Hartford Writers: Beyond Harriet, Samuel, and Wallace

There is no Ivy League college in Hartford, but that has not interfered with the resurgence of a writing culture here.

Aspiring and already-published novelists have gathered at a local coffeeshop during the past several Novembers to participate in NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Making a typically solitary act into a shared experience has motivated writers to move their work forward.

Outside of NaNoWriMo, serious writers meet up on their own. Recently, a writing workshop group has emerged for writers in all genres. Both NaNoWriMo and the writers’ gatherings have been taking place in the Frog Hollow neighborhood.

Those aiming for professional writing careers will have the opportunity to compete for an introduction to a literary agent. Pitchapalooza will help authors improve their pitches and understanding of the publishing industry. This will be happening at the Hartford Public Library in downtown.

Writers just aiming to share their material with an audience have multiple options. Every Monday night, The Love Jones Experience brings open mic poetry to downtown at The Russell. On the second Wednesday of each month, Real Art Ways, in Parkville, hosts Inescapable Rhythms, a poetry reading and open mic series.¬† The WordForge Reading Series at Billings Forge in the Frog Hollow neighborhood is poetry-centric, but has included readings from other genres like flash fiction. Syllable, another reading series, also takes place in Frog Hollow. Instead of focusing attention on a single poet, Syllable invites many writers to submit work on a given theme, such as “beasts” or “luck.” Though initially funded by a grant, Syllable has continued beyond the lifespan of that money.

Not specific to the written word, there are other storytelling events that have started up. Other People’s Stories, another Frog Hollow event, requires that participants use no notes to tell a story that they have heard from someone else. The next one is coming up in early March. A brand new offering out of Asylum Hill is the MOuTH, hosted by the Mark Twain House & Museum. The MOuTH is storytelling, again, without notes. Each one will be tied together with a theme. The next MOuTH is scheduled for May 12th.

The first issue of The Hartford Review is due to be published this spring. This journal of essays, poetry, short stories, photos, and more is intended to “celebrate” Hartford.

Between the Hartford Public Library, Mark Twain House & Museum, Charter Oak Cultural Center, and Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, there is an almost constant stream of book groups, author talks, and workshops.

For those seeking inspiration, Hartford does have places to buy books besides the college bookstores. These include The Jumping Frog, TruBooks, and the back room of La Paloma Sabanera.