Hall Chat: Printers Row Lit Fest & The Dollhouse

[flickr id=”7174193519″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”false” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]

What’s summer without a little poetry and nonfiction? I’ve missed going to readings since school let out, and in the past week or so, I’ve been to two: The Printers Row Lit Fest and The Dollhouse Reading Series (again, I know, I’m ALWAYS blogging about this. But it’s just so good!).

The Printers Row Lit Fest took place on Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June10th. The  Fest attracts small presses, book-sellers, and writers from all around Chicago, and each year Columbia has it’s own tent at the very front entrance featuring readings by Creative Writing – Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction MFA candidates, as well as performances by student musicians. This year’s readers included Creative Writing – Nonfiction MFA candidates Wes Jamison, Matt Cwiklinski, Erin Wisti, Tatiana Uhoch, Toni Nealie, and Emily Chaples, as well as students from the undergraduate nonfiction program.

[flickr id=”7174194813″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”false” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]

I participated in last year’s event, as well, and as far as reading events go, it’s pretty low key. People can come and go as they please, stop by Columbia’s booth, and peruse through publications and items from ShopColumbia, Columbia’s on-campus store that features work created by students and alumni.

The atmosphere is different than your normal reading. Every once in awhile, a train goes by or a firetruck blares it’s sirens. It’s a wee bit hot out, even if you’re scheduled to read in the late morning like I was, but if you’re looking to get some experience reading in public, this is certainly the place to do so. It’s a relaxed and supportive environment, and afterwards you can walk around and browse through books, catch another reading event (there are several different stages throughout the Fest) or stop into one of the many bars and restaurants along Printers Row to cool off and get a bite to eat.

My favorite part of the event was getting to hear my fellow MFA candidates’ work read aloud, which I normally don’t have the chance to hear. We don’t always get to hear each others’ work during the semester, because we’re in separate workshops, so it’s a special treat to get to see and hear what everyone’s up.

[flickr id=”7397910180″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”false” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]

A week later, I was at the Dollhouse again for another lively reading featuring Creative Writing – Poetry MFA graduate Jessica Dyer and faculty member David Trinidad alongside Nora Hickey, Suzanne Buffam and Anne Shaw. In keeping with the weather trend, it was hot, but Dolly had the fans going, and even though it took everything I had to drag myself from my air-conditioned apartment, I was really glad I went. The Dollhouse is gaining quite a reputation in recent months, consistently featured on blogs and highlighted in the Poetry Foundation’s events. You can keep up with the Dollhouse on tumblr, and now you can see what all the fuss is about by taking a peek at live readings on The Dollhouse’s YouTube Channel. I saw a ton of new faces at this last reading, which tells me that the word is getting out; the Dollhouse is the place to be for some Friday night poetry.