Hudson Valley Writers Guild Newsletter, September 2014


Area Announcements: 

  • Paul Pines & Mike Jurkovic to read at Caffè Lena September 3
  • Sign up by September 8 to read at Banned Books Week event
  • New open mic venue to start in Schenectady September 10
  • Expressive Writing Workshop with Suzanne S. Rancourt September 13 at Camp Little Notch
  • Poet Samson Dikeman to read at Third Thursday September 18
  • Navasky to discuss political cartoons at Skidmore’s Fox-Adler Lecture September 18
  • Simona David’s “Art in the Catskills” is now available as paperback & e-book
  • NYS Writers Institute to offer fiction master class with Lydia Davis and memoir workshop with Jo Page
  • Arts Center of the Capital Region announces upcoming writing classes
  • The Write Stuff: A One-Day Writers’ Festival, November 8


Paul Pines & Mike Jurkovic to read at Caffè Lena September 3
On Wednesday, September 3, Caffè Lena will present poetry readings by Paul Pines and Mike Jurkovic. An open reading will follow. Doors open for sign-ups at 7 p.m., and the readings will start at 7:30. The host for the event will be Carol Graser, and the cost is $5. Caffè Lena, 47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, (518) 583-0022,

Sign up by September 8 to read at Banned Books Week event
“Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read” is September 21−27. Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Check out the frequently challenged books section to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

On Tuesday, September 23rd, 6 p.m., the New York State Civil Liberties Union, Capital Region Chapter with the Albany Public Library, will sponsor a local ReadOut! at the Albany Public Library Main Branch!  A ReadOut is an event where local actors, writers, poets, and prominent community leaders read  brief excerpts from books that have been banned or challenged in America. Historically, people have read from children books, classics, and modern works of literature.

The NYCLU- Capital Region Chapter is recruiting 10 -12 readers for this year’s Albany event.  If you are interested in participating in the event as a reader, please email your name  We typically get a more volunteers than time slots available, so please RSVP as quickly as possible.  If you have a book in mind, you can include your selection as well. To encourage a great selection of material, we encourage no “repeats” and ask that each reader chooses a selection not read by anyone else.

Each reader is encouraged to select a passage from their selected book.  We encourage readers to select a passage no more than 2-3 minutes in length.  This way we can accommodate more readers during each ReadOut!  For a list of banned and challenged books you can go to:  If you have any questions regarding the event, feel free to contact Joanna Palladino or John Cirrin at 

If you are interested in attending (but not reading) the Albany ReadOut!, use this email as a reminder for you to SAVE THE DATE and we’ll see you on September 23rd! Please RSVP no later than September 8th.  Readers will then be contacted during the month of September to confirm their bios and reading selections for inclusion in our event program.

Confirmed readers and selections for this year’s Albany ReadOut! are:

  • A.C. Everson- Slaughterhouse 5
  • Gary Maggio- Of Mice and Men
  • James Yeara- The Things They Carried
  • Janet Womachka- The Giver
  • David Hochfelder- Catch 22
  • Bob Resnick- (To be determined)

New open mic venue to start in Schenectady September 10
NEW! – venue for Open-Mic & Featured Poet! Here are the details:

  • Where – Arthur’s Market, Schenectady Historic Stockade District, 35 North Ferry Street, Schenectady
  • When – Second Wednesdays of the month beginning September 10
  • Sign-up @ 7 p.m., begin reading @ 7:30 p.m.
  • Hosted by Catherine Norr, Jackie Craven & friends
  • Featured Poet for September is Catherine De Salle

Expressive Writing Workshop with Suzanne S. Rancourt September 13 at Camp Little Notch
Suzanne creates a safe, supportive writing community using a variety of writing exercises and response practices from the Amherst Writers and Artists method. No prior writing experience is necessary. This workshop is NOT psychoanalysis and is NOT a grammar class. All genres welcome as we “bear witness” in the telling of our stories in a safe and confidential setting. Writing supplies are provided.

This workshop is FREE.

Friends of CLN will charge a small fee for those wishing to stay overnight and eat meals at Camp Little Notch. We do need all participants to pre-register, even if you are bringing your own food. Please click here to register now.

Morning and afternoon sessions include songwriting followed by an evening performance of “Suzy Blue Flame’s” original poetry, song and stories.

Veteran, and author of the award winning book, Billboard in the Clouds, Suzanne Rancourt, MS, MFA, CASAC-T, is an artist of uncommon diversity. To learn more about Suzanne, her methods, qualifications, and educational philosophy, go to  or email:

NO CHARGE for those attending the Workshop ONLY and bringing your own food (no meals or overnights).


$25 – Saturday only, NO OVERNIGHT (includes 2 meals)
$50 – One (1) OVERNIGHT, (includes 3 meals*)
$75 – Two (2) OVERNIGHTS, (includes 4 meals*)

CHILDREN (ages 6-16)
$15 – Saturday only, NO OVERNIGHT (includes 2 meals)
$30 – One (1) OVERNIGHT, (includes 3 meals*)
$45 – Two (2) OVERNIGHTS, (includes 4 meals*)

*PLEASE NOTE: There will not be a meal served on Friday evening. Please come prepared with your own food for Friday evening if you are staying overnight on Friday.


8:30 – 9a – arrive, registration, coffee, tea, etc.
9 – 11a – writing session one
15 minute break
11:15a – 12:30p – writing session two


1:30 – 3:30p – writing session three
15 minute break
3:45 – 5p – final writing session and closure


6:30 – 7:30p – reading and performance by Suzanne Rancourt

Well-behaved dogs are welcome but you must bring a hard copy of an updated rabies vaccination certificate. Please note: Dogs are not allowed in the dining hall during meals or meal preparation.

Payments are handled through PayPal. You are not required to have a PayPal account. You can pay with your credit or debit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover) — all without having a PayPal account. Complete the registration, then click on the button to pay and follow the “Pay with a credit card” link on the PayPal page (or login to pay via your PayPal account).

Overnight and meal fees for this event are NON-REFUNDABLE. Please email prior to that date if you need to cancel your registration.

Note: You can register multiple people on the same registration form by clicking the “Add” button under the heading “Register children and additional adults here.” toward the bottom of the form. Note: you will only receive one email confirmation per registration form.

This event was funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc., with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Poet Samson Dikeman to read at Third Thursday September 18
Poet Samson Dikeman will read from his work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenur, Albany, on Thursday, September 18, at 7:30 p.m.  Samson Dikeman is a local poet active in Slam competitions and poetry open mics; he is a student at the College of St. Rose in the Creative Writing MFA program and a senior editor for The Pine Hills Review. 

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.  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, (518) 482-0262; e-mail:

Navasky to discuss political cartoons at Skidmore’s Fox-Adler Lecture September 18
Author, editor and publisher Victor S. Navasky will draw on his most recent book when he delivers the 26th annual Fox-Adler Lecture at Skidmore College in September. “The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power” is the title of Navasky’s talk, to be presented at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, September 18, in Gannett Auditorium of Palamountain Hall. A reception and book signing will immediately follow in the Class of 1967 lobby adjacent to the auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

Navasky’s talk has the same title as his newest book, which describes how transformative and incendiary cartoons can be. He said, “Cartoons and cartoonists are usually thought of as irrelevant, trivial, ‘not serious.’ However, that is not true. Daumier was thrown into prison for his cartoons, Herblock was near the top of Nixon’s enemies list, and the leading Palestinian cartoonist was murdered on the streets. My lecture will discuss the role of political cartoons and editorial cartoonists in light of all of the above.”

Navasky has served as editor, publisher and now publisher emeritus of The Nation, which he joined in 1978. He is also the George Delacorte Professor of Magazine Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he directs the Delacorte Center of Magazines and chairs the Columbia Journalism Review. In the 1970s he served as an editor on The New York Times Magazine. In the 1960s he was founding editor and publisher of Monocle, a “leisurely quarterly of political satire” (that meant it came out twice a year).

His books include Kennedy Justice, Naming Names, which won a National Book Award, and (with Christopher Cerf) The Experts Speak: The Definitive Guide to Authoritative Misinformation and also Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq, and A Matter of Opinion, which won the 2005 George Polk Book Award and the 2006 Ann M. Sperber Prize and of which The New York Times wrote, “Anybody who has ever dreamed of starting a magazine, or worried that the country is losing the ability to speak seriously to itself, should read A Matter of Opinion…”

Navasky is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His most recent publications are The Art of Making Magazines: On Being an Editor and Other Views for the Industryedited by Navasky and Evan Cornog, and The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power (Knopf, 2013).

Skidmore’s Fox-Adler lecture series is named for Norman M. Fox and Hannah Moriarta Adler, connoisseurs and collectors of rare books. Adler first loaned her extensive collection of 19th-century books to Skidmore in 1967, and after her death Fox and his family took charge of it, later donating it permanently to Skidmore’s Scribner Library. Catherine Golden, professor of English at Skidmore, coordinates the Fox-Adler program at the college.

Simona David’s “Art in the Catskills” is now available as paperback & e-book
Art in the Catskills, Your Guide to the Catskills’ Rich Cultural Life is a compendium of 80 cultural institutions and artistic events in the Catskills and surrounding area, some in the neighboring Hudson Valley and others elsewhere upstate New York. The guide includes anything from museums and memorial sites to summer festivals, art galleries and residencies, as well as theater and literary retreats. It walks the reader through a wide geographic area, from Woodstock to Livingston Manor, and Saratoga Springs to Cooperstown. Easy to digest, Art in the Catskills makes for a fun summer read. A travel guide to the Catskill region for art and culture lovers. More information at

NYS Writers Institute to offer fiction master class with Lydia Davis and memoir workshop with Jo Page
The New York State Writers Institute will offer two creative writing workshops during the fall 2014 semester. Lydia Davis, New York State Writers Institute Fellow and winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize will conduct a fiction master class workshop, and Jo Page, New York State Writers Institute Writer-in-Residence will conduct a workshop on crafting memoir. 

The Fiction Master Class Workshop will focus on detailed discussion of students’ work, but there may also be assigned exercises and/or readings from published novels or short stories to broaden the discussion of topics such as character, plot, style and form. The workshop is intended for advanced writers – writers who have significant publications in literary journals. The fiction workshop will be held on five Tuesday evenings from October 7 through November 4 at the University at Albany’s uptown campus. 

The Memoir Workshop is intended for writers interested in crafting longer or shorter works or memoir, using readings and participants’ individual work to explore and develop the subtleties that make a memoir a compelling story as well as a re-collection of actual events. The workshop will be held on seven Wednesday evenings from October 8 through November 19 at the University at Albany’s uptown campus.

Both workshops are offered free of charge for no credit. Admission to either workshop is based on the submission of writing samples. Complete information on the workshops and submission guidelines may be obtained by calling the Institute at (518) 442-5620 or by visiting the Institute’s website.

Lydia Davis, fiction writer and translator, has received wide acclaim for her extremely brief and brilliantly inventive short stories. She has been called “one of the quiet giants . . . of American fiction” (Los Angeles Times Book Review), “an American virtuoso of the short story form” (Salon) and “one of the best writers in America” (O Magazine). In the spring of 2013 Davis received the Man Booker International Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of literature. The award is given every two years to authors of any nationality in order to recognize an outstanding body of work in English or available in English translation. Her newest book, which earned rave reviews, is Can’t and Won’t (2014). She is also the author of The Collected Stories (2009), a compilation of stories from four previously published volumes including Varieties of Disturbance (2007), Samuel Johnson is Indignant (2001), Almost No Memory (1997) and Break it Down (1986). Davis received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2003. A Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, Davis is also one of the most respected translators into English of French literary fiction by Proust and Flaubert, among others. Davis first received serious critical attention for her collection of stories, Break It Down, which was selected as a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. The book’s positive critical reception helped Davis win a Whiting Writer’s Award in 1988.

Jo Page’s fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Drunken Boat, Our Stories, The South Carolina Review, Stone Canoe, The MacGuffin and other journals. She was a finalist in the 2009 Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize. Her memoir, Going Out, will be published by SUNY Press in 2015. An ordained Lutheran parish pastor, she has also taught writing at the University of Virginia, the University at Albany, Hudson Valley Community College and The Albany Academy and has led seminars on the spirituality of writing/reading poetry. Page received her MFA from the University of Virginia where she studied with John Casey. During graduate school, she was a finalist in the Mademoiselle Magazine Short Story Contest. For twenty years the author of the “Reckonings” column for Albany, New York’s alternative newsweekly Metroland, she now writes a column for The Albany Times Union.

Arts Center of the Capital Region announces upcoming writing classes
Here is a list of writing classes starting at the Arts Center in August and September (additional classes begin in October). For more information and to register, visit


  • Wednesdays,September 10-October 15
  • 6:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Instructor: Marion Roach Smith
  • Member: $280. Non-Member: $310
  • Enrollment Max: 20

Flannery O’Connor said that anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life. She’s right, of course. But writing about yourself and your crazy (or not-so-crazy) family can be the big vein, if you’re ready, or the brick wall, if you’re not. This course will help you dig among your stuff and get it down on paper in some interesting, funny, enlightening, compelling, readable and possibly saleable way. Let’s go. It’s there for the mining. Marion Roach Smith is a former New York Times staffer, author of four mass-market books and commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Suggested reading for the class is her book, The Memoir Project, A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life (Grand Central, 2011).


  • Mondays, September 15-November 3
  • 7:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Instructor: Susan Comninos
  • Member: $173. Non-Member: $192
  • Enrollment Max: 12

What makes a poem contemporary? Is it awareness of the public sphere? Inclusion of brand names? Creation of a conversational voice? Explore what it means, and how, to write contemporary poetry with local published poet Susan Comninos. During an eight week reading and writing course, together we’ll learn, through discussion and exercises, how to repurpose cliches; create “observational” poetry that lends itself to seeming humor and depth; and work on verse forms that counter-intuitively free us up to surprise both ourselves and our readers through self-imposed boundaries. Come prepared to write and participate. Susan Comninos holds a B.A. in English from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Michigan. Her poetry has appeared in Subtropics, TriQuarterly, Quarterly West, The Cortland Review, Tulane Review, Nashville Review, Lilith, Tikkun, Literary Mama, J Journal: New Writing on Justice andGastronomica, among others. In 2010, she won the Yehuda Halevi Poetry Contest run by Tablet magazine. She lives in Guilderland.


  • Thursdays, September 25-October 30
  • 5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Enrollment Max: 15
  • Instructor: Steve Barnes

Join Steve Barnes, restaurant columnist for the Times Union and author of the popular “Table Hopping” blog, for a 6-week exploration of writing about food, from the way it tastes to its role in our lives. Sometimes just fuel for our bodies, food more often nourishes us emotionally as well, and since we experience it primarily through taste and smell, senses rooted in primal parts of our brain, food connects us profoundly to our past, our families, our memories and our experiences. The class will cover writing about food in a variety of ways, including but not limited to memoirs, essays, descriptive features and criticism.


  • Saturdays, September 27, 2014
  • 10 a.m. to noon
  • Instructor: Coleen M. Paratore

Do you have a personal story you’ve been thinking of writing as realistic or historical fiction, memoir, or other genre? More than a decade ago, I began writing a coming-of-age piece about a girl in a troubled family in 1970’s Troy, NY. While therapeutic, it read like a weepy diary entry. I asked a noted author: “Should I keep writing it like this or wait until I can craft it into fiction?’ The one word reply was: “Wait.” That was good advice. My novel Dreamsleeves (Scholastic Press) is the result. If possible, read the book so we will have a common ground for our discussion of character, plot, setting and other topics. I will then lead us through several simple but powerful write-and-share rounds aimed at getting us closer to the heart of the story, an essential goal. Writer, teacher, and inspirational speaker Coleen Paratore is the author of 19 books. Visit her website:


  • Tuesdays, September 30-October 7
  • 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Instructor: David A. Salomon
  • Member: $58. Non-Member: $64
  • Enrollment Max: 15

In literature, the author’s point of view is the lens through which the reader looks at the world, therefore coloring everything taken in from that angle. This two-week workshop will explore the wide variety of available points of view in writing fiction. We will look at examples and then do some experimenting ourselves.

The Write Stuff: A One-Day Writers’ Festival, November 8
On Saturday, November 8, the Roe Jan Community Library in Hillsdale, New York will host a one-day writers’ festival entitled The Write Stuff, featuring local authors who will facilitate workshops in the areas of fiction, non-fiction, memoir, short story and the creative process.  The festival is designed for writers of all levels, including a workshop for new writers.  Workshops will be followed by a panel on getting published and a wine and cheese networking reception.

The keynote address, entitled “What Kind of Book Should You Be Writing?  How to Choose the Right Form for Your Truth and Your Art—-And Make Money Too!” will be delivered by author and publisher Ellen E.M. Roberts.  In addition, Ms. Roberts will offer individual manuscript reviews for an additional fee for festival participants only.

Other featured authors include Wesley Brown, Laura Didyk and Dara Lurie.

Workshop topics are:

  • Character and Conflict:  Creating a Short Story
  • Narrative Voice in Fiction
  • Creative Writing for New Writers
  • Memoir in Miniature
  • The Creative Process
  • The Six Rules for Writing Non-Fiction that Sells

Registration is required. To register, click here. The early registration fee is $40 before October 1 and $50 after October 1. We hope you will join us for a full day of writing and learning. This program is generously supported by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.

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