There’s a tendency these days to know writers across the continent or the world while the novelist or poet next door remains anonymous. The Hinge Literary Center hopes to remedy this. A new literary endeavor aimed at connecting local literary communities through classes and events, the Hinge launches itself with a night of readings and music at the Pinhook Bar in downtown Durham tonight at 7 p.m.

Belle Boggs will co-teach a fiction workshop, one of the debut offerings through the Hinge Literary Center, which launches itself with a night of readings at Durhams Pinhook Bar on June 2.
  • Photo by Button Boggs
  • Belle Boggs will co-teach a fiction workshop, one of the debut offerings through the Hinge Literary Center, which launches itself with a night of readings at Durham’s Pinhook Bar on June 2.

Workshop leaders Belle Boggs, whose book of short stories Mattaponi Queen garnered the 2009 Bakeless Prize, Anne Raeff, author of the novel Clara Mondschein’s Melancholia, and Jonathan Farmer, poet and editor of the online magazine At Length, will all read from their work. The event will also feature music by The Tropes as well as a book swap and a contest to win a free class.

Class offerings kick off in mid-June as Boggs and Raeff team-teach a fiction workshop and Farmer runs a poetry workshop. Outsiders Art and Collectibles in Durham will host this first round of classes, but the Hinge will look to hold classes and events all around the Triangle in the future. Classes will combine group feedback with some pointed instruction in craft.

“People who are working on novels will have the experience of getting a really good read on their work from the rest of the participants in their workshop,” says Boggs. “We want it to feel really comfortable and homey, and be something that people really look forward to every week.” Registration is open on the Hinge website.

Organizer Ross White notes that the Hinge has come together quickly, which speaks to the number of writers in the Triangle as well as their desire for a more complete picture of a literary landscape that too often appears shattered in its insularity. A year ago, White and a few other local writers attended a presentation by founders of Boston’s Grub Street center, which the Hinge is modeled on. “We left that presentation pretty excited but it wasn’t really until February that we started sending emails and having discussion. Ten days later there were 15 writers at my house talking about it, and from there, this has not slowed down.”

“Within 70 days of our first meeting we had identified a place for our classes, a space for our launch event, and we had amazing faculty lined up in Belle and Ann and Jonathan. It was like serendipity. Once we brought people together, it’s almost like it happened by itself.”

White, whose vision for the Hinge was also informed by a low-residency creative writing MFA from Warren Wilson College, knows how difficult it is to balance the necessarily private and public parts of writing. “Both reading and writing are these intensely personal and solitary activities. We want to pay close attention to the need to connect around those activities because there is an incredible amount of pleasure to be had in discussing the work. You see this in book clubs all the time. I hope that the Hinge will tie together some of those small and thriving communities around the Triangle, and broaden their reach.”

This includes cross-promotion with other organizations like the North Carolina Writers’ Network, area universities and colleges and local book clubs and writing groups. The idea is to complement rather than compete by becoming a clearinghouse for information on readings and learning opportunities. Connection is the key, White says. “Just the classes alone are not enough to sustain a center. It’s the notion that we are continuing to have events that are very focused around bringing writers back together and making sure that, in the literary RTP, everybody sort of knows what everybody else is up to.”