posted by Caroline Picard

The Printer’s Ball

Once a year, Chicago literary fans gather to peruse and collect tables and tables of free, independent literary material. Back issues of Stop Smiling, Make Magazine, Bateau, to name a few–(there are so many different publications, it’s impossible to name it all) Poetry Magazine, Platypus–these are of course the titles that I recognized, so they stuck in my memory, yet in addition of course there are so many other peculiar, attractive, sexy publications on view, and (this is the amazing part) available to take. That’s right. Somehow, everything is free. In addition to which there are drinks, there is a buffet, there is (drum roll) entertainment–bands, readings, performances–what always amazes me is the amount of work that this event demands. But also, people get so excited about it. This I started wondering about–I started wondering what it was that made people buzz around so much–I mean of course there are obvious reasons, like the odd leftist 70s political magazines that were sprinkled around at different tables–or the buttons, I mean it’s tons and tons of cool schwag–presses (like featherproof, for instance) make curious multiples (see above) that are also readily available–unique text objects that you’re not likely to find elsewhere. And it’s kind of like an industry party–Chicago’s, albeit less formal, version of AWP. But here I suspect is the real source of enthusiasm: artists have regular art openings–functions whereby they congregate under the auspices of a similar artistic interest, they recognize one another as aritsts and while sharing casual conversations, nevertheless validate their artist-ness. I don’t think writer’s get the same cathartic opportunites–at least not to the same extent. While writers participate in readings, readings require some composure, one attends a reading to listen–(I was talking to a co-worker who’s primary experience stems from the art world and she asked how many people tend to go to readings. I said, “maybe between 5 and 30.” she said, “30?” I said, “yes. Sometimes. I think it’s fairly common.” and she was amazed, I think about the idea that as many as 30 people would go somewhere to listen to other people talk. Which is pretty neat–but you see it’s different from an art opening, because people go to openings to socialize, to support their peers, to talk and drink and talk. There’s that addage–if you want to see the show, you go when there’s no one else there)–meanwhile at the Printer’s Ball, it really is a giant party, where writers recognize one another as writers, where publishers recognize other publishers. The overall welcoming atmosphere then, too, becomes an interesting place for those who aren’t familiar with these independent literary practices, and I think the sense of abundance, the free-ness of all the publications, makes everyone feel the generous, energetic innovation of the community. Which of course is inspiring in and of itself. Thanks to the Poetry Project, The Underground Library and Columbia College for making this possible and available to the rest of us!


FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2010 /// 6 PM TO 11 PM


Lots of magazines. Books. Posters. Galore.
Broadsides & busy beavers. Newspapers & weeklies.
Zines. Poetry, fiction & all that. Buttons, stickers
& more. Reading & performing, or something like it.
Red carpet. Screenings, Web things & digital
writing — electrified in general; because PRINT DIGITAL .
Making, inking, stamping. Getting hands dirty.
Dancing, music, DJs. Playing. All free.

+ Beer, food & revelry.

Printers’ Ball 2010 Schedule
Friday, July 30, 6:00 – 11:00 PM

Scheduled Events:

6:00 PM: Christian Wiman introduces Printers’ Ball 2010
6:00 – 9:00 PM
: PRINTERESTING.ORG’s “COPY JAM!,” an interactive art print occurrence.
6:00 – 10:00 PM
: Dave Tompkins, the author of How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop, The Machine Speaks, dee-jays his vocoder playlist, with live vocoder and special guest
7:00 – 7:30 PM
: “The Precession,” a digital poem and live performance of original writing and real-time data collection by Mark Jeffrey and Judd Morrissey
8:00 – 10:00 PM
: The Show ‘n Tell Show, hosted by Zach Dodson and Michael Renaud, with Studio Blue’s Cheryl Towler Weese, Edie Fake, Isaac Tobin, and Kathleen Judge
10:00 – 11:00 PM
: Live music by Icy Demons

Ongoing Events:

  • Printers’ Ball limited-edition Busy Beaver Buttons to the first 500 guests
  • Red-carpet interviews with Amy Guth, digital news editor for books at the Chicago Tribune and co-host of ChicagoNow Radio on WGN
  • Gapers Block traffic jam of Chicago lit sites
  • Gallery presentation of and reading from the Printers’ Ball 2010 Art Book, with broadsides featuring the work of the Chicago Printers’ Guild and local poets and writers
  • Book binding by Chicago Books to Women in Prison
  • DEUSEXPAGINA, a live experiment in literary quantum mechanics and wholly fabricated reviews of wholly fabricated books
  • Elevated Diction: poems performed live during your elevator ride between floors
  • The Gnoetry poetry-making machine
  • “Pandora’s Star Box,” a poem-film by Carrie Olivia Adams
  • Public Media Institute’s Mobile Screen-printing Cart
  • Text Object,” a featured digital reading provided by Vanessa Place
  • Video gallery featuring Bound Off, contratiempo, Rattapalax, Switchback Books, and Wholphin DVD, plus metal type animation by students from the London College of Communication
  • Fresh Squeezed Poetry, poetry written to order by Illinois Arts Council award winners
  • Plus more with Anchor Graphics, Captain Carpenter, the students and alumni of Columbia College Chicago, and others
  • The Next Objectivists typing the poetry of the multitude. Poetypists will compose in public and turn “raw or/e” into poetry chapbooks to be distributed on-site.

and the afterparty…

The Printers’ Ball After-Party and MAKE Five-Year Anniversary Fiesta



FREE / 21+

After you gorge yourself on print and digital lit, The Show ‘n Tell Show and Icy Demons, head over to Reggie’s Music Joint for a night of music and piñatas celebrating the celebration of print and digital literature, as well as MAKE’s fifth year of publishing.

The Reggie’s bus will pick up party goers at the Ball at 9PM, 10PM, and 11PM. Look for it (it’s hard to miss) at the front entrance of the Ludington Building.

Enjoy drink specials such as “The Publishers’ Pair,” a cheap beer and a cheap whiskey shot for $5 or keep it clean and classy with $5 shots of Templeton Rye. Order from the grill too.

Beginning at 9PM, Shame That Tune, Chicago’s newest musical comedy game show kicks off the night with a special Printers’ Ball episode featuring Coupleskate’s Andrea Bauer, RUI’s Rob Duffer, and a volunteer from the audience.

Followed by the peerless Magical Beautiful, refined garage rockers Paul Cary and the Small Scaries, and the always delightful Coupleskate.

Preview the bands and download free tunes at

Arts and culture live talk show and podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody hosts an interview room in Record Breakers Record Store throughout thenight.    

Visit the FACEBOOK event page

Dear Everyone,

If you’d like to lend a hand setting up, seeing through, or taking apart
this year’s Printers’ Ball, please reply YES to this e-mail. Also provide:

1. Your full name
2. Your preferred e-mail address
3. Your cell phone number
4. Your preferred shift

You can choose from three shifts:

1. 10am to 6pm
2. 6pm to 11pm
3. 11pm to 12am

We need the most help in time slot 3, 11pm to 12am.
Volunteers will receive a special Printers’ Ball care package!

The Printers’ Ball
Friday, July 30, 2010
6pm to 11pm
1104 S. Wabash Ave.



Fred Sasaki
Associate Editor, POETRY

Science of Obscurity

July 10, 2010

The Chicago Underground Library

celebrates the Science of Obscurity!

SATURDAY, JULY 10th from 7–10pm

at the Jupiter Outpost, 1139 W. Fulton Market

this event is free & for all ages
food & drink will be available for sale

An annual lead up event to the Printers’ Ball featuring new, unpublished, and in-progress works presented as science fair experiments.  Join an awesome line up of writers, designers, and publishers as the intricately explain the scientific principles underlying their work, real or imagined.

Reading experiments with Jennifer Karmin!
Storigami with Zach Dodson!
Distress charts with A D Jameson!
Teenage taxonomies with Mairead Case!
Curmudgeonly cuttlefish with Libby Walker!
Hand-cranked projector mad libs with Two With Water!
All participants will also have work for sale.

Special projects from the Society of Furthering Truth (SOFT), The Book Bike, readings from Featherproof Books’ iPhone application TripleQuick, surprise musical guests, video interviews with the CUL crew about your favorite forgotten and under-recognized Chicago publishers and writers.

The night will also feature a public “book launch” via catapult, scientist speed dating, and digital readings to warm your hardened techie heart. Left and right brains come together, print <3s digital, everyone wins when the laws of physics and literature collide.

If you’re a writer, publisher, bookmaker, or booklover of any stripe who has recently finished writing a book, has published a book in the past year, or just feels like taking out some aggression on a publication of your choice, we invite you to celebrate by participating in our public reading and launching your work into space–or at least halfway down the block. We define “book” broadly, so zines, magazines, chapbooks, textbooks, and more are welcome. Read a paragraph, then release! And if you want to donate your book to the collection of the Chicago Underground Library after it’s caught some air, we’re here for you.

About the Chicago Underground Library
The Chicago Underground Library provides an open forum for creative exchange between all producers and patrons of Chicago’s independent media, facilitating collaboration and awareness between diverse communities. Through innovative and inclusive approaches to acquisitions, cataloging and programming, we illuminate connections and provide both a historical and contemporary context for the creation of new local media.

About the Printers’ Ball
Founded by Poetry magazine with other independent Chicago literary organizations, the Printers’ Ball is an annual celebration of print culture, featuring thousands of magazines, books, and broadsides available free of charge; live readings and music; letterpress, offset, and paper-making demonstrations; and much more. The Printers’ Ball is co-produced with Columbia College Chicago and the Center for Book & Paper Arts, and takes place July 30th, 2010 in Chicago’s landmark Ludington Building, former home to the American Book Company, at 1104 South Wabash.

posted by Caroline Picard

You can go to this site to see an interviews between Amy Guth and Chicago Literary folks like Qickies heroines Lindsay Hunter and Mary Hamilton, Nell Taylor, Dee Dee, Jacob Knab and Jonathan Messinger among others. Amy Guth and a camera man set up a camera for Chicago Now, such that she recreated a kind of red-carpet effect in the midst of all the hubbub. At any rate, kind of goofy (me, I mean, not Amy. Amy’s super pro). But there it is. Go here for my link!

posted by Caroline Picard

if you’re interested, email :

Dear Printers’ Ball Participants,

We need hands on deck for next Friday, July 31. In exchange for your
services, you will get a POETRY tote bag, first pass of the books and
magazines, and receive a limited edition Printers’ Ball poster!

We need help:

1) Staging the thousands of pounds of print.
2) Directing traffic.

If you’d like to help out (and have a backstage pass to the Printers’ Ball)
please reply to this e-mail with your name, cell phone number, and
availability. We need help from 2:30pm on.



Fred Sasaki
Associate Editor, POETRY
444 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1850
Chicago, IL  60611-4034
312.787.7070  Ext. 8005
312.787.6650  Fax