You already know that Panera Bread’s the perfect place to curl up with a good book - or plug in your computer and write one of your own. But in Tulsa, seven Panera Bread bakery-cafes recently became literary salons for a day, as they welcomed the staff of the prestigious (and colorfully named) Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry.
“We’ve been around since 1956,” says Eilis O’Neal, managing editor of The University of Tulsa’s Nimrod, the award-winning journal that is recognized for uncovering and honoring fine contemporary writing. “We’ve published [early and new, original] work by writers who have gone on to become famous, like Sue Monk Kidd and S. E. Hinton. But the city’s grown so much, and we wanted to let more people know about us - and Panera seemed like a natural spot to spread our passion.”
So on January 21, 2011, the staff of Nimrod fanned out, bringing boxes of back issues to seven Panera locations. Volunteers, editors, and board members were on hand to answer questions and discuss good writing. Eilis and her staff enjoyed chatting with aspiring writers.
“I met a woman who came in with her two daughters who were interested in writing,” she recalls. “It was nice to be able to give them the journal and tell them about the writing conference* we sponsor each October. Our main mission isn’t just to publish famous writers but also to find writers who are up-and-coming and help them break into the publishing world.”
The event was a great success, says Erin Studebaker, community relations manager for Traditional Bakery, which operates the Tulsa-area Panera Bread bakery-cafes. “We were glad to be part of the effort. After all, the Panera atmosphere just lends itself to good reading and writing. You can grab a journal and lose yourself in a corner by the fireplace.”
* There’s more information on the 2011 Nimrod Literary Awards Conference for Readers and Writers on the Nimrod website.