Spotlight on: The Guild Literary Complex

Andrea Pelose is a second-year MAWP student and Marketing Director for the Guild Literary Complex, among other things. In today’s guest post, Andrea shares her experiences in the Guild Complex with us and explains how (and why!) to get involved.

As grad students, we’ve mastered the art of busy.  We have workshop pieces to write, polished works to submit, query letters to finish, and reading lists to stay informed on trends. Not to mention, we have jobs and families that generally like to know we’re alive. This is why it’s easy to get wrapped up in a blanket, stay in, and type until the faint signs of carpal-tunnel appear.

But being a writer is not just about producing new text. (Although that is certainly a crucial part of it.) Writing is also about community.  Luckily, here in Chicago, we’re blessed with a great one.  DePaul itself hosts several worthwhile literary events throughout the year, from professor readings to the Visiting Writers Series to student events like Threshold’s Annual Launch Party and EGSA’s Spring Conference.

And they are not the only ones. Over the course of the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of working as the Marketing Director for the Guild Literary Complex, a community-based organization for poets, writers and literature fans that thrives on vibrant programming and emerging voices, at an affordable price. That price typically being free.

Perhaps my favorite part of both working with the Guild and attending our events is its diversity. Our presenters and audience members are an infused mixture of all the best things about the city.  The programming is unique and original.  It is also one of the best ways to learn the city, since we host events everywhere from Wicker Park to Logan Square to Humboldt Park to the South Loop, and yes, even a block or two from DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus.

So what of this unique programming? Here’s a quick cheat sheet to some of our various events:

  • Palabra Pura—a bilingual poetry series, featuring both Spanish and English verse. Each event opens with an open mic opportunity for poets of all ages and experience levels to share their work, and audiences of any background are welcome.
  • Applied Words—a series that explores creative writing and its fusion with both non-literary forms (such as music) and even non-artistic subjects (such as health).  Each event features readings or performances related to the selected topic, as well as an open mic and audience discussion.
  • Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award—an annual open-submission poetry contest, held each Spring, with a live showcase of performances, an audience vote, and a chance to win $500.
  • Prose Awards—an annual fiction and creative non-fiction contest, held each Fall, with a live showcase of the finalist excerpts and chance to win $250 in each category.
  • Poetry Performance Incubator—poetry meets the stage in a collaborative project that brings poets together to create original theater. Past shows include “Tour Guides”  about the Chicago tourists never see (2010) and “Unnatural Spaces” about urban living and the environment (premiering 2012).

We will also be at AWP. We’re offering a panel on the challenges and opportunities of running a culturally-specific reading series like Palabra Pura. In addition, we’re hosting an off-site event on March 1st at 7:00 pm at Jak’s Tap with readings and performances by Poet and Guild Literary Complex Co-Founder Michael Warr, Poet and Tia Chucha Press Co-founder Luis Rodriguez, and Poet and formidable Performer Patricia Smith, as well as select Tia Chucha poets. The Guild constantly develops new programming as well, so be on the lookout for upcoming details about a university open-mic extravaganza and teaching artist series, both targeted with English students in mind.

Having a strong network of poets, writers, publishers, journalists, professors, performers, and several others has not only helped me network and gain a better understanding of Chicago’s literary landscape, but also continues to provide encouragement to keep at my own writing, and discover the number of new outlets available to share my work.

So how can you get involved with the Guild Literary Complex? The best way is to attend an event or share your work via an open mic opportunity or contest submission. We also have occasional volunteer opportunities or job openings.  For more details, visit our website, join our group on facebook or start following us on Twitter.

Have something you’d like to share in a guest post on Ex Libris? Send your ideas to Maria at


One comment on “Spotlight on: The Guild Literary Complex

  1. Mike Puican says:

    Great post! Chicago certainly has a varied and thriving literary community. Thanks for highlighting the work of one of the contributors to that community.

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