Writers gathering at the corner of Forest Avenue and Main Street

I’ve been a fan of Forest Avenue Press practically from the beginning (they received an Oregon Literary Fellowship in publishing the year after I received mine for fiction), and one of the things I’ve always loved about the press, publisher Laura Stanfill, and their authors is how mutually supportive they all are of the larger literary community.

main-street-coverNow they’re turning that general principle into a conscious movement, beginning with a pledge to join in the efforts. The official rollout of the movement is at this year’s Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Washington, DC, so if you’re at AWP right now, visit Forest Avenue Press at booth #272 (and tell the folks there I said hi! Seriously — a lot of their staff and authors are friends or literary acquaintances).

But if you’re not at AWP, you can still get involved by signing this pledge. And it’s an easy pledge to sign — you pledge to engage in seven literary-community actions, but I think every conscientious literary citizen is already doing all seven anyway (I certainly am). Here’s what you’re committing to:

  • To encourage my neighbor writers in the creation of art.
  • To attend local literary events, because gathering to discuss ideas and encourage creativity is an essential and radical act in these times.
  • To support my independent bookstore or, if I don’t have one, order direct from the publisher.
  • To foster a healthy small press and literary magazine climate by reading new work and submitting my own.
  • To introduce new friends to my core community, allowing us to grow louder and stronger together.
  • To credit writers and presses publicly for their ideas, photos, and efforts, and to be genuine with praise.
  • To celebrate every success in my community as a shared success. This is Main Street. Parades welcome.

You’re already doing all those things anyway, right?

But the pledge is just a beginning. The real purpose here is to start building and supporting our literary community in a whole range of ways:

In addition to the AWP launch, we’re circulating the pledge online, spotlighting writers who make a difference, sharing insights from small publishers and industry thought leaders, and offering Main Street Writers Movement classes in select cities. As we grow, we’ll roll out a website and toolkits for small presses to share with their authors. We also plan to establish a list of small presses and agents that support the movement, so writers submitting their work know they should mention their Main Street involvement in their query letters.

So sign up, tune in, and here’s hoping that, someday soon, I run into you at a literary reading (like the Creative Colloquy reading series in my own Tacoma, WA) or a local indie bookstore (like King’s Books in Tacoma)!

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