Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How To Create Something From Nothing: WordsWest

Creating WordsWest: A Lesson in Magical Thinking
One of the things I'm doing this year which is brand new and therefore super exciting (to me) is the WordsWest Literary Series that I've co-founded with Katy  E. Ellis and Harold Taw. As three writers, all neighborhood residents, we wanted to create the kind of reading series that we'd hope to be invited to: one that treated everyone with respect, created a different kind of reading experience, paid a little something, archived programming, and provided treats.

In a mere six months we have built  a community of people --- an average of 50 audience members each time  --- that come out to support poets and writers. We've raised funds for our local West Seattle Food Bank and for those faraway through the Middle East Children's Alliance.  Our featured readers may come from across the country like January O'Neil or from around the corner like Washington State Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Austen.

It's an odd thing but for 16 years I've lived in this gorgeous neighborhood (see sunset photograph in blog post below) and thought the only thing missing was a literary community. I waited each year sure that the local library or the local arts center would certainly start something. Didn't happen.

So last summer, while at the reading of another local writer, Esther Helfgot, I was introduced to Katy E. Ellis during the event's intermission. The two of us liked each other immediately and we soon brought Harold Taw into the conversation. Could we create something from nothing?

C & P Coffee House was the perfect partner and this independent coffee shop is located in an old Craftsman home. It is the unofficial heart (and hub) of West Seattle. Since the community was already in love with the space, it was easy to build on that goodwill.

Coming soon: 10 tips on how to start literary events in your own neighborhood.

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