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Jen Michalski( Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun photo / May 16, 2013 )
41, Author, editor, organizational dynamo
Jen Michalski is a gathering-in kind of person, a let's-talk-about-this-over-good-food-and-drink kind of person, a red-headed, curly-haired dynamo who's done as much as anyone to create Charm City's vibrant literary community.
It's Michalski who in 2004 co-founded jmww, a quarterly online literary journal.
"The name doesn't stand for anything at all," Michalski said, "but we liked to joke that it was an acronym for 'journal managed by wicked women and men sympathetic to our cause.'"
It's Michalski who co-created the 510 Reading Series in January 2008. The series -- so popular it's usually standing-room-only -- takes place once a month at Hampden's Minas Gallery. So far, more than 200 authors have shared their work.
And, it's Michalski who co-hosts "The Lit Show" -- a combination of a late-night talk show, literary reading and variety extravaganza -- twice a year with her friend Betsy Boyd at the Creative Alliance. ("We're like Lucy and Ethel," said Boyd.)
Oh, and Michalski has edited an anthology and previously published a collection of short stories. This year she's publishing a novel, a volume of two novellas and a short story collection.
"I've never met someone with as many connections as Jen," Boyd said. "Those connections create an engine. She's a very generous spirit. She never says anything negative behind another writer's back, and that's unusual."
It was 2006 when Michalski took out a classified ad for a writers' networking event. Fifty people showed up to the first meeting.
"It seemed clear that there was a need there for other writers to come out of their houses and meet," she said. "A lot of other things happened after that, mostly because I wasn't afraid to ask."
-- Mary Carole McCauley