The Coachella of Writing

Every April, music lovers from all over gather in California to attend Coachella, which is one of the largest music festivals in the world. However, not everyone finds the blaring music and sweaty scene as their “thing”. The Coachella equivalent for writers across the nation is the Key West Literary Seminar (KWHS), which takes place right here in Key West.

This seminar occurs annually and lasts for four days. Every January, about twenty writers are featured; and there are approximately four hundred people in the audience for each session. Many of the writing and reading enthusiasts feel elated and cannot wait for January 6th to finally roll around. 

The Key West Literary Seminar’s theme this year is desire. Photo provided Key West Literary Seminar

Kelly Smoot, an advanced English teacher at Key West High School (KWHS) and writing fanatic is ecstatic. “A town full of people excited about the same stuff I love? What’s not to like about that?!” Smoot shared. 

For a writer, this event is like a dream come true. The KWLS allows any literature fan to meet personal heroes. Back in 2019, Smoot grasped the opportunity to attend a talk by Joyce Carol Oates. She reflected on her experience, “The writers who come here for the Seminar are world-famous. They’re my rock stars! To hear their thoughts and experiences with writing always inspires me to try to improve my own writing.”

Smoot went on to express that the inspiration of the other writers at the KWLS remind her of why she loves writing fiction. She explained, “ I enjoy seeing the world from other people’s perspectives. In writing fiction, I get the opportunity to “try on” other lives and walk around in them a bit. I like to see what it’s like. I can live a hundred different lives as well as the one I live every day.  And, of course, creative writing is fun!”

If reading and writing is your cup of tea, Key West in early January is where you ought to be. 

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