Guild Literary Complex

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Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Reading & Award

07/23/2014 @ 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM


Writers across Illinois submitted their poems to the Guild for the 21st Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award between June 7 and June 30, 2014. 20 of those poems were selected to be presented on July 23, where each author will read their poem to an audience who will then vote on the winner of a $500 prize.

Special appearance by Nora Brooks Blakely, and a performance by Aurora Performance Group. Marian Hayes, poet, will also read her work “The Blues”, which won her the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award 20 years ago.

This years semifinalists are:

Fatimah Asghar, Chirskira Caillouet, Miles Clark, Olivia Cole, Livia Regina Harkow, Andy Karol, Samy Lang, Ele Matelan, Cameron McGill, Sharon L. Powell, Kelly Reuter Raymundo, Charles “Charley” Reynard, Irene Savine, Rachel Lena Slotnick, Mojdeh Stoakley, Deepak Unnikrishnan, Jacob Victorine, Erin Watson, Dylan James Weir, and Jamila Woods.

Join us at the Chopin Theater to celebrate these 20 semifinalists, hear some fantastic poetry out loud, and decide who is going to be the 2014 winner of the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award.

Past winners include Sename Amagashie, Lucy Anderton, Tara Betts, C.C. Carter, Stephanie Gentry-Fernandez, Marian Hayes, Tricia Hersey, Tyehimba Jess, Langston Kerman, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Nate Marshall, Sage Morgan-Hubbard, Stephanie Rose Perez, Tristan Silverman, Dan “Sully” Sullivan, and Mark Turcotte, among others.

Tickets are $8 adults / $6 students and seniors.

About the Emcee

Toni LightfootToni Asante Lightfoot has been living in Chicago since 2002. She’s worked with the Guild Complex, Neighborhood Writing Alliance, ETA Theater, and Young Chicago Authors where she is currently the Director of Writing Workshops. Lightfoot is a Cave Canem fellow and spent 2 years as a Soul Mountain fellow held in the retreat home of Marilyn Nelson, Poet Laureate Emeritus of Connecticut. Lightfoot’s poetry and reviews can be found in numerous anthologies, journals, and online. She is married with a lovely daughter who inspires Lightfoot to laugh, write, and dance. 



About the Performers


Marian Hayes has been a poet in Chicago for decades. She has done what the late great Gwendolyn Brooks encouraged all poets to do; take their poetry to all walks of life; tavern, campuses, schools, highways and by ways. She is presently working on a series of Blues haiku poems.






Aurora Performance Group is a musical group based in Chicago, IL. Assembled by the daughter of Gwendolyn Brooks, Nora Brooks Blakely, APG performs in honor of Mrs. Brooks’ tremendous legacy.


About the Preliminary Judge


J.W. Basilo is a writer, performer, comedian, and educator from Chicago. He is a National and World Poetry Slam finalist, a PushCart Prize Nominee, Executive Director of Chicago Slam Works, one half of Poetry/Comedy duo Beard Fight, and a company member with Red Theater Chicago. His work has appeared on NPR, CNN, CBS, WGN, in the Chicago Tribune, and in hundreds of live venues. Currently, you can catch him every Sunday in Chicago at the Green Mill, where he co-hosts The Uptown Poetry Slam, and Mondays at Haymarket Pub & Brewery, where he serves as curator and host of The LitMash.











The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago was established in 1994 under the direction of Professor Michael Dawson. From its inception, faculty, students, and staff who have been involved with the Center have been committed to establishing a new type of research institute devoted to the study of race and ethnicity, one that seeks to expand the study of race beyond the black/white paradigm while exploring social and identity cleavages within racialized communities.


7:00 PM - 9:30 PM


Chopin Theater
1543 W Division + Google Map

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