Literary City Spotlight: 5 St. Louis Landmarks
Known for its impressive Gateway Arch and rich food scene, the city of St. Louis is a charming, Midwestern gem. It’s also a haven for arts and culture, with several museums, a celebrated symphony and ballet company, and—you guessed it—serious writerly appeal. Award-winning writers like Mark Twain and Jonathan Franzen have called the city home, along with top literary magazines like Boulevard and River Styx. If you’re headed to The Lou, here are five stops not to miss as a lover of poetry.
The official nonprofit for writers of St. Louis, the St. Louis Writers Guild offers workshops, residencies, readings, book fairs, and other events. Recently, they’ve hosted talks on how to write a query letter and maintained a fun, celebratory speakeasy series. Check out the organization’s event calendar to see what’s coming up during your visit!
Located in The Loop, St. Louis’s trendy and bustling downtown area, Subterranean Books is an independent bookshop with an expansive collection, close-knit book clubs, and a focus on antiracism and social justice.
The Novel Neighbor is another independent bookstore, this one in the Webster Groves area. The woman-owned shop welcomes dozens of authors each month for readings, talks, and signings. Additionally, The Novel Neighbor emphasizes its cozy space—perfect not just for stopping by, but for lounging and indulging in a read of your choice.
4. High Low
High Low stands out as a first-class literary arts center, managed by the city’s Kranzberg Arts Foundation. The foundation aims to “provide essential infrastructure for the arts to thrive in the St. Louis Region,” and High Low truly embodies this goal. The space contains a library cafe, where visitors can sip concoctions from beloved Blueprint Coffee while browsing a selection of rotating literary journals and books. Guests can also take in bookishly themed exhibitions and engage with powerful storytelling in the listening room. High Low also houses the St. Louis Poetry Center, the Creative Arts & Expression Lab, and the office of the city’s poet laureate.
What would a literary city spotlight be without plenty of bookstores? Left Bank Books rounds out the list as another enviable spot to stuff your suitcase with bookish souvenirs. Founded in 1969 by graduate students at Washington University, Left Bank Books is the oldest, biggest independent bookstore in the city and exudes a quirky, intellectual vibe. The store prides itself on stocking all genres of literature, as well as putting on more than 300 events per year.