November 18, 2008

Community of Writers, Schenectady County Public Library, November 16

This is part of a series of readings coordinated by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, for which they received funds from the Arts Center of the Capital Region in the usual circuitous, bureaucratic route. It's great to pay the readers. Today's event was moderated by Bill Poppino & there was a long line of readers in many genres stretching over 2 hours.

Mikki Conn from the Hamilton Hill Arts Center was the first up, & read a memoir by her mother, Margaret Cunningham, who was in the audience, about the struggle of a black family looking for housing in the 1950s (the picture shows Mikki Conn, left, with Margaret Cunningham, center). Leonard Slade is a well-known local poet who teaches at the University at Albany; he read a series of poems from his new book Jazz After Dinner.

Susannah Risley read a chapter from a novel about a French-Canadian family. Catherine Norr (pictured) had a number of her poems about her mom, her twin, her lover; she also had a new chapbook from Benevolent Bird Press, Color Barrier. Emil Jarczynski read a first-person short story about going to a dance class. Sandra Manchester's narrative poems were about her parents, a memoir of a rooming house, & a fever.

Each year the Hamilton Hill Arts Center participates in the reading with a group of writers associated with their arts & writing programs. Jasmine Kendricks read poems by Taj Majors, who had to leave early. "Treasure" read a long set of unevenly rhymed inspirational platitudes. Arrima Abdullah Matlock (who said she also goes by the name "Chicago Davis") read a powerful prose piece about a young Muslim girl going through a crises of identity being gay). "Simply Divine" (pictured) gave the most dramatic performances of the afternoon with two poems.

Winifred Elze read fast from her mystery novel The Borgia Prince (Troy Book Masters) setting us up for the murder; it uses Schenectady as its locale. Nan Johnson (pictured) was one of the editors of The Washout Review in the 1970s & '80s. She read some amusing poems observing friends & family members. Catherine de Salle read a couple poems & a short story about fancy underwear, "The Cleaning Lady's Pearls".

One of the purposes of the series is to highlight the variety of literary talent in this area & this program certainly did that. Check out the Guild at