Arts » Written + Spoken Word

2016 in review: The year in Indy literature and writing

The movers and shakers in Indy's writing world


Finding Home at the IRT
  • Finding Home at the IRT

We called it last year.

First Fridays got bigger. Gallery openings had more marketing dollars thrown at them. Art institutions are evolving to dig deeper into the community. All of which are signs that there's thriving culture here and, to put it bluntly, show that Indy gives a damn.

And NUVO was right there covering it. But I cannot help but wonder when I look over press releases announcing hundreds of thousands dollars in grant funding: Where are the wordsmiths of Indy finding support?

I don't say this to imply that Indianapolis is without writing safe havens — simply that the modern writers in this state don't get nearly the attention that they should.

Writers like those who helped make the Memoir Project with the Indiana Writers Center, a showcase of writing as a means of community development. (The project paired Writers Center teachers with veterans earlier this year to help guide them in writing their stories.) Their production of Not Like the Rest of Us: An Anthology of Contemporary Indiana Writers brought together writers in their nineties down to those in their twenties.

The Geeky Press' writing podcast
  • The Geeky Press' writing podcast

Writers like the ones Janet Allen brought together to create a play that was written by over 29 authors. Imagine 29 cooks in the kitchen; she did some masterful work in making the whole thing flow.

Far too often, brilliant creative forces like these go unnoticed in Indy's art community, but at NUVO we think that these are exactly the kind of stories worth sharing. They connect us with the human experience and make us consider our roles in a rapidly changing city.

The writers' community in Indy has a homegrown, pulled-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of audacity. It's getting stronger too.

If you're a writer in Indy, you may have received a Twitter invite to one of the Geeky Press' many meetups. The local collective hosts writer retreats and even published an anthology this year about terrible job experiences. This year they released a podcast about writing that features founder Brad King interviewing writers around Indy about their lives and work.

I do recognize that it's not fair to say that Indy hasn't shown any attention to the literary world this year.

All within 2016: the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library started raising the funds to move into a new building along Mass Ave., Shauta Marsh at Big Car commissioned a mural of local poet Mari Evans to counter Vonnegut's brick-faced portrait downtown and Dan Wakefield (best-selling and occasional NUVO author) had a Broad Ripple park named after him.

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library's new location on Mass Ave.
  • Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library's new location on Mass Ave.

These are all amazing things that happened over the last twelve months, but to us the really exciting stuff — you know, the kind of thing that makes you giddy when you read about it — are the small victories.

The opening of the Tube Factory in Garfield Park ushered in Listen Hear — a sound art space across the street — which was the home for Librería Donceles, a curated traveling exhibit by Pablo Helguera. This was a home for Indy's first all-Spanish bookstore.

Indianapolis' spoken word community might be at an all-time high in terms of numbers and events. The return of Vocab to the Casba reminded Indy of its roots in poetry and music (seriously, go read Kyle Long's column each week if you want to hear more about it). That Peace open mic kickstarted as a vehicle to discuss race, equality and social justice. These are just a few milestones in Indy's literary narrative.

NUVO has continuously highlighted Indiana's verbal and written makers, and we don't plan on stopping. After all, it's the underground voices who are shaking this city and reminding us that John Green isn't the only writer in Indiana who can shape how we think.

Write on, Indy. Write on.


This Week's Flyers

Around the Web