About the Guild Literary Complex:

For 25 years, the Guild Literary Complex has been a Chicagobased literary organization presenting and supporting diverse, divergent, and emerging voices through programming that is as dynamic as Chicago itself. Actively working with individuals and organizations from all of Chicago’s many neighborhoods, the Guild seeks to connect seemingly disparate groups and geographies through literature—bringing unexpected writers, programs, and audiences together.

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do, and we are thrilled to work with local, national, and international groups such as Studio Gang Architects, American Writers Museum, International Cities of Refuge Network, About Face Theatre, the Poetry Foundation, and many others, who have contributed significantly to the breadth, depth, and resonance of Guild programs.

The Guild is committed to invigorating Chicago’s vast literary scene. Like a tonic, the Guild is good for Chicago—and good for you.

Our programs include:

  • Palabra Pura: The Guild’s night of poetry and community, curated by and spotlighting Chicago’s most powerful voices in the bilingual and Latino communities.
  • 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 art forms, often in unique settings;
  • BrooksDay: The Guild’s annual celebration of renowned poet Gwendolyn Brooks, which brings writers, public officials, and civic leaders to read and perform their favorite Brooks poems.


Guild Complex is partially supported by a CityArts 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 The Chicago Community Trust, The Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund, Poetry Foundation, 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 25 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 have included some of history’s most influential contemporary authors, including:

Gwendolyn Brooks

Ana Castillo

Lucille Clifton

Kent Foreman

Eduardo Galeano

Jack Hirschman

Angela Jackson

Alex Kotlowitz

Li-Young Lee

Sharon Olds

Michael Ondaatje

Grace Paley

Octavio Paz

Sterling Plumpp

Adrienne Rich

Carolyn Rodgers

Luis Rodriguez

Salman Rushdie

Patricia Smith

Quincy Troupe

and many more