Since I’ve been “out there” in full force lately promoting my debut collection, Train Shots, plus teaching creative writing courses to a bevy of bright-eyed and talented students at Rollins College, I’m frequently asked about literary happenings in Orlando — where to meet other serious writers and engaged readers, what’s going on outside the insular orb of campus or simply one’s writing desk. Rather than respond to a barrage of individual emails, I decided to post my recommendations here, in one convenient spot for earnest seekers to find and, I hope, share.

Orlando’s got a vibrant, A-list literary culture so if you’re new to the area, a college student, or just wondering where to start, look no further. Simply show up to any of these events, introduce yourself, and you’ll be warmly welcomed. It won’t take you long to realize that this is an intimate yet growing crowd, and many of the faces you see at one event will appear at another. Below I’ve assembled a neat list of gigs you should be sure to attend if you’re in town, including contact info and direct links on where you can sign up for monthly newsletters when available. Some of the newsletter blasts are spotty—remember, often these organizations are run on the goodwill of volunteer efforts, interns, or very, very thin budgets—so I advise also following them on Facebook, Twitter, etc., so you don’t miss out on a spectacular author who’s in town, workshop, or submission deadline. Otherwise, no excuses or whining about how “there’s nothing going on in Orlando”—during winter and spring, especially, there’s nearly a literary event happening every night of the week. Don’t go and you only have your lazy self to blame.

Winter with the Writers at Rollins College: this is undoubtedly the area’s most celebrated event, which takes place every February. Director Carol Frost brings in an a rock star line-up that in the past has included Andre Dubus III, Margot Livesey, Jim Shepard, Michael Cunningham, and Paula McLain, plus noteworthy emerging authors. Master classes take place in the afternoon, readings in the evening; events are free and open to the public.

Twitter: @RollinsWWW


Functionally Literate, the quarterly reading series hosted by Burrow Press. Each event features visiting writers and talented locals from all over the Central Florida lit community. Recent readers have included David James Poissant, Terry Godbey, and yours truly.

Sign up for their monthly email at

Twitter: @BurrowPress


The Kerouac Project: The Kerouac Project provides four residencies a year to writers of any stripe or age, living anywhere in the world. Each residency consists of approximately a three month stay in the cottage where Jack Kerouac wrote his novel Dharma Bums. There’s usually a welcome potluck for the incoming writer as well as a farewell reading/potluck at the residency’s end – your chance to hang out in a piece of local literary history with a friendly and supportive crowd. Added bonus: local writer-guru Mary Ann de Stefano of MAD ABOUT WORDS occasionally teams up with the resident to offer a specially-themed workshop.

Sign up for the newsletter here:


Timucua Arts White House: Benoit Glazer and Elaine Corriveau open their downtown ‘White House’ to musicians and the people who come to hear them. This is quite possibly the coolest “underground” venue in Orlando, where all that’s required is you show up with a bottle of wine and a smile. Literary events have been held here as well, so it’s worthwhile to get on their newsletter at the link below:


There Will Be Words: Named Orlando’s Best Literary Reading Series by the readers of the Orlando Weekly, There Will Be Words showcases the best writers Florida has to offer, on the second Tuesday of every month at Gallery at Avalon Island, 39 S. Magnolia in Downtown Orlando. In addition, host J. Bradley and his partner-in-crime, Laura, also produce limited edition chapbooks every show, where part of the proceeds go towards paying their writers. The show starts promptly at 7pmand runs until 8pm. The event is free.


Silver Fern Writers: Geoff and Janet Benge, who are movers and shakers over at the Kerouac Project, offer this free, well-attended workshop and publishing series on the 3rd Wednesday of each month starting at 6:30 P.M.


Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA): This is an acclaimed residency program in nearby New Smyrna Beach, unique in that it is a mentoring program that couples prominent Master Artists with selected Associate Artists for three-week periods. Scholarships are available. Every residency session the ACA conducts an Outreach, often with Stetson University, UCF, or the Timucua White House, in which the Master Artist reads, displays or performs their work, free and open to the public. Previous world-renowned Master Artists in Literature have included Rick Moody, Mark Doty, and Victoria Redel. I only wish I’d taken advantage of its programs sooner.

Twitter: @Atlantic_Center


Bookmark It: Orlando’s only indie bookshop, Bookmark It hosts book clubs, hands-on workshops, book launch parties and more out of its cozy East End Market location. Proprietor Kim Britt places a special focus on local authors.


*Note* – this list is in no way meant to be all-encompassing, just a starting point based on the quality of talent and consistency. There are numerous other great reading series, workshops, and the like, including Literacolypse, Literature Out Loud, Parcels: MFAs in Progress hosted by the UCF English Department, as well as annual weekend events such as the Florida Writers’ Conference and UCF Book Festival. A good bet would be to check the calendar listings at the Orlando Weekly and Sentinel so that you don’t miss out.