You’ve heard by now that I’ve been appointed Acting Interim Executive Director following Tree Swenson’s resignation. Taking a leadership role in a time of transition and transformation is intimidating and complex, and I’m learning as I go. But I’m embracing this moment, as I hope we all are, with an open heart and a willingness to listen, and a goal toward healing.
I started working events at Hugo House just under three years ago, but I first came to Hugo House when I was a young poetry student. That a place like Hugo House existed was powerful for me. It gave me permission to be a writer. I didn’t know at the time how difficult it would be for a person of my background—an adoptee, an Indigenous Pacific Islander whose ties to ancestry were cut by a racist foster care system, a working-class kid who held two jobs to pay his own way through college—to succeed in the literary world. All I knew was my voice. At the time, it felt like enough.
It wasn’t enough. Barriers to access for folks like me remain in place throughout the literary and publishing worlds, barriers that get replicated and sometimes magnified in writing and arts organizations across the country. Hugo House, as we’ve seen, is no different. I love Hugo House. I know it can be better.
And it will be better. My colleagues on staff have been hard at work building systems of accountability to reduce harms. They’ve been digging into the data to find the patterns of exclusion and brainstorming creative solutions to disrupt those patterns. They’ve been leading with their values, with their open hearts and their willingness to listen. At the same time, they’ve been working tirelessly to keep Hugo House open and available as a resource to writers from all backgrounds.
This is a pivotal time for Hugo House and for our literary community. But Hugo House is here, programming is still happening, classes still running, and students of all ages still learning the power of technique to amplify their voices.
And if you’re still here with us, as I hope you are, here are a few dates and notices to keep in mind:
- There are still Winter quarter classes open for registration, and member registration for Spring quarter begins March 9. General registration opens March 16. Early bird prices are available March 9–22. Browse the Spring catalog here.
- Jericho Brown’s Word Works talk has been rescheduled. It will be held June 11, 2021.
- Free programs are continuing on as scheduled. Coming up this month: a book launch for Emily Rapp Black and Katherine Standefer; Ask a Memoirist with Kent Wong; Write with Hugo House with Jeanine Walker and Alma García; Quarantine Write-In with Ruth Joffre; Ask a Young Adult Novelist with Ray Stoeve; and Kids Write-In.
- This spring, we have 10 new youth workshops in poetry, fiction, comics, performance writing, writing about art, and more. For youth grades 5–12. Registration is available now.
- This summer, we’re hosting 19 one-week Scribes summer writing camps for youth grades 5–12. Like last summer, this summer’s camps will be hosted online using Zoom and Google classroom, in addition to other online tools and platforms teachers choose to use. We will continue to offer registration on a scaled pay-what-you-can tuition rate. We also have scholarships available for families who need the assistance. Register for a camp today.
You have my deepest gratitude for the warm welcome into this work, and for your presence and continued passion for this communion of the word that we all engage in. I hope you will join us as we continue to build the Hugo House we all deserve.