Archive for the 'Events' Category

Don’t miss us at Chicago Zine Fest

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We’re ready for one of our favorite events of the year!

CZF 2019 will take place over three days: Thursday, May 16–Saturday, May 18. Exhibition Day is Saturday, May 18 at Plumbers Union Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd., in the West Loop. In particular, look for us:

Thursday, May 16
Our own Vicki White will be part of this panel, featuring some great zinesters, on the first night of CZF 2019:

Zines + Social Justice Panel
7 pm
DePaul University’s Levan Center
2322 N. Kenmore Ave., Room 100

Saturday, May 18
Stop by and see us outside the reading room. Pick up our free zine brochure and a button. We’ll also be selling a couple of new zines, Bound Struggles (a collection of writing and art by women in prison), blank journals, and more.

All events during CZF weekend are FREE and open to the public.

Learn more about Chicago Zine Fest.

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Thurs., February 21—An Evening at Victory Gardens Theater

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JEFF RECOMMENDED!  

★★★ “Powerful… bristles with zest and indignant life.”
Chicago Tribune

★★★ “Absolutely deserves to be seen.”
Chicago Sun-Times

“Morisseau’s dialogue ripples with warmth and wit as well as despair about the state of public education in impoverished districts.”
—Chicago Reader

Please join us for a performance of this new play that reflects on parenthood, the state of our public school system, and the prison pipeline. This is a fundraiser for Chicago Books to Women in Prison and your support will help us do more in 2019.

Watch the trailer.
Watch an interview with the cast.

Thursday, February 21, 7–9:30 pm
Victory Gardens Theater
2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago (map)

Buy tickets today

In addition to the play (90 minutes, no intermission):

  • Join us at 6:30 pm for a wine-and-cheese reception.
  • Then enjoy the 7:30 pm performance of Pipeline.
  • After the show (9 pm), stay for conversation. Reflect on what you’ve seen, learn about the greater context, and share your response.
  • BONUS: Included in the ticket, a copy of Bound Struggles, our collection of writing and art by women in prison.

Also support our book drive at Victory Gardens Theater.
Feel free to bring new or gently used educational books—paperbacks only, please—especially dictionaries of all kinds, craft books, books on learning a foreign language or trade skills, or on starting and running a small business.

Buy tickets today

15th Anniversary Party—Weds., November 15

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Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating 15 years of providing the lifeline of books to women in prison!
Wednesday, November 15
6–9 pm (program begins at 6:30)
After-Words Bookstore (private event space)
23 E. Illinois St., Chicago
The program:
    • Writer, scholar and artist Eve Ewing read from her widely acclaimed Electric Arches.  
    • KoStar, an amazing soul duo, performed. You may have seen them at the farewell event for Rasmea Odeh, the African Festival of the Arts or many other venues.
    • Our friend Monica Cosby, a writer and activist, spoke on the importance of books for people in prison.
    • Members of Praxilla Femina sang. We were delighted to see this women’s music collective of professional opera singers again after the benefit concert in the spring. 
    • And it was a release party too! Monica read selections from Bound Struggles, our relaunched journal of writing and art by women in prison. Everyone at the party got a copy.

Enjoy video of our special guests:

Eve Ewing     KoStar     Monica Cosby     Praxilla Femina

Laughs Unlocked benefit show—Thurs., May 18

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Recommended by Chicagoist and the Reader!
Tickets on sale now! Buy online or call 773.697.9693.

Prison is no laughing matter, but we’ll make an exception because some of the best improv actors in Chicago are throwing us a benefit. Again!

In this two-act show they’ll create scenes based on stories from our friend Colette Payne. Colette, who was formerly incarcerated, is a community organizer with Cabrini Green Legal Aid/Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers. Continue reading ‘Laughs Unlocked benefit show—Thurs., May 18’

Benefit concert—Saturday, April 8

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We’re delighted that Praxilla Femina—a new women’s music collective of professional opera singers—has chosen to benefit us with their first concert. 
According to the group, “Our aim is to improve the lives of women in Chicago, especially those who are marginalized. We thought it would be a great idea if the proceeds from our concert were donated to your organization, and if we collected books people may purchase while at the concert for your cause.”

Update: Thank you to the members of Praxilla Femina for a marvelous performance—and to everyone who supported us with a financial contribution or a donation of books.

Praxilla Femina

Dismantling Barriers to Life—Sat., March 11

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Dismantling Barriers to Life:
A speak out on mass incarceration

Saturday, March 11, 12:30–4 pm
First Baptist Congregational
1613 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago (map)

Hear from people directly affected by incarceration, share ideas for action and more at this community event hosted by Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Community Renewal SocietyGrowing HomePrecious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, StoryCorps and the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois.

Continue reading ‘Dismantling Barriers to Life—Sat., March 11’

Chicago Premiere of a New Documentary—Sat., October 22

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Saturday, October 22, 2–4 pm
Frederick A. Douglass Branch Library
3353 W. 13th St., Chicago (map)

The expression “sent up the river” was coined by individuals who were sent up the Hudson River to do their time at the infamous Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York. FIRST DEGREE finds hope in this seemingly hopeless place by exploring an unusual prison education program that appears to keep Sing Sing inmates from being sent back up the river after their release. Nationwide, over half of released inmates return to prison within five years, but for the past 14 years, less than 1% of the inmates who earned their college degrees at Sing Sing returned to prison.

Continue reading ‘Chicago Premiere of a New Documentary—Sat., October 22’

Poetry from the Inside—Weds., September 28

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Join us with the Poetry Center of Chicago and Free Write Jail Arts & Literacy for:

Poetry from the Inside:
A Collaborative Reading and Book Drive

Wednesday, September 28, 7–9 pm
Chicago Art Department
1932 S Halsted St., Suite 100 (map)

There will be a reading from several of Free Write’s former students who were previously incarcerated in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

The incarcerated women we serve send us many poems, and we’re delighted that acclaimed poets Hannah Gamble and Erika L. Sánchez will read a few this evening: Continue reading ‘Poetry from the Inside—Weds., September 28’

Laughs Unlocked benefit show—Tues., April 5

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Prison is no laughing matter—but we’ll make an exception this time because some of the best improvisors in Chicago are throwing us a benefit!

In this two-act show they’ll create scenes based on stories from Dionna Griffin-Irons. Griffin-Irons, who was formerly incarcerated, is a writer, alumna of Second City, and current Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the legendary comedy theatre. Continue reading ‘Laughs Unlocked benefit show—Tues., April 5’

Book Event with Maya Schenwar & Crystal Laura—Mon., March 7 in Evanston

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We’re proud to co-sponsor this event with Cabrini Green Legal Aid—in particular our friends at CLAIM, a program of CGLA.

Come join authors Maya Schenwar and Crystal T. Laura as they explore the impact of prison on their families and advocate for sweeping change to the criminal justice system. Schenwar will share her recent book Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better, and Laura will discuss her book Being Bad: My Baby Brother and the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Continue reading ‘Book Event with Maya Schenwar & Crystal Laura—Mon., March 7 in Evanston’


WE'LL BE CLOSED—NO DONATIONS Sunday, Sept. 29 & Saturday, Oct. 5

IMPORTANT: Learn more before donating books
Check with us before organizing a book drive or putting together a donation of more than a few books from your own library. We are well stocked and storage space is limited.

3,939 packages so far in 2019

Last year we sent 4,852 packages to women and trans people locked up across the country—nearly 13,500 books and composition books in all. Big thanks to all our supporters because we couldn’t do it without you! (updated October 13, 2019)

Donate money quickly and easily

Or send your check or money order to 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your gift may be tax-deductible.

Shop our wish list today

Buy books we need online and we pick them up—no shipping fee, no wasteful packaging. (Or buy a gift card if you can’t decide!) Your purchase benefits not just the people we serve, but one of Chicago’s best indy bookstores.

MOST NEEDED NOW: GED review books

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