When it comes to the written word, St. Louis has produced its fair share of literary giants: Tennessee Williams, T. S. Eliot, Maya Angelou, and Jonathan Franzen to name a few.

Enter High Low, a literary arts center and cafe in the Grand Center Arts District—and the city’s next best-selling author may be around the corner.

High Low, the latest project from the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, aims to be a gathering spot for writers, creatives, and local literary organizations. “It’s the sandbox for everyone to come together,” Executive Director Chris Hansen says about the two-story venue, one whose name expounds the scope of literature’s many forms.

Inside, the space is anchored by a ground-floor cafe serving Blueprint Coffee alongside light fare and treats from James Beard Award-nominee Rob Connoley, chef-owner at Bulrush, the acclaimed Ozarks-inspired restaurant on the same street. “We want everything to be at the highest level,” Chris says, calling the cafe an “access point” and “soft in” for visitors to explore High Low’s literary offerings. “Grab a cup of coffee, then a book—now you’re immersed.”

Adjacent to the cafe is the library, which features a progressive rotation of books, magazines, anthologies, and journals. Currently, its shelves highlight the history and import of St. Louis’s literary arts, but it also houses statewide literature, from Mark Twain classics to Voices: Poems from the Missouri Heartland. The theme’s goal is to celebrate authors both past and present, including existing poet laureate for St. Louis, Jane Ellen Ibur.

She is one of several residents with office space on the venue’s second floor, where a writers-in-residence program will launch for playwrights, authors, and poets to tackle specific projects. The program will start with local writers but seeks to lure international talent in the future—hopefully those with homegrown narratives in mind.

Other resident organizations include the St. Louis Poetry Center, Tennessee Williams Festival, and River Styx, St. Louis’s oldest literary magazine. Together, the groups will help curate the library and schedule the building’s most exciting space—the Listening Room.

Designed to host author events, poetry readings, book signings, and workshops, the Listening Room can be accessed through a street-level side door alit by nothing more than a “READINGS” sign above it. The optics and ambience evoke that of a hip village experience in New York. Plus, as River Styx Managing Editor Shanie Latham notes, “It has the best acoustics for readings that we’ve ever encountered.”

River Styx has put on multiple events and hopes to continue this summer with Hungry Young Poets, a reading series for emerging writers. The literary magazine plans to echo its own mission by emphasizing regional talent, Missouri specifically. Who else comes to the stage depends largely on the programming of the in-house literary groups.

In the meantime, the literati had been flocking to High Low’s cafe and workspace, where the next great Show-Me State novelist may have already put pen to paper.