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.

Rachel Sahaidachny, IWC Staff, & Board


Dan and Edie Vonnegut

Dan and Edie VonnegutHere is a great photo of me and Edie Vonnegut in front of her painting of Adam and Eve in the Garden of  Eden that hangs in my living room wall. It has hung on my living room wall wherever I have lived since I bought the painting in 1971. Since that time I have lived in Boston, New York, Hollywood. Miami and now Indianapolis and the painting has always been on the living room wall wherever I lived.

In 1971, with the royalties from my novel Going All The Way, I bought a townhouse in Boston on Beacon Hill. (If I had never sold it I would now be a millionaire. So it goes.).

The first person I invited to see the house was Kurt Vonnegut. It was really “the house that Kurt built,” because his backing of my novel with the publisher and his great review of it in Life Magazine made the book a best-seller. When I showed Kurt the house I had not moved in yet and there was nothing on the walls.

“You have a lot of empty wall space,” Kurt said “And you need some paintings. It just so happens that my daughter Edie is a painter now and she has some paintings to sell. You might want to buy one.”

The next day I took the first shuttle flight to New York, went to see Edie, looked at some of her paintings and loved the one of the Garden of Eden. I bought it and she had it framed and shipped it to me.

I had not seen Edie since the time I bought her painting forty years ago until today (Sunday): when she came to town to join the celebration of the opening of the new Vonnegut Library building. She and her husband John Squibb came for breakfast, which was catered and donated by “Taste of Havana” who supplied fabulous pastelitos of strawberry, guava and coconut, plus the wonderful Cuban espresso that George serves to every patron at the end of a meal.

Edie, John and I talked non-stop for almost three hours while scarfing down Cuban pastries and talking about Kurt Vonnegut. I wish he had been there. In a way, he was, as we conjured up memories of his words, his humor, his kindness. As he sometimes said in punctuation to his novels:

“Hi ho!”

Dan Wakefield

Dan Wakefield

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