Summer in Chicago is it’s own universe, full of exciting events to choose from. You can find pretty much everything here after everyone has awakened from hibernation. As writer you can use these new experience to develop your characters, create new story, but ultimately to find new adventures that will inform your sense of self. This is important to finding your voice as a writer. Also, pivotal to your growth as a writer is experiencing a range of literary spaces, literary spaces that range from traditional and multimodal. From sitting quietly and listening to an author or poet read, to call and response, projections, music, and community discussions Chicago holds some of the widest range of literary space.
At times they can be focused around social justice. A few weeks ago I went to and open mic night hosted by The Let Us Breathe Collective. The organization is an “alliance of artists and activists organizing through a creative lens to imagine a world without prisons and police. The Collective operates the Breathing Room space, a Black-led liberation headquarters for arts, organizing, and healing on Chicago’s South Side.” The space was full of people of all colors. Individuals read, sang, and recited poetry from a spectrum of experiences. It’s important to remember there is an infinite amount of experience and to seek to understand others.
Another organization that holds a range of different events is Chicago Dyke March. This is “a grassroots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual, and transgender resilience.” This collective is having an event called Dyke Mic it will be an evening of poetry, burlesque, music, dancing, and an open mic. Chicago has a large queer activist and artist community that provides information for Queer folks and spaces for them to share their work in the various forms it comes in. With June (official Pride month) just around the corner there will be tons of Queer centered events pretty much ever week.
There are several bookstores that host reading around Chicago. One of my favorites is Women and Children First. They are “one of the largest feminist bookstores in the country, stocking more than 30,000 books by and about women, children’s books for all ages, and the best LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction.” They host a wide range of well-known writers from around the city and beyond. Many Columbia Alumni and teacher have read at WCF. It also has books that you would be hard pressed to find at a mainstream bookstore.
I cannot emphasize enough how many spaces there are for writers to explore (always respectively, and with the awareness that sometimes these spaces my not be for you). The Poetry Foundation, Volumes Book Store, even Sidetrack (Gay Bar in Boystown) hosts an event called Outspoken, LGBTQ++ storytelling, every first Tuesday of the month. The city is full of a variety of cultures, and different ways to get involved to deepen your craft. Summer is a time where you can cultivate a number of different literary activities without breaking the bank, because most are free or take donations. Make room for these events, you’ll be a better writer for it.