Rogers Park is a North-side Chicago neighborhood, located nine miles north of downtown and bounded by Howard Street (Evanston), Ridge Boulevard, Devon Avenue (Edgewater), and Lake Michigan. Originally home to the Pottawatomi, today it is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the entire city. More languages are spoken in this area than any other, and the historic Roger’s Park Baptist Church offers services in three different languages every Sunday. Many professors and academics from Northwestern and Loyola University live in the area too. This diversity makes for many established literary outlets, as well as many vibrant one-night-only opportunities.
Local presses here include the worker-owned Charles H. Kerr, founded in 1885 and known for texts on social justice, feminism, labor rights, race, and surrealism, frequently in translation or in updated reissued editions. Damask Press, which has collaborators in Chicago, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia, was founded by Toby Altman and Liana Katz, and publishes design aesthetics and non-traditional verse. Also, Meekling Press, founded by Rebecca Elliott with the help of John Wilmes, Lori-May Orillo, Anne Yoder, and others, publishes small, hand-made editions of books by authors they love. Many publications are delicate as nests, and come in postcard, compact disc, or marbleized forms. Many of these titles are available at the Armadillo’s Pillow (6753 N. Sheridan Road), a cozy bookstore with a weekly open mic and a “Literary Support Group” where independent booksellers and meet and mix.
Other neighborhood open mics happen at the Heartland Café (7000 N. Glenwood Avenue), a restaurant, bar, and arts center with a social conscience, and the Red Line Tap (7006 N. Glenwood Avenue).
The Rogers Park Public Library (6907 N. Clark Street), established by the Rogers Park Women’s Club in 1894, is open six days a week and features paintings by Al Tyler and a sculpture of pansies by Jo Hormuth. The library offers parking, computers, free wifi, homework help, large print books, texts in Russian and Spanish, and fishing poles for rent.
Many frequently-published authors, Eula Biss and Penelope Rosemont, for example, live in the area as well, and updates about publications and readings are available at rogerspark.com. The famous author-illustrator Edward Gorey grew up here, and often spent his days drawing trains going by. Later, he looked at these sketches and was a little embarrassed, saying they “showed no talent whatsoever. They looked like irregular sausages.”