Friday, January 30, 2015

The Right Time for The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship and the Writing Life

The Write Crowd by Lori A. May
How many poets and writers understand that living a literary life is not just about pen and paper, publishing and book parties? In fact, there are several other facets to our lives. For this reason I love the music and the much needed subtitle of Lori A. May's new book: The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship and the Writing Life.

Say you're new to town or new to the writing life; how do you accrue street cred? Or simply put: how do you make writer friends? How do you become a writer beyond the page? Lori A. May's book offers a plethora of creative ways to contribute to a writing community from attending local readings to writing book reviews to starting a literary blog. As May states, "giving back can be addictive."

For example, May's states "helping emerging writers develop their voice, supporting what our peers are doing, and cheering the successes of even those we don't know personally needn't be time consuming--- and shouldn't be a burdensome task." In my own writing life I know that when a poet that I've worked with achieves success (begins a degree in creative writing, publishes a poem, or a first book) I am thrilled to have cheered her on; excited to be able to share a little in her success.

And yet the idea of mentoring others is not something anyone ever explained to me.  I instinctively began a blog, a reading series, an editing business because I like to make things happen and I love collaborating with others. My background in community organizing with Amnesty International and Oxfam America certainly helped me do "the ask" at a local coffee shop or write an initial press release.  And it's true: some MFA programs --- Antioch LA and The Rainier Writers Workshop --- ask graduate students to go out into the community as part of their degree. However, for those of us not in school, Lori A. May has created an easy-to-use handbook. Highly recommended.

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