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open mic poetry contest for IL residents: Guild Complex

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  • aejos
    The Guild Complex is proud to announce the call for poetry submissions for the 18th annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award (GBOMA). Curators will select 20
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2011
      The Guild Complex is proud to announce the call for poetry submissions for the 18th annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award (GBOMA). Curators will select 20 semi-finalists from open submissions. Those 20 poets will perform their work in front of a live audience on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, 7:00PM, at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, Chicago to compete for a $500 prize!

      The Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award was founded by the noted Chicago poet almost two decades ago. Every June it showcases emerging performance poets in an exciting, audience-involved competition. Poets must be 18 years of age or older by the date of the reading, and a resident of Illinois. A submission fee of $5 is required.

      See below for full submission guidelines and FAQs. NOTE: This year we've added two new things to the submission process: audio submissions and a wildcard vote. (Sorry for all the gory details, but following the instructions carefully is the only way to make sure your submission gets the best consideration.) Good luck!


      Submission Guidelines

      1. What to submit

      One poem in both print and audio form (No exceptions please – if you send us more than one poem, we won't consider any. We hate choosing sides.)
      Poem must be previously unpublished
      Poem must also be able to be performed by you, the evening of June 14, carefully and clearly, with no props, musical accompaniment, etc. – just you and your voice, in under 4 minutes (No exceptions please; you will be timed. If you go over, we'll have to cut you off and you won't be able to advance in the competition. And we hate being the bad guy.)
      Printed form must be typed in legible 12-pt font
      Audio form can be performed by you left in a voicemail message to the Guild (call 877-394-5061) OR attached to an email as an mp3
      The $5 submission fee. Submissions without the submission fee will not be considered.
      Go to
      to submit entry fee.
      You must be 18 years old by June 14th, 2011
      2. Where to submit it

      Mail OR email...


      Guild Complex

      P.O. Box 478880

      Chicago, IL 60647-9998

      Attn: GBOMA

      For mailed submissions: please put your full name, street address, email address, telephone number and name of poem on a separate cover sheet. Also, please put whether you would like to have your audio recording entered anonymously into the Wildcard Vote (see more info in the FAQs below). None of this identifying info should appear on the poem itself.


      <gboma(at)guildcomplex.org> (replace (at) with @ in sending e-mail)

      For email submissions: please include your full name, street address, email address, telephone number and name of poem in the body of the email, and attach your poem as a Word document. None of that info should appear on the poem itself.

      Whether sending your poem by mail or email, don't forget to send your $5 submission fee via the "DONATE NOW!" button at guildcomplex.org.

      Please DO NOT send any materials directly to The Chopin Theatre. The Chopin is only our home for that night. Any poems delivered there will not be considered.

      3. When to submit

      No later than Saturday, May 14, 2011, either postmarked no later than that date (for mailed submissions) OR in our email inbox no later than 5:00pm on that date (for email submissions). Submissions may not be made in person.

      And that's it! We'll send you an acknowledgement email to let you know your submission arrived and has met the guidelines. Then we'll notify semi-finalists by Tuesday, May 31, 2011 and the evening of performances will be (UPDATED) Tuesday June 14, 2011.

      Again those key dates are:

      • Saturday, May 14: last chance to postmark or email your poem

      • Tuesday May 31: Notification of semi-finalists.

      • Tuesday, June 14: Competition at Chopin Theatre 1534 W. Division (intersection of Division, Ashland and Milwaukee), Chicago, IL, 7:00 p.m.


      What if my poem is really good, but it's more like four-and-a-half minutes long? I can talk really fast…

      Trust us: picking a poem that fits comfortably within the time limit makes the best possible evening for your audience, your fellow competitors and you. If you choose a poem that you can perform carefully and clearly in the time allotted, your work will be heard and enjoyed. In GBOMA's history, poets who read work that's too long or too fast don't do well in the competition - the audience is the judge, and they judge on their listening experience.

      What if I don't like performing my poetry? Can someone else do it?

      Some poets don't like to perform. That's ok. But like a lot of events with the Guild Complex, we want to bring writing to life for our audiences. And we know no one can do that for your poem better than you!

      I have a (wedding/job/date/etc.) on June 14th. Can I leave the competition event early/come late?

      Sorry, we decide the order of performers that night, so you have to be available for the full event. Besides, you won't want to miss any of the other excellent poems.

      Do I have to memorize my poem?

      That's up to you. But whether you read it or recite it from memory, make sure you know it well enough to perform it in an engaging way. (Looking up and making eye contact goes a long way…) You'll have warm bodies in the audience, and they want to know there's a warm body on the stage.

      What's up with requiring a submission fee? I'm not a rich poet.

      We understand. But the submission fee helps offset part of the Guild's costs for the venue and the cash prize so we can 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 support makes this the best way to process entries quickly and accurately.

      What is the Wildcard Vote?

      This year we'd like to let the audience get involved before the finals, so instead of our curators choosing all the semifinalists who will perform on the 14th, we're making it possible for the public to choose one too. Contest entrants with complete application packages who volunteer to be part of the Wildcard Vote will get their submitted recording posted anonymously on the Guild's facebook page, where members of the Guild group can vote for their favorite. The poem that receives the most votes will win a spot on the ballot and perform on the 14th! (Anyone can join the Guild's facebook group, so be sure to tell your friends about your poem and the Guild so they can vote!)

      What is GBOMA? Is it contagious?

      No, it's just an acronym. And yes, it's a contagious evening of fun, provocative, poetry excitement.

      Any more questions? Email
      <kdixon(at)guildcomplex.org> (replace (at) with @ in sending e-mail).

      Thanks and good luck!

      The Guild Complex
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