One of the most important qualities we want in our new space is that it feel like a gathering space. We want people to come and talk about writing and writers and words. Our vision is to open the literary world to everyone who loves books or has a drive to write.
That’s important to us, because I never want to hear people say, “I don’t really feel like I belong at Hugo House.” Anyone — everyone — who has a drive to write belongs here. That’s what this place is. It’s a place for people who have that drive. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t written a word. Hugo House is a place people can start; it’s a place where people can listen and learn; it’s a place where accomplished writers can come and share their knowledge.
In our new home, we’re dedicating a lot of space to help foster a sense of community. We’re creating areas where people can easily congregate because bringing people together is one of the most important things we do. Writers are at the center, at the absolute core of everything we do, and we want the new space to reflect that.
Some people think we’re so literary at Hugo House that they don’t belong here. And that’s not the case at all. Words belong to all of us. We all use words. We all shape our lives with words. Hugo House is a place where you come to pay attention to how words can best be put together to shape the world.
Part of that is acknowledging the fact that we’re all readers first. Nobody wants to write unless they’ve been deeply moved by a book. And when you read a book that moves you, there’s a hunger to discuss it. You want to share why you love it so much. You want to compare notes. That conversation is an essential part of the “literary world.” Fostering that conversation is an essential part of the new space because the great thing about the “literary world”? All you have to do to be a part of it is have an interest.
—Tree Swenson, Executive Director
Tree Swenson has been the executive director of Hugo House since early 2012. She previously spent ten years as executive director of the Academy of American Poets in New York, and was the executive director and publisher at Copper Canyon Press, which she co-founded, for twenty years. She also served as director of programs at the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is a former board president of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). She holds an MPA degree from the Kennedy School at Harvard.