Literary Seminar inside the beautiful San Carlos Institute in Key West

Inside the beautiful San Carlos Institute.

By Shayne Benowitz

Wow, is this year ever off to a breakneck pace! I’ve spent a good chunk of my January inside the auditorium of the San Carlos Institute on Duval Street for the annual Key West Literary Seminar. This is the third year I’ve attended, and the second year I’ve contributed to the social media efforts.

Key West draws people to the island for a number of different reasons. For me, it was definitely the water and also the island’s storied literary past. The Key West Literary Seminar has been integral in carrying on this tradition for almost 30 years. I spend almost every day of the year on the water at Fury, so this seminar has become an absolute highlight of my year.

I trade in my board shorts and bikini for a notebook and pen, and allow myself to be transported by the brilliant speakers at the seminar. This year’s theme was The Hungry Muse: Food in Literature. In attendance was Judith Jones, the legendary editor of Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey who is singlehandedly responsible for bringing Eastern cuisine to the West, New York Times & LA Times food critics and writers Ruth Reichl, Frank Bruni, Molly O’Neill, Julia Reed, and Jonathan Gold. And many more writers and humorists, such as Calvin Trillin, Adam Gopnik, and Roy Blount Jr, who incorporate food into memoirs and fiction.

The panel discussions and readings were enlightening and inspiring, as usual. And some of them were downright hilarious. Each year, the Sunday afternoon session is free and open to the public, so if you’re around early January, you’ve got to swing by.

Next year’s seminar is Yet Another World, Literature of the Future which has an all-star line up. I personally can’t wait. If you’re interested, it’s never too early to register. Miles Frieden, the seminar’s Executive Director expects it to sell out by the end of the month. For more info, check out and also take a peak at their Littoral Blog (where I’ve contributed) run by the seminar’s Media Director, Arlo Haskell.

Shayne Benowitz is a Fury crewmember and freelance writer. For more travel stories visit her at and follow her at

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Last Updated 10/29/2021