Ground plowed across the Central Indiana literary landscape yields this fall: Maize, poetry slams, Indy Men"s Magazine, mentoring for and by teachers and more. Old activities have ripened and new projects insist on sprouting up. All in all, we"ll have an especially abundant harvest.
"Maize" is a new publication available through the Writers" Center.
At the Writers" Center of Indiana, the primary public literary magazine in the state has undergone a transformation as The Flying Island tests a new recipe as Maize. The new semi-annual magazine will have a slicker "book" look, with photographic art from a single artist each issue. More importantly, says director Todd Watson, the new editors have sought fiction and poetry from beyond Indiana"s boundaries to complement the state"s strong in-house voices. Maize is free with Writers" Center membership or is available by subscription and will also be available at selected venues free of charge. A more commercial publishing endeavor sees fruition with its inaugural September-October issue (which will quickly become monthly). Indy Men"s Magazine depends on the stewardship of some of the best-known by-lines in Indianapolis journalism. Guided by Editor-in-Chief Lou Harry, the new magazine offers a "guy"s guide to the good life." Contributing editors include Sam Stall and Brian Smith, and features will run the gamut from the expected sports and business columns to advice on cooking and "The Dad Files" on parenting. Fiction by nationally noted writers will flavor each issue. Best of all, the magazine, in a 50,000 press run, will be available free at locations throughout the city! Literature has a public face besides publications, and the stage version of the written word seems to be especially colorful this season. Slams, long a tradition in Chicago, New York and other grittier cities, have finally found a foothold in Indy, with sessions once a month at Birdy"s and occasional forays at Radio Radio and other, mutable, venues. Kafe Kuumba, the long-standing open stage sponsored by the Midtown Writers Association, has some of the lively rappish flavor of a slam, but without the competition. Meanwhile, more traditional open stage venues, such as CafÈ Li"ture (sponsored by the Etheridge Knight Festival), Out Word Bound Bookstore"s monthly "Poetic License" session, the Poetry Alliance of Indianapolis at the Westfield Barnes & Noble and the Writers" Center monthly outlet at the Indianapolis Art Center, thrive in various configurations. Yet another reading series began in August at CafÈ Touba (40th and Boulevard), proving once again that there are more open stages - and poets - than corn in Indiana. Formal readings by visiting artists flower at Butler, IUPUI and the University of Indianapolis. Butler"s always tall list is actually a bit shorter than usual, but hardly stunted: It includes nine events featuring such diverse writers as novelist Anchee Min, poet Ellen Bryant Voigt, NPR host Ray Suarez and Rumi translator, poet Coleman Barks. At IUPUI, fiction writer Aldo Alvarez and poet Kathy Fagan share the series table with the multigenred Seamus Deane. U of I brings poet Marc Hudson and novelist Mary Gordon (part of the annual Polis Center Spirit & Place Festival in early November). Keeping a close watch on the literary events" weather is a fine - and oft-updated - Web site by JL Kato (who, incidentally, won NUVO"s Authors Here at Home competition earlier in 2002). Check it out at http://groups.msn.com/IndyBookings/. Activities tending to the growth of local writers are found through Midtown Writers, whose president, James Officer, helps conduct twice monthly workshops, and the Etheridge Knight Festival, which often focuses on programming for student writers. Director Eunice Knight-Bowens reports that this summer"s "Young Artists in Bloom" workshops at 10 IndyParks locations were a great success. A cornucopia of workshops and classes continues at the Writers" Center, where the new Institute of Writing and Creativity will "teach the teacher" techniques for energizing creative writing for their students. Novelist Barbara Shoup leads this effort and also finds time to mentor a group of younger writers at the center. The institute will also offer programs to businesses stressing creativity as a means of problem solving. Such seed testing marks the responsible husbandry of resources for which the WCI has come to be known. Other news: See best-selling novelist Mary Higgins Clark Sept. 14 at the Women"s Expo. Visit yet another Barnes & Noble, which will open soon in Noblesville, even as old standby and sorely missed X-Pressions works to finalize new space in town, hopefully for a fall re-opening. See how the city survives the IMCPL"s Central Library"s temporary closing and lengthy sojourn at the old (and small) State Museum while we watch the new library addition rise.