Founded on Meetup.com in May of 2009, the Burlington Writers “Group” held its first meeting in an apartment in the Vermont House, on the corner of St. Paul and Main in Burlington. Founded by Peter Biello, the BWG talked about books, did a writing exercise, and planned to meet again the following week.
For years, these BWW meetings were held in public coffee houses and bars. Many of those years were spent in the cafe on Center Street in Burlington that was called Sapa’s, then Patra’s, then Levity, and is now the vegetarian restaurant, Revolution Kitchen.
We met weekly, often on Wednesdays, and by late 2012, meetings were often full at 15 people. Under Biello’s leadership, the group began to institute rules found in MFA workshops. These rules allowed people of any writing ability to participate in and benefit from honest and productive conversations about what works well and what works less well in a work-in-progress.
In the summer of 2012, some BWW members expressed interest in publishing a collection of work produced by BWW members. THE BEST OF THE BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP 2013 was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Following the launch of THE BEST OF THE BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP 2013, the BWW went through rapid growth. Publicity helped more writers discover us. When Levity closed, we found a new home in the basement of Half Lounge on Church Street, and we held workshops on Mondays and Wednesdays, and we often met on Tuesdays and Thursdays when it seemed necessary. Sally Pollack illuminated the challenges we faced with this space in this article for the Burlington Free Press.
In late 2013, Biello decided it was time to rent a permanent space and make it open to everyone who wanted to learn how to write, regardless of income. He took a leap and rented a space, planning on paying the $600/month rent himself if nobody stepped up. But workshop members did, and through contributions, the rent was paid.
In 2014, BWW members came together to start Mud Season Review, a print and online publication that features authors and artists and their “deeply human work.”
The BWW became a 501(c)(3) in January 2015. Peter Biello stepped down as organizer in March and appointed a new leader, and served as board chair and dedicated volunteer until October 2017.