The internet has been freaking out since the publication of "Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now that I No Longer Teach in One." We've gotten letters asking us to pull the article. What do you make of the response?
I think it's great.
People think you're an asshole for saying some people have more talent than others.
In what part of life is this not true?
People are also saying your position is that there should be more child abuse in the world.
That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I think there should be better writing about child abuse in the world.
You're not teaching in an MFA writing program anymore, much to the relief of certain corners of the internet. You've got a new project called Seattle City of Literature. Explain what that is.
It's about making Seattle one of the best cities in the world in which to write and read books. For the past couple years, I've been leading an effort to get Seattle designated a UNESCO City of Literature. This will connect Seattle with other literary cities around the world, which means greater visibility for Seattle writers and presses, improved cultural tourism, and a more robust creative economy in general.
Places like Hugo House, Seattle Arts and Lectures, the Seattle Public Library, independent bookstores like Phinney Books, and publishing companies all add up to a network of literary activity. We're focused on the health and vitality of that network. It takes a big commitment to develop one's craft, and we want to make it easier for writers who want to work hard and accomplish great things.
And you just partnered with the Sorrento Hotel. Is the Sorrento going to be the new Algonquin Round Table for literary culture?
The what round table? ;)
What's happening at the Sorrento is unprecedented. Other cities are going to model their own cool literary gathering places after it. We're taking over a conference room, calling it the Book Room, filling it with works from the other UNESCO Cities of Literature, and planning a robust calendar of programming produced both in-house and in partnership with many of Seattle's great literary arts organizations.
What’s the best way for aspiring writers to get involved with Seattle City of Literature? What’s the best way for established writers to get involved?
I saw this great comment from a woman on a dating site recently: I'm not interested in an "aspiring" anyone. I think that's a good attitude to have, and it goes for "established," too. We all have to keep proving ourselves and delivering.
But to your question. Anyone who wants to get involved can first go to seattlecityoflit.org, sign our petition, make a donation, come to an event. Come up with a cool idea, and we'll do what we can to help you pull it off.
I love that you’re committed to really turning Seattle into a literary hub. Who are your 10 favorite all-time Northwest writers? If I had a gun to my head, I’d say:
Here are 10. I swear, though, that if you were to ask me this tomorrow it could likely be an entirely different list.
That's a great list. Tomorrow is the first Wednesday of the month. Are you coming to the silent-reading party?
I have a reserved seat at the silent-reading party tomorrow.
To sign Seattle City of Literature's petition, click here. To get involved in City of Lit in other ways, click here. To find out more about the silent-reading party—tomorrow! with live piano!—click here.