RUI at Sheffield’s

We’ve rounded up a few choice literary events, all at local watering holes, worth braving the cold for.

RUI January 2nd at 7 p.m. $3. Sheffield’s, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave.; 773-281-4989.

The organizers of this lit lovefest are guilty of multiple counts of RUI-reading under the influence. On the first Wednesday of each month, five or six writers read from famous published works as well as their own fiction; there’s also lit trivia with prizes. Readers and audience alike down shots of booze throughout the three-hour event, guaranteeing everyone is under the influence by the end of the evening.

Reconstruction Room January 15th at 6:30 p.m. Free. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-280-2660. January 16th at 8 p.m. Free. Black Rock, 3614 N. Damen Ave.; 773-348-4044.

Tomato throwing, bearded ladies, karate demos-with Rec Room, you never know what you’ll get. The gist: Writers and perform­ers riff on a theme; sometimes the audience joins in (once, for example, by chucking tomatoes at the request of a featured guest). Events usually take place on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, but in January the crew teams up with the MCA for its Literary Gangs of Chicago series, featuring hip-hop poets Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin.

2nd Story January 13th at 7 p.m. $10. Webster’s Wine Bar, 1480 W. Webster Ave.; 773-868-0608. January 23rd at 7 p.m. $10. Red Kiva, 1108 W. Randolph St.; 312-226-5577.

Has someone’s anecdote ever reminded you of a personal experience? The 2nd Storytellers are counting on it. On selected Sundays each month, writers share first-person accounts about everything from childhood mishaps to drunken arrests (i.e., first stories), followed by a 15-minute segment in which audience members are encouraged to share their own tales with each other (i.e., second stories).

Mental Graffiti January 21st at 8 p.m. $5. Funky Buddha Lounge, 728 W. Grand Ave.; 312-666-1695.

A group of HBO’s Def Poetry vets hosts this every-third-Monday event, in which an hourlong open mic precedes a featured poet or writer, followed by two rounds of poetry slam; winners get the chance to compete on the Mental Graffiti team at the National Poetry Slam each August. January’s event welcomes 22-year-old Seattle-based poet Danny Sherrard, whose 2007 win made him the youngest national slam champ yet.

Danny’s Reading Series January 30th at 7:30 p.m. Free. Danny’s Tavern, 1951 W. Dickens Ave.; 773-489-6457.
One Wednesday each month, managers at this cozy Bucktown dive ask patrons to refrain from the usual bar chatter to allow for an hour of poetry readings. Before you yawn, take note: The series, curated by DJ/poet Joel Craig, features some of the most exciting experimental poetry in Chicago. In January, that includes the Russian poet and critic Aleksandr Skidan.

Photography: Courtesy of Touch and Go