Story Week: Chicago Classics

“I am an American, Chicago born – Chicago that somber city – and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and I will make the record in my own way.” – Saul Bellow

Columbia College’s 15th annual Story Week Festival of Writers culminated in an event entitled Chicago Classics. Around 20 members of Chicago’s literary, academic, and media communities read a selection from the works of their favorite Chicago authors.

Don De Grazia reads “Chicago Poem” by Lew Welch

A packed house at Lincoln Hall enjoys the event, hosted by Chicago writer and radio personality, Rick Kogan. “You are all here because you love reading and writing, whether or not it makes you any money,” Kogan notes on the palpable kinship in the crowd. The chosen readings are animated by the authors’ personal reflections, and positive or contentious, an intimate portrait of Chicago is painted in their readings.

Quraysh Ali Lansana shares “when you have forgotten Sunday” by his mentor Gwendolyn Brooks

“This event is incredible because I have been reminded of so many Chicago authors I haven’t read in ages and am being introduced to many I have never encountered before,” Kogan exclaimed, stating my sentiment perfectly. I leave with a long list of so many authors to explore. From Chicago staples like Studs Terkel, Saul Bellow, and Nelson Algren to new finds like A.K. Ramanujan and Stuart Dybeck, my next book store trip will be weighty.

Jonathan Messinger reads from Stuart Dybeck’s “We Didn’t”

In an atypical bit of luck, I even win one of many prizes raffled off at the event, a subscription to Chicago-based Poetry magazine! I greatly look forward to seeing Chicago Classics become an annual Story Week event. Aside from discovering many incredible Chicago-authored works, the event affirms my feelings about the practice of writing, the local literary community, and although not Chicago-born, the choice to throw my lot in with Chicago.

Catherine Halley shares “The Motive of the Magazine” by Poetry magazine founder Harriet Monroe


My Poetry magazine prizes and just desserts for the Story Week finale.

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