Where Creativity Becomes Conversation

Checking the website KauaiBackstory.com. Coco Zickos photos

The two wordsmiths created Kaua’i Backstory as venue for local writers to share their work on its ‘literary salon,’ KauaiBackstory.com

Sharing stories is in our DNA, according to writer Kim Steutermann Rogers, who helped create a venue for writers to share their creativity called Kaua’i Backstory.

“We just resonate as human beings with a story,” she says. “We can immerse ourselves in this world of someone else’s story, but in such a way that it is our story.

“Great talent exists on Kaua’i, and we just needed a place to publish it,” says Steutermann regarding why she helped found the organization and launch its web-site KauaiBackstory.com seven years ago.

By building a blog she calls a “literary salon and a conversation,” writers have a place where their creative pieces, from poetry to essays, can be published.

“We create topics that traditional outlets wouldn’t publish,” says writer and Purple Inc. editor Lois Ann Ell who, along with Steutermann, serves as coeditor for the group.

The organization is currently gearing up for its annual writing competition. The theme this year is fairy tales, fables and myths. Writers are encouraged to submit any style of writing by Sept. 30, as long as it pertains to the topic and is relevant to Kaua’i.

And there is never a limit to the creativity allowed.

“KauaiBackstory.com values the expression of all voices, and delights in words and images that shift thinking and open minds, threading us ever closer together in this cal-abash of a world in which we live,” it says on the website.

Kaua‘i Backstory’s Kim Steutermann Rogers (left) and Lois Ann Ell

Steutermann says the evolution of writing at Kaua’i Backstory throughout the years has been profound. At its inception, entries consisted largely of poems pertaining to a writer’s admiration of the island. However, last year many entries were short stories and essays. In addition, the quality of writing has grown throughout the years.

“I’m blown away,” says Ell, who was the first year’s competition winner for her nonfiction narrative about Makauwahi Cave Reserve.

Writing has become “more edgy” and topics “more meaty,” says Steutermann.

“The avenue they take with a piece is so original,” she says about the writers. “It just keeps getting better and better.”

The website archives each year’s competition winners and the runners up. And aside from the competition, submissions are always accepted.

“We don’t have a whole lot of outlets here for writers,” says Steutermann. “That is first and foremost the No. 1 reason why I do this.”

The community aspect is her secondary reason.

“Writing is a solitary, lonely endeavor at times. It can be the hardest thing that you do in the course of your day, making yourself sit down and write,” she says. “At some point in our lives, we need that community; we need that social outlet. Coming together as a group with like-minded fellow writers can jump-start you and give you your annual vaccination for the year, and then you can go back in your cave and do your thing.”

Kaua’i Backstory also holds an annual springtime event where writers are invited to read their work aloud to an audience.

“It gives Kaua’i writers a voice,” says Ell.

Last month, the event drew a small crowd to Small Town Coffee in Kapa’a where author Darien Gee was a guest speaker.

“I love having an audience and community of other writers to be supported,” says Ell.

People appreciate sharing their work, adds Steutermann.

“The written word is an avenue of communication that is unlike any other one,” says Ell.

Visit kauaibackstory.com for more information.

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