2012 has been an exciting year for the National Writers Series (NWS). This evening, at our sold-out event with New York Times best-selling authors Anna Quindlen and Susan Casey the National Writers Series will award its 2012 scholarships in the categories of poetry, fiction and nonfiction to three area high school students.
These awards will bring the total scholarships awarded by NWS since the inception of the year round book festival in 2009 to $18,000. Net proceeds from NWS events support the National Writers Series and its scholarship fund, which benefits college-bound writing and arts students attending Grand Traverse regional high schools. The students honored on May 14, 2012 include: Kelly Clare for Fiction; Emily Hittner-Cunningham for Poetry; and Whitney Hubbell for her Non-Fiction submission.
Also at this evening’s event, plans surrounding Front Street Writers (FSW) will be discussed. FSW is a new, innovative program coming in fall of 2012 in partnership with Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) that will give students advanced creative writing workshop instruction as they earn public high school credit towards graduation. Both the NWS Scholarship Awards and Front Street Writers have been made possible by the success of our author events.
As it turns out, the success of these events has caught the attention of the national publishing industry. NWS has been the subject of three major feature stories this year, in three of the most widely read and highly respected magazines in publishing: Publisher’s Weekly, Poets & Writers magazine and Publishing Perspectives. This hat-trick of national news has established NWS as one of the “preeminent authors series in the country” (Poets & Writers), carrying the message of NWS and Traverse City to millions of readers nationwide. It’s an honor both for the NWS organization and for the community that comprises and sustains the NWS.
An Excerpt from Publishing Perspectives story, entitled “Is America’s Forgotten Flyover a Gold Mine for Publishers?” by Anna Clark states…
“Traverse City is a bayside town of 15,000 people – the largest city in the 21 counties of northern Michigan. But the community has cultivated cosmopolitan appeal with a lively arts community that includes…an outsized literary culture heralded by the National Writers Series…(Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford) said that ‘socketed away in a rural, out-of-the-way place,’ NWS curates a vivid literary culture that treats authors well and serves readers. ‘As an NWS author, you get to feel useful in a way writers rarely get to feel useful,’ Ford said. ‘It humanizes writers to the reading public. And there’s a very rich reading public in Traverse City, which shouldn’t be surprising, but is to many people.’ Marlena Bittner, publicity director at Little, Brown, sent David Sedaris to NWS (‘he adored it’). She said NWS is revealing a market that publishers haven’t been connecting to…‘It feels like a joyous movement (in Traverse City),’ she said. ‘This isn’t some perfunctory event. It’s exciting.’ Bittner says not only is NWS offering a new possibility for readers, writers and publishers to intersect, it’s doing so in a big way…‘They’re thinking in a bigger way.’”
Publishing Perspectives calls National Writers Series “one of the nation’s leading literary series.” But, “successful as NWS is, Stanton is reaching further. Reminded of his time as a student at Michigan’s Interlochen Arts Academy, and of the significance he felt in people ‘taking me far more seriously as a writer than I deserved to be taken,’ Stanton is moving his vision into the public schools. After expenses, NWS is putting profits into a scholarship fund to connect students with the literary life. It is initiating the Front Street Writers Program… a full-year creative writing class for public school students. Besides the literary practice, Stanton wants writers to ‘seem real and normal in our public school systems.’ It’s a populist move that leads Stanton to bring the language of social change to literature. ‘Books should be in every hand on Main Street.’”
From Publishers Weekly (Read the complete story), “Traverse City is for Book Lovers” by Claire Kirch)
“The National Writers Series, now in its third year, is a year-round book festival bringing the best of award-winning authors, journalists and storytellers together with thousands of fans in downtown Traverse City. Founded by New York Times best-selling author Doug Stanton, Traverse City attorney Grant Parsons and investigative reporter Anne Stanton, the National Writers Series aims to raise $50,000 in five years for aspiring young writers to pursue writing in college. Series organizers are partnering with area schools, libraries, bookstores, and businesses to host the events and fund the scholarships.”
“Some observers believe that Traverse City’s growing reputation as a city of book lovers can also be attributed to the National Writers Series, founded in 2009. Each month, the NWS brings in at least one celebrity author to Traverse City, where they read from and discuss their work at a ticketed event held in a 19th-century opera house.”
From Poets & Writers (To read the complete story, entitled “Author Tour Revolution” by Jeremy Chamberlin, pick up a copy of the May/June 2012 issue, available on newsstands everywhere):
“There’s something that Stanton and his co-founders … have struck upon that’s making these must-attend evenings: the promise of an analog experience in an increasingly digital cultural landscape. Stanton realized—as have independent booksellers…that audiences no longer want to hear authors simply read from their work. They’re looking for a conversation…[Stanton’s] vision for the National Writers Series is that of a great dinner party—stimulating, provocative, entertaining, and communal—in an evocative space. The monthly events take place in Traverse City’s historic opera house, one of only six Victorian opera houses that remain intact in all of Michigan. The interior is defined by a dramatic barrel-vault ceiling and walls adorned with frescoes and gold leaf. Like the opera house itself, the series is a place where art—and being passionate about art—matters. And by hosting the series year-round, … Stanton hopes to make it a part of the fabric of the local community as well as a defining element in the culture of northern Michigan.”