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AWP for free: best of the off-site events, Thursday

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AWP (the Association of Writers and Writing Programs) has begun. The largest of literary gatherings convenes for a long weekend every year to present over 550 publishers, 400 presentations, and 9500 attendees. It has touched down in Chicago and though it was here in 2009, it will not be back in the foreseeable future (locations are slated until 2017).

If you don't have access, it is closed. But plenty of options remain to get in on the literary action. The AWP site lists nearly 150 off-site events for each of the three nights it's in town. Additionally, the mose impressive feature--the Bookfair--is free and open to the public on Saturday. Peruse the journals and whims of over over 550 publishers laid out in a dizzying three-room bonanza at the Hilton (720 S. Michigan Ave). Consider this: lots of people came a long way with lots of boxes of books. Do you think they want to return with them?

The after parties kicked off last night, most notably at the Empty Bottle for the AWP 2012 Chicago Kick-Off Party hosted by seven Chicago indie presses, including Curbside Splendor. It featured music by James Greer, Mutts, and readings by a whole bunch of Chicago writers, including Lindsay Hunter, Michael Czyzniejewski, Cris Mazza, Ben Tanzer and a dozen more. Sounds like it was a success, with over 300 people in attendance, according to one report.

Here are some best bets for tonight, Thursday, March 1:

AWP 2012 Karaoke Idol at Beauty Bar Chicago (1444 W. Chicago): Local presses Curbside Splendor, Featherproof Books, Artifice Mag, and Another Chicago Magazine team up for madcap madness. The presses competing for this dubious distinction are PANK, Another Chicago Magazine, Artifice, One Story, Tin House, Featherproof Books, Curbside Splendor Publishing, Quimby's Books, & Red Lightbulbs, and more. No idea how the hell this is gonna work but it'll be left up to judges Amy Guth, Joe Meno, Patrick Somerville. Free, 9pm.

Everything Will Be OK at The Billy Goat Tavern (430 N. Michigan, lower level, though if you don't know where it is I shouldn't tell you--part of its mystique is finding it): The folks from Knee-Jerk Magazine and Heavy Feather Review present readings by a dozen authors, including Sam Pink and J.A. Tyler. Free, 9pm. Facebook rsvp requested.

Joyland Magazine and Dzanc Books present The Fiction Feed at Quimby's (1854 W. North): Two of the most innovative indie presses host four writers including Eugene Cross, Kevin Chong, Jeff Parker, and friend Megan Stielstra. Free, 7pm.

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