Corrina Lesser dishes about this year’s Printers Ball in an exclusive interview

Printers Ball (c) 2014 Printers Ball (c) 2014

On June 28th from 4:00pm to 9:00pm a very special event is happening at The Hubbard Street Lofts. That’s right, it’s time for Printers Ball! Read my interview with Corrina Lesser below to whet your appetite for all the amazing events that will take place next Saturday, and don’t forget to RSVP!

Interview after the jump. 


Printers Ball (c) 2014
Printers Ball (c) 2014


Could you fill our readers in on a little history of Printers Ball?

Printers Ball was founded in 2004 by Poetry magazine’s Fred Sasaki. He’s this amazingly creative guy who saw a need for an event that celebrated not only the written word, but how it’s printed. Fred brought together writers and printmakers from all over the city to help him plan the event and since its inception the event has grown from a focus on Chicagoans and local presses to bringing together literary talent and publications from all over the country.

The Ball has had many different homes, from the Hott House, to the Double Door, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Columbia College. Two years ago Fred and Poetry handed over the organizational reins to Spudnik Press Cooperative and its founder and director, Angee Lennard. Spudnik is a community-run printshop in the Hubbard Street Lofts, with eight other artist-run spaces within it. It’s a fantastic venue that’s perfect for Printers Ball because we can experiment with all kinds of events! Since Spudnik has taken over, the printmaking programming has increased tremendously, and so has our highlighting of poetry and performance programs. This year we have 23 events in total and plenty of hands-on printmaking workshops, a dozen pop-up readings, and a room we’re calling the Book Tote with publications from more than 50 presses.

How long have you been preparing for this event?

Our programming team has been meeting weekly since late January. We have four printmakers and artists, four writers, and other sundry arts administrators working together. With so much creative energy in the room, it takes quite a bit of time to workshop all of our ideas, to think through what is new and exciting, and what will make this year stand out from year’s past.

In your mind, what makes Printers Ball stand out from other literary festivals and why?

It’s rare, in my experience, to find a literary event that is so much, well, fun! There’s a conviviality to Printers Ball that many literary events never capture. And it’s an extravaganza in all the best ways possible. There’s always lots of buzziness and, to this year’s theme, chatter. Readings, conversation, and performances. I feel in the past few years we’ve found some great ways for people to learn something new, too, with the printmaking workshops, all the while preserving one of the Ball’s main attractions: getting to troll for new publications and books!

Printers Ball also attracts people who are invested in Chicago as a literary and cultural hub and who are, themselves, a part of the collaborative and creative energy that makes being in this city as a creative person so special.
Using six words, describe the ambiance of this year’s ball.

Using six words, describe the ambiance of this year’s ball. 

Celebratory, convivial, community-oriented, diverse, poetic, and, of course, chatterful!

What do we have to look forward to with this year’s Printers Ball?

There’s so much! A few highlights: I know we’re all really excited to have a “headliner” this year like Chip Kidd. He’s an icon in the design world and that he’ll be talking with a longtime friend, Dana Arnett from VSA Partners, is an extra bonus. We’ve also invited about a dozen reading series from around Chicago to do pop-up performances and I think it’s an amazing way to give people a taste for what’s out there that they may have not yet had a chance to attend. It’s hard not to be excited about the Beer Garden. Ed Marsziewski from Maria’s Packaged Goods has curated a selection. We’re going to have a Starshaped Press outside as well, which is a bike outfitted with various printing presses so people can stop by and make a print. We also have two DJ sets this year: DJ Itzi Nallah and Odd Obsession. It’s going to be really lively. Folks should check out the whole schedule for themselves!


Lesser, CorrinaCorrina Lesser is the Associate Director of Programming and Education at the Chicago Humanities Festival, where she focuses on literary arts programming and educational initiatives. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MA in Arts Administration & Policy) and Brandeis University (BA Sociology), she has worked as an editor and publicist for Adult Trade Books at Houghton Mifflin Company, in marketing for the Summer Session at Tufts University, and for the Summer Writing Program at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, where she founded LIT: A Poetics and Publishing Salon Series. She has been managing Printers Ball—Chicago’s premiere annual literary showcase celebrating poetry and visual art—since 2013.