Hudson Valley Writers Guild Newsletter

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Member Announcements:

  • Hollis Seamon to appear at Hudson Children’s Book Festival May 3
  • M.E. Kemp to lead writing workshop in Troy May 4
  • Margo Mensing & Matthew Spireng to feature at Caffè Lena May 7
  • Hollis Seamon to read from her novel in Kinderhook May 10
  • Leslie Neustadt’s first collection of poetry published

Area Announcements:

  • Frank Robinson publishes book of love poems for National Poetry Month
  • Autobiographical poems workshop with Abigail Wender May 10
  • Third Thursday to feature Janet Hamill May 15
  • 5th Annual Community of Jewish Writers Poetry Café May 19
  • Upcoming readings in the Pine Hollow Open Mic Series
  • Working class poet makes good
  • Reading of “Song of Myself” to Commemorate the Birthday of Walt Whitman May 31
  • Submission deadline June 1 for showcase at Rensselaerville Festival of Writers
  • Author & artist talk with Richard Matturo & Mary Trevor Thomas June 8
  • 2nd Annual Conference of Children’s Writers of the Hudson Valley (CWHV) June 14


Hollis Seamon to appear at Hudson Children’s Book Festival May 3
Hollis Seamon will be one of the many authors appearing at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival in Hudson NY on Saturday, May 3, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.  For more on the festival, visit the website:

M.E. Kemp to lead writing workshop in Troy May 4
A writing workshop will be held at the Arts Center in Troy on Sunday, May 4, from noon to 4:30 p.m. This is a writing workshop with active involvement of students. Bring paper, pens or computer. Instructor: M.E.Kemp, author of five historical mysteries, Paradox Lake Writers Retreat instructor; HVWG member. There is a fee. To register, please call the Arts Center at (518) 273-0552.

Margo Mensing & Matthew Spireng to feature at Caffè Lena May 7
On Wednesday, May 7, Caffè Lena will present poetry readings by Margo Mensing and Matthew Spireng. An open reading will follow. Doors open for sign-ups at 7 p.m., and the readings will start at 7:30 p.m. The host for the event will be Carol Graser, and the cost is $5. Caffè Lena, 47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs. (518) 583-0022.

Hollis Seamon to read from her novel in Kinderhook May 10
Hollis will also be reading from her novel, Somebody Up There Hates You, at the Kinderhook Memorial Library in Kinderhook, NY, on Saturday, May 10, at 4 p.m. There will be refreshments and a book signing after the reading. For directions and more information, go to the library website:

Leslie Neustadt’s first collection of poetry published
Leslie B. Neustadt announces the publication of her first collection of poetry, Bearing Fruit, a poetic journey published under the imprint, Spirit Wind Books. Yael Flusberg has this to say about the collection, “Using archetypes, astronomy, hip hop, gastronomy, mathematics and shamanic dance, Leslie accomplishes a feat of God-wrestling, as she becomes both the one who carries her past in her troubled bones, and the one whose words become our own very healing balm.” The entire purchase  price of each book goes to not-for-profit organizations supporting cancer research, patient health, the prevention of child abuse and expressive arts. The book can be purchased at In addition, it will be available at Leslie’s website — — as soon as that launches, so check for it!


Frank Robinson publishes book of love poems for National Poetry Month

For National Poetry month, Frank Robinson published a little book of love poems. For more information, check out his blog, The Rational Optimist. In addition, you may be interested in Frank’s previous book of provocative essays, Angels and Pinheads: A Guide to Which is Which and What’s What. For more information on that, visit

Autobiographical poems workshop with Abigail Wender May 10
A workshop with poet Abigail Wender, focusing on the craft of dealing with emotionally charged autobiographical material in poetry, will be held at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library on Saturday morning, May 10, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Advanced registration is required.

Wender thinks of poems that grow out of important life events and/or close relationships as “high stake” poems, which can “carry a high risk of sentimentality and melodrama” and “tend to be taxing and emotionally difficult” to write. The workshop will focus on effective strategies poets use to deal with material of a highly personal nature.

After registering, participants will be contacted by Wender, and asked to submit drafts of a few of their own poems by May 3.  Wender “will pull a group of these together, with particular attention to what’s effective in each person’s poems, and we will workshop these together.”

Abigail Wender’s articles, poems, and translations have been published most recently in Guernica Magazine, Mead Magazine, The New Orleans Review, and Tupelo Quarterly. She was a finalist for the Frost Place 2013 Chapbook Contest, and she holds an MFA degree from Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.  A board member of Friends of Writers and the Kenyon Review, Abigail teaches privately in NYC.

For more details see full workshop description at Class size is limited to 12 participants, so early registration is advised. Workshop fee is $15. To register, contact Cecele Kraus at

The Roeliff Jansen Community Library, which is chartered to serve Ancram, Copake and Hillsdale, is located at 9091 Rt. 22, approximately one mile south of the light at the intersection of Routes 22 and 23 in Hillsdale. For information on hours and events, call (518) 325-4101 or visit the library’s website.

Third Thursday to feature Janet Hamill May 15
Poet Janet Hamill will read from her work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenue, Albany, on Thursday, May 15, at 7:30 p.m. Janet Hamill is a poet and spoken word artist. Her fifth collection of poetry, Body of Water, was nominated for the William Carlos Williams Award by the Poetry Society of America  Her most recent book is a collection of short fiction, Tales from the Eternal Café, with an introduction by Patti Smith.

A reading by a local or regional poet is held each Third Thursday at the Social Justice Center. The event includes an open mic for audience members to read. Sign-up starts at 7 p.m., with the reading beginning at 7:30 p.m. The host of the readings is Albany poet and photographer Dan Wilcox. The suggested donation is $3, which helps support this and other poetry programs of the Poetry Motel Foundation and the work of the Social Justice Center.  For more information about this event, contact Dan Wilcox at (518) 482-0262 or

5th Annual Community of Jewish Writers Poetry Café May 19
Congregation Agudat Achim will host the fifth annual Community of Jewish Writers event, in the form of a poetry café, on Monday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. Award-winning author Shira Dentz, who teaches creative writing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will be the featured reader. This year, for the first time, there will also be an open mic; during it, 15 writers from the community will have an opportunity to share their work. The open mic will run on a first-come basis, and each writer will be limited to four minutes of reading time. Sign-up begins at 7:15 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. Leslie Neustadt and Susan Comninos are co-chairs of the event to be hosted by the Program Committee of Congregation Agudat Achim.

Shira is the author of two books, door of thin skins (CavanKerry Press, 2013) and black seeds on a white dish (Shearsman, 2011), as well as two chapbooks, Leaf Weather (Shearsman, 2012 ) and Sisyphusina (forthcoming from Red Glass Books). Her third full-length manuscript was, this year, a National Poetry Series finalist. Her writing has appeared in many prestigious journals, including The American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review and New American Writing. It has also appeared online at The Academy of American Poets’ website, NPR, Poetry Daily and Verse Daily.

Her awards include an Academy of American Poets’ Prize, the Poetry Society of America’s Lyric Poem Award and Cecil Hemley Memorial Award. Additionally, Shira has won the Electronic Poetry Review’s Discovery Award and Painted Bride Quarterly’s Poetry Prize. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she holds a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Utah. Beyond her current academic position as lecturer in creative writing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, she is also reviews editor at Drunken Boat.

Of her Jewish background, Shira shares that her maternal grandparents were able to escape Vienna with their children after Kristallnacht and come to the United States via Sweden, but almost all of her grandmother’s family was killed in the Holocaust. Being Jewish has influenced the way Shira views being a human in the world, as well as how to live a morally conscious life. Similarly, her background as a visual artist influences her approach to literary form. She often explores hybrid writing (poetic and narrative) and visual writing, and she enjoys the fluidity between genres and artistic mediums. Her latest full length book, door of thin skins, has been described as “emotionally complex and riveting.”

Of how Shira works, she notes: “I like to challenge preconceptions and received notions of particular genres. While my formal experimentation is guided by my wish to surprise myself and to be stimulating to readers, as well as my interest in language, including punctuation, as a series of ‘shapes,’ it is also related to my social and political concerns including those surrounding race, gender, and ethnicity.”

Upcoming readings in the Pine Hollow Open Mic Series
POETS OF EARTH, WATER, TREE AND SKY. Here are upcoming featured poets in the series:

  • Friday, May 23, Paulette Swartzfager
  • Friday, June 13, Michael Czarnecki   Poems Across America
  • Friday, July 11, Edie Abrams
  • Friday, August 8, 6th Annual Poets at the Arboretum
  • Friday, September 12, Mark W. O’Brien World Premiere Performance Poetry
  • Friday, October 10, Paul Doty
  • Friday, November 7, Dan Wilcox, Joe Krausmen

Readings take place at 6:30 p.m. at Pine Hollow Arboretum Visitor Center, 16 Maple Avenue, Slingerlands, and includes an open Mic for poets and writers. Sponsored by Rootdrinker Institute and the Delmar Writers Group.

Working class poet makes good
Help local poet Mark O’Brien get to The Fermoy International Poetry Festival in Ireland! There’s just over one week left on Mark’s Indiegogo campaign, and he’s just a few hundred dollars away from his goal. Here’s some of what he has to say about the journey (visit the campaign for the full text):

Hello, My name is Mark W. O’Brien aka obeedúid~

I am a working class poet of meager means who has spent his life raising his children as a single parent while simultaneously maintaining a career as a poet. As you can guess for most of my life all of my funds have gone into raising two healthily happy adults who, like their father, work in service industries helping and improving the lives of others. Like my parents before me, I give back to my community and ask little in return.

Several years ago I joined an online poetry forum in Fermoy County Cork Ireland at the prompting of two of my friends. At the time I had no idea what this would mean to me. If you know me you know things often happen to me in ways that deem to prove the existence of powers and mysteries beyond our control are alive and at work in the world! Some months after joining what has become known as the Blackwater Poetry Group, I learned that my progenitor James Bryan emigrated from Fermoy in 1849!

Because I am who I am and I live as I do I am only asking for funds to cover strictly my transportation round trip from my home and back. That includes Trains, Plans and Automobiles only. This is not only me going back home, this is 8 generations of diaspora returning to the place of our beginning. The sacred ground in the land of poets!

Reading of “Song of Myself” to Commemorate the Birthday of Walt Whitman May 31
Poets and other citizens will gather on Saturday, May 31, at 6:00 p.m. at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park in Albany, NY, to celebrate the birthday of the quintessential American poet, Walt Whitman, with a reading of his poem “Song of Myself.” The event is sponsored by the Poetry Motel Foundation and the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. It is free and open to the public. Persons interested in reading a section of Whitman’s poem can sign up to read at the event.

Walt Whitman was born on May 31,1819, at West Hills, NY, near Huntington on Long Island.  “Song of Myself,” composed of over 1,300 lines in 52 sections, first appeared in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1855.  The poem went through a number of revisions and changes until the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass. Whitman died in 1892 in Camden, NJ. The theme of “Song of Myself,” as indeed it is of most of Whitman’s work, is the celebration of the individual, of the nation and of the spiritual possibility within us all.

The Robert Burns statue is located in Albany’s Washington Park, along the park road that parallels Willett Street and the intersection of Hudson Avenue. The reading will take place rain or shine; it is suggested that the public brings chairs or blankets to sit on. For more information, email Dan Wilcox at or visit

Submission deadline June 1 for showcase at Rensselaerville Festival of Writers
This year’s annual Festival of Writers will be August 15- 17, 2014. The annual event, held in the historic hamlet of Rensselaerville, New York, has drawn dozens of writers and hundreds of guests since its inception in 2009. The event features a variety of readings, workshops, entertainment, and panel discussions. Prominent writers featured at past festivals include William Kennedy, Nick Flynn, Galway Kinnell, Jean Craighead George, Francine Prose, Bill Logan, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Andy Rooney, and Lizz Winstead. This year’s festival will also host an exciting roster of established writers, and will once again showcase the work of local writers adept at capturing the heart of an audience. We seek unpublished work by regional writers reflecting the particular experiences, insights, and observations of upstate New Yorkers.

The 2014 showcase event, “This Upstate Life: Local Writers Read,” will be Sunday afternoon, August 17, AT 2 p.m. For this event, we seek poetry, fiction, personal essay or cross-genre and experimental work specifically rooted in the upstate New York region. On this program, writers will read their own work in a venue in Rensselaerville to be determined.

Entrants must be upstate New Yorkers, and submissions must be postmarked by June 1, 2014. Submissions will be juried by an independent selection committee. For specific eligibility requirements and submission guidelines, visit Results will be posted on the Festival of Writers website by July 15, 2014. Authors of selected works will be contacted individually.

For more information, please email with the subject line “FOW Local Writers” or call the Rensselaerville Library at (518) 797-3949.

Author & artist talk with Richard Matturo & Mary Trevor Thomas June 8
Richard’s sixth novel, Medea, based on the classic myth of the woman who kills her children, will be coming out in May from Livingston Press. It contains 24 original drawings by Mary Trevor Thomas. There will be an author and artist talk at Bethlehem Public Library on Sunday, June 8, at 2 p.m. Reception to follow. All are invited. For more information, visit

2nd Annual Conference of Children’s Writers of the Hudson Valley (CWHV) June 14
Hands-on workshops taught by industry professionals. Saturday, June 14, 8:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. Hampton Inn on Route 9, Poughkeepsie, NY. The line-up:

  • Penguin/Putnam senior editor Stacey Barney, giving a workshop on novel writing (YA and middle grade)
  • Harper Collins (Katherine Tegen Books) executive editor Jill Davis doing a workshop on picture book writing
  • Picture book author Alan Katz will give a presentation on humor writing in children’s books.

Off-site, written critiques will also be available from freelance editorial consultant Tracy Marchini. Conference fee is $90, which includes lunch. For more information/registration, visit or call (845) 896-8038.

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Editor’s Note

I enjoy putting together this newsletter for the HVWG. As a member of the Guild and a working writer in our community, I recognize its incredible value and hope it is a terrific resource for you, as well. Please let me know if there’s anything we can do to improve it.

Here are some housekeeping notes:

    • Want your news item published in a future newsletter? Submit it to me at The deadline each month is the 25th, and the newsletter publishes on (or around) the 1st. Please note: All announcements are subject to editing.
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    • Got issues with the newsletter formatting? other feedback? Please email that same address:
    • The Hudson Valley Writers Guild offers space in its newsletter for submission and program opportunities but does not endorse any programs or publications that are not offered through the Guild.


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