This guest post comes from Zach Powers, the communications manager for The Writer’s Center (4508 Walsh St, Chevy Chase, MD 20815).
When I came to The Writer’s Center in February 2018, I didn’t know much more about it than the fact that it was a literary arts nonprofit. I was new to the Washington, D.C., area, still trying to find my place in the local literary community. Sure, I’d perused The Writer’s Center website and read the latest issue of The Writer’s Guide, the triannual magazine the Center has published for decades. I knew that the Center was over forty years old—a true Gen Xer—and has been housed at its current location in Bethesda since the early 1990s. I knew the Center has been publishing Poet Lore, America’s oldest poetry journal, for the last three decades of the journal’s existence. And I was told, right from the start, that a renovation was in the works for the upstairs of the building (the lower level had been renovated in 2014).
Within months of taking my job as Communications Manager at The Writer’s Center, the long-anticipated renovation began. My colleagues relocated their offices into the lower level writing classrooms (I was lucky enough that my office was already downstairs). Our coterie of faithful interns took up positions in the writing carrels in the main room. We snaked cables all over for power and internet. The construction crew sealed off the stairwell with plastic sheeting, and the first rumbles of demolition began right away.
Even though my first months on the job were disrupted by sawing and hammering and bangs so loud I can only guess they were caused by small explosive devices, I learned something important about The Writer’s Center. The building, as shiny and new and amazing as it now is (more on that later), merely houses the spirit of The Writer’s Center family. For over forty years, the Center has empowered writers and those who want to write, and that mission is far larger than the 12,000 square feet that make up our facility. No building is big enough to contain all the stories lived and written by the people who make up our community.
I had spent a year trying to find a literary community when I moved here, and I did meet a few writers, but since joining The Writer’s Center I’ve found so many friends and collaborators, from acclaimed published authors to new writers jut now taking the first steps toward creating literature. These are fiction writers, poets, journalists, memoirists, and people finding purpose and inspiration in the written word. These are my people.
At The Writer’s Center, I consider it my job to grow this community, to welcome to our family every single person in the Washington, D.C., area who wants to join us, especially those who may not yet know that we’re here for them. Our newly renovated building will certainly help.