November 23, 2009

Community of Writers Series - Hudson Valley Writers Guild

This year the Community of Writers series sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild included 3 readings in area public libraries: October 24 at the Albany Public Library, November 5 at the William K. Sanford Town Library (Colonie), & November 22 at the Schenectady County Public Library. The project was made possible in part through Community Art$Grants, a program funded through the State and Local Partnership Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency, and the Arts Council of the Capital Region.

The reading at the Albany Public Library presented 3 local writers in different genres. Harvey Havel is a fiction writer who has published novels & most recently the collection of short stories, From Poets to Protagonists; he read a short fictional memoir about trying to pick up women. Amy Biancolli is familiar to local readers of the Albany Times-Union, where she was a movie critic & arts writer, & currently is a film critic for the Houston Chronicle. She read one of her recent columns & discussed the biz of a film critic. Alan Casline read a piece that incorporated his "3 hats" as a poet, editor & small press publisher, weaving his poems throughout his discussion.

The reading at the Colonie Library included student storytellers from the Maple Hill Middle School in Castleton Stephanie Muller & Emily Bonin, memoirist Susan Morse & author Eric Luper. The main event was the reading by the winners of the HVWG poetry contest. Local poet & HVWG Board member Alan Catlin introduced each of the winners who read us their winning poems & a couple others. First Place winner was Cecele Allen Kraus for "Love Blooms" (after John Ashbery), second place to Will Nixon for "The Prophet of Protrero Hill", & third place to Kathleen C. Elken for "Worn Irish Lace." There were also 3 honorable mentions who read as well, Kathleen A. O'Brien, Susan E. Oringel and Marie-Elizabeth Mali.

There were 12 readers at the Schenectady County Public Library on November 22, moderated by Catherine Norr. Alan Catlin introduced Schenectady County's new Poet Laureate, Steve Hillard Swartz, who read mostly humorous poems with pop culture references & mostly subtle & unobtrusive rhymes. Other poets who read were Melinda Morris Perrin with a string of nature poems, & Malcolm Willison, who included his poem to the Hudson River, "North River." One poet not included on the printed program was Ginny Folger, from the Library's writing program. Most of the rest of the readers read memoir-type story/essays, or history. Sylvie Briber contained both in her dramatic account of tracking down the story of a mid-19th century occupant of her house. Wonja Brucker read about being a young girl in Seoul during the Korean War. Bonnie Harlan-Stankus' stand-up routine was about her mother attempting to return a rice-steamer to Macy's. Sarah Howes told about her happy 4th grade, while Jack Rightmyer described the misery of high school under the Christian Brothers heavy hand. Bill Buell read about the founding of GE & William Patrick read from Saving Troy about his time spent with the Fire Department there. The one foray into prose fiction was from the youngest writer/reader, Rhema Boston, whose stunning piece contained simple, vivid descriptions of rural life & a moving scene between a mother & a daughter.

Many of these folks knew each other from interconnecting peer writing groups, particularly the SCPL Creative Writing Program.

For pictures from these events go to my Flickr! site.

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