Tag Archives: Printers Row Lit Fest

Coming of Age in Chicago Live Lit: An Interview with Xavier Jordan
by Alba Machado

Xavier Jordan

PHOTO COURTESY OF HERE, CHICAGO

Sometime in February, I braved the cold and snow to see Xavier Jordan tell a story at the Jazz Showcase. It was a true story about someone who is a school teacher and also a horrible person. He reveals himself to be a horrible person through a series of escalating incidents, starting with kicking a student out of his class for sneezing. Now, four months later, that story continues to stay with me. Of course, it’s not surprising that a story told by one of Chicago’s live lit performers is memorable. What is surprising is that this storyteller is seventeen years old. You may know a number of teenagers who can spin a hell of a good yarn. I certainly do. But how many of them tell stories on stage alongside local literary celebrities? Xavier Jordan is one of a kind. The son of The Moth Grand Slam Champion Lily B, he has come of age at the epicenter of the live lit movement and has performed at a variety of the city’s reading series so many times that everyone has lost count. He’ll be leaving Chicago for college come summer’s end, returning to perform only during breaks. But he’s a tireless storyteller, so keep an eye on the calendar for show announcements or come out to the Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend, where he’s featured at a special installment of Stoop-Style Stories taking place at the Guild Literary Complex tent at Dearborn and Polk on Sunday at 11am. This week, he performed at The LitMash on Monday, graduated from high school on Tuesday, and got together with me for an interview at Fabcakes on Wednesday. We ate triple berry cheesecakes because, as he put it, “Why would anyone get raspberry cheesecake when you can get triple berry cheesecake?” Continue reading

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Printers Row Turns 30
by Alba Machado

Birthday CakeHappy 30th birthday, Printers Row. We love you. We at Literary Chicago owe a great debt of gratitude to you, the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest, the one that, for three decades now, has been showing us what’s possible when you get up to 200 booksellers, 200 authors, and more than 150,000 book lovers together under white tents. We’re especially happy that you once again stretch from Polk all the way to Congress, instead of just to Harrison. Means more booksellers. Along with Story Week, Printers Ball, Louder Than a Bomb, the Chicago Humanities Festival, and the live lit magic that happens in this city on most any night of the week, you, Printers Row, help to make Chicago a good place for writers and readers to call home, and you inspire us to do things like, I don’t know, publish a webzine with the tagline “The Lit Fest at Your Fingertips,” in the hopes of keeping the lit fest spirit alive year-round.

This year, the Printers Row Lit Fest falls on June 7th and 8th, and it takes place in the South Loop, on Dearborn Street between Polk and Congress. Since the Chicago Tribune has been overseeing the festival since 2002, a lengthy schedule of events is available on the Trib’s website, and it includes readings by two of our very own contributing writers: Sophie L. Nagelberg and Todd Summar. Here are some other highlights:

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Indie Publishing in Chicago
by Alba Machado

My best find at this weekend’s Printers Row Lit Fest is an 1893 issue of New England Magazine that contains a 17-page illustrated article by William Morton Payne entitled “Literary Chicago.” (Thanks, Bibliodisia Books!) In it, he writes, “The Chicago of the present is, as the Chicago of the past has been, so overshadowed by the commercial spirit that the delicate plants of literary culture, even where they have taken root, have found it difficult to obtain the light and air necessary for continued existence.”

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