The Guild Literary Complex 

is proud to announce the opening submission period for the 

Leon Forrest

Prose Awards for Short Fiction and Non-Fiction


Calling all short fiction and non-fiction writers!

December 1, 2016 – January 1, 2017, Open Submission Period

Event will be held Wednesday, January 11th 7:30-10:00 PM 


The Promontory

5311 S. Lake Park Avenue West, Chicago, IL 60615 (map)

With Emcee Mario Smith, and Special Guest Marianne Forrest!


The Guild Literary Complex is proud to announce an open submission period for our Annual Prose Awards–and this year all the better because they are now the Leon Forrest Prose Awards.  Each year, the Guild Complex acknowledges emerging and established writers via a judged competition and recognition event in Chicago. A cash prize of $500 in each category (fiction and non-fiction) will be awarded. Three semi-finalists from each category will read their work at our annual Prose Awards event, and the winners will be announced live that evening. The recognition event will be held in January of 2017, with Special Guest Marianne Forrest, and Emcee Mario Smith.

Writers of all backgrounds and experience levels are invited to submit, and all themes and subjects are welcome. See below for full submission guidelines and FAQs.


About Leon Forrest


Leon Forrest was a Chicago author of fiction and essays, whose long career as a writer was celebrated not only in Chicago, but with national renown.  His work is dense, and rich with the vibrancy and darkness of Chicago, and as Henry Louis Gates called Forrest’s Divine Days “The War and Peace of African-American Literature.”

Conducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame in 2014, they say of Forrest, “His stream-of-consciousness writing concerned the legacy of slavery and earned him a place on Chicago magazine’s “Most Important Chicagoans of the 20th Century.” His novels are set in a mythical Forrest County that closely resembles Chicago. His third novel, “Two Wings to Veil My Face” (1984), won the Society of Midland Authors Award for adult fiction, the DuSable Museum Certificate of Merit and Achievement in Fiction, the Carl Sandburg Award and the Friends of Literature Prize. His fourth book, “Divine Days” (1992), won the Chicago Sun-Times Book of the Year Award for local fiction.

Forrest served as president of the Society of Midland Authors, as well as wrote for numerous South Side Chicago newspapers during his long literary career. He was a professor at Northwestern University serving there from 1973 until his death in 2001, and was the head of the African American Studies Department from 1985-1994.  His work still carries with it the weight of a great writer whose gifts are not diminished, but rather extended with time.


Submission Guidelines

  • Author must be 18 years of age or older by January 1, 2017.
  • Author must currently live in, or prove student status in Illinois.
  • Submit one original work of fiction or non-fiction up to 1250 words. No exceptions.
  • Previously published work is not eligible.
  • Submit work in a legible 12-point font and double-spaced. Only typed submissions will be accepted.
  • Submissions may not exceed 1250 words.
  • Do not include your name on your story or essay, but please do so in your email/letter.
  • Author must be available to read his or her work at the live event in January of 2017 (If you are selected as a semi-finalist, attendance at the event is mandatory. You will not be considered for a prize if you are unable to read at the event.)
  • Previous applicants and semi-finalists are encouraged to re-submit.
  • Previous first-place winners are not eligible.
  • Deadline to submit is January 1, 2017!  (Mailed applications must be received a week prior two the on-line cut off date – this is not a postmark deadline. Emailed applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. on the day of CST. Submissions cannot be made in person.)
  • A reading fee of $5 is required. Payment is to be made via PayPal. Visit, click on the “donate” button, and include “PROSE fee” in the memo field. Submissions without a fee will not be considered. (Your reading fee includes a non-transferable ticket to the January 11th event—which means submitting to the event is cheaper than just attending!)
  • Incomplete applications or applications that do not follow these guidelines will not be considered.

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