. Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, Thursday, October 7 at 8:30pm. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door and can be purchased here.
The next installment of the lively Reading Under the Influence series is tonight. The theme? An offer you can't refuse: Gangsters. Featured readers are Get Capone author Jonathan Eig, Felipe Briceno, Jon Gugala, crime writer Ric Hess and RUI host Rob Duffer. As always the readings are interspersed with trivia questions and prizes. $3 cover. Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., in the back room. Wednesday, October 6. Readings begin at 7:30pm. It gets pretty crowded so get there early for a seat.
Roadtrip out to the 'burbs and take in The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe at First Folio Theatre (in residence at the Mayslake Peabody Estate Forest Preserve in Oak Brook, Ill.). Watch Poe's stories and poetry come to life as you're guided through Mayslake Hall and "deep into the madness of Edgar Allan Poe." The show previews tonight and runs through Nov. 7; check for tickets and pricing here. What a way to start celebrating Halloween, right?
Ready or not, here it comes: It's the first Tuesday of the month, which means Tuesday Funk at the Hopleaf. Tonight's featured readers are Connor Coyne, William Shunn and Jackie Adamski. Connor Coyne is a former Tuesday Funk host and author of the newly-published Hungry Rats, the story of a high school girl on the trail of a serial killer. Mostly Good Girls author Leila Sales says of Hungry Rats: "In confident, purposeful, evocative prose, Connor Coyne places you in a family where no one is watching out for you, and you had better watch your back." William Shunn's short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine and Salon.com. He is the author of a memoir, The Accidental Terrorist, and co-author of the novella Cast a Cold Eye. Jackie Adamski holds a degree in Religious Studies and is a short story author and Reading Under the Influence contributor. Free. Hopleaf, upstairs room, 5148 N. Clark St., Tuesday, October 5, 7:30pm.
Help Switchback Books promote women and poetry! Come to their salon and fundraiser at 4745 N Beacon St. #3S at 7pm -- salon starts at 8pm. $10 will get you a Switchback Book, but $20 will get you a book and all-you-can-drink! Enjoy some music, some lit, some food, and oh yeah -- some readings by Arielle Greenberg, Becca Klaver, Dolly Lemke, and Sarah Carson. (And there's talk of an 18-liter bottle of wine!)
The Third Coast International Audio Festival has been celebrating audio documentary work of all styles since 2000. Their work can be heard weekly on Re:sound on NPR. They also host Listening Room events, a bit like a pre-recorded reading (not because anyone has stage fright, but to take full advantage of the audio possibilities). This Friday's Listening Room features winners from the Book Odds challenge, in which participants were asked to produce a short audio story (up to three minutes) inspired by (and named after) song titles from The Books' newly-released record The Way Out. There will also be "guest doodlers" on hand to see how radio inspires art. Hosted by Third Coast Festival's Julie Shapiro and WBEZ's Alison Cuddy. Free. Chicago Urban Art Society, 2229 S. Halsted, Friday, October 1, 8:30pm.
The Encyclopedia Show is a variety show that has its participants perform pieces on encyclopedia topics. Silver Tongue is Columbia College Chicago's student-run reading series. Watch them come together tonight at The Conway Center (1104 S Wabash) at 7pm and define the topic "bears" with poetry, film, music, and anything else they can think of. Admission is free!
Chicago's longest running open mic for youth is in play again! Run by Young Chicago Authors every Tuesday at their headquarters (1180 N. Milwaukee, 2nd floor), WordPlay gives teens a chance to show their friends -- and the public -- what they've got. The night starts at 6pm with a writing workshop, moves into an open mic at 7pm, and then ends with a performance by a featured poet at 8:30pm. WordPlay runs now until mid-June, so come early and come often!
Literally. Leaves of Grass, a Nude Choral Reading is coming to Chicago. And yes, you read that right, "a Nude Choral Reading." Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, once considered immoral, is transformed by naked performers rhythmically chanting poems from the collection in an adaptation by Jeremy Bloom. You can see it all (yes, all) this Friday, October 1 at Links Hall in Lakeview (3435 N. Sheffield) at 7:30pm or 10pm. Admission is $15 ($10 for students or seniors) online or at the door.
If asked to name as many Polish novelists as I can think of, I might only be able to come up with one. But the University of Illinois at Chicago can help save me from my ignorance: they've hired world-renowned scholar of Polish literature and culture Michal Pawel Markowski as the inaugural Stefan and Lucy Hejna family chair in Polish language and literature.
Tonight at UIC, join Markowski as he answers the question "What is Polish Literature?" Room 302 in Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted St., 5pm-7pm.
Its first event over the summer was a success (really, poetry + brothel -- who wouldn't love it?!), so the Chicago Poetry Brothel is here to stay. Check out their second costume party/poetry reading/performance art tonight in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn), starting at 8pm. Tickets at the door are $10, unless you "come dressed Victorian" -- then you only have to shell out $5.
Criminal Class Press is a literary collective founded in 2008. Publishers of the literary journal Criminal Class Review, they sum up their aesthetic as "where the scumbag's voice is making a genre for itself" and "real life in the trenches. The punks and broads that the rest of us are. And if it's not you, it's looking for you, so watch out." Watch out, indeed: they're kicking off a five city East Coast tour on October 19. If you don't care 'cuz yo