Free Chicago Book Expo This Weekend

Chicago-area friends, this Sunday, Oct 1, 2017 is a great time to buy local and read local at the 6th annual Chicago Book Expo, which offers FREE ADMISSION.   The event, devoted solely to Chicago-area writers and publishers, will be held this Sunday, Oct 1, 2017, noon-5pm at Columbia College, 1104 S. Wabash Ave. in Chicago. This free celebration of Chicago’s literary community features 19 programs and workshops with local authors, plus almost 100 exhibitors selling books from local presses, writers, and literary organizations.  The 6th annual Chicago Book Expo features over 80 local literary organizations and also plays host for this year’s inaugural Chicago Architecture Book Festival.


The 6th annual FREE Chicago Book Expo is Chicago’s biggest free literary event of the fall, featuring nearly 100 exhibitors from Chicago-area publishers selling their books and non-profit literary organizations, along with dozens of top Chicago authors discussing their latest books. All programs are free and open to the public.  This year’s Chicago Book Expo will feature the first Chicago Architecture Book Festival, a partner event with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, with a variety of architecture book exhibitors and programs about architecture and public art.  Presenting authors this year include Dr. Haki Madhubuti, Eve Ewing, Nate Marshall, Jac Jemc, Wendy Pearlman, Fred Sasaki, Liesl Olson, Pamela Bannos, Donna Seaman, and many more. All programs are free and open to the public.


Many thanks to our sponsors Columbia College Chicago English and Creative Writing Department, Poetry Foundation & Poetry Magazine, Northwestern University School of Professional Studies, Writer’s Studio at the University of Chicago Graham School, Chicago Writers Association, South Side Weekly, Chicagoly Magazine, CHIRP – Chicago Independent Radio Project, and Newcity.


free chicago book expo 2017



For more information about this free event, go to



All programs are free and open to the public; none require advance registration unless so noted. RSVP on Facebook here.


Chicago Fountains Walking Tour (free preregistration required; reserve here)

Just before the door opens for the Book Expo, visit some nearby fountains with Greg Borzo, author of Chicago’s Fabulous Fountains (Southern Illinois University Press, 2017). Chicago has more than 130 outdoor public fountains, yet most of them are not appreciated — or even known. This tour will shine a light on a few fountains, revealing their surprising history and mystery. Be prepared for about 2 miles of walking.


Vivian Maier: A Photographer’s Life and Afterlife (Film Row Auditorium, 8th Floor)

Northwestern professor Pamela Bannos’ new biography of Vivian Maier reveals how the story of the nanny savant has blinded us to Maier’s true achievements, as well as her intentions. Bannos contrasts Maier’s life with the mythology that strangers—mostly the men who have profited from her work—have created around her absence. Bannos will discuss her book with Donna Seaman, Editor of Adult Books for Booklist and the author of Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists (Bloomsbury).

Columbia Faculty/Student Reading (Room 835-836)

Columbia College faculty and students read from their fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Featured faculty include Re’Lynn Hansen, Patricia McNair and Shawn Shiflett; student readers and alumni include Benjamin Williams, Emma LaSaine, Vanessa Borjon, Rozina Kidari, Maria Mendoza Cervantes, Zoe Raines, Celeste Paed, and Jan-Henry Gray.

All of Us: Organizing Resistance (Room 837)

This panel features organizers of Chicago Writers Resist and other resistance movements to discuss the role of writers and citizens when there is growing violence sanctioned and perpetuated by the current administration against marginalized groups. Historically, writers have illuminated the good, the bad, and the ugliness of their place and time in the world. The panelists (including Ruben Quesada, Brian Kornell, and Jennifer Karmin) will also discuss the fundamentals of organizing a resistance event as well as the importance of coming together to speak out against intolerance.

Writing Your Personal Story: Digging Deep into Discovery (free preregistration required; reserve here(8th Floor Foyer)

Everyone has a story to tell—learn how to tell it in this workshop conducted by the former Ernest Hemingway Writer-in-Residence, Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence, and award-winning author and teacher David W. Berner. Whether it’s a short personal essay, a mini-memoir, or a book-length manuscript, writing the stories of our lives is a dream for many. But getting to the heart of your story requires a good shovel; one that will get you deep into yourself and the story buried below the surface. This is where one finds the soul of the story. This workshop gives you the best chance to find that story and discover how best to tell it no matter where you are in the process. Whether you’re only thinking about the writing, just beginning the storytelling, or you’ve already put down words, this workshop will help you find your narrative.


Drawing No Small Plans (Film Row Auditorium, 8th Floor)

No Small Plans creators Gabrielle Lyon, Devin Mawdsley, Kayce Bayer, Chris Lin and Deon Reed will talk about their artistic process as a team and their aspirations for this new graphic novel. Inspired by a 1911 textbook version of the Daniel Burnham Plan for ChicagoNo Small Plans follows the adventures of teens in Chicago’s past, present and future. Each frame is grounded in real places, stories and histories of Chicago. The Chicago Architecture Foundation intends to give away 30,000 copies of No Small Plans to Chicago teens for free over the next three years to catalyze civic engagement and equip Chicagoans to design the city they want, need and deserve. Chris Arnold of Columbia’s Illustration Department moderates the program.

Voices from Syria: Listening in a Time of Misrepresentation (Room 835-836)

A conversation with Lina Sergie Attar (co-founder of the Karam Foundation, which does innovative work with Syrian refugees), Wendy Pearlman (Northwestern professor and author of We Crossed A Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria), and Danny Postel (co-editor of The Syria Dilemma and Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East). The discussion is moderated by journalist Sarah Conway.

MAKE X: A Decade of Literary Art (Room 837)

A conversation between Jac Jemc (The Grip of It) and Jessica Anne (A Manual for Nothing) related to MAKE magazine’s new book featuring a decade of its best work. They will discuss their own writings, blurring the lines of fiction and nonfiction, the meaning of literary art, and participating in MAKE’s Lit & Luz Festival.

One Page Test (8th Floor Foyer)

In this program, a panel of editors hear student authors read the first page of a short story and tell if they’d keep reading or reject the story while also explaining their decision. The pages were presubmitted by Columbia College students, but the feedback is open to the public. Organized by the Columbia student organization Myth-Ink, this session features Jody Lynn Nye, Richard Thomas, and Michi Trota.


Race, Public Art, and Architecture (Film Row Auditorium, 8th Floor)

How does race influence architecture and public art? Adrienne Brown, author of the forthcoming book The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race, will discuss the influence of race on modern architectural design as well as the less-well-understood effects these designs had on the experience and perception of race.  Romi Crawford and Rebecca Zorach, co-editors (with Abdul Alkalimat) of The Wall of Respect: Public Art and Black Liberation in 1960s Chicago, will examine the history and influence of this lost revolutionary mural in Chicago.

Rust Belt Chicago (Room 835-836)

Martha Bayne, Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, Gretchen Lida, and Scott Wilson read from and discuss Rust Belt Chicago, a new anthology of essays, poetry, and short fiction about Chicago from Belt Publishing.

10 Tips for Writing Dialogue (Room 837)

Dialogue is one of the best tools writers have for pushing forward plot and revealing character by “showing, not telling.” But nothing can pull readers out of a story faster than bland, unrealistic, or confusing dialogue. This presentation by award-winning young adult author Jessie Ann Foley (Neighborhood Girls and The Carnival at Bray) will give you some tools to help your own dialogue sing.

Creating a Career (8th Floor Foyer)

This panel organized by Columbia student organization Myth-Ink tells aspiring authors how to make a career that involves their love for words. The panelists will discuss their experiences and offer advice to help those who want to utilize their writing skills for other job opportunities. Panelists include Jody Lynn Nye, Richard Thomas, and Michi Trota.


Eve Ewing and Nate Marshall (Film Row Auditorium, 8th Floor)

Eve L. Ewing will read from her acclaimed new book, Electric Arches (Haymarket), and discuss it with Nate Marshall (Wild HundredsThe BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop). They will also talk about their forthcoming production, “No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks,” commissioned by the Poetry Foundation and opening in November in celebration of the Brooks Centenary.

Mysterious and Thrilling Women (Room 835-836)

Three Chicago-area crime writers will talk about their work. Theresa Schwegel is the author of six crime novels set in and around Chicago. Her most recent book The Lies We Tell was released in July. Cheryl L. Reed is a journalist and professor. Her debut crime novel, Poison Girls, was released in September. Jamie Freveletti is an attorney and the author of the Emma Caldridge thrillers. The latest book in the series, Blood Run, will be released in November. The panel will be moderated by Emily Victorson, publisher of Allium Press of Chicago.

Chicago’s Fabulous Fountains and River Bridges (Room 837)

Chicago is full of fountains, and many of them have interesting stories to tell. This lavishly illustrated PowerPoint will present some of the watery city’s most fun and fascinating fountains. Tour guide and author (Chicago’s Fabulous Fountains) Greg Borzo will inform and entertain you with an overview and road map to Chicago’s most interesting and hidden water tossers. Patrick McBriarty’s multimedia presentation shows the importance of bridges in the development of the Windy City. Based on the award-winning book, Chicago’s River Bridges, learn how Chicago emerged as the Drawbridge Capital of the World with stories of floods, fire, politics, and bridge innovations.

Independent, But Not Alone: The Small Press Experience. An Interactive Talk (8th Floor Foyer)

It is no secret that some of the most innovative and interesting books (as in, not obviously marketable) are coming out of independent publishing houses. Besides publication, what might an author have to gain from working with a smaller press? What drives editors and publishers to start and foster small presses? What are some of the pleasures of this publishing relationship, and some of the potential pitfalls? Patricia Ann McNair (And These Are the Good Times, Side Street Press and The Temple of Air, Elephant Rock Books) and Dennis Foley (author, The Drunkard’s Son, and editor, We Speak Chicagoese, Side Street Press) will discuss their experiences of working together and with others in the small, independent press industry. Resources will be provided, and audience participation encouraged!


Race and Class in Trump’s America (Film Row Auditorium, 8th Floor)

What are the origins and future of racism and inequity in Trump’s America? Third World Press founder Haki Madhubuti and co-editor Lasana Kazembe discuss their new book, Not Our President: New Directions from the Pushed Out, the Others, and the Clear Majority in Trump’s Stolen America, along with Nancy MacLean (author of the National Book Award nominee Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America) and Lance Selfa, editor of U.S. Politics in an Age of Uncertainty: Essays on a New Reality (forthcoming from Haymarket Books).

Chicago Renaissance: The City’s Importance for Poetry and Literature (Room 835-836)

Liesl Olson, Director of Chicago Studies at the Newberry library and author of Chicago Renaissance, will give a presentation on Chicago’s influence on poetry, art, and literature.

Bowling: Water, Architecture, Urbanism (Room 837)

Bowling: Water, Architecture, Urbanism (the new book from UrbanLab founders Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen) asks: Why, as a discipline, do contemporary architects counter huge crises with small ideas? Architects once thought and theorized the huge (both huge problems and huge solutions). In addition to unprecedented opportunities to design large-scale public works projects in the postwar period, architects in the 1950s and ’60s eagerly took on the large-scale cultural and environmental problems of the day. Bowling seeks to reposition the contemporary debate of what a city should be by exploring how city-scaled mega-forms can become an updated architecture-based urbanism—a conjecture of what a comprehensible city could be to combat (predicted) crises—through analysis and experimentation. Through the filter of productive contemporary crises, the urban-scaled architecture project can engage and exploit existing infrastructural conditions as a catalyst for urban invention.

Wasted Pages: Exquisite Corpse Workshop (8th Floor Foyer)

Join CHIPRC Literary Coordinator Elizabeth O’Connell-Thompson (author of Honorable Mention) for a ghoulish good time. This special event provides a sneak peek into Wasted Pages’ sold-out Bump in the Night workshop, which explores the power of horror writing. Discuss the meaning of monsters and collaboratively create new literary beasts with other brave participants. All ages and skill levels encouraged.

Comments are closed.