6 Literary Organizations & Activities for DC Writers

Washington, DC, and the surrounding areas are home to wide networks of writers, with varying skill levels and interests, and to several organizations eager to connect.

Find microphones and stages ready to welcome slam poets. Find speakers dishing out insider tips about the publishing industry. Find opportunities to share your writing skills with youth. Find a place to get inspired.

The following six organizations offer particularly vibrant spaces for literary experiences:


  1. The Writer’s Center: Founded in 1976, this robust literary center has it all. Offering workshops, more than 50 literary events per year, an immense book gallery, supportive fellowships and awards, and workspaces for rent, the Writer’s Center is a key player on our city’s local arts scene.


  1. Split This Rock: This organization encourages poetry that provokes social change—and they put on readings, workshops, community collaborations, and an annual poetry festival with which our students can connect. Their poetry contest has been judged by Kyle Dargan, Mark Doty, Naomi Shihab Nye, Tim Seibles, Jan Beatty, Chris Abani, and others. Split This Rock is particularly invested in encouraging poets of diverse backgrounds, ages, and levels of experience.


  1. Hurston/Wright Foundation: Founded in 1990 and named for literary giants Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, the Hurston/Wright Foundation is a resource center devoted to amplifying the unique experiences and voices of African Americans in literature. The Hurston/Wright Foundation provides support and opportunities to Black writers at every level of their writing development. Interested? Get involved with weekend readings, mentorships, multi-genre writing workshops, classes on the publishing world, and awards opportunities for Black students and adult writers.


  1. The Inner Loop: Established by two graduates of the Sarah Lawrence MFA program, the Inner Loop is a monthly reading series that carves a space for emerging fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction writers to read alongside established guests—guests of Pulitzer caliber. You can submit your work for consideration on their website, and browse both famous and emerging names on their list of featured past readers.


  1. Northern Virginia Writers Club: If you’re looking to get publishing questions answered and to meet writers from outside your classes, the Northern Virginia Writers Club should be one of your first stops. The Northern chapter of the Virginia Writers Club holds workshops, speaking series, and panel discussions at libraries and other venues—usually on Saturdays—all intended to help bolster your craft or give you insight into the writing business. The group also offers resources for connecting with other writers online.


  1. Humanities DC: The Humanities Council of Washington DC is an independent non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through projects, events, and grants, Humanities DC strives to bring together community members across cultures and throughout all DC neighborhoods. Just recently, Humanities DC hosted a reading called “Current Literary Voices of the District.” By plugging in here, you’ll find both a support network for your own work and a chance to learn from fellow artists.


Don’t end your exploration with this list. DC’s offerings go on and on. Local bookstores, including Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, hold literary events and readings. Presses and journals, including Barrelhouse, host events and workshops. Knowing the liveliness of this community, something new has probably sprung up since we began penning this post.

The important thing is to find your people—the writing community that best feeds your work.


Get connected with the District’s writing community.

Your time in the AU Creative Writing Program will connect you with a coterie of student writers, but DC is home to nearly endless opportunities to expand your network beyond our walls. We would love for you to join us here and discover the organizations that connect best with your work.

4 replies
  1. Donald Illich says:

    Another group that can help poets is The Federal Poets. They meet each third Saturday of the month at the Tenleytown Library from 2 to 5 p.m. Poets should bring 15 copies of their one page poems, and they can take part in a poetry workshop. For more information, contact Don Illich at donaldillich@yahoo.com.


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  1. […] DC is central to our identity as an MFA program. Our students explore some of the world’s best literary organizations and activities – and find quiet spaces to write and get inspired throughout the […]

  2. […] You can also build community even without going to a residency or workshop. Get involved with the Inner Loop or explore other literary organizations and activities for DC writers in our previous post. […]

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