I sat in the Full Service Radio studio quietly as “The Inner Loop Radio: A Creative Writing Podcast” recorded their latest episode. This week’s topic was on food writing and featured guest speakers Laura Hayes and Susan Lutz. Before getting into the conversation, hosts and The Inner Loop founders Courtney Sexton and Rachel Coonce plugged their upcoming gala.
“We’re hosting our first-ever big, fancy writer’s party on December 6 at the Newseum,” Coonce announced on air.
“The amazing Alice McDermott, local author Alis Sandosharaj and the DC youth poet [laureate] Gabriela Orozco willing be giving readings” Sexton chimed in.
“We will be enjoying sweeping views of the DC city skyline, Wolfgang Puck hors d’oeuvres and of course booze” Coonce responded.
“Because booze,” Sexton replied as they both nodded in agreement.
Coonce and Sexton’s witty banter didn’t end when they went off the air, and continued as we took our conversation to the hotel lobby’s couch. They told me about the beginnings of The Inner Loop and how they met at Sarah Lawrence College. After both moving to DC, Sexton reached out to Coonce to see if she was still writing. They both realized that writing wasn’t as easy post-college, they missed having a close-knit group of writers.
“I actually had no idea how many writers there were in the DC area,” Coonce says. “When I came back to DC, I was thinking ‘where are all the writers?’ ‘Where are the great literary events?’ The authors were here, I just didn’t know how to find them.”
They created The Inner Loop to create a sense of community among the local writers of DC. In addition to being a network for writers, The Inner loop holds a monthly reading series in various locations around the city “to transform the written word into a shared experience through the act of reading aloud.” Each month, an established author reads works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction alongside nine local up and coming writers.
They added podcasting to their repertoire just two years ago. Every other Friday they broadcast live from The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan to further the conversation of creative writers in the area by featuring guest speakers and recorded readings. Each episode they hone in on specific topics such as nature or travel writing.
Now in its fifth year, The Inner Loop has grown bigger than anything Coonce and Sexton imagined. In May of 2019, they became a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Their winter fundraising gala is a celebration of everything the group has accomplished. The gala is being held at the Newseum, which is closing at the end of the month. In addition to saying goodbye to the museum, guests can participate in a silent auction with items from local sponsors such as Politics and Prose, Shakespeare Theatre Company and the 9:30 Club.
True to their philosophy of supporting both established and emerging authors, their guest readers range from an American Book Award winner to a youth poet. Headlining is writer and professor Alice McDermott who has published several novels and essays and was inducted into the New York Writers Hall of Fame. Accompanying McDermott is Alis Sandosharaj, well known for her essays including Discovering Ralph Waldo Emerson in the Golden Age of Sneakers and high school student Gabriela Orozco, who received the 2019 DC youth poet laureate at the Kennedy Center.
“It’s an exciting time to be apart of the broader arts community in DC,” Sexton says.
Funds raised from the gala will help The Inner Loop continue to support local authors and spread their passion for creative writing to all of DC. They have future plans to connect with local authors and book shops so that all neighborhoods in the district can be represented.
The Inner Loop’s Winter Fundraising Gala will be held on Friday, December 6 from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Tickets begin at $65 and can be purchased here. If you’re unable to attend, you can still donate to The Inner Loop by texting 44-321 and entering the code TIL2019. Learn more about The Inner Loop and this event by visiting www.theinnerlooplit.org.
The Newseum: 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, DC: www.newseum.org