We have plenty of events and exhibits that are some of the top things to do in Chicago this month. Celebrate American writing with us!
From lauded memoirs to live music, there’s a lot going on at the American Writers Museum this month. May is also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and we have a number of ways for you to celebrate and honor it. Check out what we have lined up in May below and subscribe to our e-newsletter below to stay up-to-date on all that’s happening. Also, AWM members get free admission to the AWM and most programs, so if you’re not already a member, become a member today!
1. Get Lit: Me, Myself, and I (May 9, 5:30 pm CDT)
This month at Get Lit, our monthly happy hour series, we’re celebrating the art of the memoir! Flex your knowledge about American writers and writing with three rounds of memoir-themed trivia for the chance to win prizes. Create a book cover for your own memoir with crafts supplied by the AWM. Plus, get your author headshot taken for the full effect. Per usual, we’ll be serving up refreshing beer, wine, and our signature cocktail for this event: The Memoir-tini. Your story matters, and Get Lit: Me, Myself, and I is your chance to let loose and express it. Get your tickets today!
Get Lit events take place the second Tuesday of every month from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Each month will have a different theme, so check out upcoming Get Lit events here and be sure to check back regularly as we announce more Get Lit events throughout the year.
2. Nicole Chung: A Living Remedy (May 16, 6:00 pm CDT)
The bestselling author of All You Can Ever Know, Nicole Chung, returns to the American Writers Museum to read from and discuss her new book A Living Remedy, a searing memoir of family, class and grief—a daughter’s search to understand the lives her adoptive parents led, the life she forged as an adult, and the lives she’s lost. When her father dies at only sixty-seven, killed by diabetes and kidney disease, Nicole feels deep grief as well as rage, knowing that years of precarity and lack of access to healthcare contributed to his early death. And then the unthinkable happens—less than a year later, her beloved mother is diagnosed with cancer, and the physical distance between them becomes insurmountable as COVID-19 descends upon the world. Exploring the enduring strength of family bonds in the face of hardship and tragedy, A Living Remedy examines what it takes to reconcile the distance between one life, one home, and another—and sheds needed light on some of the most persistent and grievous inequalities in American society. Books will be available for sale prior to and during the event, and Chung will sign books following the program. Get your tickets for Nicole Chung at the AWM here. This in-person event will also be livestreamed, and you can register to watch online here.
3. The People’s Tongue: Music & Words in Celebration (May 21, 4:00 pm CDT)
Live jazz at the American Writers Museum? You bet! Join us for a special Sunday afternoon event in celebration of the new book The People’s Tongue: Americans and the English Language, a riveting, one-of-a-kind anthology of the diversity, strangeness, and power of American English. This volume is a people’s history of English in the United States, told by those who have transformed it: activists, teachers, immigrants, journalists, poets, dictionary makers, actors, musicians, playwrights, preachers, presidents, rappers, translators, singers, children’s authors, scientists, politicians, foreigners, students, homemakers, lexicographers, scholars, newspaper columnists, senators, novelists, and a slew of fanatics. It begins with the English used by the settlers in Plymouth Colony and concludes (for now) with John McWhorter’s tribute to punctuation that bends the rules.
This event features performances and readings from Ilan Stavans, editor of the The People’s Tongue; Paquito D’Rivera, renowned Cuban-American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist and composer; Fareed Haque, Pakistani-Chilean-American jazz and classical guitarist and University of Chicago professor; and Ambassador Carolyn Curiel, senior speechwriter and special assistant to President Bill Clinton and former editorial board member of The New York Times. The event will begin with a short performance by D’Rivera and Haque, followed by discussion moderated by Stavans and including Curiel, and conclude with several short readings from the anthology. Get your tickets for The People’s Tongue at the AWM here. This in-person event will also be livestreamed, and you can register to watch online here.
4. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and we have a number of ways for you to celebrate and honor the important impact of AAPI writers on our history and daily lives. We recommend checking out our virtual exhibit Hisaye Yamamoto: An American Story on Google Arts & Culture to discover the personal story of a powerful, but perhaps underappreciated, writer who defined a generation of Japanese Americans as she also sought to expose injustices and give voice to the voiceless. Explore another virtual exhibit My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today to hear leading contemporary immigrant and refugee writers like R. O. Kwon, Yiyun Li, Jenny Xie, and more discuss their experiences of finding a home in their writing. Watch cookbook author and content creator Joanne Lee Molinaro, aka The Korean Vegan, read from and discuss The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes from Omma’s Kitchen. Or, if podcasts are more your thing, listen to Maxine Hong Kingston and Viet Thanh Nguyen reflect on Kingston’s influence, writing, and legacy. Explore all of our AAPI Heritage Month Resources here.
5. Trailblazing Women Writers Tour
By popular demand, our Trailblazing Women Writers Tours will be offered through May 15! Discover the women of American literature on the Trailblazing Women Writers Tour, highlighting the accomplishments and contributions of women who changed the course of history with their words. This 15-minute tour introduces you to all areas of the American Writers Museum, and following the tour you can explore all of our exhibits more in depth and at your own pace. The Trailblazing Women Writers Tour is offered daily at 3:00 pm when the AWM is open. We are open Thursdays to Mondays, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. We are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The tour is included with museum admission and no advanced registration is required. Tours begin at the Museum front desk. Learn more here!