On Friday October 26 at 7 pm, the Writers Guild at Bloomington celebrates the art of writing with a poetry reading and silent auction in the Showers Plaza Atrium. The benefit features four local poets: Shana Ritter, Doris Lynch, Susan Swartz, and Anne Haines—all recipients of grants from the Indiana Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Program.

Part of the Arts Alliance of Greater Bloomington, the Writers Guild has grown in just two years from 4 members to 138. The group has a score of volunteers, including Chairperson Patsy Rahn.

“The Guild has two overall aspirations,” explains Rahn. “One is to foster a writing community that will help develop skills, and the other is to make writing more visible to the community. People might not think of writing as being alive, but when it’s spoken you see it as both an art form and a valid living form.”

The Writers Guild offers readings, panels, and workshops and has several ongoing events, such as Lemonstone—a reading series combining literature and music at Sweet Claire Gourmet Bakery—and Fountain Square Poets, a poetry reading in collaboration with By Hand Gallery art exhibits. Writers also participate in the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts & Crafts, including an activity called Poetry On Demand.

“You make a donation and there’s an old-fashioned typewriter and a poet writes whatever you like. One couple asked for a poem on their upcoming wedding and the poet sat there and typed it up—‘clack, clack, clack!’—and the woman read it and burst into tears,” says Rahn.

The participating poets are enthusiastic about the upcoming benefit. “I’m excited about the four of us reading together,” says Ritter. “We have a wide array of styles and voices and have all pursued writing for years.”

The event is free and open to the public. Proceeds from a silent auction will be used toward the guild’s nonprofit application fee, which, if successful, will enable it to apply for grants. Those funds would be used to support its efforts in fostering an active and supportive writing community while enhancing the visibility of literature and local authors. The auction list includes music and autographed books by local and national artists and writers.

Visit the Writers Guild website for event dates and times.