The Ogden City Arts Advisory Committee is a group of local artists and residents that focuses on all things art happening in the city. The group’s members work as liaisons between artists and Ogden City to ensure art remains a vital part of the city. Vince Font is a member of the committee.
There’s an explosion happening in Ogden that you really ought to know about. Not a literal explosion, but a literary one; a polysyllabic kaboom so resounding that it could serve to put this city on the map for more than just its rough-and-tumble history and emerging underground arts scene.
What am I talking about? Writers. Oodles and oodles of ‘em, right under your nose. And their numbers are growing.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, you probably know someone who either is or wants to be a writer. If that’s news to you, ask around. You might be surprised to learn that your bestie or your spouse or maybe even your next door neighbor are all closet scribes. But don’t beat yourself up for not already knowing. Not everyone who spends their spare time scribbling ideas onto a notepad wears it on their sleeve or walks around with a shirt proclaiming, “Hug Me, I’m a Writer.” If it makes you feel any better, even I was completely unaware.
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Up until 2013, when my wife opened Pandemonium Art Gallery and we began to rub elbows with Ogden’s artistic community, I was the only writer I knew. That belief made it possible to tell myself I was also the best writer I knew, which proved not to be the case as I expanded my circle of influence to include other humans who exist to put thoughts on paper. But it takes a lot more than bunches of writers to foster a bona fide movement, and the evidence of Ogden’s literary renaissance is all around.
Booked on 25th, the wildly popular indie bookstore that opened its doors one year ago and filled the gaping hole left by Hastings’ closure, has fast become the go-to place for local authors to get their work showcased on shelves alongside the Kings, Rowlings and Gaimans of the world. Store owner Marcy Rizzi even has an entire bookcase dedicated to local authors. Hers is not the only platform spreading the word; the Local Artisan Collective, Wisebird Bookery and Planet Rainbow are also stalwart strongholds of local lit.
You’ll find your next clue at the Lighthouse Lounge on Historic 25th Street, which hosts an open mic event called PoetFlow every Tuesday night. PoetFlow is just one of a growing number of venues where local poets and writers can get together, have a beer (or mineral water, it’s all good), and share their literary inventions in a welcoming and supportive environment. Even Ogden City is getting in on the push to transform the city into a writerly wellspring, as evidenced by the Arts Advisory Committee’s naming of Weber State University instructor Brad Roghaar as Ogden’s first poet laureate.
If all of this isn’t evidence enough for you of the avalanche of authors living within city limits, there’s my own company, Glass Spider Publishing. When I launched it a year and a half ago with the aim of guiding inexperienced authors through the treacherous waters of editing, designing and marketing their books, I had no idea what kind of response we’d get. Since that day in January 2016, we’ve been racing to keep up with demand, proving out the theory first proposed by the company slogan: “Everyone has a story to tell.” We’ve now published more than a dozen books and have another 10 nearing publication — but by no means does Glass Spider represent the totality of Ogden-area writers working hard to get their books into circulation.
Local writers are in abundance. But no community of writers can thrive without the support of the one thing that keeps them going: readers. More importantly, readers who are willing to support their labors by attending book signings, buying the books and sharing the news of their existence with anyone who’ll listen. The written word is far from dead, but it’s up to each and every one of us to make sure it stays alive.