Writers Take Chicago!

[Image above: Chicago Skyline from Umich.edu]

Tonight, thousands of writers will descend on Chicago for the annual Association for Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference. Held in a different cities all over North America, the AWP Conference is massive collection of the world’s best writers, editors, writing teachers, small presses, and independent book sellers. For three days each year, these folks get together for countless panels, lectures, readings, book signings, and networking (ie. cocktail parties with free appetizers!). The whole city gets involved, and coffee shops, music clubs, and local bars offer writing-themed events to entice the influx of literati. For writers, this is basically our version of the Super Bowl. A nerdy Super Bowl with tote bags instead of helmets, and book fairs instead of Bruce Springsteen, but nonetheless, a very impressive gig.

[Images clockwise from upper right: Valzhyna Mort, Paul Muldoon, Carolyn Forche, ZZ Packer, and Art Spiegelman from AWPwriter.org]

This year’s keynote address will be given by Pulitzer-prize-winning graphic artist Art Spiegelman, and featured readers include poet Carolyn Forche, Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort, Irish Pulitzer-prize-winner Paul Muldoon, and fiction writer ZZ Packer.

So, this evening, I’m off to Chicago to join the scribbling masses. I am beyond excited, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with all of you from the conference! I’ll be scoping the halls of the Hilton and the streets of downtown for some fashionable ‘Seen Style‘ candidates, so wear your ModCloth or vintage finest. If you know Chicago, maybe you could suggest some cool places for me to visit? Restaurants I shouldn’t miss? The Chicago Diner is on my list, but I’m open to any advice!

Also, if you’ll be in the Chicago area on Thursday night, check out this reading at the Hopleaf Bar. One of the off-site AWP conference readings, the ‘Three on Thursday’ event features Pittsburgh native Adam Atkinson of Open Thread, a Pittsburgh regional arts organization. I’m looking forward to seeing Pittsburgh poets represent in the Windy City!

I’ll keep you posted on the AWP…hope to see you there!


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  1. Avatar
    Lily 02/11/2009 at 1:42 pm #

    Two great places:
    The Lake Side Cafe, organic/veggie restaurant @ 1418 W. Howard St – http://lake-side-cafe.com
    Argo Tea, cafe try the Tea Latte or Earl Grey Vanilla Creme @ various locations, i usually hangout the one on Randolph – http://argotea.com

  2. Avatar
    Adam Atkinson 02/11/2009 at 1:59 pm #

    Thanks for the shout out, Molly! Pittsburgh writers, represent!

  3. Avatar
    Molly 02/11/2009 at 1:59 pm #

    Thanks, Lily! The Lake Side sound lovely, and I can’t wait to try that Earl Grey Vanilla Creme!

  4. Avatar
    Erica 02/11/2009 at 2:36 pm #

    Check out yelp.com for some awesome public opinions of Chicago eats and treats. One of the trendy, hip vegetarian places is Green Zebra located at 1460 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642. I was just there last month and the food was solid. They do small plates so you get to try lots of things.

    Also, if you get a chance, go walk around the Chicago Cultural Center. It’s totally free and features the largest Tiffany dome in the country…totally beautiful. 78 E Washington St
    Chicago, IL 60610

  5. Avatar
    Vee 02/11/2009 at 3:55 pm #

    I love Chicago so much! You’ll have a great time. I’m a little jealous that I can’t go too:)

  6. Avatar
    Jenna 02/11/2009 at 5:03 pm #

    Duck Walk Thai. My absolute favorite Thai restaurant, and it’s way cheap for Chicago (lunch for $3-$10). North side, 919 W. Belmont. Just off the Belmont Brown Line stop on the L, so easy to get to.
    Another good Thai place in the heart of downtown is My Thai on 30 S. Michigan Ave.

    Also, if you wanna go somewhere fun that has retro style, great milkshakes, verbally abusive wait staff with crazy clothes and oftentimes a working DJ, Ed Debevic’s is a Chicago classic. 640 N. Wells St. Don’t expect gourmet, but you will have fun. And you can totally get away with being a jerk, if you feel like.

    hope that helps 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Molly 02/11/2009 at 6:06 pm #

    Great tips, Jenna. I love Thai. There’s a great Thai place in Pittsburgh called Spice Island…if you’re ever in the ‘Burgh, check it out!

  8. Avatar
    lucie_beluga 02/13/2009 at 6:37 am #

    Oh boy how bad I want to be part of that superbowlish event, you’re so lucky to go, we want a report Molly!

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