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November 30th, 2013

Making the Literary Visible

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by David Rogers

Nathaniel Hawthorne Statue

What is a literary cultural district? No one knows.

Seriously, even the group attempting to create the nation’s first such district — in Boston — doesn’t know exactly what they are attempting to start. But they are starting, which is where the story begins to get interesting.

Here’s what we do know: a group led by independent writing center Grub Street recently received a $42,500 planning grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, according to the Boston Globe. The group will begin planning for a new type of district, which they hope to open in 2015.

“The challenge is to make the literary visible”

In general, the program seeks to create a literary spotlight to shine on a city that once was the literary center of the country.

“The challenge is to make the literary visible,” Eve Bridburg, executive director of Grub Street, told the Globe.

A walking tour of historic literary places in Boston (of which there are many) would likely be part of the experience.

“I see it as a Broadway for writers,” Henriette Lazaridis Power, editor of the Drum literary magazine, said to the Globe. “The way Broadway is a loosely defined geographic area of New York and everyone knows that’s where you go to find theater, this is a place where people who want to take in writing in the forms of events will go, and writers will find resources there.”

One thing not in question is the rich history of the written word that has come from Boston since it was founded. Notable writers calling Boston home at one time or another cross style, form, genre and centuries. Just a few examples are Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Sylvia Plath and Junot Diaz.

A Future of Designated Literary Districts?

Whatever becomes of the plans, even the initial stages illuminate a potentially exciting new movement in the literary world. It is easy to imagine Boston’s initiative inspiring similar programs in other areas around the country, and we certainly hope it does.

Image Source: Flickr