Seven years ago, Maureen McDole started Keep St. Pete Lit, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making sure the literary arts – the written word – stayed well-represented in the city.
Thursday on The Catalyst Sessions, McDole talked about the group’s spate of programs bringing together writers, readers, students, educators and bibliophiles through talks, group meetings, interviews, book clubs, open mics and, perhaps most significantly, connections made with schools both public and private.
“There isn’t ‘one way’ to be a writer,” said McDole, who is about to publish her third book of poetry. “We tend to think you have to do a certain set of things, and then you become Stephen King or Margaret Atwood. Everybody’s totally different in their process.”
A St. Pete native, McDole said she became passionate about reading at an early age. “Reading was my outlet,” she explained. “Reading was the way I got out of being the oldest child in an alcoholic home. Reading and writing was the way that I could process my emotions.”
A born introvert, she talked about what it took to create a very public organization. “I’m a really sensitive person,” she said. “I’ve learned how to be outgoing. I’ve learned how to talk to people – just ask them about themselves. People love to talk about themselves.
“I mean, I like conversation, but it does drain me. I have about a three-hour window. And it’s funny, because all of our events are about two hours long.”
Since The Catalyst Sessions is a 30-minute program, things worked out for us.
McDole also discussed the now-canceled 2020 SunLit Festival, and the ways in which Keep St. Pete Lit is attempting to keep St. Pete … well, lit in a virtual way.
Tonight (Friday, April 17) on The Catalyst Sessions: Musician Pete Merrigan.
Weeknights at 7 on the St. Pete Catalyst Facebook page.