Fifty and Forward

2020 is the fiftieth anniversary of Poets & Writers’ founding in 1970. In celebration of this jubilee year, fifty acclaimed authors have joined the 50th Anniversary Writers Committee, chaired by Sue Monk Kidd. Throughout the year we’ll be sharing their reflections on this page.

Join the party by sharing your story! If Poets & Writers has inspired or informed you—encouraged you or connected you to opportunities—we’d love to hear your story! Send it to or post on social media with the hashtag #PW50Years.


Quincy Troupe


“My most important connection with Poets & Writers has been through the Readings & Workshops program, which has for years supported events that I’ve participated in, both in California and New York. One of the touchstones of this program is making sure that writers get paid for their work. Another is helping to create a range of experiences where writers meet and engage with audiences. Both—the money and the encounters with audiences—are invaluable. The magazine and website are unmatched resources for figuring out where your work will find a home. It is where you go for information about journals and contests, agents and publishers, and all the ins and outs of the writing business, plus a broad view of what’s happening in the American literary landscape, within its many communities of writers and readers.”

Peter Straub


“One of the remarkable things Poets & Writers does is provide a sense of warmth and support that we know is there. It’s helpful just by existing. It permits a degree of cohesion that would not otherwise exist. It reminds you that there is a community. I believe thoroughly and absolutely in what Poets & Writers does.”

Min Jin Lee


“When I first started writing, I used to pore through the back pages of Poets & Writers Magazine. I entered lots of contests that way. When at last I placed in a contest and my name was listed in the back of Poets & Writers Magazine, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I walked around my apartment clutching a copy of the magazine in my arms. I remain grateful to Poets & Writers for giving me hope when things felt rather hopeless.”

Cheryl Strayed


“I vividly recall the way I pored over every page of Poets & Writers Magazine when I was in my twenties and first apprenticing myself to the craft of writing. How to write dialogue. How to structure a narrative. How to submit a manuscript to literary journals. These are questions Poets & Writers helped me figure out. Every page was an education, a preparation, a vital piece of information that I could find no where else. Perhaps best of all was the section that listed all of grants, residencies, and awards one could apply for. I scoured each listing and took every opportunity. So many of the writing residencies and awards I won in my first decade of writing came to my attention because I saw them in Poets & Writers. It has remained a vital resource for writers seeking advice, inspiration, and community. It’s essential to those of us in the literary world.”

Isabel Allende


“Poets & Writers has been instrumental in opening doors to writers from all walks of life. Their writing workshops for underserved communities brings the healing power of the written word to those who need a voice. I am proud to support them.”

Sue Monk Kidd


“The strangest question I ever received about my first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, came from a woman who attended one of my readings. ‘Did you write the book yourself?’ she asked. I had no idea what she meant, but it flashed through my mind that she’d taken one look at me and thought: this woman couldn’t possibly write a novel. I imagine this occurred to me because I’d spent a good bit of time thinking the same thing. I began writing at 30, focusing on nonfiction. It was a surprise when the desire to write fiction surfaced. As I worked on The Secret Life of Bees, it was hard to say which was greater—my desire or my trepidation. Honestly? I’m not sure the novel would have happened without Poets & Writers. Being selected for its Writers Exchange offered me opportunities I could only dream about. Few things are more necessary to writers than opportunities and resources, advocacy and community, hope and bravery. Poets & Writers offers writers all of these, helping to make the possible, possible.”

50th Anniversary Writers Committee


Sue Monk Kidd, Chairperson
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Isabel Allende
Margaret Atwood
Judy Blume
Alexander Chee
Henri Cole
Michael Cunningham
Kwame Dawes
Nelson DeMille
Cornelius Eady
Joshua Ferris
Janet Fitch
Jonathan Franzen
Neil Gaiman
Joy Harjo
Adam Haslett
Jane Hirshfield
Major Jackson
Tayari Jones
Christina Baker Kline
Jhumpa Lahiri
Dylan Landis
Min Jin Lee
Barry Lopez
Valeria Luiselli
Suzanne Lummis
Rebecca Makkai
Walter Mosley
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Joyce Carol Oates
Claudia Rankine
James Richardson
Roxana Robinson
Roger Rosenblatt
George Saunders
Stacy Schiff
Vijay Seshadri
Susan Richards Shreve
Emma Straub
Peter Straub
Cheryl Strayed
Arthur Sze
Quincy Troupe
Lily Tuck
Scott Turow
Hilma Wolitzer
Meg Wolitzer
Jenny Xie