October 28, 2008

Community of Writers Series, October 18

"Community of Writers" is a series of readings run by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild with support from various funding sources & held in libraries in Albany & Schenectady. The reading on October 18 was at the Albany Public Library Main Branch & was supported by a grant from the City of Albany. I served as the co-ordinator & host for the program.

Helen Raynes Staley is well-known to the writing & Guild community since she taught English for many years at Sage College & has served on the board of the HVWG. She read from her new collection of short stories, The House on the Rim (Westview, Nashville, TN). Her selections included the tale of rape, "Nothing," the vignette "The Good Samaritan," as well as short excerpts from other stories. Her work can be chilling & humorous, wit & playful language. A joy to have.

Naton Leslie, who teaches creative writing at Siena College, writes in his poetry & non-fiction of the lives of the working class. He read from his most recent book of poems, Emma Saves Her Life (Turning Point Books), from his chapbook, The Last Best Motif (Bright Hill Press), & from a new series of poems that he calls "my rights poems," about rights we don't know we have. These "rights" ranged from the right to a birthplace, to a cessation of hostilities, to a full set of wrenches, & to the grown-up menu, among others. There were plenty of chuckles in the audience.

Elizabeth Brundage has had 2 novels published by Viking/Penguin, The Doctor's Wife, and Somebody Else's Daughter. She read representative selections from Somebody Else's Daughter. I was especially moved by a poetic section in which one of the characters working on a roof in New York City, describes what he sees in the windows of the buildings around him. Often such readings from novels can be sleep-generating, but in her case the selections, combined with her straight-forward manner (like listening to a friend tell an interesting story), were engagingly poetic.

Visit the Guild website (www.hvwg.org) for information about upcoming programs. Also, there are additional photos from this event at www.flickr.com/photos/dwlcx/