Meet Our Readers

It’s an integral part of our daily lives, whether you recognize it or not – and, one could argue, not recognizing the role race plays is most telling of all. We’re trying to recognize. This Wednesday, Alba Machado, Angel Simmons, Elaine Hegwood Bowen, and Monica Guzman take on what it means to be black white yellow brown and everything in-between. There may also be a ukulele involved.

Alba Machado

AlbaAlba Machado is a former Chicago Public School teacher who is currently writing a novel about the harrowing experience as her thesis project for the Creative Writing MFA Program at Columbia College Chicago. Her work has appeared in Curbside Splendor, Knee-Jerk Magazine, Gapers Block, and others; and she is the founding editor of Literary Chicago, an intermittent blog that publishes essays, reviews, interviews, and write-ups of literary events like Miss Spoken.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen

IMG_0046Elaine Hegwood Bowen is a veteran journalist and native South Sider who has covered both Chicago’s urban and suburban areas. Elaine has been writing for the Chicago Crusader since 1994. In her book, Old School Adventures from Englewood–South Side of Chicago, she shares her recollections of what life was like growing up in Englewood, when her parents migrated to Chicago in the early 1950s and purchased a home in 1959.

She grounds her stories in exciting childhood adventures, as well as the cultural and political happenings of the time. Elaine has taught at City Colleges of Chicago and Roosevelt University, where she earned undergraduate and graduate Journalism degrees. Her book, and its universal theme, has been covered in local and national broadcast and print media. Most recently, Elaine participated in the “Let’s Talk About Chicago” panel as part of the African Diaspora International Film Festival at New York’s Columbia University. Elaine also covers local and national film festivals and also pens movie reviews for She currently works full time as the Media Relations Specialist for Access Community Health Network.

Monica Guzman

IMG_20150829_210532581After graduating from Northweatern’s English writing program in 2011, Monica Guzman (Gooz-MAHN) hustled as a cosplay wig shipper, dog walker, and Lyft driver while building her own branding and marketing business that is currently, and miraculously, keeping her afloat these days. When she’s not developing her other business ventures, writing dark, personal essays, or playing board games with her friends, she likes to color in the company of her evil cat.


Angel Simmons

unnamedAngel Simmons is a beloved Chicago south-sider, raised in Englewood and divinely spreading light everywhere she goes. She does it all as an author, speaker, runway and print model, mentor, storyteller, columnist for “She Can” Magazine, blogger at “Love’s Great Design”, president and CEO of The Message, Inc., and the current “Ms. Worldwide Illinois Ambassador” for the Live Out Loud Charity.

Angel works with the one of the largest worship arts conferences in the country and has been featured in books, magazines, the Chicago Tribune, in Christian music, and as a guest on both radio and television. Angel has graced some of the city’s finest storytelling stages for “Do Not Submit” (Englewood and Woodlawn), Is This a Thing?, Homewood Stories, Loose Chicks, and coming soon to This Much Is True, Story Club Southside, and The Frunchroom!


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