May 1-2 Events Celebrate Our 100th Birthday

The Society of Midland Authors will mark its 100th birthday at an awards banquet on May 1 and a free public literary celebration on May 2 in Chicago.

May 1 Awards Banquet

On Friday, May 1, the Society of Midland Authors will celebrate its annual awards banquet — honoring the best 2014 books by Midwestern authors — at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor, Chicago, with a 6 p.m. cocktail hour and a 7 p.m. dinner, followed by the awards presentation. The master of ceremonies will be Robert K. Elder, the author of six books, including Last Words of the Executed and The Film That Changed My Life, and director of digital product development and strategy at Crain Communications Inc.

Tickets to the awards banquet can be purchased two ways: Buy tickets for $76 each through PayPal at Or print out the reservation form at and mail it to us with a check for $75 for each ticket.

May 2 Centennial Celebration

UPDATED DETAILS — On Saturday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Society of Midland Authors celebrates its centennial with a day of literary speakers and book signings at University Center, 525 S. State St., Chicago. Admission is free, and the public is welcome.

10 a.m.: Welcoming remarks — followed by Jim Schwab, reading poetry by Vachel Lindsay

10:15 a.m.: Carla Knorowski, CEO of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, presents the new book Gettysburg Replies: The World Responds to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

10:50 a.m.: Richard Lindberg reads a selection by Theodore Dreiser

11 a.m.: Rick Kogan, longtime Chicago Tribune journalist

11:30 a.m.: Haki Madhubuti, poet and publisher of Third World Press

11:50 a.m.: Meg Tebo reads the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks

Noon-1 p.m.: Lunch break

1 p.m.: June Sawyers reads a selection by Harry Mark Petrakis. (Note: Petrakis was originally scheduled to speak but will not be able to attend.)

1:15 p.m.: Edward Burke, author, alderman of Chicago’s 14th Ward and chairman of the Committee on Finance

1:45 p.m.: James Bowman reads a selection by Finley Peter Dunne

1:55 p.m.: Robert Loerzel reads a selection by Nelson Algren

2 p.m.: A conversation between Steve Bogira (Chicago Reader reporter and author of Courtroom 302) and Jonathan Eig (The Birth of the Pill, Get Capone)

2:30 p.m.: Martin Marty, noted University of Chicago scholar on the history of religion

2:50 p.m.: Richard Frisbie reads a selection by Ring Lardner

3 p.m.: A conversation between children’s authors Blue Balliett (Chasing Vermeer) and Ilene Cooper (A Woman in the House (and Senate)), moderated by Marlene Targ Brill

3:30 p.m.: Uptown Poetry Slam founder Marc Kelly Smith

3:55 p.m.: June Sawyers reads a selection by Margaret Anderson

4 p.m.: A panel discussion with novelists Christine Sneed (Little Known Facts), Carol Anshaw (Aquamarine) and Rosellen Brown (Before and After)

BOOK SIGNINGS — Authors will be signing their books at the event throughout the day, including Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Lynn Voedisch, Stan “Tex” Banash, Michael Corcoran, Burt Levy, Genevieve Davis, Steve Bogira, Lucia Mouet, Greg Borzo, Judith Fradin, Joseph Peterson, Patrick McBriarty and Joan Kufrin.

Copies of a short book on the SMA’s history will be also available at our May 1-2 events.

5 p.m. and later: Join us for the Publishing Cocktails gathering at Hackney’s, 733 S. Dearborn St.

About the Society of Midland Authors

The Society of Midland Authors was founded on April 24, 1915, by a group of authors including Harriet Monroe, Vachel Lindsay, Edna Ferber, Clarence Darrow, Hamlin Garland, George Ade, William Allen White and James Whitcomb Riley. Their goals included creating “a closer association among the writers of the Middle West” and “the stimulation of creative literary effort.”

A century later, the nonprofit group includes about 300 authors from 12 Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Noteworthy Society members over the past 100 years include Jane Addams, Edgar Lee Masters, John T. McCutcheon, Ring Lardner, Sherwood Anderson, Nelson Algren, Gwendolyn Brooks, Willard Motley, Studs Terkel, Carl Sandburg and Leon Forrest.

The Society has given out annual awards since 1957. The juried competition is open to authors who live in, were born in, or have strong ties to the region. Notable winners have included Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Studs Terkel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mike Royko, Jane Smiley, Dempsey Travis, Leon Forrest, William Maxwell, Louise Erdrich, Scott Turow, Alex Kotlowitz, Aleksandar Hemon, Stuart Dybek, Harry Mark Petrakis and Roger Ebert.

The Society of Midland Authors sponsors literary events, which are free and open to the public, at venues such as the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center and the Cliff Dwellers Club. The group connects its members via the Literary License newsletter, the website, Facebook, and the Twitter accounts @midlandauthors and @BiblioFile_SMA.

A Chicago City Council resolution has proclaimed April 24 to May 2 “Society of Midland Authors Centennial Days in Chicago.”

Watch this blog in the coming months to read more about the Society’s history.