Hudson Valley Writers Guild Newsletter, February 1


Guild Announcements: 

  • Community of Writers Reading in Albany March 1
  • HVWG 2014 year-end membership report

Member Announcements: 

  • Paul Castellani to discuss his new novel at local book club February 25

Area Announcements: 

  • NYS Writers Institute Visiting Writers Series announces Spring 2015 events
  • Josh McIntyre & Dave Jaicks to feature at Caffè Lena February 4
  • Third Thursday to feature Sarah Michelle Sherman February 19
  • New Work from the Powder Keg Sessions at No. Six Depot on February 22
  • Weekly poetry class with Susan Comninos starting March 3
  • Tickets available for film screenings and Gusty Gal Film Awards at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers
  • NYS Summer Young Writers Institute application deadline April 1
  • Catskills-based writers needed for arts publication


Community of Writers Reading in Albany March 1
The Hudson Valley Writers Guild will sponsor a reading by three local authors on Sunday, March 1, at the Albany Public Library Washington Avenue Branch, 161 Washington Ave., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  The authors who will read from their recent work are Elizabeth Gordon, K.A. Laity and Keith Willis.  The reading is part of a continuing series titled “Community of Writers.”  The reading is free and open to the public.

Elizabeth Gordon’s book of poems, Love Cohoes, was published in 2014. It is a “tough love” homage to the city where she currently lives. She is a poet who performs in slam competitions nationally as “Elizag.” In 2007, she published the memoir Walk With Us: Triplet Boys, Their Teen Parents & Two White Women Who Tagged Along.  Both books were published by Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books.

K. A. Laity is the award-winning author of White Rabbit, A Cut-Throat Business, Lush Situation, Owl Stretching, Unquiet Dreams, À la Mort Subite, The Claddagh Icon, Chastity Flame, Pelzmantel and Other Medieval Tales of Magic and Unikirja, as well as editor of Weird Noir, Noir Carnival and the forthcoming Drag Noir. Her bibliography is chock full of short stories, humor pieces, plays and essays, both scholarly and popular. Her website is

Keith W. Willis graduated with a degree in English from Berry College and now lives near Saratoga Springs with his wife Patty. Keith is a member of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, the Mythopoeic Society and the Latham/Albany/Schenectady/Troy Science Fiction Association. His debut fantasy novel Traitor Knight will be released in July 2015 by Champagne Book Group’s BURST SFF imprint. 

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, visit For more information about this reading and the Community of Writers series, contact Dan Wilcox,518-482-0262; email:

HVWG 2014 year-end membership report
At the end of 2014, the Hudson Valley Writers Guild had 131 “active” members, i.e., people who paid their membership dues in the past year. Of those, 108 (82%) paid their 2014 dues and 23 (18%) did not. Therefore, we start 2015 with 108 “active” members. Of the 108 dues payers, there were 34 new members and 74 renewing members. Of the renewing members, 5 people made voluntary contributions (i.e., without being asked) and 3 people renewed for two years. Dues-paying members contributed a total of $3,245, an increase of $640 from 2013.

The Guild’s membership solicitation effort was carried out through 192 mailings, composed of 84 renewal requests, 74 thank you letters, and 34 new member welcome letters. Additionally, 23 year-end email reminders were sent to non-paying members. The direct costs of the 2014 membership effort were:

Postage $198.66
Reply Envelopes $170.66
Membership Forms $386.81

TOTAL $756.13

Therefore, when compared to the $3,245 income that resulted from the membership effort, we can say that the 2014 administrative expense for membership was 23%, typical (although a bit high) for non-profit organizations.

HVWG has an Honor Roll of four members who made extra contributions in 2014 in addition to their membership dues. The following people are called out for recognition of this effort:

Paul Castellani
Phyllis Hillinger
Kathleen O’Brien
David Wolcott


Paul Castellani to discuss his new novel at local book club February 25
Paul Castellani will participate in a discussion of his new novel, Sputnik Summer, at the Bethlehem Area Y Book Club on February 25 at 1 p.m. (Non-members, as well as members, are welcome.)


NYS Writers Institute Visiting Writers Series announces Spring 2015 events
The spring 2015 series includes major novelist Alice McDermott, celebrated New Yorker proofreader Mary Norris, rising literary stars Yelena Akhtiorskaya and Elisa Albert, two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey, major American poet Alicia Ostriker, prize-winning Caribbean author Caryl Phillips, Shakespeare authority and stage actress Tina Packer, a celebration of local civil rights crusader Barbara Smith, and many other events! For more on the Visiting Writers Series visit:

The Classic Film Series will feature young prize-winning director Tanya Hamilton (Night Catches Us), theater and film producer Ron Simons (winner of Tony Awards for for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder; Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; and the 2012 Porgy & Bess), prize-winning documentary filmmaker Jason Osder (Let the Fire Burn), and William Wellman, Jr., son and biographer of legendary Hollywood director William A. Wellman, whose career spanned four decades, from the Silent Era to the 1950s. For more on the Classic Film Series visit:

For more information, visit our website at and our blog at, or call (518) 442-5620.

Josh McIntyre & Dave Jaicks to feature at Caffè Lena February 4
On Wednesday, February 4, Caffè Lena will present poetry readings by Josh McIntyre and Dave Jaicks. 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 St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022,

Josh McIntyre is a long lost regular at Caffè Lena Poetry and is most known as the poet who proposed marriage to his wife from our stage. He has been published in various magazines and journals, including Metroland, Modern Drunkard, Capital Region Poets and, most recently, in the men’s room at Caffè Lena! This will be Josh’s first return to an open mic stage in three years. He thanks you in advance for your kindness.

Dave Jaicks is the author of several short stories and flash fiction collections. His most recent titles are Spirit Man and Horses in the Fog. He has published his poetry in Fence, Open City, The Haight Ashbury Literary journal, Passages North, Peninsula Poets and Hummingbird. He has won some minor awards for his writing and is currently in the MFA writing program at the University of Massachusetts. His website is

Third Thursday to feature Sarah Michelle Sherman February 19
Poet Sarah Michelle Sherman will read from her work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenue, Albany, on Thursday, February 19, at 7:30 p.m. Sarah Michelle Sherman, is a writer, teacher, bartender, graduate student pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at The College of Saint Rose and managing editor of Pine Hills Review. Her work has appeared in Nailed Magazine, Ploughshares Online, The Helix and Decades Review. She is also a contributing writer for Albany’s alternative newspaper, Metroland.

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:

New Work from the Powder Keg Sessions at No. Six Depot on February 22
For over 100 hours, two groups of Berkshire women have faced down the blank page and tethered themselves to the rigors of a daily writing practice. They have taken time from careers, children, housework and other obligations for this radical act. Under the guidance of writer and blogger Suzi Banks Baum, they call themselves “The Powder Keg Sessions” — and on February 22, they will ignite No. Six Depot with their voices and new work. 

The reading of new work from the Powder Keg Sessions will be at 2 p.m. at No. Six Depot, 6 Depot Street, West Stockbridge, MA. This reading is co-hosted by the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, and The Powder Keg Sessions are sponsored by the Great Barrington Public Libraries.     

Enhancing this devotion to pen and page is the exhibit opening of “What a Daily Writing Practice Looks Like: The Hand-Bound Journals of Writer, Maker, Mother Suzi Banks Baum.” In homage to the time-honored tradition of writers in cafes, Banks Baum’s hand-bound Coptic Stitch books filled with hand-painted papers, found and vintage papers, collages, and small paintings and drawings will be on display in No. Six Depot’s Café gallery until March 31. While she has studied with master book artists, Banks Baum also considers these journals critical to her daily writing practice. The books will be open, so viewers can witness how appetite and curiosity draw diverse resources onto single pages – and eventually, into the world. “What a Daily Writing Practice Looks Like” can be seen between 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at No. Six Depot (except Tuesdays) between February 22 and March 31. For more information, contact Suzi Banks Baum at   

“My commitment to creating, to making, has buoyed me through the worst of times,” says Banks Baum. “It has also given me a strength and ability to do things I never dreamed of doing. I am convinced that supporting women in engaging their creative voices will allow them to discover tools to improve their own lives and the lives of their families.”                                                                                                 

About Suzi Banks Baum / Suzi Banks Baum creates community wherever she goes. She’s an actress, writer, fiber and mixed media collage artist, teacher and collaborator. She’s also the editor and publisher of An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice; creator of “Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others” for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers; and collaborator with FeMail, a snail-mail art exchange in its seventh year. She lives with her husband and two teenagers in the Berkshires and blogs

Weekly poetry class with Susan Comninos starting March 3
Susan Comninos will offer a weekly poetry class — “The Poetry of Faith & Science” — beginning March 3 at the Schenectady JCC. The 9-week course (March 3 to April 28) will include the reading and discussion of published poems and their techniques, as well as the reading and discussion of student work. Please come prepared to write and participate.

Faith and science are the scrims through which many of us view and understand our lives. Consequently, both can make for fertile ground when we write poems that operate within, or struggle against, their borders. Explore how accomplished poets like Gerald Stern, Stanley Kunitz, Fanny Howe, Eve Grubin and Robert Morgan attempt to pair science with the Divine, or opt to embrace one over the other.

Classes are held at the Schenectady JCC in the Farber/Miness Gallery. The JCC is located at 2565 Balltown Road, Niskayuna. The cost for Schenectady JCC members and returning poetry students is $95; new students, $115. Enroll at the JCC or by calling 377-8803.

About the instructor: Susan Comninos is both a poet and a journalist. Her poetry’s appeared in Subtropics, TriQuarterly, Quarterly West, The Cortland Review, Nashville Review, Tulane Review, Judaism, Lilith, Tikkun, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, Gastronomica and The Malahat Review, among others. In 2010, she won the Yehuda Halevi Poetry Contest run by Tabletmagazine. She’s taught poetry at the University of Michigan, RPI and Troy Arts Center.

Tickets available for film screenings and Gusty Gal Film Awards at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers
Tickets are now available for the Gutsy Gal Film Awards and film screening events presented by Gutsy Gals Inspire Me® at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers on March 21 and 22 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

“The first annual Gusty Gal Film Award celebrates an inspiring group of women filmmakers. Not many women have been able to accomplish what they have accomplished and we are proud to put them in the spotlight,” said Deborah Hutchison, founder of Gutsy Gals Inspire Me. 

The film awards, ceremony, and screening of “Muffin Top: A Love Story” will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 21 at the McConnell Theater at Bard College. Actress Karen Allen, an honorary recipient of a Gutsy Gal award, will present awards to the writers and directors of 11 feature length and short films. Grand-prize winner Cathryn Michon, writer and director of Muffin Top, in addition to many of the remaining winners, will be in attendance. The event is open to the general public and is held in conjunction with the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, which runs through the month of March. 

On Sunday, March 22, a screening of “Breaking Through the Clouds” and panel discussion will begin at 11 a.m. at the Triplex Theater in downtown Great Barrington. The discussion will be led by the film’s writer and director Heather Taylor, the Berkshire International Film Festival’s founder and director Kelley Vickery, and Gutsy Gals Inspire Me founder Deborah Hutchison. Tickets will be available at the door.

“Because of Cathryn Michon’s fearless and truly entertaining film Muffin Top, and for being an authentic comedy voice about the lives of women everywhere, we are honored to present her with this award. Karen Allen has played very strong female roles and we can’t think of a better way to honor these women than have Karen present them, from one gutsy gal to another. All awards are going to wonderful role models for the future of gutsy women,” said Hutchison.

Tickets are available for the evening of March 21 at, and tickets will be available at the door for the March 22 event. For more information, or

NYS Summer Young Writers Institute application deadline April 1
The New York State Summer Young Writers Institute (SYWI)  is a 13-day in-residence writing workshop for high school students. Held during the months of June and July (this year: June 29- July 11) at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, the workshop offers young writers artistic development, recognition and respect, and peer support. Students work closely with professional writers, immersing themselves in poetry, prose, creative nonfiction, and the critical evaluation of each other’s work. Admission is limited and participation is determined by the evaluation of creative writing samples submitted as part of the application process. The SYWI is open to any high school student entering the 10th, 11th or 12th grade in the fall of 2015.

Workshop participants attend three instructional sessions per day — a ninety-minute workshop in the morning and two hour-long workshops each afternoon. In addition, the young writers attend readings and presentations by the nationally-known writers who are part of the New York State Summer Writers Institute, which is held at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. Work produced by each student during the Summer Young Writers Institute is published in an anthology.

Full and partial financial assistance based upon individual need is available to help offset the cost of tuition and room and board. The application deadline is April 1st. For more information visit 17th Annual Creative Writing Workshop or contact the Skidmore Office of the Dean of Special Programs at (518) 580-5593.   

Catskills-based writers needed for arts publication
We are developing a quarterly digital publication focused on art and artists in the Catskills (Ulster, Delaware, Sullivan, Schoharie, Greene, and Otsego counties), and we need writers!

Catskill Made fills the gap in high quality regional arts-focused publications. Local artists, the creative lifestyle and the regional art world will be explored through engaging storytelling, clean design, and beautiful photography. Our mission is to “explore the creative environment”–both personal and regional.

Our first issue will be released March 20 and the theme is “Equinox” — balance in night and day, life and work, creativity and productivity, and every other type of balance that exists. We are interested in the following types of pitches: interviews/features on artists, coverage of art shows and galleries, examining the Catskills life and how this influences art and artmaking, finding inspiration in nature, creative routines, Catskills art history, in-depth examinations of specific artworks, personal essays, journalistic pieces, gChats with artists, creative writing inspired by art. These are just a few ideas. If you have other ideas, or you have an idea that may not fit this theme but still fits our overall scope, send it along. We are open to poetry and short stories that are outstanding and relevant to our purpose.

What we don’t need (or want): pieces on the “revival” of the Catskills; features on young rich people rediscovering the mountains; anything on New York City; articles on food, restaurants or shopping; reviews, listicles or travel itineraries. There are plenty of other publications that would love to publish these!

See details here: Potential contributors can send pitches and portfolio info to this address, Payment starts at 10 cents per word.

About us: Catskill Made is run by two Woodstock/Saugerties locals. We also run Eberhardt Smith, a creative company (find us at from our tiny cabin. We design, write, edit and photograph for a living and this is our “passion project,” because we love this area, the creative people who live here and the type of lifestyle that we have here.

About the publication: Catskill Made will be magazine-style, but utilize the benefits of a digital format, such as photo galleries, videos, and links. It will be offered on the web and for purchase through the app store. The first issue will be free, and issues after that can be purchased. Each issue will include 6+ stories, photo essays, interviews, etc. Our audience is regional as well as national and global–anyone who is interested in the creative process and lifestyle.

How to pitch: please send us an e-mail that includes your experience, clips or a personal portfolio (a blog is okay–anything that demonstrates your style and skill). Include well-articulated ideas for stories of 500+ words that pertain specifically to this issue or to possible future issues. We pay 10 cents per word to start, and we’re hoping to increase that number within the first year.

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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. 
    • PLEASE INDICATE IF YOU ARE A MEMBER when submitting your publication credits and readings (personal accomplishments). If you indicate you are an active member, I can place your announcement in the member section; otherwise, it will be placed under “area announcements.”
  • 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.