Meet the Neighbors: Literary Family at The Writer’s Center

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.

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Go Back to School this Fall

Most Maryland schools are already in session, but for those who want to become students of the arts, there are still several workshops open for enrollment.

The Writer’s Center

For the past 40 years, The Writer’s Center has been a valuable resource for writers in the area, offering a variety of courses each season. Choose from a selection of courses from short story workshops, poetry, genre fiction, and more. Members of The Writer’s Center receive a discount on courses. A full list of courses can be found in the fall catalogue.

The Maryland Writer’s Association

If you are interested in finding a community while getting feedback on your work, The Maryland Writer’s Association has a listing of critique groups (both online and in person) throughout Maryland. The groups vary by genre and level of experience, so you will most likely be able to find a group that matches your interests. For a complete listing by county, look here.

The Columbia Association

Those interested in the visual arts are in luck. The Columbia Association’s new fall catalogue is here with courses in acrylic painting, ceramics, jewelry making, and much more. With a wide variety of courses, exhibits, and lectures, there is something for everybody. See the online catalogue here.

 

Don’t forgot that Little Patuxent Review offers resources through our Concerning Craft Archive and LPR in the Classroom programs.

Celebrating 10 Years in Print

This past Sunday, Little Patuxent Review celebrated 10 years of publication by hosting a reading at The Writer’s Center. Thank you to The Writer’s Center and everyone who attended and made the event a success.

Readers included Steven Leyva who introduced each speaker, but also read a selection of his own work, several poems and a selection of an early manuscript. Steven Leyva is also the co-creator of Kick Assonance, and his work has been published in the Light Ekiphrasis, Welter, and The Cobalt Review. Currently, he is the head Editor at Little Patuxent Review.

Emily Rich, who has written for r.kv.r.y, the Delmarva Review, and The Pinch, read a non-fiction selection from her piece “Retrieving my Belongings,” currently only available in the Delmarva Review. Her work has appeared in the 2014 and 2015 Best American Essays and she is the current Non-Fiction Editor of Little Patuxent Review and an editor for the Delmarva Review.

Also reading was new Fiction Editor, Lisa Lynn Biggar, and Desirée Magney, board member of Little Patuxent Review. Both read longer selections of their work. Lisa Lynn Biggar’s work has appeared in Little Patuxent Review, Main Street Rag, Bluestem Magazine, The Minnesota Review, Kentucky Review , and Newfound, and she currently teaches English at Chesapeake College. Desirée Magney is a former attorney and writes poetry and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in bioStoriesBethesda Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Jellyfish Whispers, among others.

Joseph Ross closed the event with a reading with various poems, including “If Mamie Till was the Mother of God,” winner of the 2012 Pratt Library/Little Patuxent Review Poetry Prize.

We hope to see you all again for Little Patuxent Review’s 11th anniversary.

Little Patuxent Review Reading at The Writer’s Center

WCSqPlease join contributors, editors, and staff of the Little Patuxent Review (LPR) for a reading at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland on Sunday, August 21st from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM. Readers will include Steven Leyva, Emily Rich, Lisa Lynn Biggar, Jen Grow, Joseph Ross, and Desirée Magney. The reading will be followed by a reception to celebrate LPR’s 10th Anniversary.

Steven Leyva is editor of Little Patuxent Review. He is the co-creator of the poetry reading series, Kick Assonance, which was named a “critic’s pick” by Time Out New York in 2011. His poems have appeared in Welter, The Light Ekphrastic, and The Cobalt Review, and his first collection, Low Parish, was published earlier this year. His poem “Rare in the East” won the 2012 Cobalt Review Poetry Prize. He holds an MFA from the University of Baltimore, where he teaches in the undergraduate writing program.

Emily Rich is the current deputy editor and former non-fiction editor of Little Patuxent Review and an Editorial Advisor at Delmarva Review. She writes mainly memoir and essay. Her work has been published in a number of small presses including Little Patuxent Review, r.kv.r.y, Delmarva Review and the Pinch. Her essays have been listed as notables in Best American Essays 2014 and 2015. Her story “Black Market Pall Malls” won the Biostories 2015 War and Peace essay contest.

Jen Grow’s debut collection, My Life as a Mermaid, was the winner of the 2012 Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Competition. She is the Fiction Editor of Little Patuxent Review. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle, Other Voices, The Sun Magazine, The GSU Review, Hunger Mountain, Indiana Review and many others including the anthology City Sages: Baltimore (City Lit Press, 2010). She’s received a Rubys Award for the project “My Father’s House” from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance; two Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council; and her stories have earned nominations for Best New American Voices and a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Baltimore. You can reach her on Twitter @Jen_Grow or through her website: www.jengrow.com.

Joseph Ross is the author of three books of poetry, Ache (forthcoming 2017), Gospel of Dust (2013), and Meeting Bone Man (2012). His poetry has appeared in a wide variety of publications including The Los Angeles Times, Poet Lore, Tidal Basin Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Sojourners. His work appears in many anthologies including Collective Brightness, Poetic Voices without Borders 1 and 2, Full Moon on K Street, and Come Together: Imagine Peace. He recently served as the 23rd Poet-in-Residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, just outside Washington DC. He is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee and his poem “If Mamie Till was the Mother of God” won the 2012 Pratt Library/Little Patuxent Review poetry prize.

Desirée Magney is a former practicing attorney who writes narrative nonfiction and poetry.  Her nonfiction work has been published in bioStoriesBethesda Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine (Washington Voices column), and The Writer’s Center – Art Begins with a Story. Another nonfiction piece will be published in the upcoming issue of The Delmarva Review. Her poetry has appeared in Jellyfish Whispers and was included in the anthology, Storm Cycle 2015:  The Best of Kind of a Hurricane Press. She was honored with a “Best in Workshop” reading at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland. She is a Board member for Little Patuxent Review, contributes to their blog, and has been one of their fiction readers. She has two adult children, Daniel and Nicole, and lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband, John, and their dog, Tucker.

Lisa Lynn Biggar is pleased to be the new fiction editor for LPR. She received her MFA in Fiction from Vermont College and is currently working on a short story collection set on the eastern shore of Maryland. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals including Little Patuxent Review, Main Street Rag, Bluestem Magazine, The Minnesota Review, Kentucky Review and Newfound. She currently teaches English at Chesapeake College and co-owns and operates a cut flower farm on the eastern shore of Maryland with her husband and four cats.

The Writer’s Center is located at:

4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815

 

My Writer’s Center

Desirée Magney

Desirée Magney

On August 1, the Little Patuxent Review (LPR) will be showcasing some of its many talented contributors at The Writer’s Center (TWC) in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition to readings by authors featured in our Summer Issue, LPR editors will discuss the submission and selection process.

writers centerI am particularly excited about this event, not only because I serve on the board of LPR but also because TWC is such an important part of my writing life. I’ve been a member and supporter of TWC for many years, so I am pleased to see LPR expand its presence into Montgomery County via this home of the literary arts.

What transpires day after day in this unimposing, two-story building in Bethesda is remarkable. Workshops are taught in every genre, literary events are held, open mics welcome all writers, writing groups meet, plays are performed, and for the past 25 years it has been the home of Poet Lore, the nation’s oldest poetry journal. But on a personal level, TWC helped form me as a writer and continues to do so.

I’ve always been a reader even though we had scant books in our home growing up. The only bookcase in my parents’ house had three short shelves. It sat under my bedroom window. The matching red bindings of Poe, Shakespeare, and Wilde sat above the green spines of an encyclopedia set someone sold door-to-door. And then, there were the blonde Nancy Drews and the exquisitely illustrated The Fairy Tale Book. I mined them in search of their golden nuggets. As a child, each offered a taste of something different, a world I could escape to behind my bedroom door. I watched spring arrive in the corner of the garden of Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant. I stood in the snow with Vania as the stag in Silvershod, struck his hoof creating gems whose colors tumbled into the night. And I rode with Nancy in her roadster to solve her latest mystery. I became a reader but I wasn’t yet a writer. Yet, even as a child I admired each writer’s ability to draw me in. It wasn’t until well into adulthood, taking classes at TWC, when I felt a writing life was possible for me.

About eight years ago, I signed up for my first workshop, “Creative Writing.” I learned to stop during the course of my day and take in whatever was happening around me with all of my senses. This use of sensory detail is something I try to incorporate to make my personal narratives and poetry come alive. I’ve taken many memoir, poetry, fiction, and travel writing classes. I’ve joined writing groups with fellow students. In a sense, TWC workshops became my personal MFA program. I was given the honor of a “Best in Workshop” reading and published a number of personal narratives in various magazines, and slowly began to feel I was part of the writing community – that I was indeed a writer. My personal essay “The Horn of Freedom”  was published in  The Writer’s Center Winter 2015 publication.

Whenever I walk through the door at TWC, I know I am entering a safe place to share myself and my writing. I’m entering a community of writers who are generous with their time to one another and who are supportive with their praise, critiques, and knowledge.

A perfect day is getting lost in my writing, looking up at the clock, thinking a few minutes have passed, only to discover it has been hours. It took me years to discover this new me and I don’t think it would have happened without the support of TWC and its writing community. So, I will enjoy this August 1st event, watching the confluence of the journal of which I am so proud and the place that is such an integral part of my writing life. Won’t you join me?

Online Editor’s Note: Join Little Patuxent Review editors Laura Shovan, Emily Rich, and Steve Levya, and writers published in LPR as The Writer’s Center celebrates publication of LPR’s Summer issue. The reading will be followed by a reception. 

Readers include Joseph Ross, George Guida, Rachel Eisler, Katy Day, Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka, Adam Schwartz, and Paul Carlson.