When Monique Lewis received her master’s degree in creative writing from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, she didn’t want the experience to end. “I wanted to re-create my own creative-writing community,” she said on the phone. “I finished in 2012, and I was looking for something I could be involved in day to day.”
So the financial news editor of New York’s Mergermarket did what anyone would: She started a blog. “Initially it was just a site where I was going to interview authors about their books,” she said. “I thought it’d be another way to help writers get the word out about their books that recently came out, and then eventually I thought, ‘Well, I can start doing book reviews as well.’”
At the time of this writing, Lewis — with the help of a growing cast of freelance contributors — has interviewed 62 authors and published 54 book reviews at attheinkwell.com. But profiles were just the beginning: In March 2013, Lewis transformed her blog, At The Inkwell, into a monthly reading series held at KGB Bar in the East Village.
The bar, which Lewis says hosts 13 ongoing reading series all run by different people, is one of New York’s go-to literary destinations. What separates At The Inkwell is that each month, it features a different genre — examples include Historical Fiction Night, Memoir Night and Y.A. Night, with Poetry Night recurring throughout the year.
“In the beginning, I was just trying to find authors who I knew,” she said, “but then as the word started to spread, people were coming to me and asking if they could get into the reading series.” At The Inkwell now regularly hosts writers both local and from out of town. On Thursday, April 16, with a show in San Francisco in honor of National Poetry Month, At The Inkwell will expand beyond New York.
After reaching out to all the poets interviewed or reviewed on the site and to those who have read in the series, asking them to spread the word that she wanted to do a San Francisco show, Lewis says she was “bombarded by requests” and had to start turning people down almost immediately. Lewis will meet every one of the authors for the first time on the night of At the Inkwell, which is not unusual for the show.
She has good taste: The featured poets are Leticia Hernández-Linares, Peter Kline, Giovanna Capone, John Landry, Alice Templeton, Greg Wrenn, Brittany Perham and Robbie Sugg — each of whom Lewis has profiled, along with sample poems, on the website.