Jim Powell, founder of Indiana Writers Center, dies

Jim Powell was “the real thing.” That’s what comes to my mind when I think of him. No frills, no phoniness, no extra baggage. He brought me back here to do workshops at The Writers Center when I lived in Boston. I later learned – from others, not from Jim, who liked to pat others on the back but never himself – that he had been the main endorser/defender here of my novel Going All The Way when others were disparaging both book and author.

He was one of the best editors I ever knew. I had sent him a long essay I was working on a few days ago, knowing he would understand how and where to cut it and shape it. He had offered to do this even though he knew his time was limited and there was work of his own to be done. His presence here was a gift.

— Dan Wakefield

Release from the Indiana Writers Center

The below is a copy of a release sent by the IWC on January 29, 2020

Honoring Jim Powell

Dear Friends and Writers – I am sad to write with the news that Jim Powell, the founder of Indiana Writers Center, and a great friend to writers, passed away on Monday.

The Indiana Writers Center exists because of Jim’s vision, and his drive and desire to support writers in Indiana. In 1979 Powell breathed life into the organization, and because of his efforts writers have continued to find each other, and the resources they need for success in our community, for over forty years.

If you have memories of Jim, we welcome them, and celebrate his life.

In 2019, Jim published Only Witness, a collection of short stories, through the Indiana Writers Center to commemorate the Center’s 40th anniversary. IWC was grateful and excited to be involved in this lifelong project with him. We talked to Jim about the founding of the organization in this article.

Read Jim Powell’s obituary, including details for his calling, here. Our hearts and thoughts are with Karen, his family, and his many friends. He will be missed.

Sincerely,
Rachel Sahaidachny, IWC Staff, & Board

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My feature on Butler University’s new “Naptown” podcast

I was honored to be a guest on Butler’s new “Naptown” podcast with my good friend Susan Neville. The new podcast series will be 20 episodes featuring stories about Broad Ripple, Indiana, my work as a journalist and writer, and more. The whole season will become available in May.

More from Butler’s release:

The soundbooth only fits two people, but the results are as high-level as anything on Podcast One. Neville and Wakefield mapped out every episode, about an hour in length each. So far, they’ve completed episodes focusing on Vonnegut, novelist James Baldwin, and a trio of Wakefield’s mentors from his undergraduate days at Columbia College: Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mark Van Doren, literary critic Lionel Trilling, and famed sociologist C. Wright Mills, who Wakefield served as a research assistant.

Neville enlisted the help of Academic Technology Specialist Megan Grady-Rutledge to help edit each episode, which starts with music and short introductions and outros from Neville. The rest is all Wakefield answering Neville’s questions, recalling major career milestones, and reading from his published works.

“Once he gets on a roll, he gets on a roll,” says Neville with a laugh. “I was a journalism major as an undergrad and have written a lot of freelance feature articles, so I’m used to doing interviews. Recording a podcast is a combination of radio and the print journalism I’m used to.”

Neville reveals that Season Two will consist of Vonnegut interviews she conducted in 1989 and 1990. Those conversations currently live on microcassettes, but will be transferred to a digital format after Season One launches.

“Talking with Susan, I’m remembering a lot of things,” Wakefield says. “I feel like there’s a big hole in our history and in Indianapolis, like the great jazz scene we had here. A lot of if isn’t mentioned in a lot of places so I’m glad to be able to talk about that.” 

— Tim Brouk, Butler University

You can read the whole story at Butler’s website here.

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Dan Wakefield

Dan Wakefield