"Write A House" opens applications for inaugural writer's residency

May 19, 2014

The Apple House is one of Write a House's three houses under renovation.
The Apple House is one of Write a House's three houses under renovation.
Credit Andrew Kopietz

Writer's residencies are common, but Write A House offers a residency that might only be possible in a city like Detroit. The group renovates vacant houses and gives them away, for free, and forever. 

The unique program has opened up its application process, and in a few months, a panel of judges will select one fiction, nonfiction, or poetry writer to live in the inaugural house. 

Write A House Vice President Sarah Cox told Michigan Radio reporter Kate Wells that they want to draw more literary talent to Detroit.

"For people to experience it and write about it, but also Detroit has the problem of too many vacant houses and not enough residents," said Cox. "And so while this definitely does not solve the problem of vacancy, it does make a difference on a very local level, block by block." 

Write A House is searching for candidates who are not only good writers, but will also contribute to Detroit's growing literary culture and the community at large. 

Back in February, Cynthia Canty spoke with Anna Clark, a Write A House board member, about what writers can get out of the program, and what Detroit can get out of the writers.

Write A House board member Anna Clark describes the nightmare of many writers: working a dead-end job to pay a too-high rent in the big city, with little or no time to sit down and write. Write A House hopes to solve this problem by offering a free house in the big city near other writers and innovators and artists. A renaissance, of sorts, that is only possible because of Detroit’s vacancy problems.

Both Clark and Cox admit that Write A House isn't enough to solve the vacancy problem on its own, but the hope is that the program can inspire other offbeat ideas to combat vacancy and eventually revitalize abandoned areas of Detroit. 

Write A House is working on renovating three houses in a neighborhood near Hamtramck, and after those houses are in the hands of the selected writers, they hope to buy and renovate more houses, building a kind of writer's colony in the city. 

The program is building, no matter how slowly, a future that Clark and other creative-minded people hope to see in Detroit. Clark says every little bit counts, and eventually that spark might catch fire and return the city to a newer version of its former glory.

To learn more about the application or renovation process, visit Write A House's website

– Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom