A selection of photos from recent National Writers Series Events.
NWS 2014 Spring/Summer/Fall Lineup, February 2014
NWS launches series of ‘In Studio’ Events, July 2013
NWS 2013 Summer Workshops, June 2013
Smith Haughey Rice Roegge Donation to NWS, April 2013
NWS Announces 2013 Spring/Summer Lineup, February 2013
NWS Announces Spring/Summer 2013 Guest Hosts, February 2013
Susan Wilcox Olson
ABOUT THE NATIONAL WRITERS SERIES
by Doug Stanton, NWS founder
Traverse City and the National Writers Series have become a must-stop on authors’ national tours. This year-round book festival meets at the historic City Opera House. For 120 years, the Opera House has been our town’s meeting place. If the gold-leaf and frescoed walls could talk, they would echo back to us spirited debates, nineteenth century operettas, basketball games, Olympic sporting events, classical music concerts, weddings — the thrum of daily life throughout a century in the town in which I’m proud to have grown up. Authors from across the country are bowled over when they walk into the Opera House. They tell us that being at NWS was one of the best and most successful experiences of their book tours.
In the early going, most of the writers who came here were friends, and today that remains true, with the addition of new authors who’ve heard of us through the grapevine and from their publishers — those authors are enchanted by Traverse City and leave as new friends. We are not run by a for-profit business. We are a 501c3 nonprofit, and most of us (including me) don’t draw a salary, and the salaries that are drawn are small compared to other area arts non-profits. Most of what we have accomplished has been done with a true volunteer work force. And yet, we are putting on book events that happen only in cities like New York, LA, Seattle, and great book stores across the country like Mitch Kaplan’s Books & Books in Miami, the Tattered Cover in Denver, City Lights in San Francisco, and Powell’s in Portland, OR.
I know I’m missing other places, but my point is that all of us have created something special here in Michigan. As a result, Traverse City audiences get to hear, meet, and talk to authors who typically only visit major metropolitan areas. On a Monday an author like Lee Child was on CBS This Morning, and just three days later he was in Traverse City at our new Front Street Writers studio teaching a master class to area public school students — something that no other high school student outside of Traverse City experienced during Child’s entire international book tour.
Since 2009, we’ve brought thousands of people downtown, hosted 60 plus authors and hundreds of hours of amazing conversation, and we’ve promoted these events — and the message that Traverse City is a readers’ and writers’ haven — to millions of people. And, on our weekly TV segment on NBC, Writers Minute, we have promoted more than 100 authors, book stores and book-related events.
There was a time when people didn’t make icons of entertainers/politicians and anoint them as our wayfarers and arbiters. Artists really are our society’s agents of change. If you listen to the radio show “Culture Shock, 1913,” you may be surprised, as I was, by how audiences reacted to the performance of Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring. What I would say is this: cancel your favorite pundit’s/activist’s Twitter Feed and listen to Stravinsky, and try to imagine the feelings that this piece of art stirred in people almost 100 years ago. “Poetry is news that stays news,” said poet William Carlos Williams. I once heard someone explain that if he wrote something and broadcast it, it had to be true– because so many people would read it and believe it because he had published it. This, unfortunately, is the world we are in. Art is an antidote to this kind of self-loving heart. How can you say that “The Grapes of Wrath” is true or not true? That an Alice Munro story is not real? These portraits mystify, confuse, and, ultimately, clarify our condition. “The thing about a story,” writes Tim O’Brien in The Things They Carried, “is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you…” Stories really do make us human.
Thank you from all of us for your support. I hope to see you downtown at the Opera House and at the Front Street Writers Studio, at 123 West Front Street.