March 10, 2014
By Bethany Hexom
The Story Week Festival of Writers is one of Columbia College’s annual spring events which brings a myriad of readings, performances and discussions all to celebrate the written word. The event is a mash-up of literary notables and emerging voices to challenge and inspire artists of any genre. With a focus on “DiverCity: Urban Stories” 2014’s Story Week, from Mar. 16-21, puts a spotlight on Latino writers and a range of diverse voices within the city’s landscape.
“This year’s festival brings together shared stories that shape our understanding of the city and the wider social and historical context of which we are a part,” said Randy Albers, founder of Story Week and chair emeritus of the fiction program at Columbia College. “All of these offerings—in fiction, creative nonfiction, poems, plays, films, songs, and visual images—will continue Story Week’s 18-year mission, namely, to bring the very best and most diverse group of writers and artists at work today to our city in order to foster our own individual and collective vision by challenging us to see and think and act in new ways.”
Rather than the usual fare of readings and book signings that go with literary events, Story Week is known for making accessible a variety of authors and writers on campus and across the city in neighborhood venues. This year’s venues include Harold Washington Library, Metro Chicago, Revolution Brewery, Martyrs’, Humboldt Park Fieldhouse and the Chicago Cultural Center in addition to Columbia College.
Story Week is also partnering with Chicago’s Guild Literary Complex this year to shine a spotlight on Latino writers. The Guild Literary Complex has been a “community-based literary organization presenting and supporting diverse, divergent, and emerging voices through innovative programs including performances and readings,” for almost 25 years.
Many luminaries have been a part of Story Week in the past including: Joyce Carol Oates, Dave Eggers, Salman Rushdie, Ray Bradbury, Hubert Selby Jr., Jennifer Egan, Sandra Cisneros, Junot Díaz, Irvine Welsh, Gillian Flynn, Studs Terkel, Sherman Alexie, Aleksandar Hemon and Dorothy Allison.
Photo credits: Michelle Pretorius, Creative Writing MFA student