• Chicago: A Vibrant Literary Destination

      Poetry Foundation’s New Building in Chicago, One of Only Three Public Spaces in the Nation Built Exclusively for the Advancement of Poetry, Opens June 25

      Chicago, Illinois - From Carl Sandburg, Nelson Algren, and Lorraine Hansberry to Saul Bellow, Richard Wright and Gwendolyn Brooks, Chicago has nurtured the talents of writers whose groundbreaking work changed the course of American literature. Today, acclaimed writers such as Elizabeth Berg, Aleksandar Hemon, Audrey Niffenegger, Sara Paretsky, and Joe Meno, and poets including Li-Young Li, Christian Wiman, Suzanne Buffam, Haki Madhubuti, and Marc Smith make Chicago their home and contribute to a vibrant literary community.

      A thriving publishing industry creates new opportunities for authors and publishers alike, and fosters an environment where literary activity can flourish. In addition, major literary events and readings; top university writing programs; and a variety of independent venues, workshop series, and bookstores make Chicago one of the premier literary destinations in the world.

      With the June 25, 2011, opening of the Poetry Foundation’s new building, one of only three public spaces in the nation built exclusively for the advancement of poetry and home of the internationally renowned Poetry magazine, Chicago’s position as a leading center for literary excellence and innovation will be further enhanced. For more information about Chicago’s dynamic literary and publishing community, visit www.ChicagoPublishes.com.

      Chicago’s Publishing Industry
      Chicago’s publishing industry includes 339 publishers, at least 117 book publishers and 180 periodical publishers. The city is home to the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the U.S.; Johnson Publishing, the largest African-American owned publishing company in the country; Third World Press, the largest independent African-American-owned press in the U. S.; and Sourcebooks, Inc., the largest woman-owned independent press in the nation and a leader in the e-publishing revolution. Chicago publishing is characterized by a strong do-it-yourself spirit and proud independence. Midsize publishers like Agate, Triumph, and Academy Chicago; small presses like Flood Editions, Stop Smiling Books, and Rose Metal Press; and magazines such as The Point, Venus, and Alarm thrive on the editorial vision of an individual or small group of people.

      A vital comic book and graphic novel culture, including comic artists like Chris Ware, Alex Ross, Paul Hornschemeier, Jill Thompson, and Edie Fake, and neighborhood hubs such as Quimby’s and Chicago Comics, nurtures and supports the work of both up-and-coming and established comic artists. “Micro” publishers such as featherproof are willing to try nontraditional techniques for book-selling including ”Storigami,” stories that can be downloaded and folded into paper figures. A thriving book arts community, including alumni of Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper Arts and several independent letterpress studios like Hummingbird Press and Spudnik Press, fosters a spirit of collaboration among writers, publishers, and artists who test the boundaries of the book as an object. Experiments in electronic publishing are also widely pursued by groups such as the Chicago Underground Library.

      City of Chicago Publishing Industry Programs As part of the City of Chicago’s ongoing mission to support Chicago's creative industries, the Publishing Industry Programs initiative promotes the city’s vital publishing industry. Programs include a new website, www.ChicagoPublishes.com that showcases Chicago as a major yet distinct player in the world of publishing through regularly updated news, featured books and periodicals from the Chicago Publishers Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center, and a comprehensive literary events calendar. A searchable database of all Chicago-area book and periodical publishers is the first of its type to exist in the Chicago area. In addition, www.ChicagoPublishes.com provides a full array of social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. The site also acts as a portal to other opportunities for publishers and writers, particularly CAR-Literary, the new component of www.ChicagoArtistsResource.org. The Publishing Industry Programs initiative also presents public programs at the Chicago Cultural Center featuring Chicago publishers and writers and other special events for members of Chicago’s publishing and literary community.

      CAR-Literary on www.ChicagoArtistsResource.com provides a platform for community-contributed postings such as jobs and calls for submissions; an online forum for open dialogue; links to local and national resources; articles on professional practice; and Artist Stories, essays contributed by writers and publishers about their personal expertise and experiences. Anyone who creates a free account can post to this active part of the CAR website. CAR-Literary’s design encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration, provides an easily searchable gateway to articles, registries, directories, and forums, and enables writers to find places to publish and read their work.

      Chicago Publishers Gallery and Cafe
      This hands-on collection showcases Chicago’s publishing industry and contains over 1500 books by 80 book publishers and material from 75 periodical publishers, all based in Chicago or greater Illinois. Located in the Randolph Café of the Chicago Cultural Center, the Gallery encourages exploration of Chicago’s wide range of publishing ventures in a comfortable setting where book-inspired art, limited editions, and other book-related exhibitions are on display. Although publications in the Gallery are not for sale or loan, the public is invited to read or browse through fiction, non-fiction, art books, poetry, experimental works, children’s literature, and encyclopedias as well as numerous periodicals such as magazines, literary and scholarly journals, and daily Chicago newspapers.

      Chicago Poetry
      Chicago is a lively center for poetry. The Chicago-based Poetry Foundation, publisher of the 100-year-old Poetry magazine, the oldest poetry journal in the English speaking world and one of the most prestigious, is a leader in developing new audiences and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative programs, world class poetry readings and events as well as seminars and gatherings for the local literary community and the public. The Foundation also offers a downloadable Chicago Poetry Tour that is available at www.poetryfoundation.org. Featuring the work of Chicago poets past and present, the tour covers a variety of locations including Gwendolyn Brooks’s neighborhood library, the Union Stock Yards featured in Carl Sandburg’s work, and Maxwell Street and Chess Records, where bluesy poets found their inspiration.

      To celebrate the opening of its new building, the Poetry Foundation will host a series of free public readings by nationally renowned poets including Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Sandra Cisneros, Robert Hass, and Kay Ryan on June 25 and 26, 2011.

      The birthplace of the poetry slam, Chicago has a thriving performance poetry community presenting work at venues throughout the city, including Marc Smith’s weekly poetry slam at the Green Mill. “Louder Than a Bomb”, co-founded by poets Kevin Coval and Anna West and run by Young Chicago Authors, is the largest teen poetry slam in the country and the subject of a recent award-winning documentary by Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs.

      The Poetry Center of Chicago, housed in the Chicago Cultural Center, is a major presenter of readings, workshops, and educational programs including Hands on Stanzas, which teaches poetry to students in the Chicago Public Schools. Other popular venues for poetry readings are Danny’s Bar and the Hyde Park Arts Center. Notable reading series include the bilingual Palabura Pura, presented by the Guild Complex, and the Red Rover series, curated by poet Jen Karmin. Visit www.ChicagoPublishes.com/events for a comprehensive list of upcoming readings and performances.

      Major Literary Events
      Book lovers will find a variety of literary festivals, fairs, and author readings throughout the year. Annual events include:

      -Columbia College Chicago’s Story Week Festival of Writers offers an exceptional lineup of writers, editors, and publishers, readings, conversations with authors, and book signings.
      -The Printers Row Lit Fest, an outdoor festival sponsored by the Chicago Tribune, features unique booksellers, readings, panels, exhibitors, kids activities, cooking demos and wine tastings.
      -The Newberry Library Book Fair presents a four-day book sale of more than 100,000 used books sorted into 60 categories.
      -The Printers’ Ball, hosted by Poetry magazine, promotes the independent print community and boasts audiences of up to 1000 people each year.
      -The Chicago Humanities Festival brings together novelists, poets, scholars, musicians and other performers, historians, artists, playwrights and policy makers to offer performances, screenings, exhibits, and discussions on a theme of universal interest.

      In addition, the Harold Washington Library Center presents a series of free, monthly events featuring noted contemporary authors throughout the year.

      Chicagoland has at least 80 independent and special-interest bookstores. Many have author readings. Several are nationally known models (57th Street Books, the Seminary Co-op, and Powell’s in Chicago as well as Anderson’s in Naperville, which was voted the best bookstore of 2011 by Publishers Weekly) and community-based centers of activity (The Book Cellar, Open Books, and Women & Children First). Others include Quimby’s for comics and alternative work, and Unabridged Books for gay and lesbian titles.

      Visitor Information Resources
      Visitors and Chicagoans planning to entertain out-of-town guests can receive trip-planning assistance and information by visiting www.ExploreChicago.org. Brochures and information on Chicago’s exciting events and activities are also available at the Visitor Information Centers. Friendly Visitor Representatives can answer questions and assist in planning an unforgettable itinerary. The visitor centers are located in two of the city’s most popular areas: across from Millennium Park in the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph Street; and at the historic Water Works pumping station, 163 E. Pearson Street at Michigan Avenue.

      For daily alerts about fun and free things to do in Chicago, follow ExploreChicago on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/ExploreChicago and “like” us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ExploreChicago, where you can also weigh in on your Chicago favorites. Receive answers to your Chicago questions on the go, and tips on the latest citywide events and activities, via the FREE Twitter Concierge Service (@explorechicago) available daily.

      The Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture is dedicated to promoting Chicago as a premier cultural destination to domestic and international leisure travelers, providing innovative visitor programs and services, and presenting free world-class public programs. For more information please visit www.ExploreChicago.org.