Literary Opportunities of Key West

By: Lola Fettis

In Key West the artistic culture is abundant, which helps provide opportunities to young people. There have been an abundance of famous writers that have both come to and have come out of Key West. Although most of the well known people come from before our time, such as Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, there are still many authors living here, and many opportunities to learn to write. 

Some of the famous authors that are visiting or living here now include Judy Blume, Arlo Haskell, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and Meg Cabot. These authors not only take from the artistic culture of Key West but give back. Arlo Haskell, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and Meg Cabot are all avidly involved in the Key West Literary Seminar, which is meant to appreciate great writing and supply opportunities ( mainly in the form of writers workshops and scholarships to writers).

Though anyone can be taught to write, the Key West Literary Seminar also teaches you to have a passion for literary work. Meg Cabot, most known for writing ‘The Princess Diaries’, told us why and how she became a writer, “I loved writing stories from an early age, and was lucky enough to have a lot of great teachers who encouraged this love.  But I never dreamed I could be a writer because I knew how hard it was to get published, so I never even tried. But when I was 26, my father died suddenly, and I realized life is really short: If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you should do it, and not be afraid of rejection.” 

Despite this Cabot still fulfilled her dreams. Now she is a member of the Key West Literary Seminar board, which helps others fulfill their dreams.

Arlo Haskell and Nicole Dennis-Benn are also involved in the Key West Literary Seminar. Alongside Kate Peters, and Nick Vagnoni, both Haskell and Dennis-Benn worked with students this summer for the Young Writers Studio. For the past two summers, and many more to come, the Key West Literary Seminar sets up five days in late June in which Monroe county students explore the island in order to find inspiration for their own writing work, supervised by the teachers stated above. They spend time learning from works of past authors, writing in different styles and genres, to use your surroundings to inspire you, and much more.

Cabot gave advice by telling us how she creates her work, “I’m inspired to write by all the interesting people I meet – right here in Key West, and elsewhere around the world. I wonder what makes them tick, and then want to write about them. But of course I get their permission first.”

The Key West Literary Seminar has events throughout the year as well. The most upcoming events are in January. They are having their annual Flagship program, which is a four day seminar that explores a certain theme, as well as showcase presentations by famous authors. This January there is also another writing workshop.

As you can tell, there is both a deep history and bright future for writers in Key West. These opportunities given by older members of the literary community, will help aspiring authors meet their goals.

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