Having moved to Seattle after a long career in dance and theater in New York City (throughout which I wrote something someone might call “poems”), I decided it was time to enroll in a writing course. My research turned up the great master-poet, David Wagoner, teaching at a place called Hugo House. I couldn’t believe my luck, especially since the course description declared it was intended for writers of all levels.
The first class was utterly devastating. As fate would have it, I was called on to read. Several published poets were taking the class that spring and they had their way with my pathetic offering. I wept all the way home, wondering how I ever might have thought I could write poetry and concluding I would drop the class.
But I didn’t. I have now completed eight consecutive master classes in poetry taught by David Wagoner, as well as countless other Hugo House courses and classes of varying lengths and descriptions.
At the encouragement of David and the great colleagues I have met through Hugo House, I began submitting my poems for publication and have had poems published and accepted for publication. My chapbook Dubious Moon will be published this March.
In a sense, I chose to make Hugo House my graduate school in creative writing. I’ve received an excellent education from its first-rate faculty and illustrious guests, aided by assistance from its caring and efficient staff, all at minimal cost and without the pressure and anxiety that tend to accompany a formal program.
But for me, Hugo House is more a home than a school. I have made so many friends in its classes and many of us have remained so for years—grouping and regrouping for social events and reading circles, making dates to attend Hugo House presentation evenings together, gathering for coffee after a workshop. I always feel excited to see which of my writer friends will turn up in the next class I’ve registered for, and what new acquaintances I will make. Hugo House seems to attract people with varied and fascinating backgrounds, some native to the Seattle area and many from throughout the U.S. and far beyond.
Lillo Way is the winner of the 2017 Hudson Valley Writers Center’s Slapering Hol Chapbook Contest for her chapbook Dubious Moon. She is a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New Orleans Review, Poet Lore, Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, Madison Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Poetry East, Roanoke Review, Flying South, and elsewhere. Her full-length manuscript, Wingbone, was a finalist for the Barry Spacks Poetry Prize from Gunpowder Press. Way has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, NY State Council on the Arts, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for her choreographic work involving poetry.