For nearly 25 years, the Guild Literary Complex has been a community- based literary organization presenting and supporting diverse, divergent, and emerging voices through innovative programs including performances and readings.
The Guild Literary Complex believes that vibrant literature contributes to society and community, and that people should have access to quality literary experiences that engage them with dynamic juxtapositions of voices and ideas. Programs include:
- Palabra Pura (bilingual poetry);
- open-submission writing contests such as the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award and Prose Awards (short fiction and non-fiction);
- Applied Words (creative writing juxtaposed with multiple artforms, often in unique settings);
- Teaching Artist Showcase (community-wide educators and students showcasing their own creative work); and
- the Poetry Performance Incubator (an innovative meeting of poetry and theatre).
Past programs have included The International Writers Exchange, Muslim Women Writers, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry National Tour, Andrés Montoya as well as Cave Canem Literary Prizes (and other cohort residencies), and other author events/special programs.
Guild Complex is partially supported by a CityArts grant and a CAAP grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Additional support comes from Alphawood Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, The Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and individual supporters.
Chicago writer Studs Terkel, activist Meridel Le Sueur, and blues legend Willie Dixon were among many famous faces who passed through the doors of Guild Books.
In 1989, a local, community-based bookstore, Guild Books (once located on Lincoln Avenue) began regularly hosting progressive, stimulating, and eclectic literary events. Soon after, the Guild Complex established itself as an official non-profit organization with poet Michael Warr as its first executive director. For the last 20+ years, the Guild Literary Complex has been a pioneer on Chicago’s literary landscape, consistently hosting innovative and diverse events, featuring leading literary names, and welcoming new, emerging voices. The Guild Literary Complex has been acknowledged as “Chicago’s premier literary center” by the Illinois Arts Council and twice selected as a model literary center by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Past Writers / Performers
and many more