Richard Hugo House Evicts The Raven Chronicles and Floating Bridge

deadraven.jpgMore changes at Richard Hugo House under managing director Lyall Bush. Bush recently evicted the last of the small presses and literary magazines renting space at Hugo House. The literary arts center will replace the tenants with two theater organizations.

Richard Hugo House is a community writing center in Seattle that was founded to provide support and shelter to writers. It is one of a handful of centers like this around the country including The Loft in Minneapolis, Beyond Baroque in Los Angeles, and The Writing Center in Bethesda.

As a nonprofit literary center, Richard Hugo House provided inexpensive space in order to support the perennial unprofitable business of producing printed books of poetry and magazines of literary essays. The displaced renters are Floating Bridge Press, publishers of the annual poetry anthology of Washington State Poetry, Pontoon and the seventeen-year-old literary magazine, The Raven Chronicles.

In the days after her eviction, Phoebe Bosche, the long time managing editor and co-founder of The Raven Chronicles, looked at her options in terms of where to move the magazine and decided it was time to end the publication of the magazine.

She forwarded me this text which will appear in issue one of volume 13:

This year, many paths merged into one, seeming to point in only one direction: time to say goodnight and put the print edition of Raven to bed. On May 14, 2007, the new U.S. postal rates went into effect, meaning, for us, a 200 plus raise raise in the cost of sending magazines bulk mail to subscribers and contributors. Then the inevitable happened, vis a vis office space. We’ve been grateful to Hugo House for providing reasonably priced office space to a few nonprofit literary organizations (and in the beginning, community organizations), like Raven. We’ve been at HH since the beginning, 1997: ten always-changing years. Now, Hugo House wants to change direction and offer office space to resident theater groups, so we have to vacate the premises by the end of 2007.

The Hugo House Programs Director, Alix Wilber, points out that Hugo House is giving Floating Bridge and The Raven Chronicles seven months to find new space. In addition, Alix Wilber points out that the theater residencies are actually part of Hugo House’s alignment with their mission in order to support playwrights and provide a venue for their work.

Notice to the Floating Bridge and The Raven Chronicles come on the heels of Hugo House restricting access to the writer’s Hugo Writer’s Fund from a revolving application process for a community held resource to a quarterly grant awarded by Hugo House. At the same time, Hugo House ending their support of the SubText reading series, ending one of the longest running series at Hugo House. SubText brings an out of town “experimental” writer to Seattle on a monthly basis and provides an unassuming, unpretentious stage for self-described “difficult’ writing, which naturally does not have a wide audience. SubText is now located at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford.

Wilber points out that although Hugo House is able to support a lot of work, they can’t support everything. “We currently give away about $10,000 in space and about $4,000 in cash honoraria every year. (We hope to be able to give away even more in the future but we’re not there yet.)” This works out, Wilber figures, to between 50 and 70 co-sponsorships a year, and about a quarter of those are event series.

Hugo House is a community-writing center on Capitol Hill in Seattle that was founded to provide access to all writers in the community and to support community based literary arts. It was founded in the mid-1990s by Linda Breneman Jaech, Andrea Lewis and Frances McCue.

Note: Alix Wilber was kind enough to send me a nice e-mail correcting some factual errors or just rhetorical oddities. I’ve updated the post. The main ones: 1) I thought Cranky was renting space. They weren’t. 2) Well, my headline says (still) “evicted” when technically Hugo House is evicting them, but with seven months notice. So it is a kind of gentle eviction. 2) Playwriting is a “literary art” and not a dark art. 4) The old revolving Hugo Writer’s fund was painful to administer. The new one: less painful. Thanks, Alix.


Richard Hugo House: Break It Down
Hugo House is fixed. The social experimental is over.

Open Office Hours
I saw about three writers a week while at Richard Hugo House. In the two years I saw just over a hundred and fifty writers.

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