Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Literary Cities: Small to Medium Style

I am a young poet who wants to meet more writer-friends. In your opinion, which cities have the best writing "culture"? Without enrolling in an MFA program, where could I most easily get involved with other writers? I will add that I prefer small to medium cities. (I lived in NYC for 3 1/2 years and was overwhelmed.) Thank you,

-Wanderlusty Loner

P.S. Thank you for your blog, it is very helpful. Praise the internet for expanding word-of-mouth over more mouths!


WL, I'll of course give a shout out to the very literary minded San Francisco, which is a small big city, which maybe equals medium? Also, Northhampton, MA. Austin, TX comes to mind, as does Iowa City.

Portland, OR might fit the bill too in the small big category.

Okay people: Where else?


consistently antsy said...

I'd say Vancouver, British Columbia is a fairly small, literary city. It may be too small and "provincial" for someone from an exciting metropolis like New York. But it does have its quaint quiet charm and a nice community of writers that isn't so large as to be overwhelming.
You would have to move to Canada though. . . but Vancouver really IS wonderful.

danger said...

boston (and surrounding suburbs). it's new york-lite.

jeannine said...

I wrote an article last year about Seattle's lit scene for a local magazine. We have tons of readings and a great poetry-only bookstore called Open Books.
(Okay, commercial over ;)

branbruge said...

I currently live in New York (going on 7 years) and am attending a MFA program. I'm often day dreaming about where I will end up after NYC. Ultimately, I'll end up where I get a teaching job but ideally I'd be in Austin, San Franscisco, Portland, Maine, Portland, Oregon, Ann Arbor or Iowa City. Never been to Vancouver but have always been curious.

jaywalke said...

I would second the vote for Seattle. It's a real city (which means it has a vibrant and varied artistic life) without the mean people. The random acts of decency and kindness I experienced while living in Seattle just boggled my Midwestern-origin, East Coast-steeped, Southern-infused mind.

The Pacific NW holds the promise of California, but with different weather. I say different, not better. Yup, lived in both. Seattle has more snow, but fewer flakes.

ABG said...

What about Pittsburgh? I'm moving there soon and I'm really hoping it has a literary vibe. Does anyone have some insight on the city?

Nervous in L.A. said...

Boulder, CO - an awesome city any way you slice it.

Wilmington, NC - which was a surprise to me. It seems like there are always readings going on at bookstores and coffee shops, and the MFA program is very involved in the community. Plus, there is the North Carolina Festival of the Book.

Los Angeles - although it's big like NY, LA is so spread out that you can get the medium city feeling based upon the area. Try Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey. Be prepared for lots of traffic, though!

jaywalke said...

RE: Pittsburgh

I can't speak about the literary scene, because I was otherwise occupied during my two years there. However, da Burg does have a healthy theatre, music and art scene, so I would not be surprised if the literary life is above average as well. It's not a bad city, and it's easy to escape into the mountains.

Beware the car-eating potholes in winter and the "Pittsburgh left"!

ABG said...

ah, thanks j!

Sarah said...

About Pittsburgh:
I'm a little biased because I'm a local and we Pittsburghers are notoriously in love with (and overzealous about) our hometown, but Pittsburgh is a fantastic smallish city with a great literary presence. First, there are the reading series at Pitt, CMU, Chatham, and Carlow, the Drue Heinz Lecture Series (bringing in heavy hitters like Joan Didion and Arthur Miller), and the Gist Street Reading Series (probably the coziest & most community-minded reading series I've ever known, bringing in Tomasz Salamun, Jean Valentine, and many others). Lots of writing students = lots of fantastic used books for cheap when the semester is over, two well-reputed university presses, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Also, it must be said that the cost of living is ridiculously low, and that, sometimes, can make all the difference.

And yeah, look out for those potholes. And that erratic driving.

asneth said...

Re: Pittsburgh

It's nice to see some comments about this city, because I too will be moving there in a few weeks to start my MFA program. Right now, I am in Iowa City though, and can definately claim that this place is great for writers of all genres in terms of being a litterary city. what interested me most here, was how many undergraduate students came to Iowa to pursue writing (such as myself). So the literary world seems to span the various age groups.

Spencer Cushing said...

I'll throw my two-cents behind Portland, OR. There is a great arts culture here and one of the best Zine cultures in the states. Lots of writers, small indie publishing houses, and amazing bookstores (yay Powells).