NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Creative writers, rejoice: a new writer’s group launched quietly at Hidden Grounds Café last May, a place for writers to develop their ideas, their talent, and their community.
Hub City Writers (HCW), founded by rising Rutgers senior Caitlyn Gilvary, meets weekly at the popular café on Easton Avenue, and involves a member reading what he or she has written since the previous weeks’ meeting, and then receiving critiques from their creative peers.
“I decided to start HCW on a feverish whim,” Gilvary told New Brunswick Today, “I didn’t have any goals except to find new friends to swap work with.”
And that single goal became the portrait for the group’s first meeting, just over a month ago. After a good deal of logistical Facebook-messaging to arrange a time and place, “five of us were there and had all brought a piece to critique. It was very fulfilling to see it come together.”
The majority of group members are Rutgers students.
Gilvary, 24 and an English major, is the oldest member of the group, while Radcliffe Bent, a 19-year-old also majoring in English, is the youngest.
In regards to being the youngest, Bent admitted that his age is “a piteous, yet necessary measurement. My peers have taken courses and received feedback that I have not. I look to siphon whatever I can from them.”
Although his peers in the group have had more official education, Bent has had experience with writer’s groups such as HCW before, and because of his experience, he did not expect HCW to go very well.
Bent hopes HCW doesn't suffer the same fate as other groups, which “teeter out, almost immediately,” and as such he wants to see it expand and meet more regularly.
As the group expands, they hope to be able to start hosting Open Mic events, according to Gilvary.
She also specified that the group is not strictly Rutgers-affiliated.
“I want us to become more involved in the community of New Brunswick,” said Gilvary, and, “we’re open to anyone who’s interested and we meet year round.”
“We’re lucky to be somewhere our goals don’t seem out-of-reach,” she said.
HCW’s mode of operation is quite similar to that of groups that have sparked works of genius and great acclaim in the past century alone: The Inklings, which proudly lists JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis as alum and The Bloomsbury Group, where Virginia Woolf and EM Forster wrote.
“I don’t think [writing groups are] a one-time phenomenon,” said Gilvary regarding the illustrative history of the writing group, “Surrounding yourself with positive, likeminded people is the best way to get anything accomplished.”
Starting HCW was a proactive move toward a writing career. Gilvary, after her final undergraduate year at Rutgers, plans to move into a Master’s of Fine Arts program, concentrating in creative writing. She has previously worked with Rutgers’ Anthology magazine.
Hub City is not the only writer’s group in Hub City. Another group is The Green Fairy Writer’s Group (GFWG), which meets in Garden Steak on Spring Street.
The GFWG Facebook group is littered with pictures of absinthe bottles, evoking Ernest Hemingway’s famous writing advice: “Write drunk, edit sober.”
Despite other groups such as GFWG for creative writers to flock to, Gilvary is confident HCW will attract the kind of creative and artistic people she is looking for.
“These groups become your close friends, inevitably,” Gilvary said. “You show someone something you’ve worked tirelessly on, something you put a part of yourself into, you’re going get close.”
“Art is something you have to work exhaustively, painfully, degradingly hard at. Why wouldn’t you want to do that with friends?”