The Printers’ Ball: IT’S ALIVE! is presented by the Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine with the Center for Book & Paper Arts, the Chicago Underground Library, Columbia College Chicago, and MAKE magazine. The 7th annual event, one of the largest celebrations of literary culture in the country, will take place Friday, July 29, in the historic Luddington Building, free and open to everyone.

This year’s Printers’ Ball will include a reading by poet, cartoonist, and former Silver Jews frontman David Berman, scheduled for 8:00 PM. Berman’s first book of poems is Actual Air (Open City, 1999). As Poetry contributor Cathy Park Hong has said, Berman is “a good gateway drug for that stubborn student who hates poetry.”

Berman’s reading will be one of many live performances featured at this year’s Printers’ Ball, which welcomes more than 200 organizations from around the world and more than 2,000 fans of the literary arts. The event will host Chicago Underground Library’s larger-than-life-size Ouija Board and haunting encounters with ghosts of literary past, including Ernest Hemingway, Harriet Monroe, and Nelson Algren. Paul Durica’s Pocket Guide to Hell Tours will induct new members to the fabled Whitechapel Club, a late-nineteenth-century Chicago press club that gathered journalists together for drinking, singing, and storytelling in quarters draped with murderous artifacts. Other features include a horrific poem-film by Simone Muench, a literary costume competition, a live video collage by Kathleen Judge of Judgeworks, and a short animated preview of the novel Ghosts by César Aira (New Directions, 2009), created by Susie Kirkwood and Jill Summers with original score by Daniel Knox. Musical guests include Chances Dances, White Mystery, and An Ebirac Project featuring Willie Gomez. Other special guests include Drag City Records, New Directions, Numero Group, and Uncle Fun.

Founded by Poetry magazine and other independent Chicago literary organizations, the Printers’ Ball celebrates literary culture by offering thousands of magazines, books, and broadsides free of charge; showcasing live music, readings, and other performances; demonstrating letterpress, offset, and silk-screen printing and paper-making; and providing other activities, entertainment, food, and drink—free!

The first 150 people to pre-register at printersball.eventbrite.com and
check in at the event will receive a limited edition “IT’S ALIVE!” Printers’
Ball poster by Johnny Sampson.

What: 7th Annual Printers’ Ball

The Ludington Building
Columbia College Chicago
1104 South Wabash Avenue
One block west of Michigan Avenue
Friday, July 29, 2011
             6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Free, all ages
Come as you are, formal attire not required; costumes encouraged

Select Printers’ Ball Features:

  • Uncle Fun goodie bags to the first 50 attendees.
  • Silver Tongue tote bags by Susie Kirkwood to the first 250 attendees.
  • Uncle Fun Diorama by Janice Lim.
  • Poetry reading by David Berman.
  • Rock ’n’ roll music by White Mystery.
  • Salsa music by An Ebirac Project featuring Willie Gomez, with poet Luis Tubens.
  • Live video collage by Judgeworks.
  • Larger-than-life-size Ouija Board by Chicago Underground Library. Guests are invited to contact the spirits of larger-than-life authors using their larger-than-life Oujia Board. Join medium Seth Dodson and some of Chicago’s finest comedians, and put your back into waking the dead with a planchette the size of a coffee table.
  • The Whitechapel Club by Pocket Guide to Hell. Taking its name from Jack the Ripper's London haunt, the Whitechapel Club was a Chicago press club in the 1890s that gathered together world-weary Chicago journalists for drinking, singing, storytelling, and general carousing in quarters stuffed with mementos connected to crime, like 50 nooses used in executions, a Knights Templar sword said to have decapitated a woman in Louisville, and the bloody slipper of a Chinese merchant murdered in Frisco. Writers like George Ade and Peter Finley Dunne, police inspector John Bonfield of Haymarket Riot fame, and Hobart Chesterfield Chesterfield-Taylor, dilettante, mayoral candidate, and benefactor of Poetry magazine, drank from the skull of Waterford Jane, prostitute of the “Sands,” as part of the Club’s strange rituals. Pocket Guide to Hell brings the Whitechapel Club back to life as an interactive full-scale installation and performance. New members will be inducted, esoteric rituals performed, and the morbid and macabre from Chicago’s past will rise once more to the surface.
  • A short animated preview of the novel Ghosts by César Aira; animation by Susie Kirkwood and Jill Summers, original score by Daniel Knox.
  • Where a Blade Becomes Horizon by Simone Muench. Muench’s poem-film, or cinematic poem, uses juxtaposed footage of numerous horror films superimposed with a patchwork of various poetic texts and music.
  • What do you Believe?" An installation of real life monster encounters by illustrator Marika Paz and researcher Patrick Summers.
  • Busted Books: The Great Soaking. Performance by Davis Schneiderman. Attendees are invited to use a artisan-constructed dunk tank to soak either a book or a Kindle—depending upon the dunker’s feelings regarding the printed word and e-readers. With this simple choice, this physical act, readers can finally stop theorizing about the future of the book and do
    something about it.
  • “Reading Experiment in Progress”: An interactive performance and mini-reading of Jennifer Karmin’s text-sound epic Aaaaaaaaaaalice.
  • THE WORLD AS TEXT, a summer reading room and exhibition crafted out of re-purposed furniture to amplify connections between the action of reading and the activity of performance and featuring over 75 contemporary artist’s books, zines, exhibition catalogs, and alternative publications.
  • Legendary Chicago authors brought back to life! Actors from Collaboraction, courtesy of the City of Chicago’s Publishing Industry Programs, will stage impromptu performances while offering advice, autographs, and giveaways.
  • Chicago Literacy Social Meetup. Thrilled, and maybe a little overwhelmed, by all the amazing literary wonderfulness at the 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 for a special Printers Ball Edition meetup, from 6:30pm to 7:30pm,  to learn more about the crisis in our city and the organizations that are banding together to fight it, then head out with your new 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! 
  • Wurlington Press View-Master Reels on Display
  • Knee-Jerk magazine’s Inner Literary Monsters.
  • Button-O-Matic by Busy Beaver Button Co.
  • Frankenzine by Chicago Zine Fest.
  • Rubber stamping by Stampland.
  • Button making on demand by Open Books.
  • Photo booth by Glitter Guts.
  • Zombie face painting.
  • Free beer and food.
  • Ratso!

Special thanks to Printers’ Ball organizers Mairead Case, Sarah Dodson, John Freyer, Susie Kirkwood, April Sheridan, Jill Summers, and Nell Taylor.


Pre- and Post- Printers’ Ball events

Thursday, July 21, 6pm
Busted Books: The T.S. Elliot Autopsy, performed by Davis Schneiderman
Center for Book and Paper Arts
1104 South Wabash Avenue
Free admission

T.S. Eliot's first major work, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” first appeared in the June 1915 issue of Poetry, Chicago’s then three-year-old literary magazine, which is now approaching its centennial. Building on Davis Schneiderman’s series of stylized book deconstructions, this performance treats Eliot’s poem as its own patient “etherised upon a table,” to be dissected with surgical instruments and supported by on-stage medical personnel. This dissection removes key words, phrases, and white spaces from the Eliot text, while foregrounding the destruction of this historical artifact.


Wednesday, July 27, 6pm
Men Undressed: Women Writers and the Male Sexual Experience
Center for Book and Paper Arts
1104 South Wabash Avenue
Free admission

Susan Solomon and Gina Frangello read their selections from newly published Men Undressed, a book featuring contemporary women writers imagining all things sexual from the point of view of male characters. Solomon and Frangello read while dressed as these male characters. Local writer Davis Schneiderman follows by reading a story by Cris Mazza and performing and dressing as the story’s main character. Following the readings, a discussion will take place on writing and gender perspectives.


Friday, July 29, 11pm
ALARM Press Afterparty
Villains Chicago
649 South Clark Street
Free admission

Join ALARM Press, publisher of Design Bureau magazine and ALARMPress.com, and host of the official Printers’ Ball Afterparty at Villains Chicago. Mingle with some of the city’s best DIY publishers and print enthusiasts as this year’s Printers’ Ball comes to an end. Festivities last until closing time.


Saturday, July 30, 9pm
Slumber Party Massacre: The Way We Sleep
Beauty Bar
1444 West Chicago Avenue
Admission $5

Another Chicago Magazine hosts “Slumber Party Massacre,” the Printers’ Ball after-afterparty featuring DJ sets by Gabriel Feijóo (WLUW-FM), Miles Raymer & J.R. (of the Chicago Reader), and Dark Wave Disco, as well as a photo booth courtesy of Glitter Guts. Costumes are encouraged, so don your best sleepover duds and murderous attire—prizes awarded for Best Costume and Best Couple's Costume. RSVP to thebeautybar.com/chicago, where more information is available. All proceeds help fund The Way We Sleep: An Anthology of Prose & Comics, ACM's first foray into book publishing. 

Participating Organizations and Publications Include:

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
After Hours
American Poet
&NOW Books
Another Chicago Magazine
Apple Valley Review: A Journal of Contemporary Literature
A Public Space
Arcadia Publishing
AREA Chicago
Artifice Magazine
The Baffler
Beard of Bees Press
The Believer
Belladonna* Series
Bellevue Literary Review
Bellingham Review
Best of Hair Trigger
Black Swann Press: Surrealist Editions
BOMB Magazine
Bone Bouquet
Book/Mark Quarterly Review
Books & Culture
Bound Off: A monthly literary audio magazine
Busy Beaver Button Co.
Calypso Zine
Canarium Books
Cave Wall Press
C.C. Stern Type Foundry
Center for Book and Paper Arts
The Chapbook
Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company
Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
Chicago Humanities Festival
Chicago Public Library
Chicago Reader
The Chicago Reporter
Chicago Underground Library
Chicago Zine Fest
City of Chicago's Publishing Industry Programs
Columbia College Chicago
Columbia College Fiction Writing Student Board
Columbia College Chicago Library
Columbia Poetry Review
Combat! Literary Magazine
The Common
Court Green
Criminal Class Press
Curbside Splendor
dancing girl press
Dear Navigator
Design Bureau
Diatribe Media
The Dil Pickle Club
Do-it-Yourself Divorce: Cook County Illinois 
Drag City
An Ebirac Project Featuring Willie Gomez
Eleven Eleven
Encyclopedia Show
featherproof books
Fictionary magazine
Fifth Wednesday Journal
Firecat Press
Free Size projects
Fresh Squeezed Poetry
Gapers Block
Geneva13 Press
The Georgia Review
Ghost Ocean Magazine
Glitter Guts
Green Lantern Press
Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute
Harvard Review
Hayden's Ferry Review
Haymarket Books
Hostel Tuesdays
Hotel Amerika
Hourglass Books
I, Objector
Inkwell Magazine
In Spite of the Dark Silence
In These Times
The Iowa Review
JAB, the Journal of Artists’ Books
Journal of Ordinary Thought
The Journal of Need and Want
Lake Forest College Press
Les Figues Press
The Light of Desire
Light Quarterly
Literacy Chicago
The Literary Review
Litmus Press/Aufgabe
The Lit Pub
London Review of Books
The MacGuffin
MAKE Magazine
Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas / Nueva escritura de las Américas
Margie Franzen: Specialty Translation & Birth Doula
Mark Hudson
Midwestern Gothic
Mission Creek Festival
The Missouri Review
Nan Bu Nan publishing
NC Writers' Network
Neighborhood Writing Alliance
The Newberry Library
New Directions
New England Review
New Letters to a Young Poet
The Newtowner: An Arts and Literary Magazine
The Next Objectivists
Ninth Letter
Noyes Cultural Art Center
Numero Group
Off-Campus Writers Workshop
One Book, One Chicago
One Degree Off
One Horse Press
Open Books
Other Voices Books
Out of Our
The Oxford American
Oxford Poetry
Oyez Review
Packingtown Review
PageBoy Magazine
Platypus Review
Pocket Guide to Hell Tours
Poetry Foundation
Poetry Magazine
Polyphony H.S.
Poor Taste Magazine
PRA Publishing / Poetry Matters
Proximity Magazine
Puerto del Soul
Qlix magazine
Red Rover Series
Requited Journal
Revolution Books
River Styx
Rose Metal Press
Ruminate Magazine
The Same Press
@LAS (The Annual Magazine of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Columbia College Chicago)
Silver Tongue Reading Series
Sophomoric Philosophy
Soundings Review
South Loop Review: Creative Nonfiction + Art
Spinning Jenny
The Spoon River Poetry Review
Stampland Chicago
Student Affairs Office at Columbia College Chicago
Sunday Salon
Swan Isle Press
Switchback Books
Think Journal
This Is The End Zine
Tin House Magazine
The Transformative Nature of Social Change
TriQuarterly Online
Tuesday; An Art Project
Two With Water
Ugly Duckling Presse
Uncle Fun
UNSCENE Urban Navigator
Versal, the literary & art annual out of Amsterdam
Verse Wisconsin
Vices Make My Life More Interesting
Washington Square Review
West Branch
White Mystery
Willow Springs
Winter Journey
Wurlington Press
The Writers WorkSpace
The Writing Life
You Are Beautiful
Young Chicago Authors
Zone 3 Journal/Zone 3 Press

Friday, July 29th – Friday, July 29th, 6:00 PM–11:00 PM
6 pm to 11 pm
The Ludington Building
1104 S Wabash Ave, Chicago
Free to All Ages