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!



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.


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.