March 28, 2017

Community of Writers, March 26

Community of Writers is a periodic reading series sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild to showcase the talents of the diverse writing community of the Capital Region. This reading was held in the 2nd floor Community Room of the Albany Public Library, Washington Ave. Branch (full disclosure: I organized & was the host of this particular reading). Today’s reading included a novelist, Tom Swyers; a poet, Nancy Klepsch; & a journalist, Steve Barnes.

Tom Swyers is the author of Saving Babe Ruth, which was the 2015 recipient of two Benjamin Franklin Book Awards: first place for “Best First Book, Fiction” & second place for “Best Popular Fiction,” & the recently released The Killdeer Connection. He began by talking about the creation of the cover for The Killdeer Connection through public comment, & on the writing of a “legal thriller” as well as its marketing in today’s highly competitive world of fiction. His new novel is of particular interest to readers in the Albany area because of its plot’s connection to the oil fields of North Dakota & the “bomb trains” that take the oil into Albany. Interested readers can get a free download of the novel by going to

Nancy Klepsch is a long-time Capital Region activist, poet & teacher, now living in Troy, NY. She is the co-host (with me) of 2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose, at the Arts Center in Troy. She began with her poem “Before You Know Gratitude” inspired by a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, then to a spirited performance of a tribute to Albany poet Tom Nattell. Her reading included a number of poems published in poetry journals, including Up The River (“A Queer Horse”), Barzakh, Oberon Review, & Sinister Wisdom. Her poems could be political as with “Great Again,” or loving as in “The Invisible Lesbian.” She ended with another tribute to a gone friend, “Crispy Kreme” full of dreams, death & laughter.

Steve Barnes  is a much-read columnist & reporter for the Albany Times Union whose Table Hopping Blog draws more than 400,000 readers a month. This afternoon he shared a number of columns/Blogs from the past to highlight the variety of the work he has done, & to serve as springboards into entertaining discussions about food, rock music & how reviews get written so quickly. He began with a glowing review from 1999 of a restaurant in Saratoga Springs, then showed how he could just as entertainingly write a scathing negative review, this of a Japanese restaurant in Albany. Another funny piece was about the NYS Assembly’s attempt to ban added salt in restaurants. A piece on the death of singer John Denver turned into autobiography, & one on rock star Meat Loaf had the audience in stitches. He ended with a tender piece on planning holiday meals with his widowed mother, both funny & tearful.

It is because there are so many talented writers, in all genres, here in New York’s Capital Region that the Hudson Valley Writers Guild can offer such programs. The Hudson Valley Writers Guild fosters an active community of writers and readers by encouraging the development of local authors and providing opportunities for them to share their talents with local audiences.  For more information about the Guild, & to support by joining visit the Guild’s website.

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