November 21, 2012

Community of Writers, November 18

[Disclaimer: This event is sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, of which I am the President. While some folks have labeled my Blogs as "reviews" I like to characterize them as "reports" & I have never made any claim to "objectivity," since I am an active participant in many of the events that I report on.]

As it turns out, this was the 10th annual Community of Writers at the Schenectady County Public Library, which has happily co-sponsored the event with the HVWG. This year there were 10 authors in various genres who read, including a couple of amazing young writers from whom I hope we will be hearing lots of good writing in the future. The Schenectady County Poet Laureate (yes, Virginia, the position does exist) Stephen Swartz got us off to a good start with rousing ode to the city of Schenectady in the style of Allen Ginsberg, & dressed in what he called a "Romney meets the Village People outfit." Bob Cudmore didn't so much as read as recount in the style of a story-teller 3 stories from his recent book, Stories from the Mohawk Valley.

Erin Billings read an early section from her novel Sincerely (Open Door Publishers, 2012), written last year when she was 15 years old (!). Poet Sharon Stenson read a cluster of poems, ranging from "A Country Garden" to "Roadkill," including a sestina about Clipper ships. Patrice Kindl gave a fine, in-character reading from her novel set in the 19th century, Keeping the Castle. Chaitali Banerjee read an essay about observing a great blue heron while bird-watching at the Old Niskayuna railroad station. April Seeley, who has read her poetry here in past years, today read a short fiction piece, "Sand," about young friends growing up & what friends do to help each other, seasoned with a touch of humor.

Ryan Smithson is another young writer who has been reading excerpts from his moving memoir Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI (HarperCollins Publishers, 2009) at a number of local events; today he read a late chapter, "Words on Paper." Victor Smith read suspenseful & humorous excerpt from his novel Huntington Pass (Author House, 2011), involving the character Buck Avery breaking into a funeral home. The afternoon had been hosted by poet Alan Catlin, who concluded the event with some of his poems, including some inspired by trips with the library group, some poems on the theme of "white" both dreams & nights, a "found poem" from a conversation by 2 Viet Nam veterans, & ended with "Memorial for Tom Nattell in 3 Parts," short parts in fact that sounded very like some of Tom's short poems.

The Hudson Valley Writers Guild is proud to have had this long & productive association with the Schenectady County Public Library (& the Friends of the Library) in bringing local authors to the library audience & we hope to continue to do so for many years.

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