The world has entered new territory since COVID-19 arrived. More than ever before, at Writers & Books we’re thinking about our mission and values, asking how our very purpose—connecting people to one another through the shared experience of literature—can make a difference in this unprecedented moment, and be a wellspring for compassion, reason, and transformation.
I recall poet Kimiko Hahn’s advice to students attending a panel on engaged writing, urging them to “cast down your buckets where you are.” With this frequently quoted imperative from Melville’s Moby Dick, she reminded us that the real work, the life-giving “fresh water,” is right where we are. We needn’t go far to recognize truths, envisage the possible, and produce and benefit from art that matters.
While our doors are closed at 740 University Avenue, Writers & Books’ staff and teaching artists are striving to create fruitful virtual space for discourse, creativity, and understanding. When we write, we understand we have agency. When we read, we’re in touch with worlds of ideas and experiences.
Much will have shifted when we emerge from the pandemic. Our plan is that Writers & Books, a Rochester institution for nearly 40 years, will prevail, even as it reinvents itself to adapt to new conditions.
Today, while we socially distance and rediscover the importance of human connection, we have an opportunity to imagine a better, more just country and world. We look forward to joining our efforts, imagination, and belief with yours, now and in the months ahead.
PS: We are deeply grateful for the generosity of friends and supporters over the past weeks—so essential.
PPS: Please join the circle of committed friends who are helping sustain Writers & Books and the literary arts in this difficult time. Thank you for giving what you can!