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.
Fifty & Forward
In 2020 we will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Poets & Writers. It is remarkable to look back on the work we’ve accomplished and the many, many writers we have been privileged to help since 1970.
Reflecting on the organization’s twentieth anniversary in 1990, E. L. Doctorow described Poets & Writers as “a saintly little service organization for writers across the country. It tells them where the jobs are, the reading gigs, the grants, the competitions, and it brings them news of each other. Not its least valuable service is the one that comes of all the others—the suggestion of community implicit in this lowliest and most dire of professions.”
As we reach another organizational milestone, we remain true to the mission Doctorow so perfectly captured: connecting writers with opportunity, with resources, with readers, and with one another.
In preparation for our big anniversary, over the past year we invited scores of writers and other colleagues in the field to participate in one-on-one interviews or gather for roundtable conversations to think with us about the future of Poets & Writers.
They offered candid opinions and helpful guidance. They affirmed the respect that writers, editors, publishers, agents, and leaders of literary organizations across the country have for Poets & Writers. They also told us loud and clear that our fiftieth anniversary needs to be much more than a celebration; we were urged to seize this moment to leverage our half century of experience to strengthen the literary community. More than one participant encouraged us to “Be bold!”
With that in mind we developed an ambitious plan focused on four key themes: expanding and deepening our national reach, connecting even more with writers from historically marginalized groups, strengthening literary community, and leveraging partnerships to maximize our impact.
Our national vision for the future is clear: Poets & Writers will empower creative writers and strengthen literary communities throughout the United States.
We are extremely pleased to report that several related projects are already under way. We have launched United States of Writing, a new initiative to expand our core programs nationally. This will include more mini-grants offered by the Readings & Workshops program, partnerships with local literary and community organizations, and extensive outreach to help writers connect with one another and with audiences. Thanks to a grant from the Hearst Foundations and additional support from the Amazon Literary Partnership, we have begun this work in Detroit, Houston, and New Orleans, with more cities to be added in the years ahead. In our editorial coverage too there will be dispatches from diverse voices and reports on writing communities around the country.
Our website, pw.org, will offer new opportunities for building community. We recently released the revamped Poets & Writers Directory, which features well over ten thousand profiles of authors, making this resource even more useful to writers looking to make connections. A new online tool, which grows out of our firsthand knowledge that writers crave the company of trusted peers, will help writers build the community they need.
The first title in our new books program will be published next year by Avid Reader Press, a new imprint of Simon & Schuster. The Poets & Writers Complete Guide to Being a Writer: Everything You Need to Know About Craft, Inspiration, Agents, Editors, Publishing, and the Business of Building a Sustainable Writing Career by Kevin Larimer and Mary Gannon will bring together the best of what we have learned over the past five decades about how to get published and live a creative life.
I’m sure you will agree that there has rarely been a more urgent moment for empowering writers. We desperately need the considered, reflective perspective and the deep empathy that writers bring to the complexities of our human experience—as individuals and as members of a society in a time of change. In particular we urgently need to hear from writers who can give voice to experiences that have too often been silenced and excluded from our culture.
We hope in this fiftieth-anniversary year, and in the years ahead, to continue to earn the trust and meet the high expectations of writers who count on us, as we find new ways to serve more writers throughout the United States. Here’s one way you can help us celebrate: If you have a story about how Poets & Writers has helped you, we would love to hear it. Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We may share your story here or on social media during our fiftieth-anniversary year, which will be both a celebration of our past and the first year of a bright future.