Calling all short fiction and non-fiction writers!

The Guild Literary Complex is proud to announce our open submission period for our annual Prose Awards. Every fall, the Guild Literary Complex acknowledges emerging and established writers via a judged competition and recognition event at The Chopin Theater in Wicker Park. A cash prize of $250 in each category (short fiction and non-fiction) will be awarded. This year’s guest judges will be Amina Gautier (fiction) and David Lazar (non-fiction). Judges’ bios below.

Selected semi-finalists from each category will read their work at our annual Prose Awards event, and the two winners will be announced live that evening! The recognition event will be held on October 24, 2012, 7:30 pm, Chopin Theater, 1543 West Division Street, Chicago IL.

Both student and non-students, and writers of all backgrounds and experience levels are invited to submit. Writers must be 21 years of age or older and a resident of Illinois by October 24. A submission fee of $5 is required. See below for full submission guidelines and FAQs. (Following these instructions are the only way to make sure your submission receives the best possible consideration.)

Submission Guidelines

Please submit one piece, for EITHER the short fiction or non-fiction category. (No exceptions please. If you send more than one piece, we will not be able to consider either.) Submissions in either category may not exceed 1,000 words (please include a word count on the upper right corner of the first page). Other requirements:

* Must be original work from the writer (previously published is ok)

* Must be typed in legible 12-pt. font

* Must include the $5 submission fee. Submissions without the submission fee will not be considered. Click the “Donate” button below to pay your submission fee via PayPal.

* Must be able to be read by you, the evening of October 24

* You must be at least 21 years old and a resident of Illinois by October 24, 2012


How to Submit


Guild Complex
P.O. Box 478880
Chicago, IL 60647-9998
Attn: Prose Awards

For mailed submissions: please put your full name, street address, email address, telephone number, category (fiction or non-fiction) and name of submitted piece on a separate cover sheet. No identifying info should appear on the pages of the piece itself.


For email submissions: please put “Prose Awards” in the subject line; include your full name, street address, email address, telephone number, category (fiction or non-fiction), and name of the piece in the body of the email; and attach your piece as a simple Word document or pdf labeled with the title of the poem. No author name information should appear in the document label or on the pages of the piece itself.

Whether sending your submission by mail or email, don’t forget to send your $5 submission fee via the “Donate” button.



EITHER arrived in our P.O. box (not postmarked) OR in our email inbox no later than 5 p.m. Friday, September 28, 2012. Submissions may not be made in person. We’ll send an acknowledgement email the following week to let you know your submission arrived and has met the guidelines. We’ll announce the semi-finalists in each category by Monday, October 15, 2012. And again, the semi-finalists will read their pieces and the winners will be named and receive their prize at the recognition event Wednesday, October 24, 2012.


What if I don’t like reading my own work in public? Can someone else do it?

We’re sorry, no. Like a lot of events with the Guild Complex, we want this to feature great writers, not just great writing. So we want to hear your voice.

I have a (wedding/job/date/etc.) on October 24. Can I leave the recognition event early/come late?

We ask you to be available for the full event, to enjoy the recognition and hear great work by your writing peers.

Why does the Guild require a submission fee? I’m not a rich writer.

We understand. However, the $5 submission fee helps offset part of the Guild’s costs for this event and its two cash awards. That allows us to keep doing events like this in the future.

Do I have to pay my submission fee by PayPal?

Sorry, yes. At this time our limited staff makes this the best way to process entries quickly and accurately.

Should my work focus on a particular theme or style besides fiction/non-fiction?

No, just send us an example of your best work. We look forward to reading it.

Additional questions? Email


Amina Gautier (fiction judge) Gautier follows in the footsteps of the late nineteenth century African American intellectual (Chesnutt, DuBois, Harper, and Hopkins) who merged both critical and creative talents. Her background as a scholar of 19th Century American literature and, more generally, African American literature combines with her training as a fiction writer such that she is both a critic and a creative writer, fully engaged in the analysis and creation of literature. More than sixty of her short stories have been published, appearing in Antioch Review, Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, North American Review, Pleiades, and Southern Review among others in addition to being anthologized in Best African American Fiction, Notre Dame Review: The First Ten Years, New Stories From the South: The Year’s Best, 2008, The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Writers on Forerunners in Fiction, and Voices. Her fiction has been honored with the William Richey Prize, the Jack Dyer Award, the Danahy Fiction Award, the Schlafly Microfiction Award, and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Award. Her short story collection At-Risk won the Flannery O’Connor Award and is published by University of Georgia Press.


David Lazar (non-fiction judge) Lazar’s books include The Body of Brooklyn and Truth in Nonfiction (both Iowa), Powder Town (Pecan Grove); Michael Powell: Interviews and Conversations with M.F.K. Fisher (both Mississippi). Forthcoming is Essaying the Essay from Welcome Table Press. His essays and prose poems have appeared widely in anthologies such as Understanding the Essay, An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Sentence), and Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America, and magazines such as Gulf Coast, Black Clock, Sentence, Denver Quarterly, Best of the Prose Poem, Southwest Review, etc. and five of his essays have been “Notable Essays of the Year” according to Best American Essays. He created the undergraduate and Ph.D. programs in Nonfiction writing at Ohio University, and directed the creation of the undergraduate and M.F.A. programs in Nonfiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago. He is the founding editor of the literary magazine Hotel Amerika, now in its tenth year.

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