Bookman’s Corner

Bookman’s Corner (Used Books)
2959 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657
East Lakeview Neighborhood
Mon-Sat: 1pm-7pm
Sunday: 1pm-6pm 

Location+Feel

Bookman’s Corner is located in the fast-paced East Lakeview Neighborhood. It is approximately 3 blocks away from the Wellington Brown Line Stop. Situated on a quiet corner across the street from a Binny’s and a card shop, Bookman’s Corner can almost go unnoticed if passed too quickly. There is no sign that denotes it as “Bookman’s,” rather there lays a simple but clever motto painted on the window front, “Books Rare, Medium, and Well Done.” Immediately when you walk in it’s quite overwhelming. Book stacks as high the ceiling, leather books lining the floor, and the unrelenting smell of musty literature is the first thing I noticed as I walked through the door. Behind the first stack of books that range from Doris Day to D-Day sat a man on stool with his glasses drooped to the book in front of him. The man directed me to section I am looking for (Urban Fantasy Novels). And what do you know? There was a section for that! As I perused the store, I took in the full feel of the sacred bookstore. The ground was donned with porcelain tiles with small flowers blooming out of each tile. The room was warm. It felt smaller than it actually was, as I found myself finding secret ways to get to the next shelf across the room. The customer next to me was perched on a ladder trying to reach a copy of a famous Whitman novel. I almost fell over several times trying to traverse the piles of books that litter the ground. I was lost. But the good thing was the man at the front was always a shout away to find anything I was looking for. This bookstore, in no fancy way to say, was awesome.

Book Display

In all the chaos of the scattered books, towering displays, and rackety ladders, there is order. In the modest nature of this bookstore I expected no less than to see white masking tape stuck to each shelf denoting what section I was in. Written in black sharpie, each piece of tape represented the books that surrounded it. “Medical” “Nature” “Russia” “Chicago” “Romance” “Urban Fantasy” “Mysticism.” The list of genres was endless. There was no directory at the front so as I said before don’t be afraid to ask the book worm in the front! While it not as pretty and organized as newer bookstores, it makes it enjoyable to just to look for a book.

Parting Thoughts

This bookstore is not for people who enjoy the comforts and amenities of the neighborhood Barnes and Noble. It is not good-looking on the surface but what it contains on the inside is magical. It is for readers who like to get down in the dirt (not literally) and search for what they want to read. With a wide set of genres, it is good for anybody who is looking for that obscure read. While overwhelming at first, the feel of this bookstore is inviting. I urge everyone to make their way down to Clark Street and lose themselves in the stacks of Bookman’s Corner.

Open Door!

Location + Time:

On February 18, 2014, I attended the Poetry Foundation’s monthly literary reading series Open Door! On the third Tuesday of every month the Poetry Foundation on 61 W Superior St. invites two professors and two students from Chicago universities to read their work.  The event starts at 7:00pm sharp.

Atmosphere + Feel:

The event took place at the Poetry Foundation on the Near North Side of Chicago. The multi-million dollar building boasts a library and an event hall. The readings happened in the event hall. The hall was very modern with full glass walls looking out into the city. It is a sheek affair and attracts a crowd. It’s also free so for those looking for a cheap night this would be perfect! The night I attended there had to be a least 100 people in attendance. The crowd mostly consisted of students and Poetry Foundation members. Some people were nicely dressed in full suits but there is not a formal dress code. I got to the event ten minutes before 7:00 and it was almost filled up, so get there early! Also don’t be late because the doors will be closed and the event starts at 7:00 on the dot. While a little more formal then other events we have reviewed on LitCity, this event is a great way to see up and coming writers, both students and professors in the city of Chicago.

Performance + Quality

The event featured two professors and two students that those professors believed were exemplary writers. The two professors were Quraysh Ali Lansana of Chicago State University and Lisa Fisherman of Columbia College. The two students were Keith Wilson of Chicago State University and Amy Lipman of Columbia College. All four of these writers were tremendous. Each of the writers were unique with completely differently styles of their own. Quaraysh, Lisa, and Amy mostly focused on poetry while Keith Wilson read an epic poem on Nat Turner. The writer who stole the night though was Quaraysh Ali Lansana. His short but hilariously witty poems are fun but thought provoking. His hysterical poem on the contents of an actual memo handed out to English Professors at CSU had the crowd rolling. Be sure to check out Quaraysh’s work and upcoming book, Wal-Mart Republic. All in all, if you want to see remarkable young writers churning out some really interesting poems, then go to this event. It’s a great way for these students to gain some exposure for their work!

 

Homolatte!

Location + Time:

On February 4, 2014, I attended the reading series Homolatte at Big Chicks in Uptown. This reading series featuring LGBTQ writers runs the first and third Tuesday of every month at 7:30.

Atmosphere + Feel:

Big Chicks is essentially a bar and a diner. The reading series took place in the diner. The diner had approximately 25 tables so it’s a decently big place. The decorations throughout the diner were a little cheesy but it felt like a classic, cozy diner. I arrived at 7:20 and got a seat near the makeshift stage. The event didn’t start until 8:00. Because it was a rather cold night, the event was intimate. There were about 10 people at the event including the two writers. While it had small crowd, it felt like a personal reading. I can imagine in the summer this event would be more crowded. It is free series, so if you’re on a budget, this would be a perfect event! They do encourage you to order food (which was very good) and drink to support the series. They send around a donation bucket where you can throw a couple bucks to the readers of the night, as the event is free. This was predominantly a LGBTQ bar and event but they obviously welcome any sexual orientation! As a whole, it’s a very quaint but inviting atmosphere.

Performers+Quality

The event was hosted and curated by Scott Free. Scott Free is a fun, eccentric musician. He started the night by playing his own music, which was average but entertaining. The two featured writers of the night were Nicki Gee and Monica Del Castillo. Nicki focused primarily on poetry while Monica focused on songwriting. They were quality writers and had very excellent material. The content of the poetry and writing was primarily LGBTQ-based, which was great to hear! The performances as a whole took an hour. It was rather short performances but it kept you interested the whole time! I would recommend this event to anybody who wants to hear from quality LGBTQ writers.

LitCity312 Review: Uptown Poetry Slam!

Location + Time:

On January 26th 2013, I attended the Uptown Poetry Slam at the famous Green Mill Cocktail Club. Every Sunday from 7-10, Marc Smith and Company hold an open mic including a featured artist and a slam competition. 

Atmosphere + Feel:

The venue feels straight out of the 1930s. Half-crescent booths and white cloth tables are scattered through the floor. As I walked in the brute bouncer asked for my I.D. and seven dollars. After paying, I rushed to find a seat, seeing that the place was filling up quick. Other than the fifteen or so table booths, the venue had a large bar for you to grab a quick cocktail. I got to Green Mill quarter to seven and the only seats available were at the bar, so get there early if you want to grab a booth. The place itself is pretty large with a stage at the end with two mics and a band. The band played smooth jazz throughout the night. The lighting was low so it was hard to get a look at most of the audience, but generally it was people in their 20s and 30s. It wouldn’t be the best place to bring your kids especially because of the vulgarity on stage. Green Mill doesn’t serve food but feel free to bring your food, they welcome it! As a whole the atmosphere was really relaxed and it’s definitely a place to bring a larger group. 

Performers + Quality
 

The event started right at 7:00pm exactly. The eccentric, but famous Chicago Slam Poet Founder Marc Smith ran onto stage. From the start you could tell this was a very audience-involved event. People would yell at Marc and he would yell back. They had chants and phrases only true regulars would know, but it doesn’t feel too intimidating for first timers. The event started out with newcomers getting a chance to read their poems. Poets got to decide if they wanted the jazz band to play behind them while they perform. Cliché as it sounds, it really did make the poetry sound more artsy. The one unique part of this open mic is that the audience has a say if the poet can keep on reading. If the audience starts snapping they want the poet to stop. If the audience starts stomping, they want more. The quality of the beginners was hit and miss but in general it was fun to just be a the part of the audience. After a short intermission, the featured poet, Joel Chmara, performed his slam poetry. He was the hit of the night with strange but hilarious poems such as “You Are What You Drink.” After Joel was a slam completion. Each participant had three minutes to recite their poetry and each poet would get a score from the audience, one to ten. The event as a whole was hysterical. As an audience member, you felt as if you were on the stage and you get a wide variety of very good slam poets. I recommend this place to anybody that wants to see the birthplace of slam and get a taste what the city offers!