Angela Jackson, Tara Betts, Ciara Miller: three generations of black women writers from Chicago share their work and their reflections on how the legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), Poet Laureate of Illinois and the first African American winner of the Pulitzer Prize, has influenced their lives and careers. Brooks and her work have had a tremendous impact on American literature in the second half of the 20th century, and her legacy holds special significance for women, people of color, and the city of Chicago, where her dedication to her community and her mentorship of younger poets is remembered right alongside her prolific literary output. During this special public reading and conversation, these three accomplished writers in Gwendolyn Brooks’s lineage will discuss the role she played, directly and indirectly, in inspiring them to write and in helping them to establish and sustain their own creative practices. Each author offers a unique perspective on the meaning and significance that Brooks holds for their work and their lives in Chicago’s literary and artistic communities, and each has been a part of preserving and advancing her legacy by continuing to pass her words and her spirit of generosity from one artist to the next, across generations.
Since 1989, The Guild Literary Complex has been Chicago’s home for innovative programming that highlights the intersections of marginalities, the power of community, and the impact of arts and activism. The Guild builds on Chicago’s rich literary traditions through vibrant storytelling and radical inclusion, and by advancing access to and from the margins. The Guild Literary Complex views literature as a vehicle of connectivity, and aims to merge seemingly disparate groups across Chicago’s 50 wards. The Guild works in collaboration with the City of Chicago and other organizations to present dynamic programming that highlights our varied and robust literary community.