Keep St. Pete Lit has provided the community with invaluable programs, reaching many people in St. Pete, Fl. They see that the art of reading has been supplanted by memes and a few lines of code on our computers. What a loss! Yet, Keep St. Pete Lit is involved with and starts many programs to  bring us back to the joy of reading and writing. They have brought famous authors to speak on their creative process, sponsors a huge book fair every year, hold poetry nights (my personal favorites) and provides books at little or no cost to the community. They work with small book sellers to help them survive and thrive. There are book clubs and writing classes under the auspices of Keep St. Pete Lit are offered as well. Founder/Executive Director Maureen McDole is a talented published poet herself. She walks the talk. I’m so pleased to know Maureen and support Keep St. Pete Lit. I urge you to do the same. Maureen and everyone involved in Keep St. Pete Lit offer everyone the opportunity and tools necessary to learn and nurture your writing skils, recommend books that will continue to engage the communtiy creatively. My hope is my brief synopsis of my experience with Maureen and Keep St. Pete Lit that everyone will Read and Write OnPETER MANTICE -Donor

My experience as the LitSpace resident writer was inspiring on multiple levels: both creatively generative and restorative. From leading a classroom full of deeply engaged, motivated, and perceptive writers, to reading and making notes on an empty beach surrounded by sandpipers, to participating in a vibrant literary event bursting with grassroots energy, talent and a palpable sense of community, I was continuously stimulated and driven to create. St. Pete has a deeply unique resource in LitSpace: a community-driven, innovative network of literary events and projects, built on real human relationships and collaborations. It’ll be tough to leave. SUZANNE RIVECCA- 2019 LitSpace Writer-in-Resident

St. Petersburg is a world away from my native Oregon—and the perfect, peaceful space to spark creation in new directions. I spent my two weeks in St. Pete exploring beaches as I began a tarot-inspired poetry manuscript, allowing the environment to nudge and direct me toward new subjects and themes. The close-knit community, incredible support for writers (who came out even in the midst of a torrential downpour!), and incredible coffee in the café downstairs served on the porch help to remind me why we write. When beauty surrounds you, it’s a bit easier to allow it to blossom from within and into the pen. JESSICA MEHTA- 2020 Litspace Writer-in-Residence

Keep St. Pete supports literary tradition essential for individual and community growth, delivering programming to specific  groups in innovative ways. KPSLit dusts off, shakes up, and reimagines traditional arts to make writing and reading accessible an inclusive for all, and often reaches out to the sister arts with multidisciplinary projects. KPSLit’s education programs make the literary tradition RELEVANT to us today as it must for our city’s civil discourse and development. JOHN COLLINS- Former Executive Director of Saint Petersburg Art Alliance

Keep St. Pete Lit is a marvelous program for children as young as 4 years old and up!  Camp Summer Quest and Intellectual Kids Club have enjoyed working with Ms. Sara Ries for the past two years.  It was thrilling to see our children being able to freely write and to share their literary works of art with beaming pride each week.   We appreciate teacher Ms. Sara’s thoughtful preparation of each lesson which cultivated creativity, expanded vocabulary, improved writing skills and presentation skills in our campers.  The children were so proud of their literary masterpieces and loved receiving praises from Ms. Sara. Encouragement goes a long way! We are grateful to Creative Pinellas for sponsoring our children so they could enjoy the many benefits of the Keep St. Pete Lit reading and writing program.  Sara went beyond her time with us.  She shared links to a few Spoken Word websites and sent additional activities which were very meaningful to us. We grew. We are truly grateful for the collaboration and the collective impact with Keep St. Pete Lit. We are enjoying celebrating and sharing in the success that we are having with our children! We are in this together! God Bless Keep St. Pete Lit! DENISE FORD- Director, Camp Summer Quest, Inc.

Uhm, I’m not sure where I’d be without KSPLit’s poetry open mic. In late 2017, it was the event horizon of my artistic black hole; I couldn’t see over the rim of my present, and getting into writing was as daunting and gargantuan as an actual black hole; that immense pressure with gravity strong enough to squeeze me and my untested writing into a strand of angel hair pasta ten miles long. But I knew I needed something different in my life, so I jumped over the rim into the world of poetry and I found myself in a higher dimension of valuable perspectives, permission to feel, and support from so many other creatives. We were all just starting writing or getting better at it. Miesha, Keesha, Stephanie, Ian, Anthony, and others. Unsure of so many footsteps, so many of the poems we wrote. But we grew confident in the black hole where we learned to manipulate time and find our writing sweet spots throughout the day. Maureen told us about writing in the mornings, and other writers told us about their tricks and odd habits to help us along the way. We started writing books, blogs, did street poetry, and started our own poetry gatherings. The KSPLit open mic gave me a way to express all that atomic energy I’d been holding in. And when you find an organization like this, you didn’t realize that you were holding your creative breath—you realize you’ve just been waiting to exhale and take that leap, that call to adventure to something interstellar. DENZEL JOHNSON-GREEN- Creator of Community Poetry, Neptune Poetry Magazine, and KSPLit board member  

Teacher Sara Ries’s kind demeanor and easy to follow poetry guided worksheets presented entry-level concepts of creative writing methods and themes! Assigning details prompts that help stimulates authentic and personalized poetry pieces. Keep St. Pete Lit taught us how to incorporate our own life experiences, thoughts, emotions, and culture into our work. Creating lessons around renowned revolutionary poetic pieces like “Ain’t I A Woman”. Allowing students to see the value and mental health benefits that come with a graceful and artistic form of expression! Keep St. Pete Lit gave me an outlet to express all of my emotions in a constructive manner. MOREIRA- Starting Right Now Student

I walked into my first KSPL book club and I found a wise-inside and freewheeling-outside band of literary misfits to grind and whet ideas against. People who could take it and throw back figurative book pages in crumpled paper balls at me. People who expertly foraged juicy good reads and asked me to contribute the fruits of my mine to the party punch. I kept bringing it and drinking it and in the process grew. The rollicking reader- and writership continued until one day, in dreaming up fundraising ideas, we dreamt up a writing school. The whole assembly came together quickly like ants around sugar water. The town was thirsty for something sweet, and I guess we’d knocked that can over in the gesticulative flailings of some grand discussion or other. The organization also gave me the chance to contribute to shows and know myself as one whose creativity was and is valued. I was crowned King of Metaphors. I got to understand that Artist was an option to add to my oeuvre. Some years and many grant application writing sessions later, I moved to Argentina to continue to evolve that creativity in dance, but each and every day I use things I learned in LitSpace. Both taking classes and doing my part to see that they continued to exist. And everything I do is better for it. I am so proud to have been a board member of Keep St. Pete Lit and to have been able to contribute to this written rowdiness, this liberation of literary loudness, because without such an energy blazing somewhere in the middle of it all, what does life really, truly offer anyways? MATT JACKSON- Past Keep St. Pete Lit board member

Supporting Keep St Pete Lit is like helping a family. When I moved to the St Petersburg area, I searched for a group of writers, and what I found at Keep St Pete Lit was a writing family. Through the workshops and classes at KSPL, I honed my writing chops in a supportive but rigorous environment. The class instructors are smart, accomplished, and generous writers who taught me the fine points of the craft. Maureen McDole, founder and executive director of the program, runs most of the prose workshops and has created an atmosphere of support and intelligent commentary for writers at various stages in their writing. Keep St Pete Lit is a vibrant part of the St Petersburg literary community. I feel honored to be a supporting member of this program in order to keep its advocacy for writers and the local community going. MARY CHRIS BAILEY- LitSpace student and supporting member

A city of the Arts can’t thrive without the inclusion of literary arts. The written word can be transformational in so many instances. It can be very easy to miss poetry and prose as it can be lost in the maze of the dominant form of business communication. Keep St. Pete Lit reminds the community that reading, just for the joy of reading, is an integral part of why St. Petersburg is the city of the Arts. The relationship with Keep St. Pete Lit and the Deuces Live Main Street stretches back to July 2016. Keep St. Pete Lit was the book supplier during the Deuces – A Book and a Movie series, twice monthly screening of movies at the Historic Royal Theater, a location of the Boys & Girls Club of the SunCoast. Movies screened were also books! (The Great Debaters of Wiley College, the Pursuit of Happiness, Akeelah and the Bee to name a few! VEATRICE FARRELL- Former Executive Director of Deuces Live! and community partner

When I first came to Keep St Pete Lit’s writing classes I didn’t know what to expect and the truth is I was a little scared. I have always done my writing in private, and the prospect of reading something in public, terrified me. But, I felt I really had to go. Some of my best conversations have been with other writers, whether the conversation was about craft or not. I was quickly embraced by ‘the group”, I formed friendships that are pandemic proof, and those are the people I miss the most. The writing classes offer a diverse group of instructors, each and everyone is able to offer a unique way to approach your writing. I walked away with a different perspective and a different approach to my writing and most often a headful of writing. Writer’s Gym gave me the opportunity to read three pages of my work to the class and get honest criticism about the project I was working on. We became familiar with each other’s work and I was always curious to see where my friend’s stories were going. Keep St Pete Lit, didn’t just provide me with tools that I use every day, but also more confidence in my writing and frankly with myself. It led to so many other events and opportunities. I feel like I am a member of a community. Now I am writing like gangbusters, maybe I always had it within me, but people at Keep St Pete Lit whispered in my ear, “You know you have wings, right?” MARIKA CHRISTIAN- LitSpace student

Keep St Pete Lit taught me how to write. For years, I fumbled about, trying to cobble together the book inside of me, pecking the keyboard only on days when inspiration hit. Using long descriptive phrases that would bore any reader, I didn’t know the basics. In classes, I learned concepts like “Show not Tell”, avoid the passive tense, and raise the stakes. Welcomed in a community of writers, I found support and inspiration. I devoured books on craft, joined a writing circle, and attended national and regional writing workshops. Now, I write every day, whether I’m on a flight to Shanghai or at my father’s bedside. Instead of feeling queasy reading my work, I’m pleased with my efforts. My YA fantasy, Because the Was, is off to a professional editor in January 2021. Keep St. Pete Lit turned my dream of becoming a writer, into reality. MAUREEN HAMROCK- LitSpace student and donor

It’s not too bizarre a statement to say I moved to St. Pete from the suburban strip malls of north Tampa because of Keep St. Pete Lit. I was drawn to St Pete because of its radiant sense of community, creativity, diversity, innovation, and collaboration. These five keywords point to and encompass the vibe and entire point of Keep St. Pete Lit. Saturday mornings hanging with other writers on the third floor of the Morean Arts Center makes me feel, more than anything else, that I am living a writer-bohemian’s life as I imagined it when I read On the Road (don’t judge!) when I was 14. I’m a literature professor, a literary journal editor, a published author, but honestly collaborating with (not teaching, I wouldn’t call it that) other writers and artists in the Keep St. Pete Lit universe, more than anything else, re-assures me that the power of art and expression and human sharing is as real now as it was in 60’s San Francisco, 30’s Paris, Elizabethan ondon, Renaissance Italy, etc. And if that’s the case, then Keep St. Pete Lit inhabits the space of the famous patrons of the arts of those sepia-toned days we might during these bleak times think are gone, but are not. JAMES MCADAMS- LitSpace teacher and supporting member

Keep St Pete Lit is the premiere literary organization in town. I wanted to connect with storytellers and KSPLit’s vast network, and they opened their doors to enable working together to create mutually beneficial programming. I can’t imagine the cultural landscape without them. LISA KIRCHNER- Host of True Stories Storytelling Show, Local Writer,  and LitSpace teacher

Keep St Pete Lit has provided so many opportunities in our community to develop creativity and build connection. They’ve been a wonderful partner to True Stories, believing in the intertwined nature of literature and storytelling. KSPL is an essential part of St Pete! TRISH COLLINS- Co-host of True Stories Storytelling Show

As a teacher for Keep St. Pete Lit, I watch students decide how to best share their stories, dreams, and worldview as they build something beautiful and important out of words. Whether I am teaching youth or seniors, in-person or virtual, I get to witness these stories come to life and how connected we all feel when we listen to each other’s truths during the share sessions. These classes allow us to learn more about ourselves and each other, and I am grateful to Keep St. Pete Lit for the opportunity to teach for them and expand community. Sara Ries Dziekonski- Keep St. Pete Lit teacher

When I moved to St Petersburg from Los Angeles six years ago, I contacted all the local literary organizations I could find on the internet. I was looking for a venue that would host me and another experimental poet for an evening reading. Maureen responded to my out-of-the-blue request with open heart and mind, taking a chance to bring something unconventional to our literary community here. This beautiful synergy developed into a three year run of salons that hosted local and out of town avant writers who engaged participants in playful performative experiences to explore new creative dimensions of language and social awareness. Through Keep St Pete lit we showcased so many literary angles—from spoken word African-American sci-fi dystopia with xylophone, to intuitive cell phone collaborative gestalt poetry, to participatory flocking movement with disability poetics. It was an extraordinary exploration of the talent we have in this community! SABRINA DALLA VALLE- Community Partner

I love teaching with Keep St Pete Lit because of the genuine excitement and positive energy of the students. As the workshop leader for Writer’s Gym, it is inspiring to see how returning students grow, not only as writers but in their ability to give helpful feedback to other classmates. Each session, I am impressed by how a group—which often consists of strangers—can develop a sense of community in just a few hours of reading and sharing. Their writing has inspired me to take more risks in my own work and keeps me connected to the joy at the heart of the literary arts. KATE POSTLE- Keep St. Pete Lit teacher

Helping build Keep St. Pete Lit really showed me how much this community cares about what really matters. St. Pete is a crucial center of creativity for Florida, and increasingly for the country, and it is creativity – reflection, self-understanding, discovery – that let us truly understand what it means to be human, even in the hardest times. KSPL is an engine for helping us enhance our own humanity and resiliency, and that’s exactly what we need, whatever temporary crisis may beset us. DAVID MORRIS- Past KSPLit board member

I first met Maureen 5 years ago when we both were invited to participate in a book talk, Between the Covers. She was on the threshold of launching Keep St. Pete Lit and invited me to teach a writing class which I did, to my pleasure.The next wonderful event I partook of was the KSPL Book club. I joined at the onset and experienced many happy, stimulating hours of book talk. Still do. Another fun event that appealed to me was the pen pal project, exchanging book tips with a book store in Houston, Tx. Her creativity is endless. One of my favorite events was Fantastic Ekphrastic which came out annually for a few seasons, all about a painting,a writing & spoken word, trifecta. Maureen has brought enrichment in the field of Literature to St. Pete for those who love reading and writing, like me. Read & Write On! ANI CRANE- MA, Author, Psychic

Keep St. Pete Lit has been important to me since 2013 when I seriously began to write. My métier since retirement has been short story writing. It’s a way of giving something back that I’ve created out of my life’s experiences this far. As part of my planned giving it is an opportunity to fund meaningful classes for hopeful, budding writers. Wishing KSPLit lots of fun and brighter days in the near future. BRIT CHISM- LitSpace student and supporting member