Guild Literary Complex

Upcoming Special Events

30 Writers to Watch Prose Reading

As part of the the Guild’s 30th anniversary celebration, we have chosen to highlight 30 of the city’s most interesting and dynamic writers.  This writers’ showcase provides an opportunity to hear some of the new works from this fine assortment of some of the city’s bright new stars.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
7:00 pm
Hopleaf (Upstairs)
5148 North Clark Street

Michael Fischer
Ames Hawkins
Patricia Ann McNair
J. Howard Rosier
Rachel Swearingen
Naomi Washer
Jeremy Wilson


Michael Fischer is a Moth Chicago StorySlam winner, a Luminarts Cultural Foundation Fellow, and a mentor for incarcerated authors through the Pen City Writers program. His work appears in Salon, The Sun, Orion, Guernica, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He graduated earlier this month with an MA from the University of Chicago and is currently teaching writing workshops for chronically homeless veterans in Colorado as the Lighthouse Fort Lyon Writer-in-Residence. Twitter: @FischWriteToo



Ames Hawkins is a creative-critical scholar, educator, and art activist. Her book, These are Love(d) Letters, debuts September 9, 2019 with Wayne State University Press. Ames’ work appears across a range of academic and literary publications such as Pre/Text, Constellations, Palaver Journal, enculturation, Slag Glass City, The Feminist Wire, The Rumpus, and Water~Stone Review. A professor in the English and Creative Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago, her online portfolio can be found at


Patricia Ann McNair writes fiction and nonfiction. The Temple of Air (stories, Elephant Rock Books), won Southern Illinois University Devil’s Kitchen Readers Award, Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year, and was a finalist for Society of Midland Authors Adult Fiction Award. And These are The Good Times (essays, Side Street Press), was a Montaigne Medal finalist. McNair is director of undergraduate creative writing programs at Columbia College Chicago, and artistic director for Mining the Story, a writers’ retreat in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Facebook author page | Twitter: @PatriciaAMcNair


J. Howard Rosier is the founder and editor of the journal Critics’ Union. His writing has appeared in The New Criterion, Kenyon Review, Bookforum, and elsewhere. He is currently working on a novel about the death of three athletes told from the perspective of their community: black residents of Chicago’s south suburbs. Rosier is the recipient of the James Nelson Raymond Fellowship from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an Alan Cheuse Emerging Critics Fellowship from the National Book Critics Circle. Twitter: @justlikebeirut | IG: @savile_ros




Rachel Swearingen’s fiction has appeared in VICE, The Missouri Review, Kenyon Review, Agni, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. Her story collection, How to Walk on Water and Other Stories, winner of the 2018 New American Press Fiction Prize, will be published in 2020. She is the recipient of the 2015 Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction.


Naomi Washer
 is the author of Phantoms (dancing girl press) and American Girl Doll (Ursus Americanus Press) and the translator of Sebastián Jiménez Galindo’s Experimental Gardening Manual (Toad Press). Her work has appeared in Court Green, Pithead Chapel, Asymptote, Passages North, Essay Daily, and other journals. She has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, Vermont Studio Center, Studio Faire, Chateau d’Orquevaux, and Columbia College Chicago where she earned her MFA in Nonfiction. She is the editor of Ghost Proposal, a literary journal, chapbook press, and reading series.

Jeremy T. Wilson is the author of the short story collection Adult Teeth. He is a former winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award for short fiction, and his stories have appeared in literary magazines such as The Carolina Quarterly, The Florida Review, The Masters Review, Sonora Review, Third Coast and other publications. He holds an MFA from Northwestern University and teaches creative writing at The Chicago High School for the Arts. He lives in Evanston, Illinois with his wife and daughter. | Twitter: @shiremy


2019 Past Events

A Special Partner Event

Lit & Luz Festival
A celebration of language, literature, and art

Favorite Poems/Poemas favoritos
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
7:00 PM

Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior Street

Reception to follow. Books available for sale from Seminary Co-op Bookstores.
Free admission, register in advance here.

Experience the Lit & Luz Festival, a one-of-a-kind series of events celebrating language, literature, and art and featuring renowned authors, visual artists, and musicians from Chicago and Mexico in cultural exchange. Participants including Miguel Marzana, Emily Jungmin Yoon, Bill MacKay, and Sara Uribe read their favorite poems in both Spanish and English and offer explanations of the poems’ significance. Hosted by Daniel Borzutzky and Rachel Galvin.

Reception to follow. Books available for sale from Seminary Co-op Bookstores.

In partnership with Poetry Foundation and Northwestern University’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Cosponsored with MAKE Literary Productions.

At 30 minutes before event start, guests with Eventbrite tickets will have priority entry to the performance space on a first-come, first-served basis. At 15 minutes prior to event start, the performance space is open to all guests. Seating capacity is limited. Eventbrite reservations do not guarantee entry or reserved seating.

Newberry Colloquium – From the Stacks
Born Woke: 30 years of Guild Literary Complex – Programming Ahead of the Times

Wednesday, October 2, 2019
4:00 p.m.
Newberry Library
Free and open to the public; no registration required.

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.

Power Lines
Remembering The Guild Literary Complex’s Anthology
20 Years Laters

4pm – 4:30pm, Sunday June 9th
Printers Row Literary Festival 2019
Arts & Poetry Stage, 60 W. Polk


Twenty years ago The Guild Literary Complex, Chicago’s home for literary arts and activism, teamed up with Tia Chucha Press to publish Power Lines, an anthology featuring writers whose contributions to the Guild’s innovative and integrative programming helped to make The Guild a grassroots cultural institution in its first decade. At the time Studs Terkel said, “”The Guild Complex is as natural to Chicago as its rivers and lakes.” But where did those writers imagine The Guild flowing twenty years later on its 30th anniversary in 2019? This year, on Sunday June 9th, authors featured in Power Lines will reconvene at the Printers Row Lit Fest to revisit their work from two decades ago, and to share some of what they are up to today, as the Guild celebrates 30 years.



Julie Parson Nesbitt, author of the poetry collection Finders (West End Press) and editor of Power Lines: A Decade of Poetry From Chicago’s Guild Complex (Tia Chucha Press), received the Gwendolyn Brooks “Significant Illinois Poet” Award and holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Univ. of Pittsburgh). She served as executive director of Guild Complex literary arts center and Development Director for Young Chicago Authors. She is currently working on her doctorate in Education (Ed.D) at DePaul University on trauma-informed education in public schools.




Beatriz Badikian-Gartler was born Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has lived in the Chicago area for over forty years. Badikian-Gartler holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and teaches at various institutions of higher learning in Chicago. Her second full-length collection, Mapmaker Revisited: New and Selected Poems, was published in 1999 from Gladsome Books in Chicago. Her first novel Old Gloves – A 20th Century Saga was published in 2005 by Fractal Edge Press in Chicago. She’s a recent member of the storytelling community of Chicago and enjoying it greatly.


Tara Betts is the author of Break the HabitArc & Hue, and her forthcoming collection Refuse to Disappear. She co-edited The Beiging of America: Personal Essays About Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century and edited a new critical edition of Adventures in Black and White, the long out-of-print memoir by Harlem-born, interracial child prodigy Philippa Duke Schuyler. Tara won the 1999 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award. She holds an MFA from New England College and a Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University. She is part of the MFA faculty at Chicago State University. Tara has also been teaching at Stateville Prison as part of the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project. Twitter: @tarabetts; Instagram: @chitownbetts


Suzanne Frank was raised in the shadow of the Oldsmobile dynasty in Lansing, Michigan, her poetry reflects the straight-talking sensibility of the bluecollar world and a hardscrabble journey to adulthood. After moving to Chicago, she was drawn into the wild and wooly poetry scene through the Guild Complex and Slam Poetry. Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies. Suzanne’s recent publication of poems and photographs, Double Vision Poetry, is a collaborative effort sponsored by Oregon State University.      


Kurt Heintz is a proud contributor to Powerlines. He was a co-founder of the Guild Complex’s National Poetry Video Festival. He is a writer and video producer who has spoken about poetry video at venues from &NOW (held at Lake Forest College) and the Hyde Park Arts Center, to the Vancouver Videopoem Festival and Farrago Poetry in London. Heintz has served as a Guild board member. Today, Heintz supports Another Chicago Magazine as a new media content editor. He has been the audio documentarian for the Woman Made Gallery Poetry Series for over a decade, creating a unique and critically progressive archive of readings by diverse female, non-binary and allied authors. See his website,, to hear much of it.


Mario is a Chicago poet, educator, activist and radio chat show host, who has been performing in the Chicagoland area and the US for over twenty years. He is the host of News From the Service Entrance on WLPN-LP in Chicago and is also a contributor to WGN 720 AM and . His poetry appears in the book The Break Beat Poets published by Haymarket Press.



Mark Turcotte (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) teaches Creative Writing at DePaul University.





2018 Special Events:


Experience an international evening of poetry, translation, and performance in a collaborative event between One Poetic Voice and French Slam Connection of Ligue Slam de France, Au détour de Babel, and Chicago’s Speak ‘Easy Ensemble. Speak ‘Easy Ensemble’s Nate Smith and Bailey Castle worked with the French poets Youn and Deb’bo to create balanced translations that incorporate language and movement. The result is a captivating, simultaneous, dual-linguistic performance. Directed by Marc Kelly Smith with the participation of Zurg & Yopo from France (founders of Ligue Slam de France.) Cosponsored with One Poetic Voice, Ligue Slam de France, and Poetry Foundation.

7 – 9 PM
Thursday, November 1st, 2018
Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior Street




Book Launch Party for
Rosellen Brown’s
The Lake On Fire

Wednesday, October 17th

Women and Children First
5233 N. Clark St, Chicago


Join Rosellen Brown in conversation about her new novel with Janet Burroway.
The Guild will toast Brown, who sits on our Board of Directors, with a reception following their conversation.


The Lake on Fire begins among 19th century Jewish immigrants on a failing Wisconsin farm. Dazzled by lore of the American dream, Chaya and her strange, brilliant, young brother Asher stow away to Chicago; what they discover there, however, is a Gilded Age as empty a facade as the beautiful Columbian Exposition luring thousands to Lake Michigan’s shore. The pair scrapes together a meager living–Chaya in a cigar factory; Asher, roaming the city and stealing books and jewelry to share with the poor, until they find different paths of escape. The Lake on Fire is robust, gleaming, and grimy all at once, proving that celebrated author Rosellen Brown is back with a story as luminous as ever.

Rosellen Brown is the author of the novels Civil Wars, Half a Heart, Tender Mercies, Before and After, and six other books. Her stories have appeared frequently in O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, and Best Short Stories of the Century. She now teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Janet Burroway, awarded the Florida Humanities Council’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award in Writing, is the author of eight novels as well as short fiction, plays, poetry, essays, texts for dance, and children’s books. Her Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (ninth edition), is the most widely used creative writing text in America, and her multi-genre Imaginative Writing is out in a fourth edition. Her most recent novel is Bridge of Sand and her memoir Losing Tim was published in 2014. Her play Parts of Speech won the Br!nk award at the Renaissance Theatreworks, Milwaukee in 2015 and Boomerang, a modern female Lear, was commissioned by Sideshow Theatre Company, also in 2015.

co-sponsored with Red Rover Series

Outer Space Studio
1474 N. Milwaukee Ave
(3rd floor walk-up, no accessible entrance)
7pm / doors lock 7:30pm
suggested donation $4
(Proceeds to be donated to Chicago Jobs with Justice)

Information here

With: Nicole Bond, Cean Gamalinda, Zebulon Hurst, Jeremy Kniola, Char Lee Luckett, Kimberly Lyons, Ciara Darnise Miller, Tarnynon Onumonu, Chris Rife, Larry Sawyer, Lina Ramona Vitkauskas, Gabriel Wallace, Stephen Williams, M Wu, Sheila Yarbrough, Rivka Yeker, and more…

Curated by the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Chicago Community Council 2018:
Laura Goldstein, Marcy Rae Henry, Jennifer Karmin, Ira S. Murfin (Guild Complex) & Kenyatta Rogers

On September 29, 2018, poets around the world will raise their voices collectively to declare the changes they’d like to see in the U.S. and throughout the international community as part of worldwide events for 100,000 Poets for Change. In Chicago, this night of poetry activism is based on the theme “Temporary America”. Inspired by Homer Erotic’s cult song, the readings will address the precariousness of the era we’re all living through and how vital it is to keep each other charged up for awareness, action, change + revolution. Chicago poet Barbara Barg, who passed away in May 2018, wrote the song and was co-founder of the all-women band Homer Erotic. During her career she experimented with writing, teaching, performance, music, and more.

Red Rover Series is curated by Laura Goldstein and Jennifer Karmin. Each event is designed as a reading experiment with participation by local, national, and international writers, artists, and performers. Founded in 2005, the over one hundred events have featured a diversity of renowned creative minds.


Writers Challenge Grant, the Guild’s Annual Appeal

Each winter we close our season with a fundraising campaign. It’s an opportunity for us to recap our year and debut our plans for the next season, and it often comes with a special matching gift challenge or project initiative. Although we welcome donations all year, the annual appeal is the period when Guild supporters can contribute to a collective campaign.

Annual Benefit

Once a year we celebrate with a special evening of food, drink and conversation with our annual Benefit. It includes a cocktail hour to catch up with old friends and make new ones, followed by a presentation by special guest artists that takes us into their creative process and perspective on art in society. Each year we choose a different theme that reflects our featured speakers and a facet of the Guild’s mission of bringing dynamic juxtapositions of voices and ideas to the Chicago arts scene.

Fuller Award with The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame