Friends, tonight Writers and Words celebrates its fifth anniversary. This is big. For five years, we have scheduled readings featuring local and regional writers—some seasoned and some making their debut appearance. We’ve have countless wildcards—some wilder than others—and a couple unexpected turns along the way.
There were a lot of different ideas we kicked around for the five year celebration—some grand with a ticket price in the hopes of fundraising, some small and intimate just with the writers who have read for free for us over the years, and some simple like the line-up we landed on: an open mic to feature you—the supporters who have kept this thing going—at the place where this all started, Blue Pit BBQ and Whiskey Bar.
Five years ago, give or take a few days, Michelle Junot roped Michael Tager to organize a reading to help her sell her thesis book (because she thought she could sell enough books to pay off her student loans. Being young and naïve is cute sometimes, and so sad other times.) That first night we had four readers—Michelle Junot, nonfiction; Michael Tager, fiction; Steven Leyva, poetry; and Anne Marie, our first wildcard. The entire evening was emceed and lit by Ian Anderson. If we had known that this would be the first reading of a series that would become Baltimore’s best (and let’s face it, W&W is Baltimore’s best), we might have taken more pictures.
Michelle didn’t sell any books that night, and she’s still paying off those student loans, but Writers and Words has grown into something she and the rest of the folks in attendance that night could never have imagined. Although the two founders and the original crew have moved to the sidelines, the series continues to thrive due to the time and dedication of two individuals: Cija Jefferson and Maria Goodson. And our banners and zines are of course made possible by the one and only Amanda Ponder.
But ultimately, we are successful, because of you. The yous who are reading this. The yous who rush over after work to catch a reading, even when it’s hot, or cold, or raining, or incredibly beautiful outside and you could be doing anything else but listening to a brand new writer find her voice. The yous who come up to the editors after the reading to say thank you or hi. The yous who continue to make this a joy.
Thank you for five years, Baltimore. Join us tonight and let us hear your words at our open mic. Details available here.
Until next year…
–The Entire Writers and Words Team