I hold a Master of Fine Arts degree from a prestigious university, but I have found more inspiration, support and real-world advice about writing in the workshops at our local literary bastion The Porch Writers’ Collective. Now when young writers ask me if they should pursue an MFA, I say, “Are there writing courses in your town? Check those out first.” 

At The Porch, you can study a multitude of writing genres in one-day workshops or those that span a couple of months. Upcoming classes include an intermediate short-story workshop, Reporting From Here: Journalism for Everyone, and Writing Parents and Children. The instructors are first-rate, and The Porch quickly adapted to using a virtual platform during the pandemic. 

The organization works hard to meet the needs of our city’s diverse communities. In 2016, The Porch launched a new workshop specifically for immigrants and refugees in Nashville and published an anthology of their writing in 2019. Earlier this year, instructors hosted free writing classes in Church Street Park with a true come-as-you-are spirit. In addition, The Porch partners with Nashville-area schools, after-school programs, libraries and community centers to provide creative writing workshops to kids in grades 3 through 12. 

On the artsy side, The Porch partners with OZ Arts for the Art Wire fellowship, in which fellows attend the venue’s world-class performances and write about them. The nonprofit partners with WPLN to produce the podcast Versify, in which people sit down with writers to talk about their lives, and the writers transform the people’s stories into poetry. All of this is in addition to a robust roster of public readings by writers from near and far, the popular Books, Bars and Guitars events that pair musicians with writers to perform at the posh Analog at the Hutton Hotel, informal brown-bag lunches, book clubs and more. 

Just nine years in, The Porch is an important cultural institution that makes a difference in the lives of those of us committed to this often lonesome art form. I’m grateful for their service. 

—Erica Ciccarone 

Culture Editor, Nashville Scene 

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