Topanga Authors’ Group (TAG) provides a place for storytellers who live in Topanga Canyon and surrounding areas to connect, inspire and learn from one another.
Founded in May 2014 by local writers, TAG has established itself as a tremendous community resource. It gives presentations, readings, open mic nights, roundtables, workshops and other forums at Topanga Library — all free and open to the public.
“You don’t have to be a published writer to join, or live in Topanga. People who just enjoy reading are also welcome,” Oleg Kagan, Topanga’s community library manager, said.
Kagan co-hosts the meetings — held the first Wednesday of every month — with Topanga resident Kim Zanti, herself a published writer working on her first novel.
“Some of our members have a dream of being published, others have published 40 books with big presses and have extremely accomplished careers. All are happy to be here. All ages, all access,” Zanti, who also produces TAG’s speaker series, said.
Kagan and Zanti share a love of poetry and books in general.
“I am surrounded by books at home and I love libraries,” Zanti said. “My love of books began when I was a child. We always had books growing up and library cards. Books are important because they connect us to history, they connect us to each other, they open us up to worlds we didn’t know existed. They are simply fun. We’d be lost without books. And writing is an essential activity of my life.”
Zanti is the assistant director for the Centers for Research on Creativity based in Topanga Canyon. She also writes grants for “Get Lit”— an organization that develops young poets and scholars in Los Angeles.
“Books are important for entertainment and enlightenment,” Kagan said. “Books have been written on the importance of books.”
With more people using e-readers or listening to audio books, Kagan said he finds actual paper books are still in demand.
“People sign up every day for library cards,” he said. “Hard copies, e-books and audio books aren’t mutually exclusive. I love to read in all forms. I do all three, sometimes in the same day.”
Out of 272 people on TAG’s mailing list, between 28 and 35 people typically attend each meeting. “Our biggest night was for Deena Metzger,” Zanti said. “Around 70 came to meet and hear this internationally renowned poet and author.”
Another successful event that exceeded expectations was TAG’s first Transport Topanga Literary Festival held last year, with more planned.
“It’s called the Transport Topanga Literary Festival because that’s what stories do, they transport us,” Zanti said.
Run by volunteers, TAG welcomes anyone looking for knowledge and inspiration.
“For some, it’s finding their tribe. We held a science fiction roundtable that was packed with all ages,” Zanti said. “For others, it’s a chance to meet their favorite writers.”
TAG is a lively social group. At the end of the meetings, members hang around and talk. “Never underestimate the importance of coffee and cookies,” said Zanti.
For more information about TAG’s monthly meetings, authors and the speaker series: topangaauthorsgroup.com.