Sign up: Pick up your pen and get started

The Charlottesville Writing Center is putting out an APB for wannabe writers. With just under two weeks till scheduled start date, the summer poetry course is looking like a non-starter, and the fiction workshop is also sadly under-subscribed.
“Things drop off for us in the summer,” explains out-going CWC director Browning Porter. “We offer a skeleton crew of our most popular classes, and usually one or two will get enough takers to go.”
The summer line-up includes six weeks of fiction with novelist Avery Chenoweth or poetry with CWC co-founder Heather Burns, but as The Hook went to press, it was looking like only the creative non-fiction workshop would meet the minimum enrollment.
Taught by Amanda Petrusich, a CWC veteran whose work you can read shortly in Spin and Newsweek, this journalism/memoir hybrid course is the favorite of recent years. Mary Miller, who officially takes over as the center’s executive director at the end of the summer, took the course herself.
“It would be great if we could run all three,” says Miller of the planned summer offerings. Miller, a human resources consultant and former lawyer, also has high expectations for future workshops at CWC, including a screenwriting course and expanded yearly sessions. But first, she concedes, she needs to get through the “learning curve,” of administering the seven-year-old non-profit organization.
Porter, who founded the center in 1996, is also looking to turn over the reins of the center’s start-up literary journal, Streetlight, which is now available in its second edition. Streetlight’s staff came to the CWC complete, simply looking for backing. Porter agreed to fund and print the publication because he felt “The Writing Center needed a magazine and so did Charlottesville… it was a perfect serendipity.”
Now the editor-in-chief is ready to move on with his own personal writing projects, although he vows to stay closely involved with both Streetlight and the CWC program as a board member.
So if the interminable rain has put a damper on your enthusiasm for learning to canoe this summer, think about the cozier self-improvement options. There’s still time (and plenty of space) to develop your inner poet or essayist … and maybe even the latent editor-in-chief.

Summer CWC courses run July 7 – August 14 and cost $144 for non-members. The full schedule is available online at To register call 293-3702 or email The Center also offers free one-day workshops for kids through the JMRL; 434-979-7151. Streetlight Magazine is at C-ville Coffee, Blue Whale Books, and Coyote.