In a center table at Opera Alley’s B Sharp Coffee House—the spot chosen to host Creative Colloquy’s monthly readings—Jackie sits across from me sipping coffee. A smile is her default expression, something that has probably helped in her thirteen years of Tacoma restaurant and bar service.
I would describe Jackie as Tacoma’s cultural connective tissue. That might sound unflattering, but as a writer for the Weekly Volcano’s foodie column, a freelance writer, Tacoma Art Bus tour guide, and now founder of Creative Colloquy, Jackie is connecting a body of Tacoma readers and writers throughout the gritty city. Like a tendon, get it? She is too modest to ever admit it, but Jackie has a way of bringing out other’s dormant enthusiasm for art.
For those who haven’t heard, or been to one of their well-attended reading events, Creative Colloquy is a literary site that publishes South Sound writers’ creative work on their website CreativeColloquy.com.
“Our intention with CC is to give writers the opportunity to connect, share their work, and gain inspiration through the relationships that build from that.”
The idea was sparked by WRIST—Tacoma’s short-lived print based literary magazine that Jackie worked on. After it ceased production, Jackie wasn’t ready to give up the idea of a literary magazine in Tacoma.
“We are surrounded by writers here. I kept saying ‘someone should do this, someone needs to do this!’” laughs Jackie. “And then I talked to Josh [Swainston, CC’s editor-at-large] and he said, ‘well why don’t you do it’?”
She finally took up the call in February. A departure from WRIST’s print focus, Jackie wanted Creative Colloquy to bring writers and readers together over food and drink. Fitting for someone who makes their living balancing slinging cocktails by night and penning foodie reviews for the Volcano by day.
“I wanted to coordinate reading events first. Afterwards, it only made sense to share their work [on the website].”
There has been a CC event the final Monday of every month ever since. Having now attended October’s, I can say these events are where CC comes to life.
With a packed house at B Sharp Coffee House, 40-65 Tacomans gather the final Monday of each month to listen to local published authors such as New York Times best-seller Marissa Meyer, or to read at open-mic. If you needed more convincing, readers of The Weekly Volcano recently voted CC Tacoma’s “Best Literary Night.”
We talk fast about our shared passion as beans are pulverized behind the counter. Both of our coffees have long since turned cold from neglect. We finally get around to discussing Creative Colloquy Volume 1, and the process of turning what has been exclusively an online and in-person project into print.
“A print edition is something we’ve wanted to do for awhile. But we only wanted to do it when it was sustainable and made sense to do so.”
With their recent milestone of 10,000 site-visits achieved, it finally made sense. The result is 160 pages containing prose and poetry from 26 local authors. It is due out on November 24 during a release party at, where else, B Sharp.
“We were blown away by the amount of submissions we received. We thought we might have just enough to fill the book. We ended up with way more submissions than we could have dreamed and had to choose from so many great stories to fit our page limit.”
Even through the success, Jackie distances herself from the spotlight. She makes it clear that CC is about bringing a community together.
“I can plug away, I can make a website, I can coordinate. But it’s not anything without the support of the authors and the community. It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s not about me. We wouldn’t be here without the support we’ve received.”
Lastly, I had to know: Just what is a colloquy?
Jackie has an answer holstered; she’s heard this more than once. “Colloquy means to open a dialogue, a pow-wow.” A name that seems esoteric is actually a mission statement. “All of CC’s aspects are about opening a dialogue of creativity in Tacoma.”
That dialogue has now been opened. The question is how many will add their voice? Jackie hopes UWT students will be next. She encourages students to “submit! Submit, submit, submit!” Beyond that, maybe go check them out on November 24.