Directory Assistance Since 1970
POETS & WRITERS IS MORE than a magazine. We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving creative writers. We pay fees to writers giving readings and leading workshops, provide information and advice to authors, and help them connect with one another and with audiences. We also sponsor a number of awards and prizes.
The Poets & Writers Directory—which for decades has provided a way for published poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers to be discovered and contacted for a range of professional opportunities—has recently undergone a complete transformation.
The origins of the Directory are intertwined with the origins of Poets & Writers itself. Pictured above is the primogenitor of the Directory: the Rolodex that belonged to Galen Williams, who founded Poets & Writers in 1970—nearly fifty years ago. In those pre-Internet days, Galen found herself fielding calls from people who wanted to invite an author to give a reading or a talk, teach a workshop, or be on a panel but didn’t know how to contact them. Poets & Writers became a kind of de facto “directory assistance,” providing writers’ addresses and telephone numbers. Soon the decision was made to publish an index, which would share authors’ contact information as well as details about whether they were open to giving readings, whether they were willing to travel, and the kinds of audiences they preferred to work with.
The Directory continued to evolve over time: By 2004, the last year Poets & Writers published a print edition, it was a hefty tome, listing thousands of writers nationwide, and in 2005 it was converted to an online resource at pw.org. The Directory now holds more than 10,000 author profiles, and moving all that data onto a new platform was a major data migration event. The project, which was supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, took about eighteen months to complete and required writing approximately 15,000 lines of code.
The new interface is more intuitive, making it easier than ever for writers with enough publication credits to apply to be listed. Once approved and published, profiles are easier to update and can include embedded audio and video, links to the author’s website and Twitter feed, and much more. Entries also automatically connect to five of our most popular databases. Now, if authors note that their work has been published by a press in our Small Press Database or represented by an agent in our Literary Agents Database, those listings will be automatically linked to their profiles. Another important improvement to the Directory is the addition of translators.
As a research tool, the Directory is more powerful than ever. Want to see all the authors who have been published in a particular journal or are represented by a particular agent? Filter to see that list. Understanding connections like these can help writers target their submissions more effectively. The Directory can also help build and maintain networks. Want to reconnect with colleagues from an MFA program or retreat? Filter to find people who list that program on their profiles. And of course event organizers can still discover writers they want to invite to take part in a reading—filtering by location, genre, and many other variables.
To learn more, to browse the Directory’s 10,000-plus profiles, or to apply to be listed, go to pw.org/directory.