A woman wearing a hat sits cross-legged on a couch while reading a book.
“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live,” wrote Ursula K. Le Guin. Credit: Seven Shooter via Unsplash

September brings us a bevy of book-related, word-inspired, and otherwise literary events. Here’s a few to pencil into your calendar. 

The Paper Machete has returned to its performance home in Uptown at the Green Mill, to the delight of fans. The organizers describe it as a “weekly live magazine,” and while comedians are regularly featured, so are Chicago’s literary cognoscenti: past readers have included Lisa Buscani, Samantha Irby, and Claire Zulkey. Check out the Paper Machete Instagram for weekly news about upcoming readers and performers. Saturdays, 3 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, free, 21+

The 36th annual Printers Row Lit Fest brings the largest free, outdoor literary showcase in the midwest to Dearborn Street this month. Highlights include talks from writers Colson Whitehead, Dawn Turner, Vu Tran, and more. Sat 9/11 and Sun 9/12, Dearborn between Polk and Ida B. Wells Drive, free, all-ages. A full schedule of events and list of participating vendors is posted at the festival’s website.

The Seminary Co-op hosts poets Chiyuma Elliott and Michael Collier as they read from and discuss their respective new collections. This is an online event presented in part by the University of Chicago Press, and free registration is required (via Eventbrite). Tue 9/14, 4 PM, free, semcoop.com

Author Ana Castillo will sign and discuss her new novel My Book of the Dead in an outdoor event hosted by Women & Children First on Clark Street near the store. Tickets are required, and can be purchased at Eventbrite. Fri 9/17, 4 PM, outside the store at 5233 N. Clark, $28 includes a copy of the book

Dear McSweeney’s is an online event celebrating the new publication with the same title from the long-running journal of American letters. Chicago’s American Writers Museum is the local Zoom host for an evening of various contributors to the book in discussion with the publication’s editor (and former Chicagoan) Daniel Levin Becker. Tue 9/21, 6:30 PM, free ticket via Eventbrite required for viewing 

The University of Chicago’s Arts and Public Life initiative presents Línea Por Línea: Celebrating Words & Meaning, a discussion in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month featuring poet and activist Leslé Honoré (author of the 2017 collection Fist & Fire), Dr. Lydia Saravia of DePaul University’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, and the Poetry Foundation’s Ydalmi Noriega. The event is hosted on Zoom. Wed 9/22, 7 PM, free, registration required

The Poetry Foundation will celebrate Young People’s Poetry Day with an online presentation from poet Marilyn Nelson, winner of the 2019 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize as well as three-time finalist for the National Book Award. Nelson will read from her work and then take questions from the audience, via Zoom. Sat 9/25, 11 AM, free but registration required, all-ages