Born Woke: 30 years of Guild Literary Complex – Programming Ahead of the Times

A Newberry Colloquium
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Towner Fellows’ Lounge, Newberry Library

Join us for a talk featuring the Guild Literary Complex’s rich archive, exhibiting its groundbreaking impact on literary programming across Chicago communities. The discussion will feature Guild collaborators and curators Kurt Heintz, Marci Merola, and Lew Rosenbaum.

Kurt Heintz co-founded the Guild’s Poetry Video Festival, and founded the e-poets network ( which includes the Book of Voices. The Book of Voices ( holds recordings of literally hundreds of poets and, in a decade long partnership with Woman Made Gallery, has built one of the largest audible collections of female writers in the Midwest.



Marci Merola is a local writer and poet who served as a board member, volunteer and groupie of the Guild Complex for many years. She was director of the Advocacy Office at the American Library Association for the past 10 years.





Lew Rosenbaum is a founder of the Guild Literary Complex, and edits and publishes the Chicago Labor & Arts Notes e-mail newsletter. He has been employed as a garment worker, printer, social worker, and history teacher, but for most of his life he has been a bookseller, first at the path-breaking Midnight Special Books in Santa Monica, CA, then at the legendary Guild Books in Chicago. He writes on education and independent politics for The People’s Tribune newspaper.



The Newberry Colloquium is a weekly opportunity for the Newberry community to come together and learn about research or projects being conducted by our staff, fellows, scholars-in-residence, and other invited speakers. Colloquium events are open to the Newberry community and the general public. Colloquia topics usually relate to the Newberry’s collection, and presentations are intended for a non-specialist audience.

Unless otherwise noted, the colloquium convenes on Wednesday afternoons in Towner Fellows’ Lounge on the 2nd floor of the Newberry. Refreshments are served at 3:30 pm, with the talk beginning at 4 pm. A brief discussion follows each presentation. No reservations are required in order to attend.


The Guild hosted an evening celebrating the Guild’s first 30 years, and looking forward to the next 30. Important voices from the Guild’s past introduced the Guild’s 30 Writers to Watch in 2019 and beyond. We saw old friends & made some new ones, while enjoying music, hors d’oeuvres, and an-end-of night raffle featuring unique artifacts from the Guild’s archives.


Congratulations to these amazing artists! Learn more about them HERE.
Click for full bios + photos.


Tara Betts, poetry, nonfiction, scholarship

Kimberly Dixon-Mays, poetry, plays

Raul Dorantes, poetry, plays, fiction

Emily Thornton Calvo, poetry, memoir

Michael Fischer, nonfiction

kwabena foli, poetry

Ricardo Gamboa, plays, television, scholarship

Jan-Henry Gray, poetry, storytelling

Ames Hawkins, nonfiction, scholarship

Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert, plays, poetry, nonfiction

Timothy J. Hillegonds, nonfiction

Nate Marshall, poetry

John McCarthy, poetry

Patricia Ann McNair, fiction, nonfiction

Ciara Darnise Miller, poetry, scholarship

Faisal Mohyuddin, poetry

Cheswayo Mphanza, poetry

Nikki Patin, poetry, music

Frances de Pontes Peebles, fiction

Ruben Quesada, poetry, translation

Christine Rice, fiction, nonfiction

Jennifer Roche, poetry

Kenyatta Rogers, poetry

J. Howard Rosier, fiction, criticism

Natania Rosenfeld, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, scholarship

Mojdeh Stoakley, poetry, music

Rachel Swearingen, fiction

Naomi Washer, poetry, nonfiction, translation

Valerie Wallace, poetry

Jeremy T. Wilson, fiction