Amtrak train-jazzowl2003It all started with an innocent comment by writer Alexander Chee, when he said in an interview that he likes to work while riding on trains. “I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.”

Afterward, a New York City-based writer, Jessica Gross, tweeted to Amtrak asking when such a residency could become real.

According to, “Though such lofty fantasies often die unrealized, by the grace of some transportation-and-prose-loving god, Amtrak actually responded to Gross on Twitter, and liked the idea.”

Gross was given a test run, a free ride from NYC to Chicago and back, with Gross writing the whole time. She sent out a few tweets while she was traveling, and agreed to do an interview for the company’s blog at the end of her trip. She later detailed her trip for The Paris Review.

Now Amtrak says it will scale up the program, giving out writer residencies on trains throughout its network of routes. They gave one to Chee last week.

(READ the story in

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