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  • "Changes in Reading and Writing" at Printers Row


    I just participated in a Printers Row Book Fest panel "Changes in Reading and Writing." It was moderated by the great Donna Seaman, longtime Booklist editor. The other panelists were J.C. Gabel (The Chicagoan, Stop Smiling), and Wailin Wong of the Chicago Tribune. We talked about how technology is changing publishing, the increasing link between advertising and editorial, and how important it is to edit final copy on paper (not onscreen, dear god.)  Gapers Block covered our discussion a few days after the event; they praised the discussion but also called it "a little depressing." Which seems appropriate, given the publishing industry's current struggles. We weren't there to sugar-coat.

  • Triquarterly Blogging

    Now that I've settled into a new, full-time copywriting job, I thought it was high time to get more involved with my graduate program; (I'm in the Masters in Creative Writing program at Northwestern University). To that end, I recently started contributing to the blog associated with their literary magazine, Triquarterly Online

    I will be posting one blog entry each week, and it'll go up on Mondays. I've done four posts so far--about NanoWrimo, the Baffler's resurgence, online writing tools, The Chicagoan Magazine, and the Occupy, Writers movement. So far, what I like about this gig is that it's forcing me to keep up with the stuff I'm interested in; i.e., literary and publishing news, and the fiction, poetry, and criticism being published in literary mags. And, having a weekly deadline helps keep me focused on reading the news I'm actually interested in, rather than, say, refreshing Gawker.com twenty times a day or searching incessantly for the perfect winter boot that is simultaneously stylish, warm, and has excellent, ice-grabbing traction. But if anyone's got a lead on that, do let me know.

  • Reader at WBEZ Event: "Don't Call Me Joe"

    I'll be reading tonight with several other writers at the largest traditional coffee "cupping" event to happen in Chicago (conducted by Intelligentsia). Don't know what cupping is? Neither did I, so I pasted some info from the WBEZ site below. The piece I'll be reading--and am still working on, oops--is an essay of my 20-year old coffee addiction, begun inelegantly with Mountain Dew, continuing with a brief, ugly Mini-Thin period in college, and now centered around my much more moderate, one-Americano-before-noon stasis.

    CHICAGO (March 15, 2011) –Chicago Public Media (WBEZ 91.5 FM) continues its live event series, the Off-Air Series, with an exclusive chance to participate in a new culinary conversation and learn just how little is actually known about tasting and brewing coffee. Designed to be the largest ‘traditional coffee cupping’ (aka tasting) ever held in Chicago, Don’t Call Me Joe, in collaboration with Chicago’s own Intelligentsia Coffee, will be held at Catalyst Ranch, 656 W. Randolph Street, on Saturday, April 9 at 7:00pm. The event has limited seating and is almost sold-out, but there will be a wait list at the door.

    Cupping is the industry standardized way of critically evaluating coffee; it is how Intelligentsia selects green coffee and is an integral part of their Direct Trade buying model. The standard procedure involves deeply sniffing the coffee, then loudly slurping so it spreads to the back of the tongue. The taster attempts to measure all aspects of the coffee’s taste including body, sweetness, acidity, flavor, and aftertaste. The amazing team of buyers, tasters and trainers from Intelligentsia Coffee, will educate about tasting terminology, coffee processing, and history, while cupping with some of Chicago’s most experienced staff: Baristas, Roasters, Green Coffee Buyers, and members of the Intelligentsia Quality Control team.

    In order to ensure full immersion in this culinary realm, the Chicago-based publisher Stop Smiling Books has arranged ‘Readings on Coffee’ for the listening pleasure. Participating authors include: Kyle BeachyPaul DuricaFred Sasaki, Gretchen KalwinskiMairead Case, and Sam Weller. “The Off-Air Series is designed to extend the WBEZ listening experience out into the community and allow people to come see what they’ve been hearing, or in this case taste,” said Event Producer Breeze Richardson. “Learning a little more about coffee – where it comes from and why it tastes the way it does – helps you appreciate it more. Just like a wine tasting, Don’t Call Me Joe is an opportunity to skillfully taste coffee with the experts. And the chance to create Chicago’s largest cupping ever makes this event even better!”

    Tickets to the event are nearly sold out, but there will be a waiting list at the door for those interested. More information is available at www.wbez.org/events.